What to See at Las Casas Filipinas

Stepping into Las Casas is like having time-travel back to the old Philippines. It was enchanting to walk the cobblestone roads and enter homes of over a hundred-year-old. The cruise to the river and the swim at the beach sum up an ideal getaway for the family. It is a memorable place to spend a weekend with mostly warm and welcoming resort staff.

Home to Jose Acuzar’s collection of restored Spanish-Filipino houses, this resort in Bagac, Bataan is a reflection of Filipino craftsmanship intricately curated into a world-class historical haven.

Speckled with classic architecture, grandiose landscape, and spectacular waterworks, there is surely beauty to behold anywhere you go. Hop on the Tramvia and traverse along cultural routes through. Go on a fluvial adventure by taking the balsa, and see the casas in a totally different angle.

Las Casas also takes pride in being the only Philippine hotel to have received several international acclaims. Among its prestigious recognitions are being part of Historic Hotels Worldwide, and being awarded as Asia’s most excellent destination in 2017.*

Here’s a preview of your next trip!

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

WriteNowNa at Las Casas Filipinas

The view is completely mesmerizing and the feel can be surreal! But not to burst the bubble and to manage expectations, here are the other realities when you get there:

Accessoria 2

Accessoria 2

  • We were at Accessoria 2 and our room has the only veranda at the building, the beach view is wonderful along with the sunset! Room is spacious but facilities not very nice. Broken hangers and doorknobs, not a clean flooring,  and we were served with a smashed coffee cups and it took them one day to replace it on top of doing three follow-ups.
  • House Keeping service is very slow and it takes a while for them to answer a phone call.
  • Hotel walkway has piles of extra beds and not a sight to behold when getting into your room.
Hotel de Oriente

Hotel de Oriente

  • Breakfast buffet at Hotel de Oriente has no brewed coffee on the first day; the staff said only instant is usually served. I requested if they can prepare brewed on the second day, alas… they did!
  • The kitchen crew is very consistent of not refilling the food plate asap. You get to finish your breakfast without having a taste of the scrambled eggs and longganiza unless you are willing to wait…
  • The Filipino and Italian restaurants found inside are good but a bit pricey considering the taste and size of serving. To go outside and sneak for dinner, it t takes about 20km drive to a nearby mall.
  • There are still a lot of constructions situated at the entrance but it will surely be exciting to see the finished designs in two to three years’ time.

Hopeful that *Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar  Management is open to improve these aspects of the resort so they can fully offer a grander experience to visitors. Afterall, it is still a “Salud, Buena Vida – Mabuhay!”

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The Grinch at Work

Christmas is a season of loving and giving. This is also good time to be more understanding of everyone around us. Grab along a cheerful spirit and the holidays will surely bring wonderful memories.

But as much as we aim to be all positive and happy, there are just people that can still drive as nuts with their actions towards work. They are just peeking negatively at their will like a Grinch and it’s just very hard to contain their presence. While waiting on a coffeeshop for my next meeting, I can’t help but relate some random Christmas images to somewhat “Grinchy” scenario at work.

Reindeer about to fly

There is a deadline due for the day and they know it. You expect the report on the mailbox but nothing is there. They have agreed and committed to submit but where is the file? As professionals, we don’t need constant reminders of our deliverables. We must work on it… no buts and ifs. We just cannot reason out, taka sudden vacations, and fly like Santa’s reindeer then assume a new task without first accomplishing what was agreed.

Surprise Christmas gifts

You have conducted a meeting to scope the project and have neatly identified the assignment of each team member. You finished the meeting—all set and ready to execute… as you start implementing the work, here comes add-ons from here and there! Additional major activity not initially mentioned but now added because of its so-called “importance and urgency”. Why wasn’t this raised during the planning stage again? For sure, this is the kind of surprise I’m not excited to accept. Would you take it?

The many smiling elves

I see all nodding heads at the boardroom and smiling faces on the presentations, so you think client is happy? A nod and smile are good signs, right? Approve, yes! Until you get a call asking for a total revision because apparently, you did not meet the big boss and he did not like what you just presented to his nodding minions; then of course they cannot endorse the deck to him… not a single one took the courage. Perhaps at first, they liked it but when the big boss says otherwise, they immediately turned their back without defending what they just approved.

