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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Discovering Magalawa Island in Palauig, Zambales

I've been hearing about this island since early last year.  I heard its a secluded island with no electricity and no accommodation.  Overtime, this island has improved.  There are accommodations available and electricity and water are available 24/7.  I wished I visited this place before it got a little commercialized.

Well, the island is still nice and worth visiting now.  With its improved surrounding, at least one can no longer worry living in such primitive island.  Details about this island, however, is still limited.  When you search about this island in Google, you will only get one result, which is care of Ms. Grace.  But when we were there, there exist other individuals who sends guests to the island.  I'm just not sure who or which resort handles it.  Anyway, we availed Ms. Grace's package.  This includes entrance, boat transfer, accommodation, food and water activities.  Only the tent accommodation was left for us which cost Php 1,300 per pax (min. of 5 pax, overnight accommodation) so some of us brought their own tent and food.  They just paid for the entrance (Php 300 for overnight) and boat transfer (Php 100) per person.  You cannot cook your own food there supposedly but we saw other people grilling their food.  Good thing our DIY companion still brought their cooking stuff even if I told them its not allowed.  If you still want DIY and don't have any cooking equipment with you, you can just buy meals in the carinderia/store available in the island.  I think budget meal cost Php 70 to Php 100.

Before, Ms. Grace offers island hopping that includes the San Salvador island.  But now, they only offer snorkeling and rafting as water activities.  The reason being is that the current can be unpredictable and its no longer advisable to travel from Magalawa Island to San Salvador.  Well the rafting is a different kind of experience.  Before you proceed to snorkeling, you will ride the bamboo raft first which will be pulled by the boat until you reach the snorkeling area.  The rafting alone can be fun.

Snorkeling in the waters of Magalawa Island is not really spectacular but good enough.  There are lots of star fishes and the corals are big.  Although the fishes I saw are still quite small and there are not much of them.  The time we went snorkeling was almost 4pm already.  So by a little past 5pm, we were instructed to go back to the island.  It's quite short activity but maybe if you started early, you can explore more of what's under the sea.

Magalawa Island is quite big.  We no longer get the chance to tour the whole island as both sides have mangroves, trees and lots of branches already.  The sands are not as fine and white as Boracay but its still nice with lot of crushed shells mixed onto the sands.  The water is clean and clear with a few dried leaves on it.  Swimming here is good although there are areas that are suddenly deep even if you're not yet far away from the shore.

The food offered in the package is ok.  We always have at least 2 viands for 5 pax.  It's always seafood and meat.  The dishes cooked were simple, mostly fried especially for the fish.  It's edible though.  I got frustrated with the breakfast as it was only scrambled egg and hotdog.  I would appreciate it more if it was tuyo (sun dried fish) or tinapa (smoked dried fish) instead.

Our tent accommodation is ok as well.  Throw pillows and blankets are provided in the tent.  And you can even request for more pillows and blanket if you wish too.  So you can still feel comfy inside the tent.  During summer, I would recommend to avail the fan or AC room.  Good thing it rain in the evening and so its not so hot inside the tent while we are sleeping.

Fresh water is available in the area via poso or water pump.  You can take a bath inside the "bamboo" bathroom but you must fetch a bucket of water to do so.  Or you can just take a bath outside, near the poso and change clothes in the bathroom.

Overall, going to this island is another experience.  I would still recommend it to my other friends for beach bumming and overnight relaxation.  The travel time is quite long though, at least 5 hours from Manila with few stop overs.  If you want a worry free accommodation then choose the packages offered by Ms. Grace.  They have fan room, AC room and tent accommodation.  The prices are quite fair and competitive.  But if you're budget conscious, then DIY is recommended.  Besides, its always fun and an adventure camping and sleeping in a tent.

My Sale Finds

This is already an overdue post.  Items bought several weeks ago.  Actually, not all of these are on sale but I still got it at a quite cheaper price.  My sale finds are Longchamp bag, Fitflop Walkstar and Paez shoes.

First item: Longchamp LM Metal in White, medium short handle.  I got this for only Php 5,000 from a multiply seller.  Store in Landmark sell similar item for about Php 9,000.  This is my 3rd Longchamp bag. I think I'm gonna stop collecting LC bags and shift to another brand.  Hmmm... what could it be?

Second item: Fitflop Walkstar I.  I so wanted a Fitflop the first time I heard of it.  But every time I try it on, it doesn't look good on my feet.  But this time, I don't care anymore.  I got this from the midnight madness sale in Glorietta last May 13.  Fitflops were at 30% off sale in Shoe Salon and Rest Toe Run.  I bought mine in Shoe Salon.  I bought it for only Php 1,700+.  I believe Fitflops are also on sale in this weekend's Green Light Sale in Trinoma.  So get yours now!

