Friday, February 26, 2010

The Heat is ON

Summer heat is beating down... 33C and still going up. The weather bureau predicts it can go up to 40c. Whew! I was out the whole day yesterday and I got a migraine from the intense heat. Thank goodness I have airconditioning today at the office.
I need to buy me some new sunglasses pronto. (I only have one left and the lens got dislodged when we went to the amusement park.-- my hubby honey repaired it for me =)) I lost my aviator raybans from the pinatubo trip  (see older blog)--- and they make me look like Angelina Jolie too... hahahaha... shame

I think we need a nice rain shower or else I won't be able to go out... too hot!! As with anything, the weather indicates beach season too... (hmmm... does this mean I have to reintroduce myself to MR. TREADMILL?)
and school is going to finish in 2 weeks. Exams for the kids, which in  short, means I need to review with them too... I forsee a VERY busy two weeks. I have a lot of things to follow up.. work related orders, house related materials, and I need to plan our summer family trip..

Organize, organize, oraganize.... I need to make a check list! I sometimes overwhelm and confuse myself when I try to do /think about everything at once.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


It has been awhile since I went on a Valentine's date or received flowers for that matter.....This year, thankfully, I did both.

My husband bought Ecuadorian Roses (huge ones that are quite expensive)... surprise!!!--  I, on the other hand, booked a dinner at Diamond Hotel (a hotel facing the bay..) .
The fine dining restaurant is named Le bellevue, situated at the 27th floor of the hotel and it had a wonderful view of  Manila bay.

We arrived quite early at the venue. Both of us dressed for "the date". The sun was about to set as we were being seated and the table the restaurant gave us had a sweeping view of it all.

That day, the restaurant had a special "set" Valentine's menu with complimentary Moet and Chandon champange. (oooh lala!)...
My husband convinced the waiter later on to extend another serving of the champange.....(he slipped the maitre 'D a few)

Our first course started with a salmon-oyster w/ vodka granita / shrimp ceviche. I usually don't eat raw oysters but I made an exception this time just to try if the food was good. The oyster was very sweet (to my surprise) and the granita (vodka infused crushed ice on top) really helped tone down the "sea" taste of the oyster.

Next course, I opted for the scallops while my husband chose the foie gras (duck liver)... I would have chosen the same but I wanted to taste the other appetizer (and we could share of course!). The scallops were ok, but I must say, the foie gras was truely divine! The buttery texture combined with the brioche and sweet chutney...! To die for.....
The scallops we shared and it served as a counter to the richness of the foie gras and it balanced everything so well. (I am still salivating just thinking about it.....)

The soup was a choice of either a roasted red beet soup or a  cold melon soup... (the melon soup was not as good so we both asked for the red beet-- ) The red beet soup had some blue cheese ravioli swimming in the middle.. tangy and tasty! The "refresher" came after.. a candied rose petal topped passion fruit sorbet... which I found surprising in that the rose petals, if I hadn't known they were rose petals, tasted like chewy candy.--- really good.

The main course choices were: lobster or angus beef tenderloin or lamb loin or veal cheeks  (all of which sounded good to me that I had a hard time choosing) I finally decided to get the angus beef while my husband got the lamb loin (and we would share- of course).

The angus beef was cooked medium well as was the lamb. It was tender and juicy topped with red peppercorns and with a side of asparagus and artichoke. The lamb had a siding or tempura fried french bean (my favorite kind of bean) and it was so delicious.

By this time, I already was feeling a bit full and was thinking if I could still manage dessert. But, what the heck, I only get to do this once in a few years... dessert was a choice of molten chocolate cake and pineapple ice cream.  (got one of each to taste) I didn't like the  molten chocolate cake so much. I rather preferred the pralines that came after (chocolates with fillings)--

The evening went well... although the one and a half glass of champange got to me later on.. (I got really red and reaked of alchohol).. We thouroughly had a wonderful time. I would recommend this place to my friends and would bring some family next time I come.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pinatubo adventure

It was an early Saturday morning.... 5am to be exact- when we headed to the meeting point for the trekking tour pick up. My husband has been talking about going trekking in Mt. Pinatubo (the volcano that erupted in 1991) that I finally decided to research and book a tour.

