Fun Friday: Adventures Around the Philippines

Third Friday of the month:  Leisure / Recreation / Travel

My girl inspired this post, and it's actually a "flashback Friday" feature. M started asking questions about different places around the Philippines last week -- I guess it's related to their current lesson in social studies. I can't recall what our conversation was but it led to her asking about the underground river with bats. I knew she was referring to the subterranean river in Palawan. I told her I've been there. She got really interested so I took out my albums and shared my local travels with her.

She said she wants to go here too and explore the cave. The boy want's to ride a boat and experience being out at sea.  Oh I pray we can get to go on an adventure soon!
St. Paul Subterranean River National Park - Puerto Princesa, Palawan 

(Top photo, our boats as we entered the cave. Sorry I don't have a nice pic of the majestic chambers inside.)
I've unearthed some old photos (actual prints, no digicam then) that brought back memories. These were all taken when I was still single and always ready to explore (just look at the timestamp on the photos). While I reminisce, the kids got more curious and excited at the possibility of having family trips to these amazing local destinations.

Kayaking along the mangroves of Honda Bay, off Dos Palmas Arreceffi Island Resort in Palawan.

My friends and I were one of the first groups to stay at Dos Palmas resort during their soft opening.
Service deluxe! We were assigned our own tour guide for island hopping and snorkeling.

A view of the mountain ranges of Banaue, on our way to Sagada.

We were able to go down one side of the mountain and walked along the rice terraces. Breathtaking!
After our caving (below), we took a dip in the small lagoon by the big falls of Sagada.

We conquered the cavernous Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Mt. Province.
I felt like Spiderman climbing the walls. It took 3 long thrilling hours of cave exploration!

The ruins at Corregidor Island, Bataan.

An old artillery display, among other sites in the island, like the Malinta Tunnel, Pacific War Memorial, the lighthouse, and the cross at Mt. Samat.

 The famous Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte.
It's a UNESCO world heritage site, with it's bell tower and Baroque architecture.
Too bad I didn't have a photos our trip to Vigan and the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum.

My first authentic camping experience at a private island in Caliraya lake, Laguna.
Complete with tent, a gasera, fishing for tilapia, campfire and marshmallows on sticks.   

Island-hopping in the largest city of the Philippines - Davao. The most laid back city I've been to, with a rich blend of modern and rustic living.
That's me, sliding down the longest slide I've ever tried, at Wishing Isle, along Samal Island.
We also toured the Pearl Farm, crocodile farm, Philippine Eagle Sanctuary, and Malagos farm.

Ahhh, Boracay! This photo was from my second trip to this island paradise.

Back then, you can see the full wide stretch of pristine white beach from station 1 to 3.

The third and last time I've been to Boracay was twelve years ago! The sea/landscape has significantly (sadly) changed since then.  I hope the beach would still be clean and beautiful by the time we get to bring the kids here.
Lucky I was able to capture the famous Boracay sunset!

These are just a few of my souvenir photos from my adventure-filled "past life". I couldn't find photos from my trips to Cebu, Puerto Galera, and La Union though. After "traveling and sightseeing" with the kids though pictures, I have a renewed appreciation for our country's many historical sites and exotic destinations. There are still so much more to see and explore in the Philippines! The boy and girl learned a lot and were fascinated just by looking at the photographs as I shared stories behind each one. I know one day, they too can experience traveling to these places and create happy lasting memories.

Have you been to any of these places? What's your favorite destination in the country?

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post.  If you enjoyed this, feel free to share it!
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Family Friday: Fridate, Saturdate, Sundate

Second Friday of the month:  Parenting / Kids

"Time is the most valuable gift we can give our kids -- or anyone. Money and things are soon gone. But memories and feelings of love can last a lifetime. Care about kids enough to spend time with them." - Dr. Glen C. Griffin

I planned to publish my Family Friday post tonight, but at the last minute, I decided to dump the original topic and share this with you instead. My girl said something during dinner that struck me, and made me change my post.