Third and last item: Paez shoes.  I've been wanting this for the longest time but I can't seem to find the right size.  Even if they say that this is a Tom's shoes knock off, it still carries its own brand.  And it is made in Argentina.  Going back to the size, good thing the sales man assisted me in finding the right size.  Because of his effort in assisting me, I felt ashamed if I don't buy the shoes that's why I bought it even if it's not on sale.  The price for it is Php 1,850.  Well, this isn't exactly the design I've been wanting but it's ok.  It's really hard to find the right size for my slim feet.

I remember I also bought 2 Plains and Prints blouse 2 months ago when it was on sale.  I got it for less than Php 500 each.  I just love sale season.  You can really get to pick a great great find.  So what's your sale story?  Care to share? :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Maroon 5 - Live in Manila

After ranting about the venue where Maroon 5's concert is to be held in my previous blog, I still bought a ticket in Gold B to watch the concert.  The ticket was on sale at that time at 50% off.  And so without hesitation, I bought the ticket.  I am very very glad I did.

I arrived at SMX at around 6:45pm already.  The queue for the entrance in Gold B is already long.  But everyone is allowed to enter the venue already so it isn't too crowded outside SMX.  As soon as I enter the SMX hall, most of the front rows were already occupied.  I found empty seats at row 8 already.  Not bad.  I can still see the drums from afar.  That's one advantage in watching concert alone (Yes, I watched it alone.  This is my 4th or 5th time to watch concert all by myself).  You only get to search for just one seat.  One disadvantage however, once you found a seat, you can no longer walk around to look for better seats, go to the restroom or even buy some food.  Else, you might come back with somebody occupying your seat already.  Good thing I had eaten snack at the office before I leave and I secretly brought some biscuits inside my bag so I can munch on something while waiting for the concert.

The concert started at exactly 8.30pm.  People were already standing on their seats.  Poor people from the silver area, I'm sure they no longer can see the stage as the Gold B people were already standing, like me.  This what makes the SMX venue undesirable.  They tend to watch the concert in the big screen instead.  The venue is, of course, smaller than Araneta Coliseum but I think it is still jam packed.  Because the venue is small, the sound was more desirable.  I appreciate Adam's live performance now than the last time they were here.  Well, maybe another reason is because I was in the bleachers then and so the sound were just coming from the speakers on the sides.  Unlike now, I was quite near the stage and so the sound travel is nearer.

The concert was great.  I really enjoyed it a lot.  And Adam was soooo handsome and hot! Even though I cannot see him up close and personal.  His close up shots at the big screen makes the girl beside me exclaimed: "oh my god, oh my god" many times as if she's going to faint.

  • Misery(8:30pm)
  • If I Never See Your Face Again
  • Harder To Breathe
  • Give A Little More
  • The Sun
  • Won't Go Home Without You
  • Never Gonna Leave This Bed
  • If I Ain't Got You(Alicia Keys cover)
  • She Will Be Loved
  • Wake Up Call
  • Shiver
  • Stutter
  • This Love
  • Sweetest Goodbye
  • Hands All Over
  • Makes Me Wonder
  • LAST SONG: Sunday Morning(10:10pm)

I especially enjoyed it when the band sang She Will Be Loved.  I love how Adam encourages the audience's participation to sing with them.  The latter part of the song where one group of the audiences sang "she will be loved" and the other group sang "i don't mind spending everyday" in combination until it fades was really awesome.  Another performance that I enjoyed was the cover of "If I Ain't Got You".  A favorite song of mine sang by one of my favorite band.  Just perfect.  Adam and the rest of the band were total performers.  I love the sound of each guitars, drums and piano.  Really amazing concert.  I'm glad I pursue watching this.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Which Bag to Choose?

My sister is my biggest influence when it comes to bags.  Well, I do love bags eversince I was in grade school.  I remember I would ask my mom to buy me new bags every school year.  Since then, my love for bags never ceased.  And of course when there's a bag, there must be a corresponding shoes to go with it, haha!  But that's a different story.

Anyway, my love for bags comes from different forms and sizes.  I never cared for the brand as long as a certain bag catches my attention, then I'll buy it.  I think the most expensive bag I have then amounts to just Php 1,000.  Nothing over than that.  Until last year, when people were raving about Longchamp, even my sister, I also got interested with it.  You can read my Longchamp story here.

