I’m Staying With Jen

I’m Staying With Jen (Hotel)

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”~Mark Black

This 4-star hotel has it’s own special way of pulling back their curtains. One weekend, Jen and I were able to witness Hotel Jen’s unique personality.

Hotel Jen has been alluring us since last year especially my travel buddy: Jen, since it bears her nick name. She’s declaring then she’s wanting to visit just to have a photo with that personalized pillow that says: “I’m staying with Jen.” Ahahaha!

Said pillow has been around some parts of the Asia Pacific (under Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts Management) and her excitement is overwhelming me. =) It is located along Roxas Boulevard, just across The Cultural Center of the Philippines,

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and Star City. Our window is overlooking that giant “chubibo!” (Ferris wheel).

Manila bay with its’ beautiful sunset (and sunrise) is just a short walk away from us. However, we were too busy sleeping, we missed them both (sunrise and sunset). Like we went there just to rest, watch some movies, read and enjoy the placidness of our room with 2 comfy beds which allowed us to elude the city’s bustle. I was planning to unplug for that particular weekend but the speed of their internet is too fast so I enjoyed browsing and uploading photos as well. =)

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Come dinner time, after scrutinizing choices of where we could eat at the lobby,

we opted to just go out and proceeded to this Seafood market which popularly known here in our country as “Dampa”. It took us less than 20 minutes to get there. The method of dining at Dampa is you choose first your seafood from the fresh market, everything are still in the water and the vendor will recommend restaurants where it is best to prepare and cook it. The charge will be separate.

You might want to look around and not settle right away on the first stall you bump into, who knows there’s a better price somewhere else. =)

What we had are shrimps, scallops, and lobsters. The last item is for Jen’s heart’s content. You’ll get crazy when she craves.

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I had to go out to buy pineapple juice for her.

We partnered them with broccoli and Yang chow rice. We went back to the hotel after an hour with happy tummies.

Oh, there’s more. We later found out that our breakfast will not be sent to our room the following morning since what comes with our package is a Breakfast buffet. Hmmmn. Happy tummies again. =) I think this is the best part of the stay, we just enjoyed eating together without the need of going to the market, prepare our meal’s ingredients, cook them before we can eat, like everything here is free-flowing and just in front of us. Foodies!

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Hotel Jen is in the following countries:

Hotel Jen Beijing

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Shenyang

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Hong Kong

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Penang

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Malé, Maldives

Hotel Jen Male Maldives
Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Hotel Jen Manila

Club Lounge

There are 2 Hotel Jen in Singapore and they’re putting up one in Kota Kinabalu by year 2020.

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.hoteljen.com/

Jen wanted to know how did they end-up with the hotel’s name. So I had to research for it. The website says that it is the brainchild of a virtual persona: Jen, that she owns a hotel, and all-time lover of life, travel and discovery.

It’s just great to know that some of our “Where to next” destination(s) were included in their list of locations. Jen is excited again. I was telling her can we try other hotels and she played deaf even on my second query. Hmmmn.

Hotel Jen isn’t too luxurious since it is just a 4- star hotel but as long as the people are friendly, the amenities are clean, everything is working, we are safe, all that we need is there, it is already truly an R&R for the two of us, and she is already checking her calendar for our next staycation.

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Meet Hunter, he is hyper during daytime, and lazy and always lying on the floor, just notice his nostrils, still active, meaning, he is still working. =) #sniffer

We missed doing this a lot. The last one we had I think was a few years ago. =) I know we’re going to do it more often.

It is so gratifying to always have something to look forward to right? =) Because we deserve a break every once in a while and #seizethestay …

PS

Hotel Jen is previously Traders Hotel also under Shangri-la Resorts and Hotels Management.

To book your stay, you can call them at: 02-795-8888

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My ABRAmazing Adventure

My Abramazing Adventure

“One way to make the most out of life is to look at it as an adventure.”~William Feather

My most recent blog about Kaparkan Falls in Tineg is just one of the many
interesting places you’ll find in Abra.

I might sound redundant but I’m really thankful to discover Kaparkan falls leading me to a lot more exciting places to see in this specific province that’s sometimes patented to be unsafe. Actually it is safe. We didn’t encounter anything shaky the whole time we were there. But of course, we always pray for safety each time we go out right?

So the news we’ve been hearing (mostly politics related), didn’t deter our eagerness to visit this province.

