Post NY bonding at Crosswinds Resort Suites in Tagaytay

Tagaytay — Voila! Its a New Year, and I ought to write an entry to this blog.

Cool Breeze. Cool Change for 2016.

I am having a great weekend escape here with my family at Swiss-inspired Crosswinds Resort Suites in Tagaytay, my fave getaway from busy Manila.

Traffic was heavy en route Sta. Rosa area and it took us about four hours (rather than the usual two hour-drive) to reach the city proper. But its really worth it, staying away from the holiday stress and simply smelling the Pine Tree breeze here at Crosswinds.

Crosswinds surely beats all the hassle at the other side of  Tagaytay-Calamba Road, which has become so commercialized with the towering condos built in the area.  This resort nestled in Bgy. Irungin  gives you the relaxation you deserve.

Its been drizzling since we arrived but it sure would be very good to trek around in the morning in the middle of the haze. Just communing one with nature spurs the soul….

 

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#PrayforParis

1447527393_jean-jullien-paris-for-peace_1As  I write this piece, the lights have dimmed in Paris after the ISIS attacked multiple locations in the City of Lights, including a huge concert hall, a cafe, a crowded bar and areas near the soccer stadium.

Immediately, there is a massive show of condemnation and sympathies from all over the world.  Over 120 people were killed, and 350 people were hurt in what could be dubbed as the deadliest terror attack in Europe ever.

Bloodbath. Terror. Fear. Pitiless. Heartless.

These were just the words used to describe the “attack all over Paris”.

US President Barrack Obama described the attack “not just in Paris, not just in France. But an attack in all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”  French president Francois Hollande called it as an “act of war.”

We were in shock after the 911 attacks in the United States about a decade a half ago.

Definitely, the coordinated attacks in Paris showed much sophistication years after the world witnessed one of the twin towers in the US was ruined by a plane. Then the Pentagon grounds.

There were a number of incidents attributed to suspected terrorists in the Philippines. There was also the Bali bombings in Indonesia, among others.

In the wake of terror and even the neutralisation of Osama bin Laden in the recent years, we still have in our midst the terror attacks in Europe.

What can we do? For now, we Pray for Paris. Pray for PEACE all over the world.

(photo credits: French graphic designer Jean Julien)

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Secret Garden: Maria Luisa’s Garden Room at Makati Garden Club

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Hush. Hush.

The secret has been revealed but this quiant French Cafe located at the Makati Garden Club has been the buzz among social circles for quite some time.

So much that its “closure” was stopped last year after some hype from the social media circles.

I am intrigued by this place, Maria Luisa’s Garden Room, located at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Recoletos Street.

I recently reconnected with some good, reliable friends in a dinner here recently.

Ambiance it is! Wait til you taste the food...

Ambiance it is! Wait til you taste the food…

Simply cozy

Simply cozy

Surely, I enjoyed the good talk, the ambiance & most especially, the wide array of menu.  They have specialities such as baked mussles and duck, but that slightly health-conscious part of me opted to go for some salad, mushroom soup and grilled Sea Bass for my main course.

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Sea Bass

The cozy ambiance that accompanies this small, yet chic place in the middle of city, is what makes it special compared to other restos in the business district. It is a good hideaway to be your girl friends.

Its suitable for sweethearts, too.

And if you just enjoy being with your family, I am sure your gatherings will focus –not just on the hot topics of the day– but on the sumptuous food served fresh and hot from the oven.

Membership Only.
Reservations needed.
Budget: P 1,200 & above.

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SONA 2015 Red Carpet Fashion at the Philippine Senate: Female Senators, some lawmakers’ wives & their husbands…

It’s the resumption of the third regular session of the 16th Congress of the Philippines.

Here’s the fashion scene at the Senate.

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Sen. Cynthia Villar’s gown during the opening of session was designed by Nolie Hans. It was a hand calladoed fushia gown with her signature-kimona embroidered with all shades of pink thread. Sen. Poe wore a Paul Cabral while Legarda’s beauty exemplified in her native-inspired attire. Afternoon SONA Hand embroidered medallion draped beautifully on the bodice to hold the monochromatic silk chiffon.

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Sen. Loren Legarda with son, Lance. For the Opening of the Third Regular Session of the 16th Congress this morning, Sen. Legarda wore plain black top and pants accessorized with a tapis from her textile collection, Bontoc necklace, Ilonggot earrings, Marikina shoes by entrepreneur Tish Sevilla, and bag made of recycled newspaper by the women of Brgy. Holy Spirit in Quezon City.

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Nacionalista Party senators: Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Pia Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Antonio Trillanes IV and Alan Peter Cayetano (left to right)

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Sen. Teofisto Guingona III is joined by his wife during the resumption of session.

Mrs. Mila Drilon, Mrs. Timi Gomez-Aquino and Mrs. Elivira "Tootsie" Angara pose for photo at the VIP section of the Senate plenary

Mrs. Mila Drilon, Mrs. Timi Gomez-Aquino and Mrs. Elivira “Tootsie” Angara pose for photo at the VIP section of the Senate plenary

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For the morning session, Sen. Pia Cayetano wore a blush brocade gown with black pearls by designer Mia Urquico

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Last termer, Sen. Pia Cayetano, pose for photographers.

