Summer Somewhere in Batangas

And so the summer of 2017 is finally here! It did not come as early as usual (mid-March) but we are now feeling its fire. Are you ready for the heat? Planning to sneak an escape from the humid temperature? Dreaming of playing with a snowman?  For some yes, with their tickets ready and set to  travel out of the country or to a top island destination (oh, Palawan). What about diving into the cold swimming pool and strolling in the beach without flying? That too, is possible without leaving the Philippines. No need to even travel long hours if your are coming from Metro Manila; just go down south and drive for about 2.5 to 3 hours all the way to Nasugbu, Batangas. It is going to be an amazing trip.

Punta Fuego

Punta Fuego Pool 1

Random thoughts at the Double Infinity Pool

Punta Fuego swimming pool 2

Pool at the Lower Beach Club

Coming here is like morphing to a different place and transporting yourself somewhere with the spectacular sunset view right outside your casita at the beach front or get caught-up at any of their lovely pool. Other than swimming,  make sure to include a time to bike or drive around and see the architecture of the houses build in the island—Spanish-Mediterranean style residential resort that masterfully combines natural beauty and modern luxury.

Pico de Loro

Swimming at pico de loro

His Me-Time at the pool

Boat ride at Pico de Loro

Boat Ride at the Cove

You will equally get a fair-share of beautiful sights while at Pico. The place is like engulfed by the lush mountains  as it seems to cover the area;  the swimming pool gives a feel of the serene nature.  We love the walk around the man-made lagoon surrounded by the privately owned-condominiums. But just be careful when you submerge into the beach as there are occasional jellyfish that can really sting. You may still enjoy other activities like the cove tour, pony ride, and eco trail.

These two are clubs and exclusive for members but the hotels/casitas are open to public. You can book your stay directly to their websites (check availability at Punta Fuego or Pico Sands) or via Agoda and other online booking sites.

Finding the New Coffee Spot in and around BF Homes (Part 3)

Excited to share the third batch of a good coffee spot around BF Homes. Coming from my first two lists, some café shops are still around, some moved to a new location while some are now close. It just shows how tough it is to maintain the operation in the midst of so many coffee stores (from foreign to local to niche artisan competition).

To my disappointment, some of my previous lists fail to brew consistency. During the time of writing them, they were good but we have a couple of visits since then with a frustrating cup. One day, coffee is great; the next, bland. But this new line-up seems to remain consistent so far with the three stores opening last 2016 and the other back in 2014. Taste is espresso-strong with a fair hint of milky-richness. Venue is also ideal for an intimate meet-up with friends, polish a work deck, or just study and get a corner for reading.

Here’s the new pick with flat white (an espresso based coffee beverage prepared by pouring microfoam, a steamed milk consisting of small fine bubbles with a glossy or velvety consistency, over a shot of espresso. It is somewhat similar to the traditional 140 ml cappuccino or latte although smaller in volume, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk—allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour*) as the common order for the first three and hot latte for the last two.

Address: #29 Presidents Ave, BF Homes, Sucat, Parañaque

Bowen 24 Cafe at Presisent Avenue - BF Homes

Address: #196 J. Elizalde Ave. BF Homes, Sucat, Paranaque (beside Scooter Depot)

Lusine Cafe at Elizalde St BF Homes

Address: Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Exchange Alley Coffee House Molito Alabang

Address: 273 Aguirre Ave, Parañaque, 1720 Metro Manila

It took a while before I get to drink my latte, coffee art is just way too adorable.

I should have included this on my earlier list but we haven’t really decided to try and go up to their second-floor store until just recently when we’ve learned that they supply the same dessert at Toby’s Estate. Apparently the brownie which is “not a brownie” has their own coffee shop and it’s good!

Address: Mezzanine Level, JJACC Building, 169 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque

Not a brownie dessert at Toby's Estate

 

Update as of August 2017 – Bucky’s corner already closed.

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_white

Photo Source: Images via the FB page of each Coffee Store except Farmer's Orchard.

A Walk in the South Park

If work load is just too much and people around are just becoming dementors, what calms you? Shopping? A Sneak at the movie house? Dining out with a good friend? Doing a teleserye marathon? Finding a corner to meditate? Drafting stories to write? Taking a visit at the nearby chapel? Or a walk in the park?

Park stroll at Molito AlabangIt is a Yes to most of these  possible escapes for me but drinking coffee while walking in the park is my favorite kind of de-stresser. It clears the mind, taking out unnecessary worries and rush; helps to see the bright side of dark scenarios.

