As promised on my previous blog, Ilocos A Travel Series, I will write a series of post regarding our travel adventure in Ilocos. On day one we have visited Paoay, Batac and then had a tour in Laoag. All of which are in Ilocos Norte. I will cover Paoay and Batac first on this post. So let’s proceed with the tour.

Paoay Church

Where’s your next travel destination? Haven’t decided yet? If so, I will recommend a place that you will surely love. It’s in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. There are a lot of tourist spots that you can visit within these two provinces. Not only that, you’ll also encounter a variety of unique delicacies that will surely delight your taste buds. I will write a series of blog post regarding the places that my family and I visited as well as the different Ilocano dishes that we have encountered along the way. But for now let me give you a preview of what is in store for you in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. These are my top 5 favorites!

Calle Crisologo Ilocos Sur
This black sambo recipe is a hit during our New Year's Eve celebration. I couldn't imagine that my family and friends would love it. Thanks to my cousin's wife Ate Che who introduce this dessert to us. I borrowed her recipe and modify it a bit to suit my taste.

Black sambo, by the way, is a two-layered gelatin made of milk and chocolate. It has a slightly bitter and sweet taste. If you love dark chocolate, you'll surely love this recipe. For extra sweetness and flavor, you can drizzle chocolate syrup like Hershey's.

Black Sambo
No doubt, one of the best mangoes is found in the Philippines. It has the right sweetness and sourness that everyone would love. And that's the reason why I love using them on my dish especially on desserts. So my latest dish is this no bake mango cheesecake which is basically one of our menus last Christmas.

No Bake Mango Cheesecake
It's just a few days left and we are going to change our calendars again. This means New Year's resolutions, fireworks and loud noises, parties and celebrations! But before the celebration begins, remind yourself that safety should always be the top priority. Isn't it nice to start the year being in good shape and all body parts are intact? Well, if you agree (and I bet you do) be guided by this tips that I have listed down for you.

Happy New Year 2015
Still haven’t think of a holiday destination yet? Why not head north and visit Sky Ranch Pampanga. It’s a perfect place to spend your time with your family and friends this holiday season.

Sky Ranch Pampanga
It is funny that my mind can’t stop thinking of the captivating sceneries in Aurora and now am thinking on how I can give justice to translate the experience into writings. The place is so serene and overwhelming; and the people? I can only speak good things about them. I never thought such people with kind hearts still existed. I thought those traits will only be found in our history books. (I will share more of it later, read on)

Our first stop: San Luis, Aurora; where the Mother Falls is situated. We arrived there at 0530H, had our breakfast, changed clothes and prepare for the adventure that awaits.  To be able to reach the enchanting place you have to ride a tricycle (but it would be more exciting if ATVs will be available for rent, calling out any possible entrepreneurs and/or local officials to make this happen) and at some point trek all the way to the falls.

Mother Falls, Baler

It was a short trek like around 15 to 20 minutes but you’ll enjoy it if you’re a nature freak as I am. During that time I felt what it really mean when they say “you’re one with nature!” It’s an untouched place, with varying flora and fauna along the way. It seems magical hearing the gush of water from the river and seeing the place well-maintained by the locals.
Recently, I wrote about our summer vacation in Sabang Puerto Galera. And as promised, I will write about the resort, Oriental Sabang Hill Resort, where we stayed during the said vacation.

First on the reservation. My friend Hannah was the one who searched and reserved this place. The customer service representative answered all our queries promptly that’s why the reservation went very smoothly. To reserve the room that we have selected, we are required with a guarantee payment of PHP 2400 or equivalent to one night charge. We are ask to deposit the said amount to BDO (Banco De Oro) which is definitely a plus since this bank has a lot of branches nationwide which means less hassle in paying. Here’s is a screenshot of the rates of the room at Oriental Sabang Hill Resort.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Room Rates

And here are the photos of the rooms in Oriental Sabang Hill Resort plus the description of each.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Rooms
Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Rooms

After sending a scanned copy of the deposit slip, you will be provided with an SOA number (I just don’t know what SOA stands for) as a confirmation of your reservation. And that’s it just wait for the day of your vacation.