Sad Christmas bell

Have you met someone who is always negative despite accomplishment? Those who would linger on the failures and gossips even after a winning pitch? You are all set to be merry and bright but she is the sole soul in the office who remains frowning and no inspirational-kind-of-talk would cheer her up!

The Owl

While there are some with no respect to office hours and what would have been a no-work holiday. He adores giving tasks just when you are about to sign off and sending endless to-dos tagged as “rush” just before you sleep. So there, the team is forced to go wide awake even during wee hours and push to deliver.

Confused Santa


Being indecisive prolongs the project at a high cost and uncertainty can lose the team’s momentum… so really, what are we going to do? No matter what is our corporate position, we make decisions. Evaluate thoroughly and stick to it. It cannot be yes today and no tomorrow or in between an hour after.

These are just an unfortunate few encounters but thankful to have worked with more people professing good work ethics and delivering excellent output.

May our work be constantly productive and successful.

May our Christmas be surrounded by people who are true and loyal.

May we remain optimistic whatever we do and obedient to our Jesus wherever we go!

A Merry CHRISTmas to You!

Career Talk to Grade 10 Students, What to Say?

Early this November, Hubby and I were invited to conduct a Career Talk to Grade 10 students (fourth year highschool); the Guidance Counselor requested us to individually share some pointers regarding work and our overall thoughts about possible college courses to pursue. He was assigned to discuss Performing Arts while I was to tackle Management/Marketing.

I have not really thought much of my career journey and still clueless on what to say other than the adventure—how one ended up to another and thus leading to what I do now. It was fun preparing the deck as I recall my days in highschool, in college, in masteral and all the work I’ve done up to landing into online marketing—it was quite a lot of jobs!

WriteNowNa Career Talk

Students and professionals alike and whatever path we are taking, I realized that there are special traits that we must live on everyday; this may serve as an appropriate reminder to keep us on the ground. Yes it may sound like a cliché but as a practitioner and giving advice to the future of Philippine manpower, it still make sense to reiterate these attributes:

  • Eye on your goals
  • Stay motivated
  • Continue to persevere
  • Be nice to people
  • Make sure to give your best
  • Work (the) hard—est!
  • Love what you do
  • Invest on your skills
  • Be open to opportunities – JUMP!

I must say these additional to-dos play a huge part to secure success, too! Something that they can apply now, no need to wait.

  • Know your grammar by heart
  • Hone your writing skill
  • Get that habit of reading
  • Learn proper presentation skills
  • Earn the confidence to speak in front of the crowd
  • Have that hunger to learn more
  • Get in control of your emotion

I’ve seen many who struggle to get a promotion just because they can’t write properly and  cannot talk confidently well. Or they simply refuse to learn something new. They become stagnant given their position and merely stop growing. We don’t have to be a master or first-class presenter but we just have to own the stage when it’s given to us. Whatever is our chosen career path, there is always a long letter to make and a tedious report to present… we should be able to harness those skills while in school then apply all together in our career. What’s that one best advice you heard when studying and what would you give now to those asking for it?

Freelancing at the Last Quarter of the Year

It is the first month of the last quarter of the year, how are things going as a freelancer? This is the season when we will be hearing full-time employees getting their 13th-month pay (plus other corporate incentives) and seeing ATM machines in full line again. People going on vacation with pay and dragging along their Christmas basket (some with huge raffle prizes to brag). How are you coping? It makes sense to run through our realities and pin the advantages of why we are on this stage of our careers.

