Spending Christmas at Conrad Manila

Because our annual Christmas family get-together on my side of the family was postponed to New Year, our small family of three (hubby, me and son) had nowhere to go and no celebrations to attend on Christmas Day, so hubby just booked us a room at Conrad Hotel for an overnight stay.

We simply couldn’t resist having our family pictures taken at the lobby of the hotel as it looked so Christmassy!

Conrad Manila is a 5-star hotel located in Pasay City near SM Mall of Asia. Hotel room rates go up during the holidays, so we weren’t really surprised that our bill was a little bit more expensive.

The official mascot of Conrad Hotel is Carey the Carabao.

Guests are given a Carey plushy toy as a welcome gift. For some reason, we got two. Teehee! A housekeeping employee handed us our second mascot plushy after we have returned to our room post-dinner.

Father and son immediately felt at home in our Deluxe Room.

Conrad Manila has a total of 347 rooms, all air-conditioned. All rooms have an MP3 docking station, a minibar, a 42-inch cable LCD TV, Wi-Fi, an executive desk, a phone, and a safety deposit box.

The minibar has snacks, alcoholic beverages, and tea- and coffee-making facility.

While the minibar was loaded, we actually didn’t touch anything from it since we went out after we got settled in our room. We went to SM Mall of Asia to have dinner and later hung around at S Maison.

Our room also has a separate toilet and shower with complete hotel toiletries.

We can see Conrad Manila’s lovely pool from our hotel room. I actually looked forward to dipping in that gorgeous pool, but fate wouldn’t have it, as I had my monthly period as soon as we entered our hotel room. I guess because I couldn’t swim, father and son didn’t feel like swimming, too. Sigh!

Breakfast the following day was served in two different locations located on the same floor. The main restaurant serving breakfast was jampacked, and we were led to the smaller venue. There was nothing extraordinary about their buffet breakfast, though. I actually wished they have more food choices to offer their guests. I wasn’t quite sure if the restaurant actually had more food offerings than where we opted to eat. The good thing is the place wasn’t crowded, so we had a relaxed dining experience, which provided a very good start to our day.

Overall, Conrad Manila is a beautiful hotel, and we would definitely love to come back!

Conrad Manila
Seaside Boulevard
Coral Way, Pasay City
Telephone No.: (02) 7946 3848

Posted in Christmas 2019, Christmas Day, Conrad Manila, Hotel Review, Hotel Staycation | Leave a comment

We Survived 2019!

The year 2019 was a year of survival for us and our family. First, our unico hijo survived his first year at Philippine Science High School (PSHS-MC aka Pisay). We also survived a family health crisis, that of my mom’s.

Surviving Pisay

If you will recall in my old post, Justin was not really bent on going to Pisay. Having spent one year as a Kinder 2 student and five grade school years at La Salle Greenhills (five years only because their batch skipped Grade 1 due to the K to 12 program) quite naturally, he expected and actually wanted to spend his high school years in the same school. But fate has other plans. It took a while to convince him to accept the scholarship offer at Pisay. He shed a few tears, too, but yeah, he proceeded to the Grade 7 orientation and went home a happy and excited lad. thank goodness!

Grade 7-Emerald with Ma’am Herminigilda Salac (Ma’am Helen)

Grade 7 seemed a long school year for a first-time Pisay student and parent. It’s not a walk in the park, I tell you. There was never a school day that he slept early. There always seemed to be a lot of things to do, “reqs” they call it. “Reqs” is short for “requirements.” There were weekends that we never went out on a family lunch/dinner date just because he needed time to finish his reqs or review for tests. He also had his share of groupmates that never did their share in their group work, which added fuel to the fire, plus school activities left and right that ate up a lot of their reqs/study time because of the practices they had to attend.

The 4 J’s (Justin, Justice, John Gabriel and Jence)

Math was his biggest challenge in Pisay. It was the hardest Grade 7 subject for him and for many Pisay freshmen. Because Pisay Math was 1.7 units, it significantly affects one’s GWA (general weighted average). It also didn’t help that Pisay employs a cumulative grading system (current quarter grade times 2 plus previous quarter grade, divided by 3), so yes, it was difficult. I remember him telling me that he regretted his decision not to join MTG in Grade 2 because he now sees the merits of entering this Math training program. Those have an MTG background generally fare well in Math in Pisay. Such was his struggle in Math last year that he only made it to the Director’s List in the 3rd and 4th quarters of Grade 7, despite having high grades in other subjects.

A year after and we’re still seeing each other. We love our Eme family! Photo credit: Daddy Omar Norcio

I guess what made his Grade 7 stint in Pisay bearable was the fact that he enjoyed the section he belonged to, 7-Emerald. Well, even I, a self-confessed introvert, found people in our section I felt comfortable with and who eventually became our friends. My son formed his new set of friends, too, and they would usually go out (with us parents in tow, haha) after periodical exams or every chance they get. Spending time together outside school was one of their stress relievers and ours (parents), too. Having a good support from students and parents of 7-Emerald also helped us survive the parent’s Treasurer position bestowed on my husband. So yes, we all survived our first year in Pisay! Yay!

