Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Goodbye Choco

I got a sad news from home yesterday. One of our puppies passed away, and even though I was kinda expecting it, it was still devastating. She had been quite weak these past weeks, my mom told us to start saying goodbye --- and she was right. Choco, at 56 (doggy years) died and has gone to doggy heaven.

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We have had many dogs in the family. Of the dozens we had come and go, there are four originals, who are most special to us. Gudoy (a poodle who left us many years ago), Hugo (a japanese spitz) who is Binky's dad), Gigi a shih tzu who is Binky's mom) and Choco. We got Choco after Gudoy got a neighbor dog pregnant long ago at Camp Aguinaldo. Without our knowledge, he was keeping a girlfriend and that relationship resulted to two puppies, one of which was Choco.

Of our dozens of dogs, Choco is special for a lot of reasons. But mostly because she is sweet, polite and smart. As a puppy, we were never able to lock her in a cage because she always figured out how to break free. However way it locks, she figures it out and escapes --- mom had to resort to actually pad-locking it.

Another amazing Choco story is when we were moving out of Camp, after my dad retired from the military. For months, my mom had been emptying the contents of the house into boxes and during our final day, mom and her minions (plus us) were putting everything into 6x6 military trucks and the whole house was slowly becoming an empty space and with that luxury, all the other dogs were celebrating. They were running in and out of the house, playing in the garden and playing with anything leftover inside, but Choco was distraught. One by one, our things were being brought to the truck and to the cars. One by one, the cars were leaving the garage. The plan was for mom to take the final drive out the Camp with all the dogs with her, but Choco did not know that. Perhaps she thought, that they were being left behind so she'd lie down at the back of the cars, by the wheel (like a person tying herself onto a tree). She was suicidal, it was so sad, we had to carry her away from the cars several times. Anyway, at the end of our haul, when mom finally took them with her to move to the new house --- Choco livened up and became ecstatic. She wasn't being left after all! Woohoo!

Sadly, Choco left us behind yesterday. It is sad --- you have no idea how much we love all our dogs, but we take comfort on the fact that we know Choco is in heaven now. We love you Choco Mommy! We miss you already!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

When in Boracay

I’ve only been to Boracay three times. Once after College with friends, the other for my best friend’s wedding, and then recently with some of my girlfriends. With every trip I get to discover more about the place, so you are given more reason to come back. To make the most of your stay, it is encouraged that you try to embrace the island for what its truly known for… 

Like I said, I am no Boracay expert, but with what I know and have experienced, make sure to enjoy the following:

BORACAY SAND ART

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Everyday, locals create various sand masterpieces by the beach like the one you see on top. You can request a personalized sand art for a fee, like the one I saw recently of a family who had a “happy first birthday” made for their son. The creations are of different designs and sizes. At night the masterpieces are lit beautifully. When in Boracay, take time to have a picture taken with one of these, or steal one, like what we did, hehe! Bad!


LOCO FRIO
 
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A LOCO FRIO bottle when you first buy it is around 300php. Depending on the availability, you can enjoy virgin or alcoholic versions of kiwi strawberry, bubblegum, pinacolada, blue hawaiian, mudslide and others. Once you’ve finished your tumbler of drink, refills are only 180php. Getting a LOCO FRIO tumbler seems expensive but the tumbler is a nice keepsake of your trip, so you can use it when you can use it when you go home. I intend to use mine for the gym.


REAL COFFEE

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When in Boracay, they say it is a must to visit Real Coffee, not only for their calamansi muffins, but also for their breakfast meals. Do read my post about the calamansi muffins, though, if you plan to take home some with you.





LONGGA and CHORI BURGER


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Perfect for a cheap meal, get a longga or a chori burger. You can actually have them on a stick without bread, but most people have them burger-style. Frank’s is also a barbecue place. You can buy isaw, barbecue, tenga, hotdogs and so forth


BAILEY’S SHAKE DURING HAPPY HOUR

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Drinks are expensive in Boracay especially if you are having it at your hotel. The group I was with brought bottles each all the way from Manila, to cut costs. I brought a bottle of vodka as contribution but it is also nice to enjoy cocktails by the beach, during happy hours. If you find me in the picture, you will see I am enjoying my glass of Bailey’s Shake. A perfect addition to the already perfect afternoon! At Sur, where we stayed, cocktails are done to 100php for two (since it’s buy one take one during happy hours) and beers are at 50php. That’s a lot of drinking if you can do with very little to spend.


GET A HENNA TATTOO

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I have a real tattoo, so I didn’t get a henna tattoo, but my friends did. Depending on the design, the artist may charge a minimum of 100php per tattoo. Hennas are not permanent but they stay on your skin for a while. Note, also, that some people have had allergic reactions to the material being used. It is say, therefore, to try it on a small area of the skin first before going for the large design. Another good idea, I heard is to get a glitter tattoo. You put a glitter tat on your shoulder or you back, then you bathe under the sun, so that when you remove it you get a lovely sun-tan tattoo. Brilliant huh? I got a glitter tattoo once, but I slept right after, so it was gone in sixty-seconds! Hahaha! Bad idea, no sleeping right after glitter tattoo!



