All The Way To Tagaytay

Another long overdue article here. ๐Ÿ˜€

I did mention in my previous articles I have quite a pile of article drafts for editing and publishing and I am in a rush to publish them all (hopefully) while I am in a period of waiting and time is still on my side.

The summer escapade for me and hubby along with his family for this year was in the cool breeze of Tagaytay. We just had to take advantage of the summer season before the rainy days start to fill the last quarters of our calendar. It was a short holiday break thus the rest of the family members were all free to have this short family time and get-together.

It always is a privilege to spend some quality time with the family despite the busy schedules and varying demands of priorities in life โ€“ something that is far too precious to waste. My parents are in Bicol which is a 17-hour land travel to get directly to our hometown. Now that is something that I donโ€™t have the privilege to do. Going to my hometown meant allotting 1 day for travel time then another day to rest which, after doing the Math, requires at least a week if you want to make the most and the best out of your family get-together. Simply put, visiting my family in Bicol is synonymous to careful planning ahead of the scheduled visit.

But well, this is the part where I need to thank God for technology. Skype made the term โ€œhomesicknessโ€ just a term. Again, family time meant quality time and this requires we set aside time for this despite the busy schedules. If most of us have the same free time, my family and I are able to Skype with one another once a week. And Skype-ing in the family means this โ€“ the minimum talking time is 4 hours starting at around 9 or 10pm.

Wuhaaat?!?! ๐Ÿ˜€

Yep, you can already hear the rooster crowing and we’re still on our โ€œhighโ€ conversing with one another. Well, that’s for us, women in the family. For the men, 2 hours is the maximum and they bid their โ€œgoodbyesโ€ in the middle of our conversation. The ever popular difference of men and women, eh? ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, going back to the Tagaytay escapade, we tried the Pamana restaurant with its awesome overlooking view of the Taal Lake and the food was superb too. I only captured shots of some dishes though, the long trip sure made us all pretty hungry.

I also loved the interiors which exude the ambiance of an old Hispanic house. Indeed, the concept of the restaurant matched with its name โ€œPamana,โ€ a Tagalog term for heirloom/inheritance.

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Captivating, isn’t it?

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We also scouted for anything new in the area which includes this food park called โ€œStrEat.โ€ We didnโ€™t get to try the food stalls though as itโ€™s flocked with a huge crowd when we got there. The next day, there was no plan where we will have our summer escapade. Weโ€™ve been traveling without a destination actually and we came to that point of giving up and just head back home because all the resorts weโ€™ve inquired were fully booked. Well, itโ€™s summer so we kind of expected that.

When we were on the verge of turning back, voila, God gave us one resort thatโ€™s not so jam packed with visitors but the place was nice (and budget friendly) enough to bond with the family. Hotel Monticello was indeed “heaven sent”  hubby and I actually thought it’d be perfect for a wedding reception too. We couldnโ€™t spend overnight though as weโ€™re only geared up for a day tour. When we arrived, we had all the pool to ourselves which means this – LOTS OF SELFIES! Hahaha ๐Ÿ˜€

Nope, donโ€™t get me wrong, I seldom take selfies. You can actually check my Instagram account for that. I just choose moments best for selfies and those moments that are not. And I only take selfies when nobody’s around, not even my hubby. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Selfie moment. My ever seldom selfie moment. 

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But really, when it comes to moments, there are just those that a camera snap isnโ€™t enough to capture them all. I guess that’s the reason why God created our memories, an infinite storage at the back of our heads where every single memory is captured and safely stored.

So this one article is up in the memory of my head, but in case I have amnesia days or years from now, I have WordPress to retell and rewind them for me. Ah yes, the joys and perks of blogging โ€“ your online journal indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S.

WordPress, please donโ€™t ever shut down. Like, EVER. ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh and check out this amusing video of my hubby and sister-in-law. Reminds me of my brother and I – siblings moment, they are. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

My Kind of Summer Swimwear: Nonconformist

So you must be wondering why I am oh-so-fueled with energy to write more than 1 post for this month. ๐Ÿ˜€

Answer: I am making the most of my idle and waiting time lest I become busy the following months – again. We can never tell so I am letting those ideas out in the open. Oh and yes, before I forget them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, this is a late post since summer is already over and the rainy season has welcomed its way already here in the metro and some provinces. Last summer getaway with my husband and his family, I was thinking about what to wear for my swimwear. I sure have a lot of two-piece swimsuits but I am not sure if I could wear them and swim without nothing on top.

While the rest of the world during summer is revealing too much skin with its very daring two-piece swimsuits (praying for a change), I can only be grateful to God for fashion designers who opted to create a swimwear that will preserve the dignity of women and not be treated as sex objects with their skimpy outfits by coming up with a comfortable and yet fashionably elegant outfit.

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I personally LOVED these swimsuits because they are made from a swimming material so they easily dry up, they are light-weight, securely padded, have an undershorts/bikini attached underneath, and theyโ€™re made of silky fabric that glides and never sticks on the skin even when sweating.