Surviving a Family Health Crisis

Last January 2019, my mom, we call her Nanay Gloria, had to have a blood transfusion in the hospital. Come May, he had to spend a few days at the ICU because she suffered a heart attack, and she also had to be started on dialysis due to chronic kidney failure. Nanay also underwent cataract surgery of one eye after she recuperated from her hospitalization. Having a hard time breathing, she also required oxygen at home and before 2019 ended, needed to go to her dialysis center 3x a week, instead of 2 sessions previously.

With Nanay Glo

Having a sick member in the family is not easy as it requires money. This family health crisis even came at a time when my most generous sister’s business suffered a slump, so that was one person not being able to share in the expenses, which was a major setback. It was also difficult for her to find a new job as she is the one tending to both our parents’ needs. The hospital bills and the monthly medical needs of our parents (medicines, medical procedures, lab tests, checkups, oxygen refill, etc.) put a dent on everyone’s budget, but we survived with God’s grace and provision.

With the help of my siblings and nieces, we were able to sustain the medical provisions of Nanay and Tatay, both senior citizens and both suffering from chronic medical conditions. We hope and pray that all of us will be blessed more this 2020 to continue providing for our parents. Looking back at all our struggles in the previous year, we can proudly say that we survived 2019. Thank you, Lord! Please give us the strength, wisdom and financial resources to do more and to bless others. May we all have a blessed, happy, healthy, peaceful and abundant 2020!

Posted in 2019, 2019 Realizations, Family Health Crisis, Grade 7, Grade 7-Emerald, New Year 2020, New Year Wishes, Philippine Science High School, PISAY, PSHS, PSHS Main Campus, PSHS-MC, Surviving Pisay | 1 Comment

Experience Recreation with Education + Ultimate Outdoor Fun at Gratchi’s Getaway Farm Resort

We headed to Silang, Cavite last Thursday for an overnight stay at Gratchi’s Getaway Farm Resort. I’ve learned about this place from Facebook and Instagram, and the wanderlust in me got curious. We were supposed to pay this place a visit a few months ago, but the plan only pushed through last week.

We stayed at one of the VIP rooms here, just a few steps away from Gratchi’s Waterfalls Infinity Pool.

Oh, by the way, we went to Gratchi’s Getaway as paying customers, so this write-up is definitely NOT a sponsored post.

We arrived at Gratchi’s Getaway two (2) hours after our supposed check-in time.

Hubby was tired from driving, so he stayed at one of the VIP rooms assigned to us. While he was napping, my son and I wandered about the resort, took pictures, and reveled in the beauty of the place.

The Bulwagan or Pavilion is perfect for events, seminars, and conferences.

All rooms at Gratchi’s, including these cottages, are airconditioned.

Guests can stay at the Picnic Kubos to enjoy their delicious meals or just simply hang out with family and friends.

Gratchi’s Getaway is the perfect venue for company outings, team buildings, educational tours, and family vacations. It’s a 2-hectare property of natural landscape located in Barangay Cabangaan, Silang, Cavite.

Dinner, prepared at Gratchi’s kitchen, was delicious. We had Korean Fried Chicken and Mushroom Kare-Kare.

What made our visit at Gratchi’s more exciting was the fact that I’d also be seeing a former colleague and a dear friend who works here. We haven’t seen each other for a long time. He paid us a visit after dinner time.

Kuya Tam and me

Kuya Tam, hubby, and me were former officemates. I call him “Kuya,” and he calls me “Ate.” The three of us chatted the night away, catching up with each other since the last time we saw him was 15 years ago before I had my open-head surgery in 2004.

The following day, we had a yummy and filling breakfast. We were provided free snacks, too, courtesy of our dear Kuya Tam. These and the dinner we had the previous night will be featured in Delight My Appetite.

We went swimming after breakfast.

Then we went river trekking.

The river trek was tiring, but it was worth it!

Before we left, we also got to see Gratchi’s Bahay Kabute (Mushroom House).

This is where they grow oyster mushroom that they use in the dishes they cook for their guests.