BEACH BITES PIZZA

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Perfectly thin and crunchy, Beach Bites pizza is great to have as a meal or a snack by the beach. It is located at Blue Waves Beach Resort, a tiny café by the shore.


SHIBAYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT

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Another hidden treasure in Boracay, Shibaya can be found around the area of Real Coffee in Station 2. A little pricey, but definitely cheaper than the Japanese restaurants in D’mall, you can easily satisfy your craving for Japanese food.


BREAKFASTS BY THE BEACH

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I can never get tired of saying how much I love to have breakfasts by the beach, and to think I am not even eat breakfasts on a normal day. I am not a breakfast person but I can make exceptions when I am at the beach. I love breakfasts by the beach because they come with a view. It is nice to people watch and the smell of the sea is a good addition to the meal. Everything about it is perfect, the sound of the sea, the sun on your face, the sand on your toes, the constant warm breeze --- it makes every spoonful even more enjoyable.


PARASAILING

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Now, there are other activities in Boracay but I highly recommend this. Parasailing when I tried it was at 1400php each. You take a speed boat from station 2 to go to the middle of the sea where you are taken to bigger boat to go parasailing. It is fun, but it is not good for someone who has had a lot to eat because your meal will end up in the sea, if you are not lucky.


SNORKELING

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I’d have to be honest, the scene underwater is nice but not as nice as when I tried it in Palawan. If you have time though, do go snorkeling or go for a helmet dive. A few years ago, snorkeling was only 300php and it involved a boat ride to the middle of the sea. My only complaint about the experience was that we were taken in the middle where the waves were much too strong and we had to carefully hold on the side of the boat so that we do not get swept by the waves or get banged on the boat. This experience is best enjoyed with an underwater camera. The scenery underwater is very nice and you get to take home photos worthy of a spot on your “profile”. Haha!



JONAH’S SHAKES

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 A true Boracay-must have, people line up for Jonah’s shakes and on my latest trip, my friend an I braved the wild high-tide waves just to get our bottles of Jonah’s. The queue on the beachfront branch is a little long, most of the time, so try the non-beach front branch at the back if you want. The place is smaller and you do not get to enjoy your shake by the sea, but for a takeout order, it may be a smarter move. Jonah’s shakes are around 80php to 180php depending on the flavor. Standard fruit shakes are cheaper, strawberries are more expensive and alcoholic shakes are even more costly.


JOGGING BY THE BEACH
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No I did not do it Baywatch-style in my swimsuit. I packed some running gear, with rubber shoes, and I woke up at 6am to be able to run. On my first run, I wasn’t really meaning to go through with it but I saw people running on the beach and I said: “What the heck!” The whole experience turned out to be awesome. I walked from one end of the beach and then ran all the way back. It was early so there were not so many people out yet, except for runners like me or early risers out for a bit of early vitamin-D sun.


LOUNGE UNDER THE SUN
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This is true not only for Boracay sun but anytime and every time you are in the beach. Get a lounge chair, lay a towel over it and lie down. Sleep if you have nothing to do, people watch if there are some interesting people out there, read a book or write. I did all of that on my recent trip to Boracay: I slept, I people-watched, I read a book and I wrote --- it was amazing!


Again, understand that I am no expert --- and in no way am I trying to be. If you chanced by this post because you were planning for your trip to Boracay, my only hope is that I am able to assist you somehow. I know there is much to explore in the island. You can visit the bat caves, the butterfly garden, go horseback riding, go island hopping, go to Ariel’s Point, get on a glass bottom boat, etc, etc. Basically, when in Boracay, you have to be open for anything and everything --- when in a vacay, you should be ready to have all kinds of fun!







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Monday, June 24, 2013

A Glimpse of Shangri-La Boracay

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On our first day at Boracay, we didn’t really have anything planned yet. We arrived at the island at 8am but our hotel could not accommodate us with a room since no one has checked out early that day. After our breakfast of shake and waffles at White House, we took the shuttle to Shangri-la Hotel and spent our morning there. Aviegail, the friend I travelled with, used to work in Shangri-la Makati (until last month when she decided to resign and venture into business) and she had friends in the Boracay hotel so she wanted to visit them --- and take me with her, why not?

The hotel façade was much like Shangri-la Mactan’s. I know it because my dad was assigned in Cebu for a long time and we used to go there when we would visit. I like Shangri-la resort hotels --- they’re expensive though, so for now a day trip is enough.

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The most significant thing I can note about the place is the availability of a decent wifi connection. You could be walking around the beach, the garden, the forest-like paths and still have internet because apparently they had to make improvements to avoid complaints, which used to be plentiful. There are no passwords needed, given that the place is on its own anyway, so even a day-visitor like me was able to use it.

The pools were amazing. There are about 3-4 different pools, and they were all beautiful. I don’t know how the occupancy is during peak months but there were just enough people in the resort when I was there, so lounging should be awesome.