Of course, who likes to change outfits often right after swimming if you donโ€™t like to walk around in your two-piece swimsuit?

I can wear this around comfortably, no cover-up needed, which can serve as a dress for a lunch date too at the resort without the whistles, the catcalls and the โ€œheavyโ€ stares. If you know what I mean. Oh and yes, itโ€™s very convenient too if you want to travel light for your summer getaway โ€“ a swimsuit and a dress in one, no shorts and no cover up as added extras in your baggage. ๐Ÿ™‚

P.S.

I purchased these swimsuits at SM Department Store and Farmerโ€™s Plaza (Cubao) flea market at almost the same price (a reasonable one) โ€“ 500 php. I saw similar swimsuits being sold online and they tag them as three-piece swimsuits.

[Paul said,] โ€œI want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.โ€ โ€“ 1 Timothy 2:9

1st Year Wedding Anniversary Special: The Celebration

Hola, my dear beloved readers! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d like to start this very LONG article with a note of gratitude to God for making things possible from provisions, clear weather, safe travel everywhere and everything else in between. I’d like to thank my dear husband as well for every small and great thing he did for us. I do not intend though to share every wedding anniversary celebration that hubby and I have as there are some moments that make it to social media and there are those which do not. But I thought I’d give credit to our first year wedding anniversary considering that the first year for newlywed couples is the hardest when it comes to adjustment and settling of differences.

Thus, this article will be a testimony on how the grace of God manifested in our first year as a married couple but most especially how God made our 1st year wedding anniversary celebration extra special.

As it is written,

Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:31

Amazing it is when a couple makes a really big and extra effort in putting God at the center of their marriage even though circumstances and schedules permit otherwise. If you are to ask me what are they, I’d give a few instances. One would be temptations. Numerous situations will tempt you and your hubby to behave in a manner that is not right with God. This does not just pertain to temptations of the flesh like lust but other temptations like fits of rage, harsh words, doubts, impatience and a whole lot more.

Another would be priorities. I believe most of us are guilty of this: prioritizing those that shouldn’t be. One example was when hubby and I were so engrossed watching movies or checking out social media stuff and then when it was time to hit the hay, we’re both too sleepy to pray. Or that moment when we’re supposed to go to church but we kind of miscalculated our schedules, we ended up doing household chores first.

For us, these were mistakes and/or realizations on how to put God at the center. Going to church is not enough. In fact, we learned that putting God at the center of our lives meant every single thing that we do whether at home, or in work or in school whether we are with each other or with other people, God should always be included. It has to be Him whom we should think about first and consider whether it would be pleasing and honorable to God or whether it is in accordance to God’s will.

I have shared in my first article regarding our 1st year wedding anniversary (1st Year Wedding Anniversary Special: Mister and Missus) the nitty gritty details of our lives as a husband and a wife. But in this article, it’ll be more of the “greater learning”  that Brian and I have gathered in the 1st year of our experiences together. I haven’t mentioned yet the really not-so-good-stuff that he and I went through although I thought I’ll just give an overview on how most of them went – never good, always bad and sometimes worst.

The worst so far is something that you could think of as unbearable. Not just for us but for those who loved us too which made them intervene so it wouldn’t turn out to be THE worst. I am referring to our parents and our families. They are our mentors in this season. They’ve been there with us since the first day that Brian and I got married.

I couldn’t imagine my life as a wife and we wouldn’t be where we are now after multiple attempts of separating if it wasn’t for God sending these mentors and for all the advice, the encouragement and words of wisdom that our families have shared especially on my side. I felt I had to share some of the tough times that Brian and I went through with them to seek for counsel right away lest I become too emotional over matters and I would overlook important and necessary things.

It has always been my belief to seek wisdom in a matter of different perspectives and never one sided only. Relying on one’s own interpretation of situations could lead to a clouded judgment and in decision making, it is crucial that we get to see the bigger picture of what really goes on. Being a woman, my emotions tend to get in the way thus accountability partners are very much well appreciated on my part.

If there’s one prayer that I have for now, it is that God would continue to protect our marriage and continue to prepare me and Brian and provide all that we needed holistically so that we would be ready in any given circumstance when the enemy strikes. We always remind each other during a heated discussion that it is not one another that we are against but the forces of evil in this world.

I can only love and thank God that through our very trying times being married, God answered our call for help. All those desperate and hopeless times felt like there’s no better way to go through them but to quit and yet God never fails, His love never fails – He always remained faithful and true to His promises and His reminders are always there.

Thinking back of those times when we thought we were the cruelest, most selfish of people going through the most challenging situations ever did God teach us all about humility and submission. Forgiveness makes a whole lot of difference most especially if it is accompanied with sincere apologies and sincere actions of change.