We did not plan on dining out tonight but J thought we can just head over to a nearby resto after we do the groceries. So, it was an early dinner for us and after everyone was finished eating, out of the blue, she hugged me and said, "I like days like this when I can spend time with my family... it's fun, it makes me happy!" (My heart melts.)

It's another hectic Friday, as usual, and it's moments like these that take away all the stress for us parents. After she told me how happy she is, I replied with a smile and told her I love our family dates too, just as I enjoy my date with each one of them, or with the whole family including the grannies.

You know, it's actually my favorite random family activity -- our impromptu "dates", dining out, whenever we feel like it during the week. It's different from our traditional Sunday family day with my parents and the cousins. These spur-of-the-moment "dates" are refreshing. It's a break from the monotony of our daily routine. It can be a movie date, quick trips to the grocery store with the whole family, then finding ourselves going for snacks somewhere nearby. Some days, it's as simple as going to a bookstore, the playground, or even the convenience store.


Why are family dates important to us?
  • It a great way to take a break and just be together = bonding time
    • Doing nothing together counts too
  • A chance to talk about anything - no matter how mundane or out of this world, whatever they like to share, what they see around them
  • We get moments for serious and philosophical conversations with them, especially with J - he's really good with sharing values and other life lessons to them
    • The kids are more receptive to teaching moments and listening to family stories during these times
  • Just to get out of the house, have a change of environment and recharge
    • Try out a new place, or indulge their cravings and enjoy their favorite dishes
    • A good time to catch up with what the kids are doing

Most of our quick family dates are unplanned, whether it's on a weekend. It's always a welcome surprise, and the kids get really excited when J asks them if they'd like to eat out or go somewhere, or even just to buy pet food! Simple pleasures. I think it's what makes it special.

Do you have family dates? How and where do you spend them? =)

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post.  If you enjoyed this, feel free to share it!
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Blogs, Brands and Bloggers

"Social media is your family and friends without boundaries of time and space." That's coming from well-respected journalist and Rappler.com CEO, Maria Ressa, during last month's round table discussion (starstruck moment) with her and a few of my fellow SoMoms. We talked about about ethics in social media, relationship with brands, opened up on good and bad practices, our values and personal experiences as bloggers / online publishers, and how we can be a responsible netizen and a positive influence through our presence on social media. Blogging is not that simple after all.

In line with what Maria said, I believe that a blog is an extension of the blogger's lifestyle and personality. This is my own personal space in the world wide web where I get to communicate and engage with people around the globe, connect and keep in touch with friends and family. My blog always reflects my values and interests. 

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Foodie Friday: Binagoongang Baboy (Pork-Bagoong Stew)

First Friday of the month:  Mom-Cook / Recipe

Ahhh... bagoong. A popular Filipino condiment that's salty and has a pungent smell. Love it or hate it? I LOVE it. There's no middle ground here.  Bagoong is fermented krill (alamang) in salt, and turns to paste form.  We use it either as dipping sauce or mixed with meats and seafood, like this super easy ulam that's mainly flavored by bagoong.  For me, the default dish using pork belly (liempo) is adobo. This binagoongang baboy is my alternative to adobo. Both simple, but packs a lot of flavor. Very Pinoy!

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Mom-Finds: Things for Home and Travel, for Moms and Kids

Last Friday of the month: Finds and Faves / Shopping

It's the last Friday and last weekend of August. I can't believe the holidays is just a few months away, then shopping frenzy once again! So, before we enter the "ber" months on Monday, here's a round-up of some really wonderful Mom-Finds I've discovered and collected over the past several weeks, from home to travel items.

BUILT Kitchen Line: Oven Mitt and Mini Grip Holder
Sizzler Over Mitt (right) @ PhP 1,195  /  Mini Grip @ PhP 595
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How to Make Oreo Bento Meals

Making bento for the first time was tedious, but fun. I can't think of any other word to describe how our Better Me session went yesterday -- it's just pure fun! My girl would agree with me too. The bonding activity was something different, creative, exciting, and pretty edible! =)  I'm too eager to share with you how we crafted our first #OreoBento meals, so here's a simple tutorial with tips and tricks I picked up from the workshop.