Freelancing Realities

Some thoughts:

  1. As a freelancer, we are not entitled to any of these “benefits” and activities mentioned above. We can be invited to an event of our clients or participate in a group gathering but we are not obliged to take part. Freelancing is freedom and we must also learn to enjoy the idea of working alone in its wide aspects (and generate for ourselves our own treats and bonuses).
  2. It is not always fun to work on the accounting-related matters and to routinely do some admin tasks but try to divert the process as a reason away from our main to-dos; perhaps a quick escape to do something else to get the mind off the core business even for a bit?
  3. Whether we like it or not, we need to also hire other specialists to help simplify our lives… thanks to our virtual assistants, accountants, and per-day messengers.
  4. Heavy traffic in Metro Manila has always encouraged me to push on working home based. At this point, I don’t have the tolerance to drive every day and be stuck on the road for hours. I think this is one of the major factors that kept me sane and rooted to why I don’t doubt my decision.
  5. Being our own boss may mean we are tougher and harder to ourselves with less rest and more target to beat and yet, we conduct work given our own phase requiring intense discipline.

It is the last quarter of the year, have we reached our goals? Did we gain our preferred number of clients? What has been our success and what went wrong? Let us evaluate our accomplishments and be honest on what we need to improve then decide… are we staying freelance or jumping back to the corporate world in 2019?

Get Your Whole+Natural: Baby Food

Parent reality: feeding our children is never easy. We need to be supernaturally creative in the preparation and extremely talented to act and convince that the food we are serving is truly delicious! At times there would even be a series of drama at the simple sight of veggies.

I may have been long done with baby meal time and my son now loves kangkong (of all the vegetables we have tried!) but still hoping we can explore other healthy food… something he likes to munch and will not be rooted by force (with extreme negotiation) during dinner. I want him to appreciate that there is more to lunch than fried chicken and chicharon. 

If you can relate with these scenarios, check out Whole+Natural: Baby Food. This is perhaps the answer to our ordeal! Whole+Natural: Baby Food is a cookbook when your baby is ready to eat solid food and beyond with recipes you can use for years and years. It is written by Mommies: Namee J. Sunico (Chef) and Melanie P. Jimenez (Food Stylist for television commercials and print ad)—both of them are working moms who wanted to give their respective kids fresh and flavorful food with local ingredients that would be the foundation of a lifetime of wholesome eating. With the help of their co-author, Tanya Yuson (film and television producer),  the cookbook is filled with full-color illustrations and photos; it also hopes to inspire creativity and help make these first meals a special experience for everyone. Good to note that this is the first cookbook of its kind in the Philippines!

Get Your Whole+Natural: Baby Food

Imagine a yummy cooking without added sugar or salt for almost all recipes (well, except for the birthday cakes)? And babies love it! I should have gotten a copy of this eight years ago! What’s nice though is I can still capture a recipe suited for growing kids with sauces, stocks and more! Learning to eat right at a young age would surely have a great benefit now and in the long run.

whole-natural: baby food

Enjoy the healthy preparation!

Where to Buy?

  •  Alabang: Real Food Molito
  •  Pasig: Mommy Mundo shop over at Fun Ranch
  •  Makati: Salcedo Market on Saturdays at the Everybody’s Café stall
  •  Davao: Five Little Monkeys PH
  • Via delivery to your doorstep: just send an email to order  

What to Expect when Going to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam?

Here’s a quick rundown of your Ho Chi Minh (aka Saigon) adventure:

  • Becoming an instant millionaire is a reality when coming to Vietnam. Their currency is called Dong and your Php4,500 is converted to VND2,000,000! The vacation there will surely cost you millions!
  • Smiling Vietnamese is quite common in tourist spots but not all can speak English.
  • Strolling in Saigon may require you to bring an extra shirt and a jacket. Weather is bipolar and almost the same as in Manila (sunny and rainy or both at the same time). Wind is just stronger during our August visit.
  • Crossing the street is literally deadly. Drivers, particularly from the sea of motorcycles, do not stop on a red signal and they do not show a hint of respect to pedestrian crossings. So be extra careful, stay alert, and have a strong will to reach the other side of the street… in one piece and alive!
  • Walking in the underground tunnel is excitingly creepy, such claustrophobic experience, and gives you a painful idea of the life during the 20 years of Vietnam War (1955-1975). The trip is about three to four hours drive to/from Ho Chi Minh.
Cu chi tunnels

How the tunnels were designed

Underground Meeting at Cu Chi Tunnels

  • Heartbreaking to visit the War Remnants Museum as it showcases memories of the Vietnam War. If traveling with kids, we recommend you to avoid entering an area called “Orange” Hall as it depicts brutal images of suffering children. It is an alarming sight and can be traumatic.
  • Riding a boat at Mekong River felt surreal while exploring the brown (yet clean) water along the surrounding greeneries. The walk in the countryside on the way to lunch is a perfect escape to a busy life.
Mekong River

Making the Cruise at Mekong

  • Climbing to the 68 floor of the Bitexco Financial Tower gives a  good view of the entire Saigon including the Mekong River.

