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˜€

Hotel Monticello

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˜‰

 

 

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Fearless Fun in Trail Biking

I was scared. At first.

But then again, the adventure seeker in me said, “Try it out, Tin. What are you afraid of?”

Indeed, what am I afraid of? I really don’t know why but let’s just say I grew up overflowing with protection from my family. Yes, to put it lightly and mildly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I never experienced riding the bike on a highway and just nestled within the comforts of our own front yard. As a kid back then, it never mattered to me. All I’m after was to spend my endless energy biking around back and forth mindless of anything except the freedom of chasing speed, of defying gravity and the joy of balance. I am proud to say I learned how to ride the bike without any scratch. A very careful driver, you say? Yes, I am!

So, maybe that explains why I have this fear of biking outside the precious protection of our yard and into that long, winding lane where the “kings of the road” converge – the busy highway. I am afraid I might get a scratch this time.

Oh, Tin. What kind of reasoning is that.ย ๐Ÿ˜€

I know, you’re probably laughing out loud now. But let’s just put it this way, I admit I am afraid of getting hurt – that kind of hurt that is bigger than a scratch. I am more concerned about a broken neck, a protruding bone from a broken leg, or a dislocated shoulder perhaps. I mean, name any form of accident-related injury, it is enough to make me worried sick.

But, but, but….how will I ever experience a higher level of biking experience if I won’t step out of my comfort zone? How can I always let fear interfere with fulfilling my dreams? (This is more difficult to attain.)

So now, the dream came true. I happened to have been given by God a fiance who enjoys communing with nature and has that adventure-seeking attitude as well. That is, seeking adventure in a healthy and sporty way – TRAIL BIKING.

Whoa! Can I start with biking on a highway first before that? He said yes, and so this was how the fun began.

Sweating, panting, breathing heavily, and a thumping heart. That was how my first bike ride on the highway felt. Not bad for my first try, Brian assured me. Well, I was actually the one more worried for him as he would constantly look back to check how I’m doing and he might get hit by a fast-moving vehicle from the other lane. But by God’s grace and protection, the first try was an achievement.

I got a sore butt and aching muscles especially in my arms and legs but I was smiling. Gone is the fear and here is the fun.

Brian saw how much I enjoyed it. So what we did is spend quality time together by biking around their neighborhood with just our slippers, regular T-shirts and shorts. Indeed, practice makes something perfect.

Then the moment came.

He invited me to go biking on the highway of Nuvali in Tagaytay. I said well, that is fine with me. Although I still have this little fear of biking on a highway but not as much during my first attempt. So we loaded the bikes in the car and off we went to our biking venue. When we got there, the weather is just so perfect for biking – a bit chilly and not too sunny.

Pre-Nuvali ride selfie shot with my fiance and my biking partner.

Pre-Nuvali ride selfie shot with my fiance and my biking partner.

We readied the bikes and ourselves (of course) and off we went. But after hitting about a few road stretches, I was getting bored and when Brian caught up with me, he asked, “Hon, I know you are getting bored. Do you want to try going in the trail that me and my fellow trail bikers would usually take during our rides? It is not far from here.”

Highway mode on.

Highway mode on.

I was a bit hesitant because I have seen his trail biking photos and I know it is going to take so much preparation from me either when it comes to biking gear and equipment or even just mentally before going in. But, I cannot let fear interfere again, right?

The answer was, “Yes, let’s try it.” And I trusted him that he knows his craft so well. So we took the diversion off the main road to the trail and oh boy, it was indeed wilderness with bushes along the trail, potholes and zigzag paths with steep slopes that welcomed me.

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Before stopping over.

But, here’s the fun part. I found myself laughing while biking. I was riding the bike though with too much precaution that Brian would remind me to just enjoy the ride and just release that tension off the grip. Yes, because I am gripping the bike handles too tight lest I might not be able to hold the brakes when the need arises. LOL

The happy kid in me. *all smiles*

The happy kid in me. *all smiles*

I was feeling every motion of the bike and I can feel myself one with it. It was such a fantastic feeling of having this total control over the bike and be able to maneuver it in such a way that you get through going up and going down every steep slope and keep the bike steady with that every bump and every sharp turn.

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Bushes all around, nothing else but lush greens.