We have located a desk of Oriental Sabang Hill Resort at the passenger waiting area in Batangas Port. The staff approach us asking if we are already booked to any resort. After telling that we are booked in their resort, she called and verified our reservation then she instructed us to proceed to the waiting area. She also told us that she will call us in case the boat going to Sabang Beach Pier has already arrived. I can say that she’s very friendly and accommodating.

At the Sabang Beach Pier, two staffs from their resort welcomed us and carry our baggage. We’re lucky to received help from their resort. It’s less hassle and it’s also an additional savings since we don’t have to hire for porters anymore to help us on our baggage. It’s a must to go to their desk at the Batangas Pier or probably phone their resort during your arrival so they could arrange any assistance that you may need during your vacation.

Oriental Sabang Hill is like a 100 m or so from the pier. It is situated at the far end of Sabang Beach. To get to Oriental Sabang Hill, turn left from the pier. Follow the cemented pathway at the beach until you reach Tina’s Restaurant. From there, turn to your right and climb up the stairway until you reach the resort. Note: This resort might not be suitable for those people with mobility problems.

Upon arriving at the resort, we are welcomed by their staffs and provided us with a free refreshing drink. The occupants of the room just vacated the place and the staffs are still cleaning it so we have waited for a few minutes. By the way, check-in time is 1:30 pm which means we’re a bit early since we arrived at around 12:50 pm.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Rooms

While waiting, we checked the place first. So they have their own restaurant, a bar, a pool which is quite small, a billiard table and a dart board, and a souvenir shop. I love the place. It has lots of plants and trees, it’s quiet and relaxing. They also have a Wi-Fi hotspot around the bar and restaurant.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Bar

Charlie, a tour guide from their resort, talk to us and explain the activity packages that they offer. Sabang Beach doesn’t have a fine white sand so it’s not suitable for swimming. Plus boats are dock all around which makes it unsafe for swimming. Most of the tourist visit this place because they say that it’s a perfect spot for diving. We’re not divers and so we opted for the island hopping package. It cost PHP 1000 per person which includes an exclusive whole day boat rental (from 9am to 4pm), beach hopping to Haligi Beach and Long Beach, lunch, cottage rental at Haligi Beach and two guides (boat driver and his assistant).

After talking to Charlie, the cleaning of room is done so we went inside. We have chosen the family room which is beside their souvenir shop and just a few steps away from the pool. It has a veranda with tables and chairs. Smoking is allowed outside and an ashtray is already provided at the table. The family room is good for four person (in our case five since we have Aya with us). It has two single beds and one double bed. It’s air-conditioned, it also has a stand fan, mini refrigerator, safety vault and cable TV.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort - Inside the family room

The mini refrigerator contains chocolates and different beverages: soda, fruit juice, bottled water, and chocolate drinks. At the corner of the table beside the mirror you can find a basket with lots of personal stuffs also for sale like shampoo, slippers, sanitary napkins, even condoms. So basically, they have provided some necessities in case you forget to bring those. They also have provided the pricelist of all the foods and stuffs and that’s definitely a plus because you won’t get shocked about your bills later on in case you can’t resist to consume them. By the way, we find the foods and stuffs quite pricey probably with a 30% or so mark-up price so think first before consuming these items.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort Mini Bar

The toilet and bath is clean and also smells good. Soaps, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, towels including mini towels are already provided. It has a hot and cold shower but I tried the hot shower and it’s not working. But anyway, you’ll definitely not going to need a hot shower trust me. The water pressure is not strong though. So we freshen up for a bit then dine in at their restaurant.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort - Restaurant

So here’s our photo at the restaurant. I just don’t know how to describe the design of the place. Plus Aya was a bit bothered because they have this life size wood-carved (I think) statue at the corner that looks like a fat zombie in the Walking Dead.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort - Restaurant

The menu consist a wide variety of dishes not only Filipino. And they served all types from sea food, chicken, to pork and beef (not sure if there’s vegetable though). Foods cost from around PHP 200 and up which is a bit pricey on the first impression. But when they served the foods, the serving size is very generous. Probably, two person can share on a single dish. And the rice is like 1 ½ cup per serving. We just ordered 3 types of dishes, tinola, bicol express and braised beef I think.