Bitexco Financial Tower Saigon

  • Shopping at Ben Thanh Market is not so amazing; imagine BF Homes Ruins but just 5 times or so bigger. Still good to shop for local products (coffee beans, pistachios, dried squid,etc.) but you need to be an expert in bargaining (kudos to Hubby as he has more skill to negotiate) plus get ready to be poked several times before closing a deal. Eat at the food corner to make your visit worthwhile.
Eat at Ben Thanh Market

Eat at Ben Thanh Market

  • Buying street food is a must and already a complete gastro adventure. Best part, it does not need to be fancy to experience the authentic local taste.  Try Bahn Mi (baguette with savory fillings) or Bahn Xeo (fried pancake). I have to grab a small chair to enjoy my favorite meal—pho (pronounce as “fuh” and not “fo” as the latter means “beautiful woman”). Pho is a hot soup consisting of beef or chicken broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. I love the beef more! 
  • Finding a good coffee shop is not a struggle at all and it is just about anywhere. The place is a real coffee haven. Prepare to do some beans and stainless steel single-cup coffee filter shopping too!

When you get back home, you will love coffee even more!

 

BF Home’s Aguirre Samgyeopsal Alley

BF Homes Aguirre has now become a food hub. People even from outside the village come over to experience a unique gastro-adventure. Evenings especially on weekends are packed by hungry customers aiming to satisfy their food cravings. You won’t really get disappointed as there a lot of cuisines to explore from Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, American, Mediterranean and what’s getting more and more popular… the Koreans and their unlimited samgyeopsal. Imagine just along the Aguirre stretch, there are more than a dozen (and counting) restaurants.

Samgyupsal BF Homes

Samgyeopsal (or samgyupsal) means “three-layer meat” referring to striations of lean meat and fat in the pork belly that appear as three layers when cut. What makes this kind of meal more exciting is the unlimited offering of some stores ranging from Php300 to Php500 with side dish and even buffet to a few! Expect long lines and series of heavy queuing. If you don’t feel like lining up and wish to eat with lesser crowds, there are some samgyeopsal stops that are not unlimited with about the same price range.

I’m sure most are really good and worth the money as we can see the nonstop flow of people dining in and out the Aguirre Samgyeopsal Alley from Sa Seoul Tayo, Samgyupsal House, Samgyeopmasarap to Samgyupsalamat. We have not tried most of the restos (not yet) but we enjoyed coming back here (sharing a photo of their signage instead to help you identify the place quickly, names can be confusing even with address on hand as they appear to look the same for Pinoy goers):

  • Sing Sing Meatshop and Restaurant – Always full. There are areas that you have to sit in cross legs. One of the most affordable. (Servers used to cook in front of you but they give customers more freedom now.)

Sing Sing Meatshop and Restaurant BF Homes

Address: 268-A Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Type: Unlimited samgyeopsal with refillable sidedish
Price: Php300-380 per head

  • Mega Buffet Restaurant – There are three kinds of restos inside (Japanese and Shabu-Shabu), but go for the Korean buffet. Really good (but they are not very generous on garlic cloves, you got to pay extra for it.)

Mega Buffet Restaurant BF Homes

Address: 335 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Type: Unlimited samgyeopsal and Korean buffet
Price: Php500 per head

  • Premium Korean BBQ – If all unli picks are full and/or no available parking spaces, this is a good option too. Cozier feel than others and a quiet venue to eat (too quiet, really). You can request them to cook the pork in their kitchen (but where is the fun there?).