On top of Kaparkan Falls, here are some of the places our travel agency flaunted to us. These and the team spirit (good vibes) made this trip a memorable one.

Don Mariano Marcos bridge (Abra Kalinga National Road)

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Don Mariano Marcos bridge on our way to Tineg where Kaparkan falls is.

San Lorenzo Ruiz church (Bangued, Abra)

Bangued is the capital of Abra.

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San Lorenzo Ruiz church at the Camposanto, Bangued. The churchyard have been constructed as a cemetery as well. It is beautiful because of those red bricks and the twin bell towers. =)

St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral (Tayum, Abra)

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A 19th century Baroque church (Augustinian)

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St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral

Both churches are still closed, and since it’s my first time being there, I made my wishes and prayers. =)

Tangadan Welcome Tunnel (San Quintin, Abra)

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Built in 1934, this more than 50 meter tunnel took two years to be operational.

Gabriela Silang Monument (San Quintin, Abra)

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One of the tributes dedicated to the first Filipina, fearless enough to fight for freedom. 

Abra Pasalubong Center (San Quintin, Abra)

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Where we got the famous noodles, mascuvado sugar, local coffee, shirts and some souvenirs. =)

Open Theater at Victoria Park (Bangued, Abra)

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View deck at Victoria Park (Bangued, Abra)

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Good vibes only! #millennials

Balay ni Gian/ Carl Louie (for the longganiza and bagnet)

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Gabriela Silang Carino Gallery of Fine Arts (Tayum, Abra)

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Come lunch time, we had ours at “Hidden Garden” – Vigan City

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I dropped a coin and made a wish. =)
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We had Bagnet na sinigang and they’re version of Igado. And fruit shakes too.
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We also had empanada while waiting for our orders.

Crisologo Street – Vigan City

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Jen! No smoking! =p
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Grace on the right, is our Travel agency co-owner, the 2 other equally pretty girls: Sandy and Clarisse, were my seatmates during our “rough road ride” to Kaparkan falls. They’re kind enough to share with me their shawl to cover our legs since we’re exposed to the scorching heat of the sun. =) I didn’t bring anything then, just my phone and my wallet. Jen and I at the background eating ice cream too. =)
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It was great to see this famous street again. =)

On our way back to Manila, they were already discussing when and where to go next. Most of our photos are with hashtag: #wheretonext

Traveler point PH – please take charge! lol!

Be amazed by ABRA

Be amazed by ABRA

If it doesn’t scare you, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” ~ Tory Burch

I have always been inspired by bloggers all these years and as I do my daily readings, I came across this place: Kaparkan Falls in Tineg, Abra. Upon research, Abra is a landlocked province of the Philippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Bangued, and is bordered by Ilocos Norte on the northwest, Apayao on the northeast, Kalinga on the mid-east, Mountain Province on the southeast, and Ilocos Sur on the southwest. Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abra_(province)

I have been to the Ilocos region several times, and I honestly wondered why I missed this spectacular province. Thanks to the bloggers I follow who’ve been there and densely illustrated its’ beauty and what to expect. In my heart, I knew then, Abra is one I shouldn’t miss. Specifically that falls in Tineg.

So one weekend of October, our travel agency announced that it’s time to go, it has been postponed for several times already due to the typhoons in the Philippines and my heart is pounding at the thought of waiting for another year to see Kaparkan falls. The best time to visit is during rainy season as it runs dry during the summer months. However, I’d still insist to call it my own Summer in October. =)

I have to thank the agency: Traveler Point PH for being so organized, caring and had us experience this “ABRAMAZING” weekend.

Day 1 – Friday night:

Our pick-up point is at Greenfields (Mandaluyong City) at 9:00 pm, our organizer is a couple who loves to travel too, we shared the trip along with 8 millennials who made the trip more exciting and full of fun despite of the perplexity of reaching our destination(s). We arrived at The Department of Tourism Office, Tineg around 6:00 am, it is estimated at 8 hours travel time from Manila, however due to several stop-overs, it took us 9 hours to reach Tineg, Abra. We were briefed before hitting the road. And at exactly 7:00 am, we are ready.

I am actually surprised knowing we’re riding on this Army truck.

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They refer to it as “Monster truck”…

Its’ tires at 1100 x 20 (all terrain), I thought I was lucky that my assigned seat is at the front with 2 millennial girls who made me laugh the whole time. While Jen is at the back along with the other travelers. I was telling her she wouldn’t like it in front, and she’s also saying I wouldn’t like it too at the back. As they say: “Sa harap, kitang-kita, sa likod, damang-dama!” (English translation: “The rough road is so visible in front, while the roughness and bumpiness is felt most at the back!”)