Take a quick look at the four parks worth the walk around Alabang. They are near each other so you can drive from one place to the next and if you get hungry, various food choices are available too.

 

1. Molito – Quoting from my old blog post: “What draws us to come here regularly is the casual, calming ambiance. There is enough space for children to run around as they play with the colorful floor fountains and vacant seats for people to just lounge amidst the night breeze.”

..or just take that afternoon solo moment to relieve stress.

Molito Alabang

Location: Madrigal corner Commerce Avenues, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

2. West Gate – The now park was formerly a road/car parking at the center of  West Gate. It was a good idea to restructure the place so more people enjoys it with an open-air retail concept that challenges the confines of the mall setting, creating a main-street ambiance conducive to relaxation and recreation.

West Gate Alabang

Location: Entrance via Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Avenue, or Alabang-Zapote Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

3. Spectrum Center

This spot takes just a few stride from Filinvest Tent and Acacia Hotel with floor fountains and scattered round benches. It can be windy here in some afternoons, making the walk more relaxing.

Spectrum Center

Location: Commerce Ave corner Spectrum Midway, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

4. River Park, Festival Mall

Festival Mall continues to expand and this part of the development is very refreshing with the sound of gushing water, charming bridge, nice theater, and green scenery in a neat al fresco setting.

River Park, Festival Mall

Location:  Civic Drive, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Images c/o the Parks’ Facebook pages.

Tagaytay Restaurants to Try (Part 2)

The trip going to Tagaytay is becoming more exciting with the promise of seeing breath-taking views and the anticipation of experiencing so many gastro-adventures up ahead. There are just a lot of fascinating restos to try! Last year, I have listed our family’s top choices and this time adding more on the line-up. We simply love the food and the ambience as we repeatedly come over to taste the moment.

Balay Dako

WriteNowNa at Balay Dako

Filipino Restaurant

Location: Along Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay (beside Max’s)

Balay Dako which also means “Big House” will make your tummy huge with all the delicious Pinoy food on their menu list. The feel is like going to a well-maintained old house from the province (beginning from the arc at the entrance to the large banquet area with a nice glimpse of Taal). Ideal meal to offer to balikbayan relatives and friends. It is managed by Antonio’s BUT totally different from the kind of service that you may have experienced say from Breakfast at Antonio’s.

Beware of the very poor service! Either you get a frown or you will be ignored by servers when you request anything. There are chances too that the food will come so late you have already paid the bill before it arrives. It is a consistent disappointment so lower your expectations, drop the idea of getting a  warm and friendly accommodation especially when the hall is crowded, you will definitely not get it but… just enjoy the food. We had no choice but to go back the last time  (even if we prefer otherwise) because our son is a fun of their lechon kawali and it was requested during his birthday, how can we say no!

Favorites: Kare-Kare, Lechon Kawali, Fresh Lumpia

Marcia Adams

WriteNowNa at Marcia Adams Tagaytay

Mediterranean Restaurant

Location: Border of Tagaytay and Alfonso; close to Residence Inn Zoo and only 150m from Aguinaldo Highway.

The serving size is humongous; that slab of porkchop was perhaps one of  the largest portion we’ve  seen   for its kind and the taste is superb, delicately cook to the inside. The place is neatly design as if you are transported to Tuscany, Italy. Such an ideal venue for a quick escape from the Metro.

Favorites: Porkchop, Chicken Kebab, Aegean Salad, Fried Bananas with Chocolate Dip

Buon Giorno! Caffe & Bistro

WriteNowNa at Buon Giorno!

Italian Restaurant/Filipino Breakfast

Location: Twin Lakes, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway

Another resto to visit is Buon Giorno! at Twin Lakes (now one of the landmarks of Tagaytay). Yes, they also have a lovely branch at Cliffhouse (also along the same highway) but this new site is more spacious and more immersed with nature given their town and country theme. Quality of food remains outstanding and any pick from their array of pasta and pizza is surely mouth-watering.

Favorites: Veggie Pizza, Puttanesca

Whether you are dining out to escape the busy Manila traffic or wishing to relax over a lovely view, going up to Tagaytay and exploring different restos would always guarantee a terrific adventure. Enjoy every moment!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Is it a Good Read?

