Sunday, December 30, 2012

Davao in December

This was my view while having dinner last night.


With my favorite-est person in the whole, wide world.

The past 3 days, we were in Davao, where I spent 4 of my teenage years. Another thing we love doing, having Starbucks where there's one!

As they say, you haven’t been to Davao if you haven’t tried any Durian delicacy. Ours were coffee and durian mousse. The mousse tastes great.

I attended my high school 10th year reunion so I flew from Dipolog and met up with Person A, who's a first-timer in Davao.

Tried to drop by my alma mater.

Paid the Monkey-eating eagles a visit.

I love these birds! They're so huge at 3ft tall and very regal. Only bird with blue eyes and they only mate with one partner in their lifetime.

While we're on the topic, let me share with you the best photobomber in this trip. Kindly take note of the expression of the girl to our right. 

The eagle seemed unfazed but the lady's look is something else.

How we wish we can spend a day more, hopefully we can come back sooner rather than later.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Precious

In this installment, allow me to share what I omitted in this bare all post: my Gollum moment. When the ring magically appeared on Person A's right hand, I only saw the bottom portion of the band. He put it on my left ring finger (again, while driving at 60-80 kph!) before I was able look at it.

And thus began my Gollum moment “Oh my gosh, ang ganda… at ang laki! … It’s so me! ” Let’s try to get real here, the first two adjectives are very subjective; also, I have teeny-weeny ring finger (and hand for that matter) so whatever you put on it will come out really big. When I glanced at it again I told him, “It’s so pretty. It is way beyond I dreamed my engagement ring to be!!!”

For a girl who says that her favorite color is white, chooses one focal accessory and makes the rest of her outfit a blank canvass, and always finds a way not to conform, it’s no surprise that I do not gravitate towards round, brilliant diamonds. And for the longest time (maybe 4 years) I’ve mentioned to Person A that I favor emerald-cut, diamond. Luckily for me, Person A and I are on the same boat. In fact, he doesn’t like anything that has surface facets, and the only diamond cut with minimal surface facet is the emerald-cut, hence he gave me one to commemorate our engagement. (Photo below from diamondsbylauren)

So the lesson here my dear girls, if you and your significant other are talking about engagement rings, please share with him what you want so he may consider it. If you are not comfortable doing that, you might have to rethink if you want to make a lifetime commitment because last I heard, you will share more personal information than your engagement ring preference when you get married.

It is important to note that Person A wanted to be a Geologist hence this explains why he dwelled into the technicalities of the stone he’s shopping for. He can share some insights beyond the 4Cs such as fluorescence, culet, girdle, polish and symmetry. In this way, he knew that for an emerald-cut diamond, he will not sacrifice clarity, polish and proportion (he wanted an elongated stone).

Nakakahaba lang ng buhok na pinag-isipang mabuti!

Once he knew what he wanted to get, he corresponded with a jeweler and gave his specifications and budget. He was given some choices but felt that it’s not quite there. By some twist of fate, a few days before his visit, the jeweler emailed him that he has a newly-cut stone that fits Person A’s specifications to a tee. The only problem was he’s not sure if the stone can be certified in time for his visit. Again, the universe was very kind and as written on the certificate, the stone was authenticated a day before he dropped by the jewelry store. 

When he saw the stone, he knew that it is the one he was looking for. According to him, he tried to look at some oval-cut and radiant-cut ones but he found it too busy unlike the exquisite, long-lines of the emerald cut. The jeweler presented him with choices of bands and he initially thought of getting a solitaire setting. However, according to the jeweler, emerald cuts will only look good solitary if it’s 4 carats and above.

Good luck na lang, wala na tayong kakainin, titirhan at sasakyan nyan at may sangkatutak ka pang utang! 

He took the jeweler’s advice and got a setting with two baguettes on the sides. He also thought of getting a band with pave diamonds but there's none in my size readily-available. They walked to a nearby jewelry shop, had the stone set on the ring and also had the band resized two sizes down. Everything was finished in an hour! It is also important to have the stone set by an experienced jeweler. The band was initially designed to be set with a round diamond and it came out like it was made for an emerald-cut one.