The food was definitely good. From 1 to 5 probably I will give it a 4.5. We also observed some foreign and locals from other hotel/resort dropping by in this restaurant just to eat. And that means that their food is really good. Although the food is good, we haven’t finish them all up because the girls are on a diet. The waitress told us that we could take out our leftovers and she will just heat it up the next time we eat. Surely, our leftovers will not be wasted. By the way, they charge corkage fees in case you bring foods and drinks and consume them on their restaurant/bar. But they don’t charge corkage fees if you consume your food and drinks in your room. So that’s again a plus if you’re on a tight budget.

Hannah and I played billiards after a short nap while Belle and Aya plunge into the pool. Playing billiards cost PHP 20 per set. I just don’t know if they charge the same on playing darts. But they have a “no drink no play” policy which means you have to order a beverage first before you can play. But that’s just fine since we are informed by their staff that we can order even one drink and play the whole time. Besides, PHP 55 for a bottle of tanduay ice is not really that much.

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort - Billiards

The place is quiet during the night. Even they have a bar inside, you can’t hear any noise (aside from the air-conditioner) inside the room. The bed is really comfortable. The air-conditioner, even it was set at its full capacity, is not that cold. As a matter of fact, I’m the person nearest to the air-conditioner and yet I woke up in the middle of the night with a sweaty back. Nonetheless we had a relaxing peaceful sleep.

We have a free continental breakfast for four. But it’s just basically toasted bread with butter and jam on the side plus coffee or juice depending on your choice. They also served different breakfast from silogs to pancakes. Belle, Hannah and I ordered tosilog and longsilogs while Issy ordered pancakes. According to Issy the pancakes aren’t that good but the silogs are definitely a must try. With a price of around PHP 150 and a generous serving definitely that’s sulit.

I also love the staffs at Oriental Sabang Hill Resort because they are so hospitable and very accommodating. I didn’t felt any racial issues here. They treat all there guests equally whether you’re a local or foreigner. I’ve read that in some hotels/resorts in Sabang, racism is a common issue among Filipino guests. They felt that the foreigners, since they bring big bucks to the resorts, are treated well and always prioritized. Luckily, Oriental Sabang Hill Resort’s staffs are all friendly.

To sum it up here are the pros and cons that we have noticed at Oriental Sabang Hill Resort.

Affordable, clean and quality rooms.
Friendly and accommodating staffs.
Discrimination is never an issue among Filipinos.
Delicious and affordable foods.
No corkage fees for foods or drinks consume in your room.
They got a pool, billiard table, dart board and Wi-Fi hotspot.

Low shower pressure.
Hot shower doesn’t work in our room.
Air-conditioner is not that cold in our room.
The resort might not be suitable for those people with mobility problems.

If you’re to ask if I’m going back here. Well, definitely yes!

Oriental Sabang Hill Resort
Sabang Beach Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro Philippines 5203
Land Line: +63 (043) 287-3559
Mobile Number: +63915-601-8402

Photo Credit: Oriental Sabang Hill Resort, Asia Travel
Recently, I went to Sabang, Puerto Galera with Belle, Aya and two of my college barkadas, Hannah and Issy. It was supposed to be a family vacation based on the original plan. But during our get together at a coffee shop in Shangri-La Plaza, everything has changed. Hannah and Issy were so eager to join our family vacation and we thought that it was a great idea. I never really regret having them both on the trip.

Puerto Galera

Day off is provided to employees for them to recharge and to prepare their mind and body for the next work week. It is also provided to employees for them to spend quality time with their family. Most us wanted to spend day off on bed and sleep all day. That would probably be applicable if you are single. But if you already have a family of your own, things are quite different. So how do you spend your day off with your family? Here are some budget friendly and worthwhile activities we do at home during my day off.