(There is no spoiler here)

Harry Potter novel series reminds me of younger years—closing the door, secluding myself for a day, diving into the story while completely detached to everything and enchanted on my own corner. I had never been deeply engaged with other books since the end of Deathly Hallows which was released back in 2007.

My fascination continues, even introducing the world of wizarding world to my son.

harry-potter-writenowna4

The public distribution of the Cursed Child last July 31, 2016 seems to bring back the excitement  a bit. “A bit” only because I have already put an end to the Harry Potter adventure along Book 7. Hearing that there would be a stage play of Harry Potter 19 years later of his life did not make me frantic. At first, it was announced that there would be no printed version but apparently, they have it now.

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Hubby understanding my Potter passion surprised me with a copy simultaneous to the international selling.

It is in a script format so JK Rowling’s detailed description of what’s really going on is not happening here. Important to note also that she has not entirely written the story as she worked in collaboration with other playwright Jack Thorne.

Finishing the script would only require a couple of hours of devoted reading; the flow is still intriguing but not as compelling as the original novels nailed it. So, lessen the expectations.

The plot lacks the depth, the twist is utterly forced to occur, and the ending has none of that lingering effect we got used to. There are still bits of exciting and interesting portions though (as  strong friendship of unlikely characters tend to bloom).

Is it worth the read? Yes. It won’t hurt to know what happened to Harry Potter and his gang whether we agree with it or not as Potterheads surely have their own conclusions post Voldemort. And who knows, the West End stage might reach the Philippines? Then that would have been another experience worth anticipating for a fan of many years.

7 Tips for Parents Traveling with Younger Kids

Hubby and I personally find it gratifying to travel with our son; we always make sure to bring him on our trips. Traveling opens his mind to various cultures and enhances how he deals with different kinds of people. While it is totally fulfilling to see the world with our children, there are also a lot of challenges too. We have listed some ideas that you can consider on your next trip to lessen the drawbacks.

1.Always bring a medicine kit – Aside from his daily vitamins, try to bring a small bottle of Paracetamol or Ibuprofen,  bring anti-histamine in case of allergy attack, and even small undissolved antibiotics for that “just in case” scenario. Yes, you would be able to find a similar medicine in other countries but when a fever strikes, it is definitely handy to have it available ASAP without stressing out where to find a pharmacy.

Last week we were fortunate to get a free trip to Taiwan together with relatives, thanks to my Father-in-Law! But my son caught a fever on the eve of the departure due to tonsillitis. He was quarantined at the arrival and we were told to go the hospital in Taipei to get a certificate that his fever is not because of dengue or other easy to spread ailment. We immediately went to the Emergency Room, got the certification, and were given tons of medicines. We have consulted our Pedia via Viber and she refused to use most of  the prescriptions. She told us to stick with what she is giving him. Good thing we have brought the “usual” drug as he became fever-free over night.

2. Expect detours – Sure we have already scheduled spending a whole day in Hong Kong’s Lantau Island but then there was a heavy downpour and a 3-hour queuing line to get our turn at the cable car. So, No. What’s next? Make sure to orchestrate an advance plan B. (To my delight, we just decided to explore the nearby Citygate Outlets).

3. Charge his gadgets – Ipad had served as well especially while waiting at the airport and on the plane during his early trips. Now, we are starting put a distance with his use of gadgets as we introduce him to read books or appreciate the idea of simply observing around.

4. You cannot really shop your heart out UNLESS you take turns – One to stay with the kid at the hotel room or nearby play area while the other sneak for a quick shopping.

5. Bring his favorite snacks – My son loves the fried chicken of McDonald’s and got sad when he learned that there was no McDo Fried Chicken in the US. So while we were convincing him that Popeye’s Chicken is a good alternative, we let him munch his local snacks and slowly encourage him to try a new brand.

6. Let go of your whims – While at Osaka, we had sudden plan to go to Nagoya  because Hubby wanted to visit the Toyota Museum. We haven’t been there and not familiar with the place so we hoped to rely on impulse—it would have been a real adventure if it just me and him but we got a kid now; doing research is important to make sure we won’t tire our son with long walks or unfed tummy for hours.

7. Again, conduct a research – It does not need to be an intensive study but just get acquainted with where you are going. Take a glimpse of what the weather will be like, the best way to commute with kids, identify kid-friendly landmarks, and be familiar with nearby places around the hotel.