Ahhh yes, those days were over. If they do come back, we know how to deal with it. We may not deal with it completely as perfect as how we should deal with it, but I know and I am positive there will be changes. This is God’s way of perfecting our faith in us. There will be more to come, but looking back, all I ever saw was one set of footprints and that is enough assurance that I have such a powerful God who can lift me up in whatever circumstance I am going through.

Now on to the testimony of our 1st year wedding anniversary celebration, I just don’t know how to express my gratitude and my happiness on how the Lord our God moved in behalf of us. AMAZING. Though this is not enough to describe it, that is the only word from my human vocabulary that I could think of to describe what transpired over that weekend.

August 17 was our anniversary date. It fell on a Wednesday. Brian and I planned our celebration the 1st weekend after that date. I was the one who made all the arrangements as Brian was busy at work and I, on the other hand, had an ample time to spare to inquire about this and that. I was also in charge with the budgeting and it is only Brian’s income that we’re relying on so I need to make sure we won’t go over the budget. So there was me searching all kinds of great but budget-friendly options.

The plan: have a dinner cruise in the evening, then an overnight-stay at the hotel. So there were only 2 items in our itinerary. Then came the cancellation of the dinner cruise as yacht was under maintenance so we were given options to choose among the dates they have offered and August 28 was the nearest from our wedding anniversary though it’s already 2 weeks away from the actual date.But I thought it wouldn’t matter anyway as it still falls on our anniversary month. I am not really particular about dates I even forget them, the special ones included. *wink*

So came August 17, and I thought we’re gonna treat it as a regular day since we’re going to celebrate it anyway. But lo and behold, to my surprise, Hubby arrived home from work braving the heavy rains and all the traffic with something in his hand – a bouquet of assorted flowers. Okay, now he and I had an agreement that I will only receive one flower from him in our entire lifetime together and that will be the first and the last as I will be preserving it – a memorabilia on preserving our love together as a couple. This was the rose that he gave me on our first Valentine’s day date back when we were still dating.

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When I saw the bouquet of course I smiled my widest, gave him a tight hug and a sweet kiss and then told him that he doesn’t have to. His answer was that he knew I will like them. So I teased him that now I have so many flowers to preserve and I am running out of glass canisters to put them. lol

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Well, I guess both of us knew what each of us wanted because I also made him a video which was a compilation of our wacky shots since we first met up to now. I showed it to him that night as well when he gave me the bouquet.

So now came the week before our final schedule for the celebration. That week had a pretty rough weather we were really running out of hopes that we’ll be celebrating the anniversary with a clear weather which means our plans will be ruined or we’ll make do of what we can. I never thought about canceling our plans but Brian wanted to move it to a later date.

Unfortunately we have limited options in doing so so I assured him to have faith, be patient, trust in the Lord and that we’ll continue praying. Come Thursday Brian was having pressing moments at work. I was sure he will really appreciate being able to do some adventurous stuff knowing the sporty person that he is. So I thought about coming up with another item in our itinerary – go to Rizal and have some nature and adventure fun in Daranak Falls. It was so out of the original plan but I checked the budget, we’ll still make it. I suggested the idea and he approved, excitedly approved actually.

I checked out reviews and blogs about the place and we came up with an itinerary. A few hours before we left, heavy rains still poured every now and then that my husband had dampened spirits too. I cheered him up when we woke up in the morning and saw the sun peering out. But hubby still told me it might rain hard for the rest of the day. We’re going to be doing a lot of road traveling and sight seeing and doing it on a rainy weather is a no-no as roads are slippery and we won’t enjoy the view anyway.

I once again comforted him that God has already answered our prayer request for a clear weather which we’ve been praying for how many nights in a row already. I told him that we should never give up along the way as my mentors would always remind me to look at the bigger picture, never on the road block or the problem that’s blocking the road or the view and to continue focusing on the goal and not on the journey. Our goal was to enjoy our wedding anniversary celebration in whatever circumstance.

So we ate an early breakfast and started heading out. Indeed, the Lord was faithful. For the rest of our first day/part 1 celeb, we’ve been given a clear weather. We’ve enjoyed nature at its best on a sunny weather. Just right because the falls were cool. If it was raining that day, we wouldn’t be able to withstand the cold water for long. But since it was a sunny day, hubby and I just had the best time having a hydro massage at the mini falls across the huge one.

Usually the place is flocked every weekend since it is just an hour ride away from the metro. But I guess since nobody expected for the weather to clear up right away on that day, there was only a small crowd (about 10-15 people) who was enjoying the resort with us. You could choose to roam around downstream, the huge falls, the river bed, the two smaller falls and you’ll still get a space for a nice shot without a photobomber. *wink*

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The splendor of Mother Nature.

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A very beautiful specie of butterfly fluttering around me while trying to take a good shot of her – the first of its kind.

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Here goes hubby’s epic jump!

 

Here’s a short video of our escapade there (do watch it at 480p):

God is good all the time, eh? But wait, that’s just the beginning of our itinerary. Because the 2 events we originally listed became 8. Well, I couldn’t count exactly because it all just happened out of the blue. We’re like going along the flow whichever God would want us to do and want us to have.