I am not comfortable posting a photo of my ring but here are some Hollywood stars who wear emerald-cut engagement rings. Apart from the famous Brangelina 3 emerald-cut  diamonds which took a year to make and Beyonce’s 18 carat emerald-cut stone that inspired "All The Single Ladies" and the line "If you liked then you should have put a ring on it", Kate Hudson rocks a 9-carat rock with half moon diamonds on the sides.

The one I have is much less than what they're rocking and I tell you, if I'll have their rings it will eat up not just my fingers but the rest of my hand! Here’s Ellen Pompeo’s ring

And Kristen Bell’s fancy colored one.

Reese’ Witherspoon’s looks like an emerald cut but judging from the facets, it may be a radiant-cut diamond.

I really find the ring beautiful. It's not too small to be achoo-ed when I sneeze and not too big not to be worn daily. The stone is so clear while the 2 baguettes give a nice texture to the white gold band. It has a lot of character; there are angles that it’s crystal clear, metallic gray and sometimes it reflects tiny specks of rainbows. Last week, I had a grand time bouncing off sunlight and making rainbows. Bored and stuck in Christmas traffic.

It looks so simple yet exquisite, classic, clean and timeless. I am grateful that Person A took the time to educate himself, save and choose the best ring he can give. However, unlike Gollum, I am not putting the ring as the most precious thing between the 2 of us because he is more dear than this carbon-and-gold package, the moments we are going to share will be much better and the life God will, hopefully, bless us in the years to come will be priceless.

As I always say, “Hindi naman ako mamahalin nito, eh”. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

And They Said...

A few hours after our engagement, we shared the good news with family and friends. We can’t contain our joy that it has to be shared with the people we love. Before updating our Facebook profiles,

we sent this message to friends.

Fret not, this message wasn’t sent to our parents because as you might have heard, you don’t use the word “we” and “elope” in one sentence when you’re talking to your parents. 

On top of the standard “Congratulations” and  “Best Wishes”, allow us to share how our friends expressed their joy with us. Please note that these are copied verbatim from their replies.

The Straightforward Replies

“Wowoweeeeee! How did that happen??”
“WHOA KWENTOOO. Happy!!! :)"
“Oh my gooooosh! Congraaaats!!! Magkita ta beh! Pls…”
“Omg! It’s out and official! Sooo how did it happen??!!”
“How soon is soon-to-be?”
“Grabe sol. I will spend on roaming para text kita how happy we are for you.”
“… grabe may goosebumps pa ren ako sa happiness haha :)

The slightly Profound Ones

“Sabi ko na nga kaya ka nagleave e!”
“Yehey! Finally!… so you no longer need to bully Nestee!”
“Congratulations!!! PS. Pre, Never pa akong naging ring bearer ;)” 
Person A's reply: “actually flower girl na lang kulang sa line up eh, up for it?”
“Hahaha eloping is an option? Hahaha congratulations!!!”
“… Of course, eloping is not option” – This is a salute to the KGB movie with the line * Russian accent * “Failure is NOT OPTION”.
“Kahit mag-eelope kayo, sasama pa rin kami!”
“Congrats congrats! I just had champagne in your behalf!”

We honor our friends who shared their happiness with us; we sincerely feel the love. 

The Person A Story

I believe this story started in 2002 when in a series of discussions with my parents, I was convinced to retract my enrollment from the blue school along Katipunan and headed straight to the maroon university a few blocks down the road. If I did not do so, I would not meet this boy with the hexagonal glasses in my Physics class in early 2004. As he was seated in front of me, when the laws of motion got boring, I’d peer through his glasses to while the time away without giving much thought on who he was, how he looked like and without even thinking if I’d ever get to know him. At that time, I was contented looking at the four corners of the room through his spectacles.

My next memory of this boy was in a Chemical Engineering class where paradigm shift was widely taught. The professor gave numerous competitions and every time, this same boy, seated 3 rows back, won the huge chocolate bar. He shared his loots with the whole class hoping to get noticed by this one cute girl who, by the way, was not me. Being the competitive person that I am, I took note of this boy knowing that one day, I’d like to show him that I can beat him in class. As fate would have it, this boy is one of the best friends of my best friend’s friend and in the succeeding months, we found ourselves hanging out in the same circle and even taking classes together with our group of friends.

