Month: June 2016

Trampoline Park

I have been curious to try the latest craze to hit town – the Trampoline Park. Luckily, I was able to try it for free last weekend, thank you to the birthday invite of my son’s classmate in school. I dropped the name of the birthday celebrant at the counter and we were led upstairs on the viewing deck cum eating area for the party. It was a Saturday afternoon and the heat was crazy. It was one big sauna inside.

One look at the sea of trampolines below and my son was raring to go. Children between the age of 2 and 5 must be accompanied by an adult so my husband and I joined. We were required to wear the socks that were provided there because those had tractions. These socks are bought on top of the entrance fee. But the party hosts covered these costs for us as well.

To say the least, it was so much fun! It was one good hour of jumping that really made us soak with sweat.

The hubster’s personal favorite was jumping from the trampoline into the adjacent pool of foam. So I tried it too together with my little boy.

The little boy had the most energy and the grandest time. He hardly rested throughout the allotted 1 hour. And he cried when it was finally time to leave.

Setback, the whole place doesn’t look well-kept. The trampolines are dirty. The foams are dirty. It will be a turn-off to some.

I was not able to ask for the rates since we got in for free. But you can go to the official website:

We will definitely be back because I promised my son. Metrodeal vouchers are now available at 40% off. Worth a try!

Note: Sorry for the blurry photos. My camera could not handle indoor action shots.


Trampoline Park

The Portal, Mayflower Street, Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City 1552, Metro Manila, Philippines


My Dream, Luang Prabang

If you find yourself travelling to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang one day, consider staying at the quaint and very reasonably-priced My Dream Boutique Hotel.


A few months ago, I visited Luang Prabang at the peak of its Pi Mai Festival – the less-crazy-but-still-crazy equivalent to Thailand’s Songkran Festival.  As it happened, getting a room in the center of town at that time of year became difficult because of the tourist influx.  I almost always stay in a place close to the action – especially when I am travelling alone – because I like the idea of not worrying about the commute back to the hotel when it’s late at night.  That was not the case for me, however, in this visit.  But I am sure glad I ended up in the outskirts of town.


My Dream Boutique Hotel is located on the opposite side of the Nam Khan River from the center of town.   Upon entering its grounds, I felt very much at home. The small complex of villas was built and furnished using natural wood and other local material giving it a very comfortable and lived-in feeling.

Each room opens to its own balcony – with lush greens that somehow provided much-needed privacy.  It was such a beautiful sight, with the sunlight streaming in, that I kept it open the entire day.  I was happy waking up to that sight the 4 days I was there.



Breakfast is served in an open-air pavilion that looked out to the small pool.



It was really more of a dipping pool but it seemed quite adequate for the place.  Everything in Luang Prabang seemed so relaxed and easy that I did not feel I needed a big pool to do laps or exercise.  I would spend an hour or two a day just floating and looking up at the sky.



Although a bit far from the center of town, it was still fairly easy to go around.  The hotel had service shuttles that went in and out of town at reasonable intervals throughout the entire day until late evening.  For the adventurer, they had service bikes ready for use.  While for other adventurers who, unfortunately, cannot ride a bike to save their life (ehem), there was an option to take a 15-minute pleasant walk through a pedestrian bamboo bridge.



My favourite part of the hotel has got to be the garden that overlooked the Nam Khan River.  There was a perfect spot for coffee and meditation.


And a perfect spot to take my book and fall asleep in the middle of my reading.


If Luang Prabang wasn’t such a charming town, I would have been happy to spend my entire 4 days in the hotel!  It was truly a dream!  A peaceful, serene, zen dream =)



I Wanna See Me Be Brave


I finally gathered enough courage to write this article. It’s been on my mind the past few months, and I’ve been stalling because frankly, I didn’t know how to conclude it. Luckily, Bo Sanchez had a talk about the same topic I had in mind, and it gave more clarity to what I wanted to say.