So we got to visit the windmills farm, the parola beside the lake (which I thought was a sea growing up in a coastal area), checked out the old historical church nearby and tried some local cuisine for snacks.

Everything went perfectly well even with how we managed the time (and expenses) and no traffic! Ha! Hubby was sure glad to drive with ease the whole time being surrounded with all the greenery. The car we used was Brian and his brother’s as they have another one for the family car. They share in using it but I told Bri to let his brother use it as they already have a baby and commuting with a toddler is tad difficult. Told him we will just borrow when there is a pressing need like this anniv celeb which happens only once a year. So praise God that the car was good to go as well for this event. ๐Ÿ˜€

When hubby and I got home, we started preparing for the part 2 of our celeb the next day which fell on a Sunday. Of course, Sundays are meant for God so if there is an itinerary, ggoing to church should be the first priority or if not, it should be included. We planned to stay at a hotel around Ortigas area after our dinner cruise so I suggested we attend church nearby or along the way to Manila bay.

Searched the Victory church website and found one at Robinsons Galleria mall. It has always been a habit for me and Brian to find a church nearby if we have activities lined up on Sunday. It was our first time at Victory Ortigas and every Victory church has their own communion schedule if I am not mistaken. We missed having one in our home church at Victory Katipunan for the month of August. But to our surprise, on that Sunday, it was communion day for Victory Ortigas. Yaaaay! Oh, the goodness of the Lord just goes on and on. A blessed Sunday it was as the events lined up on that day was also the “meat”  of the celebration.

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Early birds at Victory Ortigas.

After church, hubby and I decided to go directly to Manila bay for our dinner cruise. Guess what too, the new yacht assigned to us caters only a small group of people meaning it will give the guests a more exclusive experience. The yacht looked great too. We were supposed to be served a full-course plated meal with iced tea but since the yacht was small, they changed the caterer and the sea was expected to be rough these months too so they served them in bento boxes. But I preferred it this way because I don’t like my food spilling over my plate when the yacht changed courses or worse, spilling them over my dress. That is my worst nightmare during a date. lol BUT the best part which was not included in the package was a complimentary refillable glass of wine being offered to guests. Yaaay again!

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Welcome aboard!

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Aboard M/Y Selina.

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God is so full of surprises, ain’t He? So hubby and I were enjoying our dinner cruise moment and 1 hour was just not enough especially if you’re gonna take photos around the yacht, eat and drink. Or maybe we were having so much fun we totally lost track of the time. *wink*

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The view of the bay from the yacht.

So final verdict? We’re definitely going to relive the experience but on a summer night AND when there is a pyromusical event at SM Mall of Asia. Now that gives you an idea how you could spend a romantic date with your special someone too. Let’s share the love, shall we? We say, cheers to that! ๐Ÿ™‚

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After dinner we went to SM Mall of Asia to catch pokemons. lol But nope, I am no pokemon go player. My husband tried it out of curiosity thus tried to catch some while we’re still in the area and ordered our favorite fraps at Starbucks located along the boulevard. Now it was late already when we got to Richmonde hotel where we will spend the night away.

Entering this classy hotel will make you lost in translation. I was totally loving the hotel’s elegant interiors probably because I like earth tones when it comes to color choices and gold never fails to magnify the sophistication of every item like black. It was actually the color motif of hubby and I for our dinner date – yellow/gold and black.

We went inside our room which was very cozy by the way and it matched the elegance of the hotel’s lobby. Since we were dead tired because of the previous events especially hubby who was diving and swimming his heart out in Daranak falls, we’ve thought about having a massage. We tried the 90-minute Swedish aromatherapy massage at Nuat Thai near the hotel and I found myself giggling, not because of the massage, but the snoring client beside my room. lol

Well, I couldn’t blame him. The massage was so good, so therapeutic and relaxing it’ll really make you doze off. I am not really a massage lover but I appreciated it so much in a way that it made me so calm and relaxed after the session. Hubby said that he, too, fell asleep. Hmmmm, was he the one who snored?! lol ๐Ÿ˜€

I didn’t know massages can make you go hungry. *wink*  So afterwards, we went ahead and had a tapsilog meal at Rufo’s. When we got back to the hotel we were just so drowsy and we understood why, it’s already 1am! Okay, it’s really time for taps.

The next day/part 3 of the celeb we had our sumptuous and delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel’s cafe. We had no photos as we don’t want to break the sophisticated atmosphere with us taking selfies everywhere. We felt like it’s inappropriate especially when expats were eating beside your table. *wink*  We then decided to take a swim at the hotel’s heated pool and we couldn’t capture a pretty decent shot lest some of the guests might be irritated if they’d find out their faces were included in the photo without their permission. I happen to have one taken but a lady just made it in time as a photobomber. lol No offense though, it oftentimes happens. *wink*

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His signature squint, my signature pout. ๐Ÿ˜‰

By the time we finished our morning dip at the pool we headed back to our room and prepared for the check out. We decided to have the car washed, loaded up and went on our way home sweet home. Then, it began to rain. ๐Ÿ˜€

Alas, we’re now finally at the comfort of our quaint little home. This home of ours was a little apartment that my siblings and I shared starting when we were all studying in college. When my eldest sister and brother got married, my second sister worked in Norway and my third sister went to our home province to be with our parents, I was left alone. So now my hubby and I are occupying this place.

