January 31, 2013

Mother’s Garden, Baguio

“But some emotions don’t make a lot of noise. It’s hard to hear pride. Caring is real faint – like a heartbeat. And pure love – why, some days it’s so quiet, you don’t even know it’s there.”
- Emma Bombeck
I wish every mother has a garden as wonderful as Mother’s Garden.  It is a nature lover’s haven where you could find not only fresh organic food, but also peace and solitude.
Mother’s garden salad
Chicken cordon blue
Thuringen bratwurst
Vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries
It’s always therapeutic to laugh with flowers or feed hungry animals. It brings out the happy kid in you. It momentarily takes away the constant worry and fear you have in facing your predicaments or fighting your inner battles. It reminds you that a mother’s love is like a garden, always natural and in full bloom.
Belated happy birthday Ma.
Mother's Garden
#6 Upper Fairview Rd.
Quezon Hill, baguio City

January 22, 2013

Casa Vallejo

Learning history is important for us to understand and appreciate the present. If we don’t know our history, we would be like a hand that doesn’t know it is part of a body. Well, it was exactly because of its rich history that attracted me to Casa Vallejo, one of Baguio’s 10 oldest institutions that survived World War II. Prior to that, it served as a German prisoner of war detention center in 1917, and a British and Indian refugee center in 1940.  Maybe that’s why the ghosts of the past still linger in this place until now.

Originally built as Dormitory 4 in 1909 for the employees of the Bureau of Public Works, and developed in 1923 by Spanish soldier immigrant Salvador Vallejo as a hotel, Casa Vallejo is now a cozy boutique hotel but still managed to retain its old American rustic charm and structure. More than that, it also houses a fine-dining restaurant (Hill Station), spa (North Haven Spa), bookshop (Mt. Cloud Bookstore), and mini-cinema (Cinematheque of the Film Development Council of the Philippines).

But beyond all these, the 1909 signage was the main reason I got fascinated with the century-old hotel. Pagdating sa numero, di kasi sila masyadong nagkakalayo sa alma mater ko na tinayo nung 1908.

Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Rd., Baguio City
Tel. No.: (074) 424-3397

January 21, 2013

Secret Garden Restaurant and Café, Baguio

“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
- Pablo Neruda

Chicken vegetable salad

Cream dory in basil cream sauce

Shrimp chili pasta

Apple crepe

A semi glass house cafe with homey wooden interiors set in a lush garden setting. This place though not that secret, made it to my great collection of happy memories.

Secret Garden Restaurant and Café
#34 Paterno St., South Drive
Baguio City

January 20, 2013

Aquino Museum, Tarlac

“I kissed Ninoy for the last time on August 24, 1983 as he lay in his coffin. It was then that I promised Ninoy that I would continue his work in the non-violent struggle to restore our rights and freedoms.”
- President Corazon Aquino

Replica of Ninoy's prison cell at Fort Bonifacio

Ninoy's vintage car

Relive the life, love and sacrifice of the two pillars of Philippine democracy whose story continue to inspire and haunt the Filipino people. Until now, the grotesque photos of Ninoy after he was shot at the Manila International Airport tarmac, and the sea of people on the streets of EDSA in 1986, empowered after his death, ready to topple the 20-year rule and authoritarian regime of Marcos, give me chills.

The museum, which houses the remnants of Aquino legacy, is a must-see for all Filipinos, whom according to Ninoy, are worth dying for.

Aquino Museum
The Aquino Center, Luisita Industrial Park
San Miguel, Tarlac
Tel. No.: (045) 985-0968

January 16, 2013

Utopia Resort and Spa

“Kakabog ang dibdib mo, kikiligin ang kalamnan mo at kikirot ang puso mo. Kabog, kilig, kirot. Kapag naramdaman mo ang tatlong K, umiibig ka.”
- Para kay B

Utopia is where everyone aspires to be. It has always been just a concept to many because the painful bite of reality always reminds us that we live in a world far from the state of perfection. Well, that is until I entered the doors of Utopia and discovered a secret paradise, maybe comparable to that elusive concept.

Utopia is a new luxury resort in Puerto Galera overlooking verdant green mountains and clear azure waters of Varadero Bay. It is owned by a wonderful and hospitable couple Jennifer and Kelvin who wanted to offer their guests a taste of utopia or total bliss. 

The resort only has seven suites ensuring privacy and peaceful seclusion. The rooms are simply inviting, complete with a mini ref full of loots, microwave oven, flat screen TV with cable, digital weighing scale and free wi-fi. They even have a balcony, where you could laze around reading your favorite summer book or simply enjoy watching yachts during sunset. The room is like a magnet that won’t let go of you that easily. And I tell you, the feeling would be mutual.  

Their amenities are also quite extensive - free shuttle ride within the vicinities, a deep pool good for divers (since Kelvin is also a co-owner of another dive resort in Sabang), an exquisite spa using signature Pevonia Botanica products, a café and bistro bar to delight the taste buds. I had a taste of my first infamous Mindoro sling, which they offer for free during unlimited cocktail hour.

Prices may be a little steep compared to nearby resorts in the area but I assure you that it would be worth every penny you spend. As they say, you can’t easily buy happiness – and this is what Utopia has best to offer. The place really lived up to its name!

In a way, naranasan ko rin ang tatlong K sa lugar na ito, hindi nga lang siguro sa paraang iniisip mo.
Utopia Resort and Spa
Brgy. Palangan, Puerto Galera
Oriental Mindoro  
Tel. No.: (043) 287-3681, 0918-5555720