He said that it is in your 20’s and below that you should be the bravest. It is at this time that you should try to establish a new business, endeavor to check things off your bucket list, and learn a new skill because it is the period where you have the least exposure to risk, having presumably no family of your own to be responsible for.

Sadly, this was not entirely the case in my situation. Yes, I did start very young with a business (in my high school years, I opened a drinks stall in a school canteen), but I got comfortable very early on as well. I married in my early 20’s (age 24), which is not a regret, but it probably added to the feeling of being cared for. I finished my Masters’ early, which was probably one of the scariest things I did because I had to relocate to a different country. But was going through all these a stretch for a twenty-something person? Looking back at it, I think not. Now that I am approaching my 40’s, I’m kind of wishing I was more daring in a creative way.

I blame the Millennials for my insecurity. I saw this 20-something guy publish his own fantasy novel (a secret dream of mine) on his own. No publisher, no editor, just himself and a cover artist, exposing his guts to the world. And I bought a copy out of curiosity. It was riddled with grammatical errors, the plot was too convoluted—in short, I wasn’t able to finish it. I messaged the author, congratulating him for the effort, but mentioning that he should probably hire an editor. Unapologetically, he admitted that he didn’t have an editor, and that maybe he’d look into it when the book ran for a second print. A second print! How hopeful! And this is not the only example we see out there. Wattpad authors are getting younger and younger. And from the format of Wattpad itself, it’s safe to assume that their stories are very rarely edited. In fact, I think it’s as close to raw as possible. Maybe it gets a little brush-up once someone takes interest in their stories and publishes it on paperback, but as far as conventional writing and publishing are concerned, seasoned writers and editors will say that this is not the way to go.

Even on Facebook, you see so many startup companies owned by young people, producing their own crafts, handling events, selling fashion, building their brand, etc. etc. And I am floored by how fast things are going. Bo has confirmed my fears. He says in a couple of years, the jobs we used to do would become obsolete, and so we have to update our skills. In a few years (read: 2), I’ll be forty! And it’s only now that I should learn all these sh*t?! Sorry for the crassness, but fudge! How do I catch up (imagine me pulling my hair from its roots)?

But this year, I vowed I would put myself out there. I will publish a book on my own. I will face up to those who will criticize it and say that hell yeah, I’ll put the corrections in on my second print! Yes, my SECOND PRINT! Hehehe. Of course, I am not unconscionable. I will have it edited by an editor. But having said that, it’s still a big risk because I know I’ll be exposing myself to the harshness of social media, the judge-iest of judges. Because if I don’t do it now, I just might find myself outdone by an 8-year old. This is the start of a braver me, hopefully.

To the future titas of Manila (aka OD, KT, Val, Freya, Bobbie, Rory), I am inviting you to my book launch somewhere in September at the Manila International Book Fair. My book’s not done yet, but inviting you gives me the kick in the butt that I need to make sure I push through with it. See you gals there!

Budget Getaway: Cagbalete Island

Budget Getaway: Cagbalete Island

Sigh…summer is officially over…

On the off-chance that you have one more free weekend before you stow your pool floats, bikinis, and tanning oil, then consider going to Cagbalete Island.  Let me tell you why…

It has unbelievably clear water!

The raw beauty of the island should be enough reason to see it.  But what caught my attention first was the water.  As I was approaching the shore from the bangka that took us from the main town to the island, I could not stop exclaiming how clear the water was.  It was almost as clear as tap! – especially near the shore where there was nothing but sand and stone beneath.


It’s an easy commute

I did not want the hassle of having to drive all the way to Quezon.  So my friends and I took the 1:30am bus to Lucena.  This schedule was a good choice because it allowed us to sleep through most of the trip.  We woke up 5am just in time for the bus to drop us off.  We then took a smaller (almost retro) bus to the town of Mauban where the port to Cagbalete Island was located.  This was a 1-hour scenic drive through the province.  It was good to be awake to enjoy the view!


You can have a great time on the cheap!