As I've mentioned, my sister is my biggest influence when it comes to bags, especially those designer ones.  She's the one who encourages me to have my first Longchamp when she got her LM.  Well, I never complained and I thank her for that.  Just recently, we purchased another Longchamp online, haha!  I'll blog about it soon.  Now, we're both eyeing this wonderful satchel.  It's the Mulberry Alexa. 

Mulberry Alexa
 Of course we can't afford that, that's too expensive!  So my dilemma is, can anyone suggest a similar bag with a budget of about $200?  or at least less expnesive than Alexa.  It may or may not be a designer bag as long as it isn't a fake one, hehe.  I spotted another one with similar design from Kate Spade but it cost $345.  Another one from Dooney and Bourke which cost $358.

Kate Spade Cobble Hill Small Leslie
Dooney and Bourke Florentine Satchel

Your suggestions are most welcome :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trek to Mt. Romelo: Hitting 2 Birds with 1 Stone

I dislike trekking simply because I hate long walks.  Even with someone special walking hand in hand, I don't like that.  It's not that I get tired easily (well a bit) but I just feel lazy walking and walking.  Unless I'm in a department store browsing at the clothes, shoes and bags section.  I won't complain.

I've done a few trekking years and years ago.  The last one I went to was going to Taal Volcano.  I recall I wasn't prepare with that trek as I was wearing a shoulder bag then.  I thought it was a simple company outing.  I don't even have a towel to wipe my perspirations.

 Maybe you wonder what made me change my mind to go on a trekking adventure this time?  Well, I just wanted to experience a different kind of adventure (I think I consider myself adventurous in soooo many ways! haha!).  Besides, I've been to quite a lot of beaches in the Philippines and I wanted to try a different "relaxation" for summer.  I posted in my FB account last January that I will try trekking this year.  And so when my friend invited me to go trekking to Mt. Romelo, I didn't hesitate to join them.

Mt. Romelo is situated in Siniloan, Laguna.  It is considered as an easy trek ideal for neophyte mountaineers.  I don't consider myself as a mountaineer but this trek is good for beginners.  It is rated 2 out of 9 in terms of level of difficulty with a trail class of 1.  Trekking to Mt. Romelo will only take you 2-3 hours to reach the top or campsite.  What's amazing with this climb is that you get to see various waterfalls once you've reached the campsite.  There are about 4 waterfalls namely: Buruwisan, Batya-Batya, Lansones and Sampaloc.  So that's hitting 2 birds with 1 stone! Experience of trekking and viewing the wonderful waterfalls.

We rode a van (without aircon) in Nagtahan area on the way to Famy, Laguna.  The route is somewhere in Antipolo.  It took us about 2 to 2 and a half hours to get to Famy vicinity.  It was a rainy morning when we arrive at Barangay Macatad, the jump off point, at about 4am. It was too dark.  I have this slight fear in the thought of trekking on a very dark surrounding.  And so after registration, we rested for a while and wait for a little light to shine before we resume the walk.  At about past 5am, with flashlights and head lamps, we begin the trek.  The rain didn't stop but it's not that strong.  With this, the trails become muddy.  It gets harder and harder to climb steep trails as muds stick to my slippers and it gets heavy.  Yes, I'm only wearing slippers.  I didn't expect it to be rainy that day.  And since they say that it's an easy climb, slippers will do.  There were even times that I really can't move up as I am slipping downwards even with my bare feet.  Good thing our companions helped us on those steep trails.  We didn't have guides as two of our companions have been to Mt. Romelo many times and they're experienced mountaineers.  After 3 hours, we reached the top and the campsite.  Because of this muddy experience, I told myself I will never go on trekking again.  We were all soak in wet and dirty with mud.  And of course, we were tired!  Without even washing up thoroughly, some of us rested and took some sleep in the available cottage.  We let the experienced mountaineers cook and prepare our breakfast, haha!

Buruwisan Falls

Buruwisan Falls side view
It was still cloudy and with scattered rains when we decided to go to Buruwisan Falls in the afternoon.  I thought it will just be an easy trail going there but I was wrong.  You need to go down and hold on to the branches of the trees just to reach the beauty of Buruwisan Falls.  It was very steep and it is almost like a 10-floor building high!  With the rain still pouring, it can get pretty hard to climb down as you might slip through some muds and stones.  But still we survived!  Reaching the bottom and witnesing the Buruwisan Falls was amazing!  I fell in love with it.  All that hard work in going down paid off.  It was simply lovely.  I know the water from the falls can get too cold but by the time we swim, we no longer felt the coldness as we were already wet again from the rain.

trail going to/fro Buruwisan Falls
When nightfall came, it really is too dark, even with lots of stars in sight.  I even got nervous going to the restroom even with a companion.  Of course when one is inside the restroom, you have to wait for him/her outside.  That got me the creeps.  I was never looking at my back but you will have that feeling that someone is looking at you.  My other friends also experience that too.  But good thing, none of us experienced any unusual phenomenon.