Korean BBQ BF Homes

Address: 256 Aguirre Ave, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Type: A la carte with refillable sidedish
Price: Php300 per order

Oh and the side dishes…Kimchi (salted and fermented napa cabbage) . Kongnamool (Korean soybean sprout). PaMuchim (spicy onion leek salad). Veggies on Ssamkong (Korean BBQ sauce). If I get lucky, there is Myulchi Bokkeum (stir-fired anchovies). What’s your favorite? Let’s eat!

samgyupsal-mega-buffet-bf-homes

Samgyupsal dinner at Mega Buffet!

The Iloilo One-Day Trip

It was mostly about work during my first visit in Iloilo but made sure to devote a whole day to explore the City with the boys. A truly fast-emerging destination for commerce and tourism. It is a booming place with a lot of building constructions, real estate developments, call center companies, and huge malls. It reminded me a lot of Manila but it is a sight to behold seeing less traffic on the road even during rush hours. Streets are mostly empty at the Iloilo Business District while the heavy car flow is just on the main tourist areas.

If planning a tour by yourself or with a guide, here are some places that you may consider visiting for a one-day trip:

  • Garin Farm – Located at San Joaquin and an hour and a half drive from the City. As you arrived, prepare Php150.00 for the entrance fee. Get ready to walk in the farm (you might smell foul odors along the way) then take a stop at the nipa hut to get acquainted with all the vegetables in the Bahay Kubo folk song (each one is planted around the kubo according to the sequence of the song). After a few elevated steps, you will get at the foot of the real climb! Take the 456 steps up while reflecting on the life of Jesus as a stopover. Eye on the Divine Mercy Cross and take a solemn moment reaching the peak with all is blinding whiteness—a version of heaven.
Garin Farm

Divine Mercy Cross

Angels are waiting when you reach the peak!

  • Miagao Church – Completed in 1797, the church is famous for the artistic sculptural relief carved on its façade. In 1993, the church was designated as one best example of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines and included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. (Reference: Explore Iloilo)
Miagao Church

View from the outside of Miagao Church

  • Tatoy’s – There are many branches but we ate at their resort-resto in Sto. Niño Sur Arevalo branch. Having lunch in front of the beach is the most amazing! Meal serving is a lot but the taste of the food is just okay and service is lousy; servers are inattentive.
Tatoy's lunch at the beach

Lunch in front of the beach!

  • Molo Mansion – Build in the 1920s and named Yusay-Consing Mansion; the place had hosted two Philippines Presidents— Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña. While there is an attempt to preserve the historical ambiance, the lobby has become an SM Kultura store and the garden is now filled with restaurants. It could have been kept with fewer establishments.
Molo Mansion

Outside façade of Molo Mansion

  • Jaro Cathedral – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)  formally declared the cathedral as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria) on February 2012. It is the second national shrine in the Visayas. (Reference: Wikipedia)
Jaro Cathedral

The walk towards the altar

Drive around the City Proper and quickly visit their landmarks:  Arroyo Fountain, Libertad Train, Dinagyang Festival path, and Iloilo Port.

We were supposed to walk around La Paz Market but the weather did not permit (thanks to typhoon Domeng) so we went to Atria for Netong’s La Paz Batchoy and took a cup of coffee at Madge Cafe. The batchoy is good but not to crave for while Madge Cafe is a complete disappointment. The cappuccino tasted like chocolate powder drink and the black coffee was bitter thick and not fresh; the cafe has no coffee aroma. You also need to pay Php40/hour when charging your phone on top of paying for your drink/food order. I like to think that this unhappy encounter with these local favorites is just at Atria branch and does not reflect the other stores.

But we have discovered other good food! I am not a fan of biscocho (baked bread) but this has changed after a having a bite from Biscocho Haus! It has the right crunch, sweetness, and creaminess. Oh, the Guimaras mango remains the best of its kind! We will get back to Iloilo as full vacation next time! There are a lot more to explore there. We are eyeing these hotels for our next stay:

Richmond and/or Courtyard by Marriott – Located within the expanse of Iloilo City’s newest Megaworld township development along the  Iloilo Business Park. The area is a budding economic district consisting of important corporate offices, modern residential area, and a stylish shopping and entertainment complex. In between these hotels is the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) that hosted the APEC 2015 as its initial event.