I always tell my husband that it is such a privilege for us to live in this minimalist and simple home. We had nothing to worry about the stuff that we needed and my siblings and I used to take turns in doing a house makeover every now and then. So many memories are in here thus it is always a reminder for us to take good care of this humble abode. I used to hate cleaning but I love it now especially when I see the aftermath. We do have plans of getting our own house but we’ll have to wait and trust God and His right time with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

The events during the weekend went on smoothly and we’re still right on track with our budget. The provisions of God do overflow when you share what you need to give and you have faith that only God is the sole provider of everything. Besides, it’s better to give than to receive anyway. *big smiles there*  Everything was planned out perfectly because God planned it that way. I am just extremely thankful for everything. We just have a great God, haven’t we?

I couldn’t imagine how Brian and I managed to celebrate it with so much ease, no worries and no hassle knowing we were relying on his income alone for our expenses; secondly, his schedule at work was difficult to arrange and lastly, the weather didn’t go well a couple of weeks prior to the celeb. It was a combined celebration of simplicity and elegance, adventure and sophistication, nature and man-made – the perfect balance.

It actually doesn’t matter what are the particulars when it comes to celebrating special moments with a loved one. The good and bad memories that you and your spouse build every single day are enough to remind you of the love that you have for each other which is more important than any celebration in every marriage. Love rules, love wins, and love is all that matters. (I think I heard myself singing that. lol)

But the truth of the matter is that a marriage requires this – FAITH. When it comes to faith, I only have these two to think about:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. – Hebrews 12:22

Keep the faith ALWAYS too, my dear brothers and sisters! โค

Much love,

Tin and Bri

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I Love BICOL (Part 2): Siama Hotel

(Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.)

My family and I visited the province of Sorsogon regarding an urgent matter last June 2, 2015 and having read about Siama Hotelย in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, my sister, my Dad and I thought it best if we could drop by the hotel and check it out since we will be passing it by going home.

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Siama Hotel

After finishing everything, we headed off towardsย Brgy.ย Bibincahan which is just a few miles away from the city proper along the diversion road. Thank God for Google maps, we need not ask around for specific directions and found ourselves looking at the gates of the Siama Hotel.

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Hotel lobby.

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Long wooden table and black leather chairs.

If you are in need of a breather away from city life and opt to enjoy the bounty that nature has to offer, this would be the escape you’ve been needing. The hotel is situated in a secluded estate which is primarily cultivated as a coconut plantation.ย We already had an idea how the place looks like seeing the pictures in the local newspaper but to see is to believe.

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Reception area.

We arrived after lunch time and the first thing that came into my mind when I saw the minimalist exteriors of the hotel lobby is that they wanted to enhance the interior decorations and furniture which was designed by one of the owners, Mr. Milo Naval, a well-acclaimed interior designer.

Indeed, the interiors of the hotel lobby from chairs, tables, lamps and cabinets are all a work of creative art and truly a masterpiece. What is interesting about it is that Mr. Naval came up with the idea of using indigenous raw materials such as rattan, native coconut products as well as wood from local trees depicting so much of the Bicol region.

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Wicker chairs.

Their very modern pool is the highlight of the hotel. It is just a striking fusion of having this beautiful modern pool nestled at the center surrounded by giant ferns and tall coconut trees in contrast to the minimalist, local design of the hotel’s exteriors.

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Siama Hotel

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The pool and the hotel rooms in the background.

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They also have a hall for events and this is just suitable and perfect for wedding receptions, conferences, birthdays and other special occasions. Once again, the interiors as well as the exteriors of the hall did not fall short in evoking that subtle and yet sophisticated style – definitely no grandeur, shining, and shimmering designs everywhere. But if you ask me about elegance, Siama Hotel nailed it.

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Event hall exteriors.

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The event hall.

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Cabinets with antique bric-a-brac.

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More wicker chairs.

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Food/bar lounge.

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The event hall.

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Hanging capiz shells as a glass curtain.

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The function room.

They are currently constructing an outdoor spa which is one of the things I am looking forward to when they are done with it. I must say it is going to be a one-of-a-kind outdoor spa which, once again, exemplifies designs made from local materials such as bamboo.

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The outdoor spa are those surrounded by bamboo stilts behind the coconut trees and there are 3 of them being constructed as of writing.

This is going to be one of the best and state-of-the-art hotels in Bicol especially if you are in the province of Sorsogon and you plan to have your vacation in class and in style. Surely, your vacation will be worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is their website:ย http://www.siamahotel.com/.