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Freestyle Friday: Hooked on Reformer Pilates at Onelife Studio

Freestyle Friday:  Health and Fitness

We have an extra Friday again this month, so it's Freestyle Friday and anything goes! Today, I'm sharing my new fitness discovery -- Reformer Pilates at Onelife Studio.

It was 1998 when I first heard about pilates. I hit the gym twice a week with my co-workers then and pilates was being offered in the same location as Bramante gym.  All I knew then was that it's a different method of exercise using a unique type of equipment, mainly to stretch and strengthen the body. It did not appeal to us since we saw mostly "older" women, or moms attending the class, hehehehe! Of course, we were younger then and all we wanted to do was weight training exercises to tone our bodies.  And now, it's my turn doing pilates! :p

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Tech News from a Techie Dummy: #Smart5G is Here!

I am active on social media, but I don't consider myself tech-savvy. I'm not even fond of gadgets, save for my smart phones, iPad, and digital cameras. It's embarrassing to say, but if you ask me what 3G, 4G, 5G or LTE stand for, I'll give you a blank stare...hehehehe! In short, I am a tech and gadget dummy. I easily get intimidated with techie terms and oblivious to brands and the latest innovations. I'm the last one to care about tech-related news.

Here's a little back story. As you know, Smart Communications is my blog sponsor and I'm so grateful for their support.  But you wouldn't believe how surprised I am when they tapped me 'coz I never thought they'd consider a non-techie blog (blogger)! But I'm really happy they want moms like me to be able to share our experience with Smart's services and be the bearer of good news as well. 

And speaking of news, I don't normally post press releases here, but please forgive me 'coz I really can't write tech stuff and I don't want to misinterpret any of the information here.  So, allow me to share the official announcement from Smart as they launch their 5G LTE-Advanced in the country. Trust me, this is really fantastic news for all of us who are main consumers of wireless services. We want it faster, and better!

Two years after it pioneered the deployment of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) or 4G technology in the country, wireless services leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) announced that 5G wireless technology LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), is now running in the Philippines’ largest and strongest network.
Smart switched on LTE-A at the Smart Jump Center in Mandaluyong City recently, setting the next phase of mobile communication technology beyond 4G LTE standards.
LTE-A, also referred to as ‘5G’ by reports on leading global mobile operators AT&T and T-Mobile, delivers data from between 100 megabits per second (mbps) to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), or ten times faster than 3G services and more than twice as fast as 4G services.
By firing up LTE-A technology on its network, Smart joins only a handful of carriers around the world with an LTE-A network, along with leading mobile operators in South Korea, United States, Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong. 
“Even as our 3G and 4G networks continue to be unrivaled, Smart becomes the first operator to leap into the future and put the Philippines at par with the world’s most advanced countries in terms of mobile communications technology,” said Orlando B. Vea, founder and Chief Wireless Advisor of Smart. 
With LTE-A, a 10MB file takes less than a second to download, YouTube videos no longer have to buffer, and video calls are almost lag-free. But beyond speed, LTE-A’s main feature is also its capability to allocate more network resources to users when the need arises. Smart started testing LTE-A across the country in August last year, delivering results of more than 100Mbps in Makati City, in Boracay, and in Davao City during the Kadayawan festival.
Ramon Isberto, Public Affairs head for Smart and its parent company the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), said that the recent development is part of the company’s multi-pronged approach in addressing the various needs for internet and data services in the market.  “The PLDT Group’s strategy has always been to create solutions that address the varying needs of all segments of our customers, to bring fixed, wireless and mobile broadband services where they really matter. They may be delivered at different speeds and volumes, using a variety of technologies, and meant to respond to a wide range of needs of the market – but all of it is aimed at bringing the benefits of the internet to every Filipino,” explained Isberto. 
This strategy meant deploying a combination of Fiber-to-the-Home, Next Generation Network, Time-Division Duplex LTE, Frequency-Division Duplex LTE and vDSL to bring internet to every Filipino home, and 3G, 4G, and 5G or LTE-A for mobile subscribers, according to Isberto.  “We are able to deliver all these high-bandwidth services and applications on the strength of our transmission backbone network, which is the most extensive and most resilient in the country. Aside from allowing us to commit to speed, our unmatched network resources give us the edge in terms of efficiency and reliability,” added Isberto.
Smart’s nationwide coverage is backed by PLDT’s fiber optic cable connection which has now reached nearly 90,000 kilometers, or more than four times than competition. To further strengthen this domestic fiber optic network (DFON), PLDT also set up third legs in its fiber loops in key areas nationwide, the latest of which is the Bohol DFON project that provided redundant links between the Visayas and Mindanao.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post.  If you enjoyed this, feel free to share it!
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Fun Friday: K-Palette's 1Day Magic Party