On the first day of my Natural Science class the semester after, I looked for an acquaintance to seat beside with and I saw this same boy, now more familiar, and was a comforting face in a crowd of university students.  With a smile, I claimed the seat beside him and for the rest of the semester we shared stories, disappointments and heartaches – all because we had heard the lessons before  and our 3rd seatmate, who happens to be his good friend, always skipped class. Had this seatmate been diligently present in class, we would not have known each other too well by the end of the term.

On the 3rd semester after that Physics class, the boy with the hexagonal glasses was no longer a stranger, in fact he’s one of my better friends whom I can talk and secretly compete with. Just to be clear, I’ve never given up hope on defeating him academically. He never missed a visit to the library whenever I spent my afternoons completing schoolwork while he’s working as a student assistant in our home department. I’d be on the frontlines cheering his band performances – barely beating the dormitory curfew. It was purely platonic until my 20th birthday. 

At least from my end of the story. =P

On that day, I competed in a major college event late in the afternoon and I had an important presentation in our Panitikang Pilipino class in the morning. Among our friends, it was just the two of us in that class. By some twist of fate, our professor had gone berserk and humiliated me in front of the whole class! I was shell-shocked as it was my first time to be in that situation. It was tough going through the presentation without emotionally breaking down. When the class ended and the professor had left, I cried in the room while the boy with the hexagonal classes awkwardly hugged me.  As if it was the most natural thing to do, he held my hand all the way to the university chapel to hear the 12-noon mass. I did not care that he wasn’t someone romantically special; all I care was he was my pillar of strength at that moment. Maybe he was there at the most opportune time.

My friends skipped class (read: naglaro ng baraha sa cafeteria) to support me that afternoon while I prepared for the major presentation with my team of 5. My friends were our loudest cheerleaders that night. In the meantime, the boy with the hexagonal classes never left my side, he checked on me at the competitors’ area, brought me food and from time to time held my hand. He even walked with me to the auditorium when it was my team’s turn to pitch a marketing presentation. With my partner, we breezed through our carefully orchestrated presentation and the rest of team expertly answered the questions from the panel. When I got off the stage, I looked for that familiar face in the crowd, smiled at him and gave him a nod.  Off we went hand in hand back to the competitors’ area.

Trivia: most of the photos in this collage were taken after the competition.

Our team placed second that night but more importantly, I won the person who I spent the next 7 years with exploring the world, creating beautiful memories, experiencing life wins and losses, holding each other’s hand when we stumble and commit mistakes, learning life lessons along the way and we both discovered that it is a day to day commitment to be the best person that we can share to each other.

The Engagement

Lifetime commitment is not new to us. In fact, after my 20th birthday, we took the time to discuss what we will share and what we expect from each other. From Day 1, we knew that this relationship is going to be for the long haul. Team-mates for life. One thing he loves doing is to ask me to marry him in every new place that we visit together. He has asked in a grand church, swanky building, the beach, different caves and even up on the mountains and some remote forest. Most of the time, the question surprised me but sometimes, I just beat him to it and it is I who asked the question. Just because I want to beat him at anything I can.

12.12.12 is just another day. Person A and I took the day off to celebrate the renewal of vows of my aunt. 

The plan was from Makati, we will use my car, which is on number coding restriction that day, and we will change vehicle in Alabang before heading to Las Pinas. While I was getting my hair and make-up done in the neighborhood salon, Person A secretly called both my parents to ask their blessing on his proposal that afternoon.

At 1PM, I was already running late for the wedding and flower girls should never be late for a wedding. I met up with him at my place and when I saw him, he was sweating profusely. I just breezed through my place and the next thing he knew, I was out of the door and ready to play hide and seek with the MAPSA on a number-coding day. He initially planned to pop the question at my place.

Seeing that he missed his chance, he planned to propose before we reach the church and in my car – not in somebody else’s vehicle. Once we successfully evaded the MAPSA, he asked me not to call my cousins yet until we’re in Alabang. Being the worrywart that I am, I started calling my aunt and 2 cousins to inform them that that I will head straight to the church. I finished the calls at the Skyway exit.