P.S.

You’ll also find this very peculiar but creatively designed “eco-padyak” which is but a magnificent piece of art and a rarity.

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I Love BICOL (Part 1): Masacrot Spring

I was born inย Bicol region at the far end of the province of Sorsogon. I am a Bicolana and thisย is how we, the locals, are commonly called. I only transferred in the metro when I attended college at UP Diliman but my love for nature didn’t stop there. I grew up being a nature lover because of this – Bicol offers a very luscious nature with its beautiful and wide biodiversity making it one of the famous places there is here in the Philippinesย to visit for ecotourism.

You can also find in Bicol the majestic Mt. Mayon volcano which is known for its perfect cone. Though we are located in the ring of fire housing two active volcanoes,ย they are actually the few things that made our region a tourist spot because of the hot and cold springs which can be found at the foot of the volcanoes.

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Mt. Mayon Volcano

Hot springs are very common but I am not sure if you have heard of cold springs in a tropical country – and I mean, an ice cold spring. ๐Ÿ™‚

In this article, I will be featuring one of the famous cold springs in the province of Sorsogon in Bicolย which my family visited last May 31, 2015 – the Masacrot Spring.

So why the name? “Masacrot” is a Bicol term which meansย “astringent.”ย 

Astringency

Some foods, such as unripe fruits, contain tannins or calcium oxalate that cause an astringent or puckering sensation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Examples include tea, red wine, rhubarb, and unripe persimmons and bananas.

Less exact terms for the astringent sensation are “dry”, “rough”, “harsh” (especially for wine), “tart” (normally referring to sourness), “rubbery”, “hard” or “styptic”.[73]

When referring to wine, dry is the opposite of sweet, and does not refer to astringency. Wines that contain tannins and so cause an astringent sensation are not necessarily classified as “dry,” and “dry” wines are not necessarily astringent.

In the Indian Ayurvedic tradition, one of the six tastes is astringency (kasaaya).[74]

– WIKIPEDIA

They say that the water in the Masacrot Spring contains one of the best minerals in the world and this is probably why the water is astringent. But nothing to worry because the water at the Masacrot Spring is potable.

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Masacrot Spring

The blue green watersย of the pool will captivate you that much it’d make you want to take the plunge right away. I know those who loves to swim will agree with me. The pool was hand-carved and set up in a natural background making you feel more one with nature. This was the second time we visited Masacrot Spring and the first time was when I was just 5 years old. Whew! That was way, way back I could barely remember a thing except that there’s a very cold pool that exists in this world. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Pristine, crystal blue green waters.

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Hand-carved pool.

Taking a plunge in the cold pool can only be described in one perfect word – invigorating. YES, that is a definite. Chills will run down from your spine to your bones the moment the cold water touches your skin. Though I wouldn’t advise taking a dip in the pool without moving for a long period of time because it is REALLY that freezing cold.

Locals visit the place during the peak of the summer season wherein weather temperature rises to as high as 39 degrees. With this kind of temperature, dipping in a freezing, ice cold water is such a life-saver to combat the extreme heat wave.

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Masacrot Spring pool.

The bottom of the pool is not made of cement or tiles but with the regular clay-ish soil similar to that of the entire resort covered with moss. Nothing to worry because it is not that slippery as you imagine. There are parts in the pool though that go as deep as 6 feet. So if you are not a swimmer, better rent or bring your own floaters for swimming, old and young alike.

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Don’t forget your swimming floaters. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The cold water is free flowingย tooย so the water stays clean even though it is usually flocked by a lot of swimmers and visitors during the peak season. They also have a lot of cottages which you and your family could rent and grill stations for your barbecues and grilled fish. Now, that makes me hungry. ๐Ÿ˜€

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The perfect summer snack: unripe, pretty sour mangoes with shrimp paste.

Masacrot Spring is located inย Bulusan, Sorsogon and if you will be coming from the airport in Legazpi, Albay, it will be a 2-hour drive. There’s no problem commuting except that I suggest you hire a van or a jeepney that will take you there and pick you up for a hassle-free vacay for you and your family or friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

April Full

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An escape away from the city.

Yup, it was so full. Not about April Fool’s Day though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you have noticed, I don’t have an entry for the entire month of April. That is because I was swamped with a lot of activities last month, I only got to “breathe” and check my blog now. I still am a bit busy but not as hectic as compared with the sched last month.

So first things first.

My sister arrived from Norway and decided we have a family outing and relaxation this summer. But before that, we met one of our titos, my Dad’s brother, Tito Cesar and my cousin Arra for a get together/ lunch at Escolta then the day after it was followed by a family dinner with the family of my brother’s wife.

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Lunch with Tito Cesar and Arra at Escolta. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Dinner with the Silvestre family at Pinac restaurant. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Pinac Family Day

For our family summer outing this year, my eldest sister chose Luljetta Hanging Gardens located at Antipolo as she personally knows the owner and it is just an hour away from the busy metro.