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(Clockwise) Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar. Also in photo: Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV

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Sen. Binay wore a gown by Randy Ortiz.

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Former Sen. Anna Dominique Coseteng and Ms. Cecille Quidote-Alvarez share a light moment before the opening of Congress.

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Sen. Loren Legarda shares a laugh with Mrs. Mila Drilon (in white and blue gown) during a pose for ‘class picture’ with Senators.

Sen, Marcos with his wife, Louise.

Sen, Marcos with his wife, Louise.

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Senators pose for a class picture during the opening of Third Regular Session of the 16th Philippine Congress

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One Day in Las Pinas, a Study Tour (Lakbay Aral)

This is a photograph exhibited at the SIPAG Foundation Museum in Las Pinas.  The Foundation's vision focuses on poverty alleviation.

This is a photograph exhibited at the SIPAG Foundation Museum in Las Pinas. The Foundation’s vision focuses on poverty alleviation.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This proverb resonates my mind as no less than Sen. Cynthia Villar, managing director of the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation & Governance (SIPAG) Foundation gave us a day tour of just some of the initiatives she and her better half, former Senate President Manny Villar, spearheaded to help their impoverished constituents in Las Pinas.

In a poor country like ours, every politician would come to learn that many of our kababayans would rely on help from their local mayor, congressman or senator for food, school, work and even medical assistance.

It is apparently because of this cycle in a politician’s life which prompted Mr. and Mrs. Villar to think of ways outside the box and fund livelihood projects almost for every barangay in their hometown.

Basket made of water lilies, which used to clog the city's major water ways.

Basket made of water lilies, which used to clog the city’s major water ways.

In five barangays we toured for our “Lakbay Aral” activity one Saturday ago, the foundation has set up a processing plant for organic fertiliser and for plastic garbage which were used to manufacture school chairs. Then there is a production house for water lily products such baskets and recycled paper; a livelihood centre for hand loom weaving; and training centre for making coco fiber and peat out of ‘used’ coconut husks.

Segregated plastic trash are processed and made into school chairs.

Segregated plastic trash are processed and made into school chairs.

Nothing goes to waste. You just have to be creative to find ways and make things happen, says Sen. Cynthia Villar who imparts her wisdom to a select group of media who joined the “Lakbay Aral”.

This also goes to show that their campaign slogan 2010, when her hubby and SIPAG Foundation chairman, Sen. Manny, ran for presidency, is not just for publicity. Indeed, they live and impart the attitude of “Sipag at Tiyaga” (Hardwork and Perseverance).

Made of recycled plastic

Made of recycled plastic. Each chair weighs 20-kg, making the chair more durable than wooden chairs usually used in public schools.

By educating people about recycling plastic, the Foundation hopes that there will be no plastic clogging waterways in the near future. This way, we can avoid major floods caused by poor and clogged drainage systems.

A man molds processed plastic to parts of a chair. Once formed into a chair, it is painted and then readied for distribution.

By educating people about recycling plastic, the Foundation hopes that there will be no plastic clogging waterways in the near future. This way, we can avoid major floods caused by poor and clogged drainage systems.

Colorful baskets made of water lilies.Mats

Water lilies used to clog the Las Pinas rivers and waterways. Now, these water lilies are means for livelihood by local residents. An international designer firm now uses the water lilies in its bag collection.  Meanwhile, the sleeping mats are sent to evacuation centers during disasters.

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Taxi fares in Japan are way too expensive!!!

Narita — Here is my advise to first -timers in Japan.

Taxi cabs are expensive everywhere. The flag-down rate is ¥730. If you are sure that where you’d be going is just a few blocks away, then you can take the cab.

Otherwise, take the JR trains and the subways. Its much, much, very much cheaper, efficient and faster provided that you know where the nearest station to your target destination and exit gates are.

That’s the ¥20,000 costly experience we had on the last leg of our ala “Survivor” trip from Osaka (via Kansai International Airport) to Tokyo (via Narita International Airport).

That’s a whopping US$200 or about P8,000 in Philippine peso.

From Hibiya line in Tokyo, we transferred to another line and got off at a station (going to but not Narita yet). I bet we thought it was already the final train station (but actually there is another last one for Narita station).

We did not know that the way to Chiba perfecture where Narita Gateway Hotel is located would be like a 100-kilometer ride from that train station.

The driver even duped us, without saying that it would take that far (say Manila to Olongapo). He even went around the circuitous exits within the hotel areas because he claimed to have taken the wrong road.

Of course, their inability to speak English was a convenient excuse. We too do not understand Japanese.

So take the trains. Rather than take the cab, better take a walk… Those boots are made for walkin’ baby!

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Shinkansen (Bullet train ride from Osaka to Tokyo)

Tokyo– As a first-timer in Japan like me, I must say I am really impressed on the efficient railway, subway and Shinkansen (bullet train) systems.

We are on our way to Tokyo from Osaka as I write this entry, boarded the train at 16:56pm at the Shin-Osaka Station.

Ticket price: ¥14,450 (one-way)

Shinkansen is operated by Nozomi Super Express.

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