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.

One Sunday morning me, my family and my sister’s BF decided to go to Tagaytay to relax and to breathe some fresh air. We’re coming from Imus, Cavite plus it was a Sunday so it just took us an hour to reach Tagaytay.

It’s December again. It means holiday season, 13th Month Pay (or Christmas Bonus), and holiday shopping. December also means end of the year and start of a new one. As we welcome another year, it’s been a tradition to make a New Year’s Resolution. As early as now, you should start crafting your New Year’s resolution so that at the start of the year, you can start implementing it.

Now let us recall your New Year’s resolutions for this year. What happens to the commitments that you made? If you have accomplished all your New Year’s resolutions, well congratulations that’s really a job well done. But if you haven’t achieved what you have committed, don’t worry you are not alone. In fact, according to the research made by Richard Wiseman, 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions actually fail. But isn’t it great to succeed in your New Year’s resolution?

It’s holiday season again. I bet most of you have received your 13th month pay or Christmas bonus already. By this time you’re probably decided on what to do with it. But if you still don’t have any decisions yet, visit “How to Spend Your 13th Month Pay Wisely” to know how to spend your Christmas bonus in a practical manner.

Since Christmas season is the season of sharing and not to mention spending, one of your agendas probably is to visit the mall or Christmas bazaars or “tiangge” to buy gifts for your families, friends or “inaanaks” and even gifts for yourself. Aside from thinking of your Christmas list or shopping list and how to maximize your bonus, it’s also important that you think of your personal safety while shopping.

As of today, many of you had already received your 13th month pay or commonly known as Christmas bonus. What have you done with it so far? If it’s still untouched, what are your plans with your 13th month pay then?

With Christmas bazaars and mall sales all around, it’s really tempting to just spend, spend and spend. Besides, 13th month pay is considered as a bonus income that’s why everybody would understand if you’re going to splurge it on the things that you want.

But before having a shopping spree, consider these few tips on how to spend your 13th month pay wisely.

1. Debt Payment – consider a portion of your 13th month pay as a payment to your debts. While it is advisable to pay for your debts as soon as you can, I don’t really advise putting all your 13th month pay to debt payment. Have something left for you to enjoy. Be realistic. I know you’ll somehow feel depressed if you can’t buy even a single gift for yourself this Christmas.

Being debt free or having a few debts is like a breath of fresh air. You’ll have less worries and a relax Christmas season when you know that your debts are cleared.

2. Emergency Fund – aside from payment of debts, consider a portion of your 13th month pay as a start in building your emergency fund. During Christmas season, gathering happens almost every week like group date with your pals, family reunions and pot luck parties. What if something bad happens to you like you got sick after partying all night long, do you have extra cash for the hospital bills?

To avoid the worries, consider this as a good time to start building your emergency funds.

3. Share Your Blessings – Christmas season is the season of sharing. Aside from giving gifts to your families, friends and “inaanaks”, why not also donate a portion of your 13th month pay to charity. Share something to your favorite charitable institution or to the victims of typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan). A small portion of your 13th month pay is a huge help to the victims.

4. Invest – with as low as PHP 10, 000, you can start investing to your chosen unit investment trust fund which is available on different banks here in the Philippines. But if you’re not into this kind of investing strategy, consider having a home business. If you’re into baking, bake some cookies or cupcakes and sell it to your friends. If you’re into crafting, make some personalized accessories like bracelets and necklace and sell it. I’m sure many of the people around are looking for a gift alternative this Christmas. So consider this time as the start of your own business.

So before spending your 13th month pay (that is if you still have it), decide on the better things that you can do with it. Don’t let your 13th month pay disappear in just a blink of an eye as if nothing happens. Make every peso count. Consider what was written on top.

Now if you got anything on your mind that you want to share, please leave a comment. We’re excited to read it.

Photo Credit: News Updates
The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your house. It is the one room that most guests will end up visiting at some point and, as a result, you need it to look impressive. Redesigning your bathroom can seem like a daunting task, but by following these simple tips, your new bathroom will look amazing:

bathroom design

1) Choose the right fixtures

Incorrect fixtures can ruin your finished bathroom. Choosing the right ones can give your bathroom extra character. Things such as light fittings, taps and heated rails might seem trivial, but getting them wrong could ruin your bathroom!

2) Try your bath before you buy it

Above all, your bathroom has to be functional. Make sure to test your bath out before you buy it. There is nothing worse than purchasing and fitting a bath then realizing it isn’t suitable. Make sure it’s the right size for your needs, and that it’ll actually fit in the space required!

3) Make sure your flooring is up to task

Your bathroom will be one of the most used rooms in your house. As a result, the floor will be subject to all sorts of abuse. From water to heat and humidity, your bathroom floor has to be able to handle it all. Laminated flooring or tiles will stand up to most daily stresses. Carpets are definitely to be avoided!

4) Incorporate a mirror

This will create a functional focal point in your bathroom. Choose a stylish mirror which fits your decor. This will be one of the first things that people will see when they enter your bathroom, so make sure it’s a good one! Not only that, but a mirror will help to make your bathroom appear larger if it’s actually quite small.

5) Utilize space to its full potential

Following on from the above point; most bathrooms are not that large by any means. This means it is important to use the space you have efficiently. Bespoke storage units are a great way to get the perfect fit for your room. If you do not have a budget for bespoke, then there are plenty of other great options available. Look out for stackable storage units and storage bags which will hang from the back of your door.

6) Enclose your shower correctly

Leaks and spillages can wreak havoc in your bathroom. Make sure your bath and shower unit is fully enclosed to keep these down to a minimum. Should your shower not be up to standard and ends up leaking, you could have to pay a small fortune to get everything fixed.

7) Combine elements to save space

If you are short on space then opt for a shower/bath combination unit. It will often look better when the design is finished as it will not look cramped together.

8) Make sure the room is properly lit

Bad lighting can ruin your bathroom. Install adequate artificial lighting for night time, but be sure to allow as much natural light in as possible during the day. With this in mind, be such to get the right blinds and curtains to ensure you can let light in, but that no one can see into your bathroom from the outside!

9) Buy a quality toilet

Toilets are often referred to as ‘the throne’ for a reason. It is worth paying a little extra for a toilet you will be comfortable using. You’ll also need to look out for one that will suit your bathroom’s style.

10) Don’t be afraid to be extravagant

Your bathroom should be a room you are comfortable using on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to go a little overboard to get the bathroom you’ve always wanted. There are various luxury options available, from his and hers sinks to built-in speakers. You are only limited by your imagination, so don’t be afraid to go wild!

Do you have any other tips to add to this list? If so, leave us a comment and let us know.

About the Author
This list was compiled by Mark Enright, a writer for Victoria Plumb, the bathroom specialists and suppliers of high quality bathroom fittings.

Image courtesy of shutterstock.