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My eldest sister, Ate Faye. ๐Ÿ™‚

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One of their infinity pools. This one is the biggest.

When we got to the place, I fell in love with it. The scenery may not be as spectacular as I have expected but if you opt for a quiet place where you could commune with nature and be rejuvenated, this is exactly the place to be.

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He is…errr…uhmm….contemplating? Perhaps. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Side of the infinity pool.

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Restaurant that caters local and international cuisines.

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The Zen lounge.

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A place to sit and relax.

I recommend this if you, your friends or families intend to have a retreat. There are quotations and phrases that uplift the heart and soul as you pass by the trail.

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The garden.

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Love is….

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Uplifting quotations everywhere.

Guessing by its name, the spa and hanging gardens were carved and placed right on the side of a mountain. It was the architecture of the place that, for me, made it awesome.

But there is one restriction though that this place may posit – there are trails that are far too steep, it will not be convenient to those who are old enough to climb a hundred stairs.

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Steep stairs, by the cliff.

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Reading nook.

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Cabana

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The jacuzzi.

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Sauna and jacuzzi.

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The other infinity pool. This is perfect for kids.

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Inside the Buddha’s lounge.

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Intricate interiors made from raw local materials.

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The way to the lounge.

But the good thing is that if you wish to use the spa only, it is easily accessible by anyone. Only the infinity pools, the sauna, the hydromassage pool and the Dr. Fish are situated right down below the hotel. Their restaurant is also located at the terrace of the hotel.

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One of the Dr. Fish pools.

image

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Hydromassage Pool

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Hydromassage Pool

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There goes the heavy downpour! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Hydromassage pool.

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Bubbles are everywhere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Perfect for back aches.

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Lunch time.

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Adobo.

The hydromassage pool and Dr. Fish are new to me so it was the first thing that we tried when we got there. It was a very funny experience for us so I took a video of all the fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The hydromassage pool can be compared to a big jacuzzi and there are two bars that have rainshowers-like splatters pouring out. I wasn’t able to experience getting drenched under a heavy downpour, not even when I was a kid, so this experience was one of the most memorable I must say. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The place is perfect for couples as well on a honeymoon as geographically, you won’t be able to see other visitors coming here and going there except perhaps during the peak season.

We were able to have our spa session a few minutes before the sunset. So we chose the outdoor massage and they usually conduct the session in a nipa hut of your choice beside the cliff overlooking the cityscape. It is just the perfect time to relax before dinner time or in the case of my parents, they scheduled a session a couple of hours before bedtime.

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Our merienda, one of Antipolo’s delicacies paired with lemon grass iced tea before the spa session.

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Goodbye city life for now.

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It is spa time. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The outdoor massage nipa huts.

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Flowery

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The restaurant at Taktak Hall.

Another first-time experience that I had is being in a seat that goes up and makes a full 360 rotation. It is called Dream Twister and one of the newest attractions at SM Mall of Asia.

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Sunset walk before trying the Dream Twister. ๐Ÿ™‚

My fiance and I are always up for challenging activities and so I asked him if we could try it together. And of course, how could he say no? ๐Ÿ˜‰

So up we went and it was the most exhilirating experience I have had. I think it is even challenging than doing bungee jumping or sky diving because the seats rotate then goes up and down, fast and slow. Imagine being held by a giant while he is walking and he is swaying his arms – that is the exact feeling. It was so fun I definitely will try it again. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Let the FUN BEGIN!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

And of course, the highlight for the month of April was my brother’s military wedding. I have been one of their witnesses how their union as a couple started. They met through the singles’ getaway in one of our churches, Victory Fort, and as they say, the rest is history.

My sister-in-law is my brother’s first girlfriend and I have so much admiration for my brother for he stayed true to his commitment when he told me that his first girlfriend will also be his last as she will be the one he is going to marry.

Here are some photos during one of the best milestones of their lives together as a couple:

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Me and my sisters, Ate Ayn and Ate Abeden. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The princesses of the Ginete family. ๐Ÿ™‚

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All the ladies in the house. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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The Ginete fam bam. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My mom. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Casis family missing the owner of the uniform. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Me and my ever goofy fiance. ๐Ÿ˜€

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The retired civil engineer and retired grade school teacher – my parents. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I believe that it is also God who fulfilled that commitment for him until come that day wherein my brother is now in front of God making one of his greatest commitments – the Holy Matrimony.

I just feel blessed and grateful that I now look up to them as the couple who may not have the perfect relationship but persevered to keep it in reverence to the Lord and His beautiful promises for both of them.