Things to Do at Gratchi’s

Guests will never run out of things to do at Gratchi’s. You can choose from any of these activities or do all if you want:
Rest and relax. Airconditioned rooms are available for those who wish to spend a night or two at Gratchi’s. They also have picnic kubos, allowing guests to enjoy nature at its finest.
Swim to your heart’s content. Guests can enjoy the cool water of their Waterfalls Infinity Pool. A smaller and more shallow pool below it is also available for the little ones. Construction is currently ongoing for a third pool, a much bigger one, to accommodate more people.
Draw, paint, and write at the Artist’s Nook. Unleash your creativity in this area specifically dedicated for the artist in you.
Go fishing. Gratchi’s has a Palaisdaan (fish pond) filled with black and red tilapia (St. Peter’s fish).
Ride the 124-meter zipline. This will give you a breathtaking view of the farm and that exhilarating adrenaline rush.
Try the high ropes courses. How would you like to test your skills with nine (9) off-the-ground challenges?
Have an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride. Go around the trail riding Gratchi’s ATVs.
Experience river trekking. Discover a gem of a river with the help of an able guide.
Join an educational farm tour. Learn how to plant and farm at Gratchi’s. Students and guests will be given pointers on mushroom growing, vermicomposting, animal feeding, etc.
Hold events, seminars, and conferences. Gratchi’s Bulwagan or Pavilion will surely meet Whatever venue requirements your company needs.

Things We Enjoyed at Gratchi’s

First and foremost, the staff are very friendly and welcoming. They are very courteous, too. Second, the food is good yet inexpensive. You should try their Crispy Fried Mushroom, Mushroom Kare-Kare, and their refreshing Tarragon Iced Tea. Third, the place is awesome! As I’ve said in my FB post, there’s never a dull moment here as there are tons of things to do at Gratchi’s. Finally, communing with nature seems to be the main objective of Gratchi’s, so quite naturally, getting cut off from the rest of the world during your stay here is expected, which means there’s no wifi here. But fret not because you can still bring your own pocket wifi, and there’s strong signal at Gratchi’s. Yay!

Things That Can Be Improved at Gratchi’s

Silang, Cavite is a high place with a cool temperature, so the water in the pool is quite cold. I hope that sometime in the near future, Gratchi’s management will consider installing a heater in their pools, too, for a more enjoyable stay.

We enjoyed our stay at Gratchi’s Getaway to the hilt. We actually regretted not having stayed longer as we haven’t tried the other activities yet. We would have wanted our son to try his hand at fishing or do the high ropes courses. I would have also loved to try the zipline. Oh well, as the saying goes, There’s always a next time,” so yes, we will definitely be back here before you know it.

Check out this Facebook link for a video of our family trip to Gratchi’s.

Gratchi’s Getaway Farm Resort
Landline: (02) 8664-1633
Globe: 09177265484
Sun: 09228910963
Smart: 09209565673
Email: info@gratchi.com
Website: https://www.gratchi.com/

Posted in Education, Family Staycation, Family Trip, Family Vacation, Farm, Farm Resort, Gratchi’s Getaway Farm Resort, Outdoor Adventure, Outdoor Fun, Overnight Staycation, Recreation | 11 Comments

Singapore Trip 2019 Part 2: Places We Visited and Things We Did

Because it was already night time when we arrived at Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre (our hotel) last July, we decided to just have dinner outside and just rest and relax at our hotel room. Exploring the city would have to wait the next day.

Our destination on our 2nd day in Singapore was Sentosa Island. There are many things to see and experience here like the Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, and The Maritime Experiential Museum, just to name a few.

2nd Day in Singapore

S.E.A. Aquarium

If you’re looking for an exciting underwater sea experience, then you should visit the S.E.A. Aquarium. It is Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium that features more than 100, 000 marine animals. We bought a combo ticket for S.E.A. Aquarium and The Maritime Experiential Museum, but I forgot the price; it wasn’t indicated in our admission tickets, too.

The Maritime Experiential Museum

The Maritime Experiential Museum allows guests to travel back in time and join seafarers in their conquest of the seas. A tour of the museum will make one better understand the Maritime Silk Route, give a glimpse of the trading ships used during this period in history, teach navigation skills, and allow visitors to escape from the pirates, albeit virtually.

Sentosa Merlion

Sentosa Merlion at Sentosa Island is the biggest Merlion statue in Singapore towering at 37 meters. The merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, is considered a guardian of prosperity and a national symbol in Singapore. We didn’t pay to get to the top of the Sentosa Merlion. We were content just having a picture of us with it.

3rd Day in Singapore

Singapore Zoo

On our 3rd day, we hailed a cab going to Mandai Lake Road to get to Singapore Zoo. We bought combo tickets for Singapore Zoo and River Safari that cost 60 SGD per person. Warning! The Singapore Zoo is huge! It took us several hours before we could finish navigating through all 11 zones of the zoo. A 26-hectare wildlife park, Singapore Zoo, formerly known as Singapore Zoological Gardens, is home to more than 300 species of animals. Here, you can see animals roaming freely in their natural habitats.

River Safari

River Safari is the first and only river-themed wildlife park in Asia. It has the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, and it offers boat rides, too. The highlight of our visit here was when we got to see one of the two giant pandas.