The sky was still dark and the air was cold when the van  from phillippine adventures picked us up at 530am (me and my husband with our married couple friends-). The ride to pinatubo lasted about 2 1/2 hours. We went via Nlex (north luzon expressway) towards Sta Juliana, Capas Tarlac.  The highway was free and clear because it was so early and as the sun was beginning to rise, we saw the image of Mt Arayat to the right of us. Pinatubo is not visible on the highway (most of it was blasted to smithereens) By 7:30, we arrived at the "pinatubo spa" - the jumpoff point of all the tours.  The pinatubo area is covered by the airforce and you have to pass through a military outpost.
We were then asked to  transfer to a 4x4 land cruiser that would take us to the main trek. (at this point, the driver hands us our snack - 1 mars bar each, a choice of soda/water, boiled egg and sandwiches that is neatly packed in a cooler). We were thinking of riding the open top jeep.. you know, make it more thrilling.. but the guide said it would be better to ride the closed one. This reason would be quite obvious in a few minutes....we head off the the vast expanse of lahar.-- a desert of ash everywhere you look. Having no roads, the ride was bumpy and as the day wore on, dusty too. I could understand the sound advise of the guide asking us to choose the closed van. I saw some others in the open one, covering their faces from the dust and dirt that was flying all over. Aside form which, the rough road looked like it could bump you out of the vehicle at any minute. The temperature was quite cool and we were thankful that we did come at this time of the year. I couldn't imagine travelling during the summer heat...

They call the 30km expanse crow valley.... where the landscape suddenly changed to something out of DUNE. Mounds of ash, a few stray cows and the landscape was quite barren.  We were informed that we were travelling on a dry river bed.
By rainy season, the road would become a raging river. Last Aug 2009, a group of tourists got caught in a flash flood on that river and drowned. After 45 minutes of bumpy road, we noticed the landscape changing... grass, hills with grass and some foliage was showing up.
              We reached a small stream and the water seemed so clean that we decided to go down and take pictures
The picture of me in this stream, I still had my sunglasses... when we went back and rode the 4x4 jeep again, I noticed my sunglasses were gone.... we went back and tried to find them but  no luck... I guess it fell off when I was going over the rocks... somewhere, some native AETA is wearing raybans (violet rimmed ones)-- =(

We saw some of the other trekkers in front going through the same underbrush.. we felt as though we were traveling on some safari in Africa. We went up the mountain using the "skyway" a path they carved out of the mountain and after some time, we reached the jump off point of the trek.  There are options on the trek where you can opt for a longer hike. I even saw children walking on this hike. I was also told you can also camp at the crater but you have to get special permission from the military.
The guide said that the walk is not that hard-- (see sign), but I guess we were worst off than I thought. It took us 25 mins (a little worse than senior citizen capability) to reach the top. The trail was rocky and we had to be careful not to slip on something and sprain an ankle. 

We finally reached the clearing and saw the crater.... it was awesome!
the water was very very blue (blue green)... it was amazing to realize that a few years ago, this was the site of a very destructive force... the explosion equivalent to 20 million tons of SO2.. and it's the second largest terrestrial eruption in modern history.
from this....(destruction..) to this.... a peaceful tourist destination.
 The clearing had a great view of the crater lake and they already developed the area for tourists.. they had a shed where you can buy drinks and snacks, some basic facilities and boat rentals to go to the other side of the lake where there is a hot spring. We decided to explore the hot springs and rented a boat. It cost an extra P350/head (about $9). We walked down the manmade spiral steps leading us from the observation point to the "beach". It was already noon and we already consumed the sandwhiches that were packed for us.  We also quenched out thirst on the soda and water we also brought. 
The water was very clear and cool that I couldn't wait to swim. It actually felt like we were not in the same country at all. Surrounding the crater were hills of ash, and I could imagine them turning to molten lahar as the rains came. They look like cement. 
Viewing this scene, it almost felt like we were in the movie "Lord of the Rings" and I would see frodo come out from one of the rocks. (or Gollum... my preeciousss!!!!!) The boat ride was a good 25- 30 mins and we had a leisurely time joking with the boatman and taking pictures.

Reaching the other side, we saw steam coming off the sand. And a spot where they made a hole.. in this hole, you can see the water bubbling.. (hot!).. The hot spring that they said was nowhere.. (it was not an actual site).. the whole beach WAS the hot spring. some parts of the sand was hot and my friend actually jumped when she put her foot down. I had some water proof shoes (essential on this trek..I don't recommend any rubber shoes and socks.. it is better to wear sandals or one of those open sandals with straps.) and went for a swim. I had a lifevest on because the water was quite deep. and they said it was not recorded how deep the lake even went. I was wondering the whole time if I may see some kind of lochness monster come up from the depths and eat me.... hahahaa.