Having said that, I will leave you with this video which captured their most special moment that no words could describe. ๐Ÿ™‚

TRES AMIGOS Boracay: A Mexican Delight

I have to apologize, yes. For this post is long overdue. But it came in timely as it is the start of summer now and beach getaways are on top of the list. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Beach Essentials

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Pure white sand, the hot sun AND our feet. *wink*

I was supposed to write this over the holidays. But well, the holiday season is just the busiest in our calendars – vacations, getaways, dining out with families and friends. But this article is not about the holiday getaway with my fiance and his family last December 2014 at Boracay Island in Aklan, Philippines. Allow me though to post some photos of our holiday getaway there:

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Boracay 2014

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Fairways and Bluewater Resort

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Infinity pool.

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ATV fun with the Rome family.

This post will be a food review about one of our favorite type of cuisines – Mexican. We found one at the heart of Boracay inside D’ Mall exactly on our last day – Tres Amigos.ย Indeed, it was a nice way to cap off our island experience in Boracay.

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Tres Amigos Boracay

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Tres Amigos’ Menu

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Table centerpiece.

My fiance orderedย chimichangaย while his brother and I orderedย beef burritoย and quesadilla.

Tres Amigos’ beef burrito is one of their best sellers. And I can tell why. It has that smooth blend of Mexican spices that are not too overpowering and mixes well with the mango salsa. Of course, the perfect aroma of Mexican spices never fail to tease my palate.

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Beef Burrito

For the chimichanga,ย it is similar to our beef burritos except that it was fried. When I saw the crisp sides of the dish, my mouth just melted away I just went ahead and indulged myself over a good crispy, crunchy portion.

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Chimichanga

Theย quesadillaย will surely melt your heart away. Every part of it was melted to perfect goodness and the smooth texture of the beef and cheese just complemented well with the overall texture of the pita bread.

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Quesadilla

I forgot to take a photo of the refreshing mango shake, the perfect all-natural fruit drink to pair with the tasty Mexican dishes we had.

So if you are headed towards Boracay this summer, you might want to tryย Tres Amigosย if your appetite is craving for that Mexican delight and yes, at a very affordable price too. Bon appetit! ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Mexican lovers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Summer Splashin’ at Anawangin Cove

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The hilltop view of the ocean.

The choice of our summer destination came just out of the blue. It was a random decision to have our summer getaway at Anawangin when I came across one advertisement over Facebook about tour packages.

We chose Anawangin Cove in Zambales for two reasons: 1) it is near the metro we wouldn’t be traveling for long hours and 2) the camping in the pine trees idea seemed interesting and exciting enough. So off we went planning and organizing the getaway.

Came the day of our summer escapade and we were absolutely thrilled the moment we set foot on the first island during our island hopping. It was Capones Island. A secluded, tiny island host to an old lighthouse. The island was littered with white, big stones smooth enough for you to walk on barefoot but I don’t recommend it at all as the stones tend to get really hot during the day until mid afternoon.

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Beach of Capones Island

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Me and Ja at the old lighthouse of Capones Island.

After Capones Island, we went to Camara Island, an island smaller than Capones with beautiful rock and cliff formations. After taking photos for a couple of minutes, we then headed to our final destination, the Anawangin Cove.

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Rock and cliff formations.

When we got to the venue, the first thing that my gaze searched for were the pine trees. You wouldn’t see them right off the beach but only after crossing the lake that’s between the beach and the camping site. Our package included the camping tents that we will use, our meals for our overnight stay, 5 gallons of water, entrance fee, boat fee as well as fees for our tour guide.

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The Anawangin Cove

We have no problems with the dressing and comfort rooms as there are about 14 of them and there’s enough water supply for all the campers. The toilets are clean although all of them do not have proper locks so I suggest you have a companion waiting for you outside when dressing up or using the comfort room.

The camping site is clean and all the staff are very generous in helping us with our needs and in providing assistance. Better prepare yourself with a good flashlight as there is no electricity and inform your family beforehand that there is no signal in the island for all communication networks.

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The camping site.

The seaside is very clean and the pristine, shallow waters a few meters from the shore made it suitable for non-swimmers like me to enjoy swimming big time.

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Our boat.

But what I wasn’t prepared at all was the trekking to the hilltop overlooking the Anawangin Cove. We were all not prepared for the treacherous hike with its very steep slope, rocky and slippery trail which resulted to shaking knees and extreme exhaustion. But tolerable enough to make your way up and down the hill. So, don’t worry. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The hill.

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Onset of the trekking.

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Halfway the climb, almost there.

But cheer up for all your efforts are just completely worth it when you reach the top and be amazed by the beautiful, picturesque scenery that’s in front of your eyes. Ahh the beauty of wonders that forever remain a wonder. ๐Ÿ˜€

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Finally made it to the top!

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The Anawangin Cove

After the trekking, my friends and I decided to take a dip to cool down our exhausted and tired bodies and then prepared for our departure from the island.

It was a wonderful experience that made me say I am VERY MUCH FULFILLED indeed. I am definitely looking forward to going back and appreciate the beauty of the Anawangin Cove once again. It’s beauty is endless, it is just plain captivating. Captivating enough to make your memories of it worthy reminiscing. Praise be to God for these awesome wonders! ๐Ÿ™‚