Well, I didn’t stumble and I didn’t fall though I almost did but I came out the trail unscathed. We stopped for a couple of times so I could catch my breath as I don’t do gym work outs so definitely I have no cardio exercise which is, by the way, very important before doing any extreme sport such as trail biking. Though we only finished 1/3 of the trail, Brian congratulated me that I made it that far and did it quite well for someone who has no experience whatsoever when it comes to trail biking. Yay! ๐Ÿ˜€

When we were out on the highway again, I can feel freedom at its best. I was savoring the wind touching my face, the scent of fresh air, the lush greens around me and even the trucks behind me. I can even ride the bike with just one hand! Yes, along the highway. Just imagine how much I have learned, tried, experienced and accomplished by not giving in to fear and saying yes to fun.

Upon exiting the trail saying "peace" to a bumpy but joyful ride. :)

Upon exiting the trail saying “peace” to a bumpy but joyful ride. ๐Ÿ™‚

Whew! And it was indeed REALLY FUN. Now I am ALL SET for my next trail biking adventure. Next goal – reach midway of the trail in a faster biking pace. *keeping my fingers crossed*

These are the moments that I thank God for – the right recreation at the right moment with the right people. I am grateful too for my fiance and my biking partner who is such a patient guide and teacher.

Oh and for being an excellent photographer too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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It All Started at Sonya’s Secret Garden

Brian and I @ Sonya's Secret Garden

Brian and I @ Sonya’s Secret Garden

 

Now, it is no longer a secret. The garden, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And who Brian is. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

Coffee table book.

Coffee table book.

 

I met him when I was selected to be one of the study patients of a research at the Asian Eye Institute. It was an answered prayer – for my eyesight to be healed. I have God to be extremely grateful for with this blessing. And yet, the โ€œpackageโ€ did not stop there. Little did I know that I am soon to be partnered with my nurse in this thing which we call โ€œlove.โ€ Oh Father God, You are indeed the great matchmaker and composer of everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, now this is the part where it gets cheesy and cheesier. You might as well grate me or just allow yourself to be melted away. ๐Ÿ˜€

I waited for 2 years before God has given him to me. That was a long wait, for me. But the wait never really mattered. Because I was passionately driven in pursuing a personal relationship with God and in serving Him in those two years that I was not in a relationship with anyone. That should be what comes first – serve God, find your mission and then find your mate.

I was more than amazed when just a few weeks of being friends , I can tell that we are match-made to be partners. *ehem* Oh really now, Tin. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kidding aside, exactly the qualities I asked for and every time I make that exciting discovery, I canโ€™t help but smile a very amused smile and think, โ€œMy Father, You and Your ways never fail to amuse me though I am completely thrilled for what else You have in store for us.โ€ Brian though is never perfect. He has his own weaknesses and personal struggles same as I am. We are all a work in progress when it comes to being the persons that God wants us to be. But we both rejoice in what is good, in what we have learned, in learning and where we are happy the most โ€“ pure and genuine happiness because we know it makes our God happy too.

I know that if I am to list down all the qualities, it will be endless. But just to name a few that really stood out when we were just getting to know each other, Iโ€™ll give a brief rundown:

  • We both love the color blue.
  • We love viands that are not sweet.
  • We prefer communing with nature than spend long hours at the mall.
  • We love the simple things.
  • And lastly, we enjoy each otherโ€™s company.

Now, that last part is the one thing that I love the most. Why? Because it only means I could get to be who I am when I am with him. We donโ€™t care if we look silly at times or if we crack the silliest jokes mindless of other people who would think we are being overly โ€œcornyโ€ or hilarious. No pretensions so to speak. He accepts my eccentricities (mildly put, not exactly the medical term) and vice versa. The same as our relationship with God. We have to be as sincere and as open to Him as possible, connecting every single moment of your life with Him from the moment you wake up until the time you lay your head down the pillow. A personal, loving and lasting relationship โ€“ that is how you get to know Him more.

And that is how I got to know Brian more โ€“ a personal moment at a secret garden (that is not really secret because it is well-known among the locals and tourists alike. ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

 

Lovely blooms.

Lovely blooms.

The entrance to Sonya's restaurant.

The entrance to Sonya’s restaurant.

One of the lodges.

One of the lodges.

Morning Glory garden. The other two are The Conservatory and Sunflower.

Morning Glory garden. The other two are The Conservatory and Sunflower.

 

The place is very memorable to me. I have always been in love with gardens. They are my places of solace and comfort. I feel calm, at ease and more at peace with myself when I am surrounded by the best that nature could offer โ€“ simplicity.

 

Flower in bloom.

Flower in bloom.

Feeling like a princess. *wink*

Feeling like a princess. *wink*

The photographer taken by the photographer too.

The photographer taken by the photographer too.