Third Friday of the month:  Party / Events

I missed going to blogger events. Since late last year, I have not been as visible in media and blogger functions mainly because we don't have a nanny for the kids anymore. And then there's homeschooling.  If you're in a similar set-up, you would understand that it's not easy to just leave them and go. That's why I decided to have this feature under Fun Friday instead of Mom-Finds since being at the launch of K-Palette 1Day Magic was more fun for me than anything else.  I wasn't even sure to go when I got the invitation, but it's a blessing that it fell on a holiday, so I excitedly confirmed my attendance.

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Kid-Style: Best in Filipiniana 2014

Noong panahong ako ay isang mag-aaral, ipinadiriwang ang Linggo ng Wika tuwing buwan ng Agosto sa buong bansa. Ang paggamint ng wikang Filipino ay simbulo ng pagkakaisa sa pamamagitan ng komunikasyon. Ito ay isang pagkakataon upang ipagmalaki ang ating mayamang kultura at pagkakakilanlan. Mula 1997, ang dating Pangulong Fidel Ramos ay gumawa ng Proklamasyon Bilang 1041 at ginawang Buwan ng Wika ang Agosto.  Ito ay bilang pagkilala rin sa tinaguriang "Ama ng Wikang Pilipino", ang dating pangulong Manuel Quezon, na ipinanganak sa buwan ng Agosto, at siya ring nagsulong ng paggamit ng wikang Filipino. Sa pagdiriwang ng Buwan ng Wika, maraming kaganapan sa mga paaralan tulad ng balagtasan, pagtutula, pagsasayaw, at kabilang na rin ang masaya at makulay na parada ng mga kabataang naka-kasuotang Pilipino.

M is her traditional kimona at patadyong and tsinelas last year.

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Family Friday: Homeschool, Back Pains, and Blogging

Second Friday of the month: Parenting / Schooling / Health

As I write this, my mind is still as disorganized as the table I have in front of me. I've been remiss of my other household responsibilities ever since we started homeschooling, and I've also been neglecting my health, and even this blog. Let me warn you, I am not thinking straight right now and this post might end up like a confessional of sorts. I'm uninspired, tired, sleepy all the time. There were nights when my mind tells me to write and blog about a mishmash of ideas running in my head, or read a book, or draw, or loom, but my body would rather do nothing.  I just feel drained at the end of the day.

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Fun Meets Function with My Bagsational Kipling Bag

It's all about fun, colorful, and functional bags -- that's Kipling from Antwerp, Belgium. Their Summer/Pre-Fall Collection was launched with a media shopping event at their SM Aura store last June 28, but I missed it! The week after, I was able to go to the mall with my family and so I went to see their latest collection. So much eye-candy! Kipling has been consistent in putting the FUN in all their designs, even the creative use of their monkey logo. I love the new signature prints and bold color combinations. Let me show you some of them here.

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