Flower Dome (Gardens by the Bay)

The Flower Dome is one of the air-conditioned conservatories at Gardens by the Bay. It’s a huge glass greenhouse with themed gardens filled with many exotic plants from all around the world. Gardens by the Bay is located on Marina Gardens Drive.

Cloud Forest (Gardens by the Bay)

Surrounded in mist, Cloud Forest offers an awesome mountain view with lush vegetation and floral wonders. The tall waterfall seems to be the most popular attraction inside the Cloud Forest as most of the tourists have their photos taken at this spot.

Supertree Grove (Gardens by the Bay)

The Supertree Grove is a delight to watch at night because of the colorful lights surrounding it. Matching the blinking lights with loud, upbeat music makes for an even more festive treat for all the tourists and spectators at Gardens by the Bay.

4th Day in Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

We actually didn’t go inside Universal Studios Singapore because of our son. He said it might just be similar to Hong Kong Disneyland that we (my son and I) had already visited, so we skipped it. Looking back, I should have never listened to him. Haha. We made sure, though, that we have this obligatory photo with the Universal Globe. This picture was taken on our 4th day in Singapore. We had a similar photo taken on our 2nd day in Singapore, but it was blurry, so yes, we went back to have a take two.

Skyride and Skyline Luge Sentosa

The Skyride gives a birds eye view of Sentosa Island, Singapore city skyline, and South China Sea. After the Skyride, you can ride the Luge and choose from four exciting tracks (Jungle Trail, Dragon Trail, Kupu Kupu Trail, and Expedition Trail) that twist and turn through the mythical forest. Our son had both, but hubby and I only settled for the Skyride. Luge + Skyride cost 24 SGD, while the 2-way Skyride costs 9 SGD per person.

Earlier in the day, we got to visit Bugis Street to eat. Afterwards, father and son window-shopped at the flea market just across the street. This was our last day of exploring Singapore because we were going home the next day. We actually didn’t want our short vacation to end, but as Barbara Streisand’s song goes, “Some good things never last.” But hey, we can still visit again, right?

Posted in Cloud Forest, Family Trip, Family Vacation, Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, River Safari, S.E.A. Aquarium, Sentosa Merlion, Singapore, Singapore Trip 2019, Singapore Zoo, Skyline Luge Sentosa, Skyride, Supertree Grove, The Maritime Experiential Museum, Universal Studios Singapore | Leave a comment

Singapore Trip 2019 Part 1: Arriving and Settling In

Where the head of our family goes, Justin and I will follow, and Singapore was where we landed and stayed for 5 days, from July 12 to 16. The hubs has already gone to Singapore for his past missions, but it was mother and son’s first time to go there. I hope and pray that it won’t be the last time because honestly, we fell in love with the place for so many reasons that I will point out as I go along with my blog post.

It was already past 5:00 in the afternoon when we arrived at Terminal 4 of the Changi Airport. It was truly awesome! The floor was carpeted, mind you. Our first stop after more than 3 hours of flight was the restroom. It was spotless with tissue and a toilet sanitizer at that! The foaming hand wash smelled really good, too! Restrooms at Changi Airport deserve another blog post, and I will do that soon.

We were greeted by this kinetic sculpture (Petal Clouds) at Terminal 4 upon arrival. These Petal Clouds in action are one of the attractions tourists will see at Changi Airport. It didn’t take us long to get our baggage at the claim area after a fast Immigration clearance. We arrived at our hotel from Changi Airport in less than one hour. Traffic flow was smooth, and we didn’t experience any bumpy roads on our very first taxi ride in Singapore.

Where We Stayed

Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre became our home for five days in Singapore.

All three of us fit in this comfy bed.

Our bathroom with complete bathroom amenities

Our hotel room comes with a Handy smartphone that we can take out and use for free calls and Internet during our stay. Cool!

Holiday Inn is located along Orchard Road, Singapore’s most popular shopping street. That means we only had to walk a short distance from our hotel to go to the various shopping centers and dining destinations. But nope, we didn’t do any shopping there because we didn’t have any budget for that. Haha!

Our First Dinner

Our first food stop in Singapore was at Bao Today, a dim sum place at 313@Somerset.

Food offerings at Bao Today are good yet inexpensive. That’s why we kept coming back. We highly recommend this place for first-timers in Singapore.

On our way back to our hotel, we passed by Uncle Ching’s ice cream stand, and we bought wafer ice cream.

My favorite Durian wafer ice cream from Uncle Ching’s. Yummy!

Part 2 of our Singapore trip will cover the places we went to and the activities we did during our 5-day family vacation in Singapore, so watch out for that.

Posted in 313@Somerset, Bao Today, Changi Airport, Family Trip, Family Vacation, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, Orchard Road, Petal Clouds, Singapore, Singapore Trip 2019, Uncle Ching’s, Wafer Ice Cream | 6 Comments