 

Though I dressed up too โ€œcolorfulโ€ for the date making me look like one of the flowers at the garden ย and making me wish Iโ€™d never worn something as vibrant as that, I pretty much enjoyed the ambiance of the place. It is very RELAXING. I didn’t skip that opportunity to take more photos of literally anything I could lay my eyes on.

 

Sonya's chair.

Sonya’s chair.

Coffee table book.

Coffee table book.

Birds of paradise.

Birds of paradise.

Superb drapery for their banquet hall.

Superb drapery for their banquet hall.

 

And yes, though they offer their menu in buffet style, you wonโ€™t feel โ€œheavyโ€ afterwards nor feel guilty of having eaten too much. Why? They serve vegetarian dishes. Most of their dishes are very light and their pastas are not heavy on herbs and spices. Just a little bit of them to tease your palate. You have an option if you will have white or red sauce.ย Of course, how could I forget how Brian and I made fun of the chamomile hand wash/sanitizer because I thought it is just for decor of some sort or I will wash my veggie food there and I had to ask the waiter what is it used for (oh if embarrassment could kill, Iโ€™d be dead already. ๐Ÿ˜€ ). But it smells SOOO GOOOD!

 

The Menu.

The Menu.

Buffet corner.

Buffet corner.

Lettuce and arugula.

Lettuce and arugula.

Garnish your salad with a selection of fruits in season like mango and pineapple.

Garnish your salad with a selection of fruits in season like mango and pineapple.

There he is with his jicama/singkamas.

There he is with his jicama/singkamas.

Fresh flowers in a vase centerpiece.

Fresh flowers in a vase centerpiece.

Relaxing ambiance.

Relaxing ambiance.

 

I also love how they kept our bread warm. They rolled it in a piece of cloth (linen, I presume) and served it in a basket along with the spread and other spices. Oh I love their salad dressings and spread too! But just a piece of caution to those of you who are not veggie lovers, they offer quite A LOT of greens in their dishes. I am a veggie lover so I enjoyed making that munch and that crunch in my every bite of their salads. And to end it all, a nice serving of chocolate cake and tarragon tea.

 

Whole wheat sesame bread.

Whole wheat sesame bread.

Sonyaโ€™s Secret Salad Dressing, Balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan cheese.

Sonyaโ€™s Secret Salad Dressing, Balsamic vinegar/extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan cheese.

Basil pesto, white cheese, anchovies, tomato salsa, mushroom pate, black olive tapenade, and fresh green peppercorn in olive oil.

Basil pesto, white cheese, anchovies, tomato salsa, mushroom pate, black olive tapenade, and fresh green peppercorn in olive oil.

Homemade choco cake.

Homemade choco cake.

Tarragon Tea

Tarragon Tea

 

Overall comment? It was a very happy and relaxed eating indeed. ๐Ÿ˜€

I adored every nook at Sonyaโ€™s garden. Aside from the restaurant, they also have the Panaderia,ย  and a store where you could buy goodies, memorabilia and pasalubong for your friends and family. It is also a very suitable place for wedding receptions as they have a separate private venue for that near the restaurant.

 

The way to the comfort rooms.

The way to the comfort rooms.

Chandelier.

Chandelier.

Native finds.

Native finds.

Capiz hanging decor.

Capiz hanging decor.

Organic scents, trinkets and other good finds.

Organic scents, trinkets and other good finds.

For Wedding Receptions

For Wedding Receptions

The Walkway

The Walkway

The Panaderia

The Panaderia

Me trying the hat.

Me trying the hat.

 

I wished for my own home someday to be surrounded by lots of greenery too. Like what we also have in our home in Bicol. I believe it is what makes every home a home โ€“ it looks natural, no too much synthetic ornaments.

Just like our relationship with God โ€“ you are more at ease with Him when it is genuine. ๐Ÿ™‚

Every love story is created differently. But the one thing that they should all have in common is this โ€“ God at the center.

I believe I have to end this โ€œdateโ€ on this note for now to save some memories for Brian and I to cherish. I hope you would give us that privilege. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And this too, a poem which I made especially for him. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

A Blanket of Love by Tin Ginete

A Blanket of Love by Tin Ginete

P.S.

We ended the date by watching Ronin 47. Yes, how could I ever forget the last lines. Just the perfect cheesy but romantic lines to end this cheesy but romantic article. ๐Ÿ˜€

Kai (Keanu Reeves): I will search for you through 1000 worlds and 10000 lifetimes!

Mika (Ko Shibasaki): I will wait for you in all of them.

(Thank you so much for the wonderful time, for the lunch treat and movie date, baby! I love you so much!)