Movie Marathon

One of the things that keep us busy during my day off is watching movies. I don't know if you consider this as a worthwhile activity but for me it is. Watching fun movies makes me laugh so hard and it's really a stress buster. Going to the mall to watch on movie theaters is quite expensive. And also Aya is just three years old, so we refrain from visiting the movie theater with her because we’re too afraid that she will just create a mess. So instead of watching movies on theater, we opt for renting or buying DVDs. Then, Belle prepares popcorn or French fries for us. That way, I can relax while watching a movie with my family in a budget-friendly way.
Moringa, or locally known as malunggay in the Philippines, is hailed as "miracle tree" or "superfood" because it is known as a highly nutritious vegetable with many health benefits. According to studies, malunggay contains more than 90 different kinds of nutrients, as well as, 46 different kinds of antioxidants and 8 different kinds of essential amino acids. Another interesting fact is that, all the parts of the moringa tree such as the leaves, fruits, pods, flower, bark and roots can be utilized to enjoy its nutritional benefits.

Malunggay (Moringa Oleifera) or Moringa Tree

As planned, I have added a photography section in this blog. It will consist of random things, places, people, food and anything that I may find interesting. I want to take this opportunity to learn and improve. Let me start this section with this one.

Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA) Footbridge

Remember Norman, Lovely and Leuven in Aya’s third birthday? They are our friends from San Fernando, Pampanga. We pay them a visit just a week after Aya’s birthday. Their place, Bulaon, is I think, celebrating its fiesta. As expected there is a huge crowd, tiangge, and of course a lot of street foods.

Pampanga Street Food Trip

November 8, 2013 is one of the most memorable dates in history not only in the Philippines but also in the entire planet. This is the day where the strength of the Filipino spirit has been put to test during the devastation of typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the strongest typhoon ever recorded in history. It had wreaked havoc in the Visayas areas. It took lives of thousands of people and destroyed their homes and livelihoods. Many had lost their families and friends. Even hopes have been ripped off.

The Philippines Say Thank You

Are you looking for a budget-friendly Valentine’s gift? Try checking out Unisilver Time. My wife and I just saw it at the mall and they are currently on sale. They have buy one take one wrist watches and wrist watches that are on sale at up to 50% off.

But this one is really eye-catching. For a minimum purchase of PHP 1195 on regular price watches you will get an 8 o' Hearts Series watch for free. The 8 o' Hearts Series watch is sold at PHP 1395. Isn't that a great deal? It's more than 50% off. But take note that this one is available only on selected items. To learn more about the 8 o' Hearts Series watch click here.

Unisilver Time 8 o' Hearts Series watch

After trying out several watches that are on sale, (50% off prices ranges from PHP 500+ to PHP 600+), it seems nothing suits my wrist. I seldom buy a wrist watch because I'm not really into accessories. But if I do buy one, it really consumes a lot of my time. I'm like a girl, I know. I'm kind of hard to decide in an instant.

Getting your sleeping pattern right
If you're a shift worker, getting your sleeping patterns right is not always easy. Your body is forced to fight against its natural sleeping patterns to become alert and active at night. Whether you have been living the life of a shift worker for years, or just starting out, your body (and mind) will struggle to get used to these sleeping patterns.

As an employee, it’s crucial to be well rested, especially if you are a truck driver, doctor, pilot, police office or a nurse. An exhausted employee can cost a company billions of dollars, or worse, make life threatening mistakes with fatigue being the leading cause of poor concentration, injuries and accident. The needs of a shift worker are important - we look into a few ways that you can better sleep and feel rested during those long and late night work hours.

Last January 14 was Aya’s third birthday. I know she loves the pool that’s why we’ve decided to celebrate her birthday in a nearby spring resort. I knew she would be happy, just take a look at her smile. In fact she laughs and shouts most of the time. That’s what I really wanted, for her to be happy on her special day.

happy Aya on her third birthday
The Happy Celebrant
Is corporal punishment still applicable to the modern children today? If so, is it still acceptable?

My siblings and I grew up with strict parents and grandmother. I saw my dad spanked my eldest brother once when we were just little kids. It was my brother’s fault and the committed crime is really terrible. Because of his curiosity to the moving parts of a wrist watch, a gift of my OFW dad to my mom, he hit the watch with a rock just to see what’s inside. When my dad knew about it, he immediately dragged my brother and spanked him really hard. And that’s more than enough for us to be afraid on him. He didn’t spank anyone of us since then but because that scenario was instilled to our minds, when he gets angry we can’t help but tremble and cry.