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Their beach front is nice, as well. They have two beaches, one is open to all guests and the other more private and secluded (where most weddings are held). The sand, was brought in, so that makes it special. By the shore, there is a lovely coconut hut where you can order refreshments perfect for a hot day under the sun.

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Standard rooms are at 11,000 per night. Villas are priced higher, about 100,000 per night and more if you get the presidential villa. It comes with a butler, so you get the true vacation experience --- for 100,000 a night it should! That room you can see by the hill is the 100,000 villa. Villas also come with privacy and a pool. With that in mind, you can imagine what kind of things go on in such places --- lots of fun I bet, or lots of all other things.

I was told that the style is to allot a day of your vacation to check-in at Shangri-La. You enjoy the rest of your stay in Boracay at a hotel in Station 1 or 2, and then after partying, you move to Shangri-La for a more relaxing final day. Come in, get a massage, enjoy the peace and quiet. 


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That sounds like a good idea to me and maybe I will try it on another Boracay vacation. Spend three nights at Station 1 and then book a final night at Shangri-La! For this particular visit, I enjoyed a tour of the place and had lunch there too. By the time we finished, our room was done, and we were able to check-in. Still without sleep, we both crashed on the bed and woke up at 6pm.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Real Coffee Calamansi Muffins: Must Pre-Order

So apparently, if you want to be able take home REAL COFFEE CALAMANSI MUFFINS, you need to pre-order a day or two. I learned this lesson the hard way, and I am writing this so that you do not make the stupid mistake, as I have.

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I learned of their CALAMANSI MUFFINS from my best friend. She made me taste a version of it and when she found out I was heading for Boracay, she told me to bring home some for her. My sister also asked me for the same thing. She said her friends told her about Real Coffee Calamansi Muffins and she asked me to take home some for her. That was the plan then. The plan was for me to find REAL COFFEE and to take home muffins for everyone. 

My first attempt to find it failed. I was jogging at 6am from the end of Station 1 to Station 2, but I stopped too early (about 2 kms away, probably). If you are going to take a trike, go down at ASTORIA and if you are walking, find YELLOW CAB. From there, you will find a sign that will direct you to Real Coffee, it can be accessed from a small opening, just after Yellow Cab Pizza.

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My second attempt was successful, when we had dinner the second day, but it was already closed. Real Coffee is open only from 7am to 7pm, so I said: “That’s perfect! Will just come the morning of our flight back and get some muffins”. I thought it was a perfect plan, you know. I woke up at 6am the Friday or our departure, took a trike to Astoria and happily walked to "Real Coffee”. I got there, asked about the muffins, and was shocked when they told me the earliest I could have it is at 4pm that afternoon. They had so many orders to attend to, before mine, so there was no way that I was coming home with boxes of muffins. I was even told that they’re too busy sometimes, that pre-ordering is best done two days prior. 

Oh well, I had to text the two people who asked me to bring muffins home, because they forgot to tell me the most important thing: PRE-ORDER! That morning, all they had were three muffins, so I took them all. One muffin each for me and my friends to have after breakfast --- it made me even sadder. 

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I had mine as a pre-boarding snack at the airport and when I took my first bite I wanted to cry because it was absolutely lovely. It was moist and creamy, the sort of thing worthy of being given the adjective: “melts in your mouth”. The hint of citrus with every bite is just enough and all that time I was realizing that it may be a while before I could taste it again.

Anyway, I found some hacked recipes online, so maybe I could give it a go --- or maybe if anyone of you are scheduled to go to Boracay anytime soon, you can take home a box or two for me? That would be lovely, thank you!

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writing By The Sea

Apart from being a dentist, I am a writer. I write here on this blog and I write for various companies based in the US. Sometimes I write for fellow-dentists from other countries, blogging for them or helping them develop their company website. Once upon a time, I found I had an an affinity to words and I allowed myself to develop this passion. From my childish poetry in high school to journals in college, I ventured into blogging and my world as a writer grew. 

I get my personal income from writing. I treat the clinic’s earnings as savings and I hardly touch it, and I use what I earn from writing to shop for things I like and to do the things I want to do. I have two jobs, both I love so well --- and when I took a vacay to Boracay, I brought my laptop to be able to do some work. 

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“Why do you have a laptop in the beach?”, “Is Crickette still working?”, “Are you working?” These are some of the questions I received during my vacation. Hahaha! Was I even able to do work --- I was able to write 4 articles all week, a far cry from dozens that I am usually able to do, but it was fun. I realized it was fun to write and find inspiration to write while watching the sea. The scene is calming and perfect for thinking, but I wasn’t so productive because I was with other people. 

When I was younger I made several attempts to author a novel. Haha! A lover of books, I often dreamt of being able to write one too --- but it never happened. My writing, therefore, shall be limited to leisurely writing in this blog and some articles I write for other people. Authoring a novel? Maybe in another life...

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In movies we often see writers trying to find inspiration by the sea, inside a lovely cabin and so forth. One of these days I will try to "really" work by the beach. Maybe take a long trip on my own, to embrace inspiration. Who knows, maybe I’d get to do more than work? Who knows, maybe I finally get to write a book or begin my memoirs? Hahaha!


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