We are continuously learning and exploring! Every travel leads to gaining knowledge and creating beautiful memories as a family! Where are you going next?

writenowna-blog-tips-traveling-with-kids

Moving from Small to Big School (Preschool to Grade 1)

Last week, I was invited by the school of my son to talk in front of the new set of parents on how to ease the transition from small to big school. Not that our family has mastered it but moving to grade one is a milestone and should be made memorable for our kids. Here are six quick tips:

  • Help him prepare emotionally.

Weeks before the start of class, enthusiastically talk to your child about his big new school.  Excite him about the fun of having long walks at the corridor, chances of meeting  new people, seeing a huge field every day, and learning with a lot of other kids (from 12 to about 40 students per classroom)!

  • Listen more.

Expect to hear new characters and events from his stories—nice (and naughty) classmates, reason of unfinished snacks, race mates from the classroom to the drop-off gate. His tone of narration would signal if he is coping well or not; do not resist to keep in touch with the adviser if there are persistent stressful signs.

  • Initiate his independence.

Most small schools would allow parents to be inside the classroom and would let them take a peek of their child while studying even if this means weeks or months of “guarding and staring” at the doorstep. Well, this is a huge no-no in the big school; we can’t even drop by to check if our child is okay during recess! Believe that he can do it with the  support of his teachers.

“Hard to let go” – Picture taken back in 2013 during the first day of pre-school

  • Learn to trust.

Give him the assurance that his teachers are going to be like his Daddy and Mama while in school. But really, the most terrifying part comes from the fact that we will leave our child from people we don’t know (yet) and they will be in charge of our kids daily! Try to soothe your worries and have a peace of mind that our children would be in caring hands.

  • Enjoy the process.

There will be days that it feels like a roller coaster ride—from resisting to follow his new routine to giving brilliant reasons not to study. But just keep it going and have fun with the moment; he won’t be grade one forever.

  • Know that he can.

Because you made him ready for this. There are a lot of options to do home school or perhaps continue with his small school curriculum but here you are, taking the step and preparing for that special day.

  • And last, don’t forget to take his picture on the first day of school!
Ready?

Ready?

SkidKart Circuit At The Village and Nuvali

SkidKart Circuit is a fun drift activity that can be experienced this summer at the South of the Metro for kids and anyone feeling like a kid. No need to envy younger children riding a moving kart at the park, you can now play and ride with them too!

Freshly conceived last December 2015, SkidKart is roaming the city to bring unique adventure for people of all ages. Feel like checking them out? The team is now skidding at the following venues:

The Village Sports Club –  Tropical Avenue, BF Homes, Las Piñas

  • Racing Dates: All summer of 2016
  • Circuit Time: 10am to 8pm every weekend and will be daily beginning March 25 to end of summer
  • Track Length: – 120ft/250sqm

skidkart-circuit-the-village-bf-homes

Solenad 3 – Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna (near National Bookstore and Kenny Rogers)

  • Racing Dates: March 3 to April 2, 2016
  • Circuit Time: 10am to 9pm
  • Track Length: 150sqm

skidkart-circuit-solenad3-nuvali-sta-rosa

Some would just prefer to have a try while many are persistent repeaters who simply love the feel of the drive, pick your race:

  • P100 for 3mins
  • P180 for 6mins
  • P300 for 10mins

Safety is also part of the commitment. The organizers assures that all riders are provided with helmets, well briefed by marshals, big carts are equipped with seat-belts and brakes, stoppers are installed in every kart accelerator to reduce the speed. Marshals are also well-trained to ensure safety within the circuit. Barricades that are wrapped with foam are installed around the track to absorb the impact of the karts. And regardless of the weather, there are tents installed to protect the racers from the bright sun or heavy rain.

It is fun to see how everyone found their new ride and became an enthusiast of skidding!

skidkart-circuit-for-all-ages2

Kids skidding around

 

skidkart-circuit-for-all-ages

92-year old skidder!

Our family will surely ride this again, and again, and maybe a lot more wherever they are! Try it and let me know if you had fun, too!

Photo credits c/o SkidKart Circuit FB Page

For inquiries, email skidkartcircuit@gmail.com

Ready for Summer Shopping?

It is an extremely busy week and I look forward to the weekend. What’s your plan? I’ve been reading a lot of Facebook posts about people already planning for the beach and parents starting to scout for summer activities of their kids. Sounds exciting but really, I can’t go that far yet and I am crawling for something to anticipate this particular weekend!

I was hoping to watch Zoolander 2 only to find out that the showing is scheduled on February 24 while Kung Fu Panda 3 is set on March 9 in the Philippines (source: Ayala’s SureSeats), so cinema escape will be due next week.