 The Mansion – One of the most prominent landmarks in Iloilo City featuring a unique blend of Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino heritage and architecture offering 187 spacious and renovated rooms. It is a 1.5-hectare property at the heart of the main city.

A place to explore and a hotel to stay in, what would you recommend?

Ramen Destinations in HongKong

The craving for ramen was equally strong even while in Hongkong and we found that they also have a lot of worth-slurping restos with no main branch yet in the Philippines (or maybe there is one opening now?!).

The family went to HK for me to attend a digital marketing summit, for our son to revisit Ocean Park, and for hubby to simply bond with us.  The Japanese Ramen exploration was not in the main plan during our short stay but it has surprisingly become one of the highlights of the trip as we have been solid lovers of this dish. Sharing our top three picks:

  • Ichiran

Get ready to line up for one to two hours before you take a good seat and enjoy that hot bowl of ramen. We don’t really like waiting that long but this one is an exception. They only have one type of serving but it fits to a lot of people; you just get to pick your mix on a menu sheet (flavor taste, richness, garlic level, green onions, type of sliced pork, Ichiran’s Original Red Sauce, noodle texture) and get ready to savour the moment… then do it again! The next day we went to line for hours once more at Tsim Sha Tsui branch before our evening flight.

Address: Lockhart House, Block A, 440 Jaffe Rd, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Ichiran Causeway Bay Hongkong

Fascinated with our ramen corner!

Ichiran Honkong

Best place to eat alone with no care in the world!

  •  Kuma

Address: 8 Parkes St, Yau Ma Tei, Hong Kong

 The Black Kuma is one of the best garlicky noodle ever while the boys had a feast with their respective Kuma orders.

Kuma Ramen Hongkong

Ramen bowl for each! Happiness.

  •  Bari-Uma

Address: G/F, 26 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, China

 Imagine pork flavored shoyu soup with grilled thick-cut chashu! I like how they perfectly flamed the meat to the inside making it so good to bite.

Bari-Uma HongKong

Which of these ramen flavors to choose?

Going to MonteMaria Batangas

The Family had a quick meaningful escape to Batangas and visited MonteMaria at Brgy. Pagkilatan, Batangas City. It is a beautiful pilgrimage center dedicated to Mary, Mother of All Asia. The location is a plateau that overlooks Verde Passage and the entrance of Batangas Bay of almost all vessels coming from Southern Philippines.  There stands a 63- meter tall stainless steel monument of Mama Mary while on top of a 25-meter tall podium.

Driving closer to Her now!

The one-way drive is about 2 1/2 hours from BF Homes and the view when reaching Batangas is just amazing. What I enjoyed the most was seeing the structure shaped as Mama Mary, tall and high while from a distance. So inspiring to see Her from far away like She is waiting for us.

Montemaria Batangas

She is waiting!

Ideal to come in the late afternoon or when the sun is not at its peak; the climb is high but reaching the auditorium would be worth the effort. If traveling with elders, you can just go up and park beside the tower (which we did for my Mom).

The Mothers and the Boys!

Montemaria Auditorium

The altar at the auditorium.

 It will be the icon and pilgrimage destination not only of the entire Philippines and eventually of all Asia and the World. So many more infrastructures are bound to be constructed—approximately 22 hectares of land to be allocated for the development of 1,000 condotel rooms and 500 villas with average floor areas of 40 sqm and 300 sqm, respectively. These residential accommodation facilities will be available to pilgrims, devotees, tourists, retirees, and all others on a time-sharing basis or sale. Built in the areas around the vicinity of the monument, this project was named Cloisters @ MonteMaria. In addition to this, there will also be 2 residential subdivisions with a total land area of 37 hectares. *

It will still take a long time before all the constructions are done; for now just simply enjoy the drive, the view, and make a solemn visit to Mama Mary.

 –

Reference: *www.montemaria.com.ph