Here’s why:

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I can do this! =)
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It is necessary to lodge the tires with these chains to avoid being bogged down in the deep mud.

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Connecting Tayum and Dolores municipalities:

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is The Don Mariano Marcos bridge. The third longest bridge in the country with a total length of 886.812 linear meters. #thisthingwithwelcomearchs

Reference: http://wikimapia.org/2423591/Don-Mariano-Marcos-Bridge

red bridge

As oriented, this “one hell of a ride” is more or less than 4 hours, and less than an hour trek to reach our destination.

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It is my first time to experience one such ride, upon being there, and finally witnessing this magnificent falls, I hear everyone saying “Oh My God!” several times! Myself, speechless. I must say it (bruises, scratches, broken nails, etc.) was truly worth it, I totally forgot about that “ride” upon seeing Kaparkan falls. Let these pictures speak for themselves. =)

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Nature has it’s own special way of taking my breath away.

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If you noticed, they do not bother to remove the falling leaves for a purpose, it adds beauty in time, the marks they leave, creates art naturally.

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You will notice too that the place isn’t that populated by guests. The Dept. of Tourism gave strict directives that the maximum # of guests is only 90. This will allow guests to enjoy its’ tranquility too.

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Those rows of limestones are naturally formed in that wondrous presence through the years, though it made me wonder, they aren’t slippery. I was too careful as it glistens when one of them told me that it isn’t slippery. Because of this, I began my wanderings and conquered my fear. =)

Our coordinator must know how famished we’d be, upon reaching our Transient home dinner time, they had this “Boodle fight” dinner set-up to welcome our group. Yum! =) We have fresh fruits too!

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Our itinerary come Sunday is composed of some interesting places which I will blog separately.

Just this one at Kaparkan Falls substantiates that my more than a year waiting time to visit Abra is truly worth it. While there’s more this province can offer.

It is the highlight of this trip while I have my own personal highlight too, it is our visit to Gabriela Silang Carino Gallery of Fine Arts, which really satiated not just my eyes but my soul too.

Our itinerary for Day 2 includes: A visit to St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Tangadan Tunnel, Gabriela Silang monument and Abra Pasalubong Center, passed by Don Mariano Marcos bridge, the open theater and view deck at Victoria park, another visit to an old heritage church: San Lorenzo Ruiz church at the Camposanto, Bangued, side trip to Calle Crisologo, Vigan City, we also went to Balay ni Gian to buy Vigan longganiza and Bagnet (at Carl Louie) as pasalubong (goodies for loved ones at home). Our itinerary includes the Bantay Church Bell tower, the Gourd hat maker, the Loom weaving village, Acosta panciteria (that famous Abra pancit miki). But due to time constraint, we missed those ones. But it’s okay. For those who will visit Abra, these are also some spots you would want not to miss.

So this is how we spent this one amazing weekend at Abra. I must agree whenever they say it’s “Abramazing!”

Below is a map of Abra:

 

Courtesy of: http://www.abra.asia/_pages/GoSeeStay.htm

Should you be interested, feel free to call Grace or Chris of Traveler Point PH for more details at: 0945 813 0618.

PS

Kaparkan falls is prettier in person. =)

 

Another Pinoy pride: Kuya J!

Another Pinoy pride: Kuya J!

And so it seems that the popularity of Authentic Filipino restaurants like Dencio’s and Gerry’s Grill reached that leverage of being imitated by many.

The tarpaulin ad of “Kuya J” is so distracting when we passed by SM Dasmarinas, Cavite on our way to visit some clients.

It is almost lunch-time and we opted to have our lunch there after one more client visit.

The temperature lately in the Philippines is so unbearable as we are not used to it, even if we are a Tropical country, with scorching winds, even if we’re in a province, it made us rush to the nearest mall. And to the nearest food stall.

And we ended up at “Kuya J”. Upon review of their menu, it is like a newer version of what you will see from Gerry’s grill or Dencio’s.

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Mini mini mini mo!

And while I was reviewing the menu, my colleagues are interviewing the attendant if the “J” stands for Jericho (he is the official model of their ads, he is a famous heartthrob in our country), just like asking if Jericho owns “Kuya J” and we were informed that he is just a model and the restaurant is owned by a Chinese Businessman based in Cebu.