Batya-Batya Falls

Other side of Batya-Batya Falls

this is the stream to cross
here they are crossing the stream
We visit the Batya-Batya Falls the next day at noon time.  The sun is already up and there's no sign of rain from falling.  I'm hoping the sun will dry up the muds once we go back to the jump off point.  Anyway, going to Batya-Batya Falls is another adventure.  This time, you need to cross the stream just to reach it.  They say it was almost eye level deep.  So we carefully hold on to the rocks alongside the stream.  It can be slippery so you really have to be careful most especially if you don't know how to swim (just like me).  Reaching Batya-Batya Falls is another spectacular view.  It may not be as lovely as Buruwisan but it is still amazing.  There were people on top of the falls as they say there's another falls on the other side that is part of the Batya-Batya Falls.  Some of us went over there to witness it.  I just let one of them take a picture of it.  It is quite difficult to reach the top of the falls and go to the other side as the waters from this falls gets too deep in the middle (people can dive into it).  You also need to climb the rocks with water streaming from it which can get slippery.  If you're a swimmer then I guess you can do this.  Anyway, at least I have pictures of both falls.  Just like any other falls, the water is so cold!  This time I feel my body shaking from the coldness of the water.  The sun is up but the area is quite secluded with a little sun rays hitting on it.  I didn't bother to swim as I'm afraid to reach the sudden steep of the waters.  So what else we did, photo op of course!

It was almost 2pm when we went back to campsite.  Some of us had late lunch while others prepare to pack up.  We're targetting 3pm to start trekking back so we could be at the mainland by around 5pm.  Without taking a bath (banlaw lang), we're all set and ready to go down the mountain.  I'm pretty sure it would be easy and I'm hoping there will be no muds on the trails.  After just about 2 hours and a half, we were able to reach the mainland.  The trail was easy.  Muds were already dried up.  With the sun up, it can get really hot but the view from the top is wonderful.  I ate back what I've said earlier.  I will try trekking again.  It was a fun, challenging and great adventure.  Maybe even if it will be muddy the next time, I'll be more prepared and choose the right shoes/gear.    

going down... it's sunny already!

this is where we slept
grilled hotdog with marshmallow

this is for breakfast

Overall, I spent about Php 1,000 for this overnight trip.  Here's the breakdown:
Food - Php 500 (prepared by our mountaineers)
Van - Php 1,300 (divide by 7 = 186 each)
Entrance - Php 50
Coffee - Php 10
Horse - Php 300 (to carry the girls' stuff, divide by 4 = 75)
Cottage - Php 250 (divide by 4 = 62.5)
Van - Php 1,700 (divide by 9 = 189 each)

Until the next trek!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Homemade Pizza

I got the idea of this recipe when one of our mountaineer companion cook this for us during our Mt. Romelo trip.  I find it very easy to do and very delicious!  I made some modifications on the recipe as we had chili con carne left over the other night.  So I used this as one of my toppings instead of plain ground beef.  Also, I used our mini oven instead of stove top in cooking this recipe.  Here's how I did it:

Flour tortilla
Quick melt cheese (grated and/or sliced)
Cream cheese or cream cheese spread
Del Monte Italian Pizza Sauce
White onions
Green bell pepper
Left over Chili con Carne

*The last 3 ingredients are optional.  Since this is a pizza, you may create or choose any toppings you want.  The Chili con Carne recipe is very easy.  I got the recipe from the pack of McCormick Chili Con Carne mix.

1. Pre-heat oven.  You may already put the tortilla inside just to make it a little hot.  This will make the cheese more spreadable.  Once you think that the tortilla is hot, take out from oven and spread the cheeses.  Please take note that tortillas can get "harder" crust when stayed in oven or even stove top for too long.
2.  (Another option) When the oven is already hot, you may put the slices of cheese onto the tortilla and put in the oven until in slightly melts.  Take out from the oven and spread the cheeses.
3.  Spread the pizza sauce onto the tortilla.
4.  Put your toppings on the tortilla.  In my case, I put the chili con carne first then the onions then the bell pepper.  You may still add grated cheese on top like what I did (for the love of cheese!).
5.  If you want a hard crust pizza, you may put back the tortilla in the oven until the cheese completely melts.  Otherwise,  you can eat it as it is.  You may roll the tortilla and cut it in half to make bite size soft pizza roll.

Enjoy! :)