For the whole trip, I spent P1,820 or roughly USD38. – and that covered everything!!! Yup, that’s our accommodation, boat trip, too much food, drink, and other refreshments, fee for the cook to make all our meals, tips to the boatmen and handlers – just about everything!!!


The crazy thing was – my group wasn’t even scrimping!  We rode a private boat to and from the island – which was way more expensive than the public option.  We also picked a private room when we could have roughed it out in a tent and save much, much more money.  So for the fairly comfortable trip, it was really cheap!


It feels really private

The entire island only had 6 resorts, 2 of which are very new.  So you cannot exactly take a leisurely walk and expect to stumble on other people checked in nearby resorts.  It feels like you and a handful of other resort-guests have the island all to yourself.



The best moment in Cagbalete was watching the sunset while soaking in the warm clear waters far from the shore with my group of friends. I was not able to capture that moment on camera, but it was definitely one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.

Cagbalete Island is not for the traveler seeking luxurious accommodations and other creature comforts of an island resort.  There is no fancy resort in the island.  In fact, there is no electricity except from 6pm to 6am.  But its raw beauty is a luxury all its own.


The Thing about Mothers

This is a question I’m throwing out to to the world–Is there any daughter out there who has zero hang-ups with their mothers?

Mothers hold that unique position in our lives– we love them, but we also love to hate them for one reason or another.

Judging from all the people I’ve spoken with, it seems that this experience is not mine alone. My mother, bless her, can single-handedly shred my confidence with a lift of an eyebrow! I can recall countless incidences where I’ve shown what I’ve thought were superb works only to be told, “It’s okay.” (With a sniff.)  And she’s not even a Tiger Mother! (Or maybe Asian moms are a little bit like each other…another topic for another day).

So this is my theory (and yeah, feel free to negate my point of view)—Just as daughters will always have this fear of living up to their mother’s expectations, moms too are always going to be a little bit fearful of their daughters (hence the unintentional hostility).

Ok, before all the mothers out there bring out their pitchforks and suggest that I be tied to a burning stake, let me just say that I am not qualified in any professional way to back my thoughts up with research. I am not a psychologist. But, as I am a daughter, and a mom to a daughter, I am basing my theory purely from my personal experience.

As a daughter, I have always looked up to my mom. She is, in my opinion, the embodiment of a strong, successful woman. She cared for all four of her kids (and still does) as she ran her own business (which then became businesses). She writes books, gardens, cooks—plus she deals with my father on a daily basis (which is a feat in itself).

And so, as a daughter who idolizes her mom, I am naturally drawn to what she does. I started my own business, I wrote books, I cook and bake, and just recently, I have started caring for plants (just succulents though, nothing too crazy). Here’s the rub though. Every time I ask her to read one of my stories, she comments that my Filipino grammar is bad. When I started to take gardening lessons (for the succulents), she scoffed at me for paying for lessons when it was so simple to do. I even got laughed at for taking a parenting seminar (“Why did you take that class when you could have just asked me?!” Mom said).

This bothered me for a long time, until I stumbled on my theory–could it be that my mom was a little bit scared of me? Was she looking at me as a possible de-throner? To an aging queen (sorry, mom), who was used to leading her queendom uncontested, did I really pose a believable threat?

Now that I have a daughter, as early as now, I already think she will exceed me (and of course, that is my hope for her as well). Am I a little bit hostile at times because of this growing reality? Methinks it’s still too early to tell. I am still better at her at most things (except maybe in reading directions—she gets that from her father). Maybe when she starts outwardly negating me, then the hostility will surface. Or maybe I will have chosen what I am imagining myself to be when I grow old—a wise and gracious sage-mother who will willingly part with her throne, accepting and embracing the next queen, merely passing on the wisdom of my years. Maybe, but someday, I think I will struggle with it as well.

A mother-daughter relationship is definitely a complex one, full of twists and turns. But at the end of the day, it is also possibly one of the deepest connections that I will make with another human being.

Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. Here’s to exciting adventures with all your children!