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Two lovely ladies!

And we’ve had what?

We opted to try their Kare-kareng Bagnet. I (or we) didn’t like the shrimp paste (bagoong) that much.

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Yum!

We also tried their Pinakbet. And we liked it.

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Veggies!

We also had Crispy beef tadyang (ribs).

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Crispy ribs!

I personally like the vinegar, it has a tasteful flavor. I am not much into vinegar sauces, but this one I was able to tolerate.

For dessert, we all wished for the fried halo-halo, it is not just available at that time so they ordered for the real one.

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Photo courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/KuyaJResto/

 

It was a winner. We especially liked the milky ice, it is so fine and no feel of ice bits.

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Truly a Summer treat!

Since we didn’t get our fried halo-halo, we asked the attendant if there’s a corkage should we bring food from another establishment, and they said it’s okay.

Calling it a hefty lunch essentials. We had our finale. Two different cakes from Cakes by Kat.

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We opted for cakes!

We had Chocolate indulgence cake and of course, blueberry cheesecake.

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And we’re back to work with smiles.

In a different occasion, we’ve tried these equally delicious treats:

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kuya-j-salad

Happy tummies! =)

There are more than 50 branches of Kuya J nationwide. One could be just near you. =)

The 20th Hot air balloon festival – Clark, Pampanga

The 30th Hot air balloon festival – Clark, Pampanga 

“When everything seems to be against you, remember that an airplane takes off against the wind and not with it.” 
~Henry Ford~

It took me a while to blog this event. As this day was full of extremes. While it also took me years to finally do this. Like 5 years! I have been wanting to see this since then but for some reason, I wasn’t able to squeeze it in my schedule.

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Courtesy of: http://www.philballoonfest.net/event-inf o/photo-gallery-2/?aid1=25186648821038
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Yey!

Until I did. So while I was enjoying it, and seeing everything that flies, little did I know that one of my cats is breathing her last.

It was a devastating fact that I wasn’t there for her at a time when she expects nothing but to see me and do everything to ease her pain. More so, be there for her all the time. Period.

It taught me a lot. More of strength perhaps to endure this desolating pain of losing a beloved pet.

They were never out of my mind. I was reminded of them for several times. I saw this shirt that says: “It’s meow or never!” though I opted getting the one that says: “Eat a lot, sleep a lot!” One of the balloons I thought was a cat while it was not.

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Shabby chic! =)
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Philippine flag!=)

Going back to the 30th Hot air balloon festival, it made me feel like a child. There are balloons everywhere, food, souvenir items and merchandise.

street foods

nachos

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Kids and adult alike are flying their kites. And not the usual kite that I see flying as a kid. Most of them are shaped like eagles, butterflies, etc.

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Fly high eagle!

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Little boy and girl! Courtesy of: http://www.philballoonfest.net/

Everyone is looking up in the sky. As there are also exhibitions, gliding here and there, flight shows and other flying activities.

The event was triggered by training young pilots (Filipinos and foreigners alike) on discipline and safety in the air.

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the grin

One of my favorite shots! It was difficult to find a good shot due to the number of flocking guests.

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Vipers!

Because we didn’t have a tent like some of the spectators. I was able to ask some carton boxes from a vendor. Jen and I were able to find a good spot along with the others who enjoyed the flying scenes while lying on their back.

We were also able to rest our tired feet as we were walking most of the day and removed our shoes for a while. We were like kids literally with food in both hands.

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Rest your tired feet little one..

The Night glow is one of the highlights.

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big screen

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i saw them ds morning

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Till next time! =)

And when its’ time to go home, we have bags in both hands too. The event was like a shopping spree as well.

It was well-attended.

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Courtesy of: http://www.philballoonfest.net/

Our reservation at Green canyon which is just 20 minutes away from the festival, we cancelled. Though we promised them we will go back.

For some reason, I felt like going home at that time fast. Maybe an angel was trying to pull me from all of this and be home fast. The angel was right, my princess needed me. Had we returned the following day. I might not be able to embrace her the tightest for one last time.

Jen failed to convince me to literally fly. I need more time to consider due to my fear of heights. Well, there’s always a next time.

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And ticking one off from my Bucket list spells happiness. “Hakuna matata!”

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Moi!
20th balloon
I believe I can fly! =)

This event started since 1994.

For more details you can check their official website at:

http://www.philballoonfest.net/