Then Alas! I got an invitation from a friend to meet up while she is at her bazaar! Now I’m excited for a chat with a girlfriend and to drop by at the 3-day SuperSale this February 19-21 at the World Trade Center Tent, Pasay City from 11am to 9pm. It is the longest running Philippine fashion bazaar series since 2009 and the organizer promises to offer the trendiest items in prep for summer; housing over 100 prominent brands with up to 90% discount. Entrance ticket at Php100.

supersalebazaar-writenowna

Some of the Participating Brands:
– Wear Vintage
– Beyond the Beach
– Tutum
– One Earth Organics
– Spark Cosmeceuticals

Brewfest MNL will also be there, a beer garden that is a sure feast for everyone, with live entertainment, artisan food stalls, and local craft brews.
Make sure to visit the booth of Empress Gorgeous Boutique for the shop’s unbeatable low prices you surely can’t get elsewhere. It offers authentic branded finds at throw-away prices exclusive for this event only. Take a pick of your next Aldo, Kenneth Cole, XoXo, Guess, DKNY, Ann Klein, Nine West, and/or Michael Korrs’ bags, shoes, wallets, and watches.

Girly-chit-chat and shopping… something to really get me through this week’s above-the-head work  load. Can’t wait for the weekend and I mean it!

egb-at-super-sale-bazaar

Enjoy the drop-down sale at Empress Gorgeous Boutique!

Tracking the South with the Chevy Trax

writenowna-reviews-chevy-traxOur family was given a chance to use Chevrolet Trax LT variant as our weekend car! My Husband, JK Austria, being a car-authority-enthusiast himself, was granted a 3-day test drive to review the vehicle.

We had short road trip (Paranaque-Lipa-Tanauan-Tagaytay-Nasugbu-Ternate-Paranaque) last Sunday to explore its capability. He made me drive it for a while so I can share my comments and also asked the feedback of our 6-year-old passenger son. So yes, this an honest family-type review (dad said-mom said-the little one said) and not much on the deep technical automotive jargons.

writenowna-reviews-chevy-trax3

writenowna-reviews-chevrolet-trax

Hubby JK said:

I need to constantly remind myself that this is just a 1.4 engine, on steroids! Why? Because whenever I want to overtake, it will give you the power with just a dab press from your gas pedal. Engine is so responsive! And the automatic transmission will support you with the adrenaline you are looking for. I love the fact that it has an option for semi-manual (+/- setting) that feels it has an actual clutch pedal. When it comes to handling the curves and hills, the Trax hugs the road. You know the feeling of a long lost friend who sees you for the first time in 20 years that won’t let go when you hug each other? Yeah, that was what I felt during that drive. For ride comfort, you hardly feel the bumps in the “flawless” surface of our road condition. Inside the cockpit, you will love the minimalist design of the instrument panel, with all the important information in just one button. The pillars of the Trax are not that thick to lessen the blind spots while driving. I fancy the feature that the seats felt like it was molded to your body. For the fuel consumption, we traveled 250kms, and just used half of the tank. So yes, I find it economical (our 1.6 sedan will only cover 221kms on a full tank but that is another story).

Wifey Verna said:

It is very responsive! I appreciate how it offers a good view of the road while having the  ideal height. Driving the Trax from Tagaytay to Nasubu, I felt the power of the engine. It feels light and safe. When in front as a passenger, the rear seats are comfortable and spacious! Good fit with the center arm rest with (coffee!) cup holders.

The 6-year-old son said:

It is comfy even when I have my booster seats on. Roomy too! I also like that I can put my drinks in the center of the seats (guess he is referring to the rear center arm rest with cup holders) and it’s not hard at all to close the door.

He added, “The ride is epic (we don’t know where he gets the word “epic”)! Can we keep it Daddy?”

Wishlist:

Sunroof? AWD variant?

Highlighted Feature:

It has a 5-year warranty or 100,000kms with free 3 years roadside assistance. Safety is their primary concern that is why they have a bunch of safety features installed in the Chevrolet Trax that will make your Drive in the jungle safer than before. Yes, it is a game-changer “Pogi” Car!

Prices:
Chevrolet Trax LS – Php998,888
Chevrolet Trax LT – Php1,218,888

P.S.

Thank you Big Bert’s Sucat for the Supa Dupa car wash!

Original Photos taken by JK Austria