The water was very cold in some parts and suddenly, you can feel the warm water coming from the other side. I really wanted to swirl the water around to make the temperature more balanced. I had warm on the left and cold on the right....
After sometime, it was time to make the trip back... All of us were quite satisfied and happy to be able to reach this place. We plan to come back some time and look forward to more similar adventures. We reached the camp back at Tarlac (walked back down the trail, rode the 30km back in the 4x4) and had our lunch. - included in the package, a choice of Filipino or Korean food).. At the spa, you can opt to have a massage (1 hour) or hot volcanic sand pit (30 mins) at an extta P500 ($13) cost. The gift shop also had some sulfur products like soap, sulfur bath salts and the like. 
We left Tarlac at 4pm and reached Manila a little over 7pm. Overall, this was an awesome awesome trip!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wishing I was supermom

My long time friend, who I had not seen for three years called me up this week. She asked if we could go out and have dinner and catch up with another friend.--- They are both married with kids the same age as mine.

It was a welcome invite and I readily accepted the invitation. The venue- Angel's Kitchen in Greenhills.

The evening started with Hi, hello, and long-time-no-see.... and then the chatting turned to tales of the unknown.... well... unknown to me that is.

It started with allergies....and the diverse lists of doctors from various hospitals...sample:

friend 1: "have you tried doctor so and so ? the pediatric dermatologist? I heard she was great"
friend 2: "Oh, yes, how about doctor this and that... the pediatric gynecologist? she treated my daughter so well..."

me : staring at them in awe --- going "huh?" in my head.....

Then they went to talk about schools of biblical proportions.....

friend 1: have you heard of supercalifragelistic school?
friend 2: yes, it's a really good school. the tuition is cheaper than British school.... only 200k (about $5000) a year.....

me: ???? how much does british school cost?? (it's an international school)
friend 2: "oh,  it's very hard to get into... they have a waiting list.... it's about 800k- 1M a year.."($15,000-18,000)
me: ...almost choking on my salad.... "whaaaaat???.. by the time your child graduates, you can buy a mansion!"

Then latter part of the conversation went on...and I was feeling a bit lost for the most part because it never occured to me that these things were common knowledge to parents. --

Another topic: homeopathic treatments

friend 1: have you tried the homeopathic doctor? Doctor quack quack?
friend 2: I heard that is quite effective-- but I had my son treated and he got a severe reaction to it... his arm swelled like sausages

me: what is that? --- see below to newbies like me....
(homeopathic -(n.)A system for treating disease based on the administration of minute doses of a drug that in massive amounts produces symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the disease itself.)

friend 2: hey Imelds, where do you buy your organic chicken?
me: uh.... (hmm... I don't actually... I usually go the commercial route)
friend 1: (thank God she butted in) "I buy mine in Unimart... they have them in the frozen foods section...
friend 2: really?? 

And they go on to compare notes on doctors, schools, organics and they fill their kids schedules with violin lessons, reading lessons, math enhancement... and running to and fro fetching the kids, going to doctors appointments.... while I stare and wonder where have I been hiding all these years.... I am so clueless on everything "motherhood"... 

I felt I landed on an alien planet and they were speaking in an alien tongue...

I love my friends. -- even if I sometimes feel so unmotherly compared to them- they are such dynamic moms! NOTE TO SELF: research organic chicken....

In the end, I asked for that doctor so and so (the pediatric dermatologist)... I need to have my son checked for a skin condition. -- at least, I can rely on them for great referrals for doctors! (I think my friend has a black book of doctors)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


It's funny to find out what you are like while you are asleep. You don't really know unless someone is there  with you (meaning sleeping in the same room).

I had an out of town trip once, and my friend told me, that even in my sleep, I was still in deep thought. (I had my hand resting on my temples the whole time I was asleep... imagine the statue "the thinker")

Lately, I have been exhibiting certain quirks. My husband stood up one night and was walking around. He said I talked and asked, "What are you doing?" and before he could answer, (1 sec later) I was back snoring softly.. same night, he got up again... and again I asked, "What are you doing?" and same as before, (1 sec later) I was back snoring... Mind you, I don't snore like a chainsaw....they say I just snore softly like .. "zzzzz". I usually do that when I am extremely tired. I think I was more tired this week because I was now adding talking in my sleep to the routine...hahaha

I think the hectic pace of the coming Chinese New year rush has gotten to me...


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