Then Person A gave me a card, it was one of the finest cards I received from him. The last line was “I’d like to spend eternity with you”. I was so touched that I told him “Awww… Thank you… I am sorry that I don’t have anything for you especially that it’s 12.12.12, a special monthsary!”. I was wearing white jewelry as accessories and thereafter Person A commented.

Person A: You have to take off that piece of jewelry that doesn’t fit.
Me: Ay! This ba? * holding my gold and green bangle and took it off *
Person A: No, not that one.

I looked through my body and noticed the gold ring I wore on my right ring finger.

Me: Ay, na-ooOC ka? I’ll take it off.

All this happened while he’s driving at 60-80kph down the skyway ramp. Then we continued the conversation.

Person A: Will you marry me?
Me: * being used to this question * Of course!
Person A: Sure…? You’ll marry me?
Me: Yes! *putting on my cutest face knowing that I feel pretty in my make up*

By this time, we were at the Alabang Viaduct and I just took it as a typical question given that we’re in a travelling car and we’re running late for a wedding. Then he asked again.

Person A: “Will you marry me, kahit may singsing na ako? * And while he’s left hand is on the steering wheel, a ring magically appeared on his right hand *

Me: “Ooooohhhh my Gooooodddd…!!!!”

I can’t remember the details that happened between the Alabang Viaduct and the Asian Star Building. All I can remember is he put the ring on, I told him it is very beautiful and there were a lot of “Oh my God!”, laughing, shrieking, tears welling in my eyes and probably the stupidest smile on my face. As he guessed, I never answered the actual question (“Oh my God” doesn’t equate to “Yes”, right?) that’s why he planned to ask the first 2 questions without the ring just to be clear that I agree to what he’s proposing.

At its face value, this story may not come out as the most romantic but for the two of us, it is. Not everyone can claim 12.12.12 as her engagement day, the sun was out and shining that day, Person A took the step to ask permission from my parents before he asked the question and it happened in the most natural setting, just the 2 of us going about our daily lives. Personally, this is what marriage is all about, being the happiest with your loved one devoid of all the distractions and material things in life. Just He and I committing to each other.  

For the record, I can claim that I got engaged a number of times in the most beautiful of places and formally on the Alabang Viaduct at 60-80 kph. Haha! The latter is so panalo!

Once we reached the parking lot, we hugged and offered a prayer to God. Then I cried because I was happy and no matter how many times I've been asked, it feels magical when the actual moment happens. Then we proceeded to a very beautiful church in Las Pinas, our first church visit as an engaged couple. We witnessed a heartfelt wedding and I walked down the aisle, as a flower girl.

I am excited to walk down the aisle once again but this time, with the man of my dreams (naks!)  waiting for me at the altar. Cheeseball!

We ended the day with a celebratory dinner: soup, steak and all the pizzazz.

Who would have thought that his fancy dinner invitation at noon would be to celebrate a very important milestone in our lives? I should have questioned why he made a reservation at a fancy steak house when we are to attend a wedding reception. Oh wait, I did but he said "Let's celebrate 12.12.12!". We winded down the excitement with a cup of coffee at a nearby cafĂ© and enjoyed Kitchie Nadal’s performance for free.

I guess, God and the universe have a funny thing of planning out our lives to craft the best and memorable stories to share. I never thought that I’d be spending the rest of my life with the boy with the hexagonal glasses. I still can’t fathom the thought that out of the 6 billion people in the world, I’ll meet this person who is my perfect puzzle piece. It was an awesome ride the past 7 years and if it is a preview to what’s in store for the rest of our lives; triumphs, challenges, disappointments and that most comforting hug at the end of the day, I can’t wait to start forever with Person A.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my wacky family

And the nesting birds on our fresh pine tree.

And in the noise and pomp of the festivities, may we remember that today, God gave us the greatest gift of all, His only son. Hopefully, this will inspire us to live a Christian life and extend our generosity to the world over.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lessons from the Last Three Weeks

When I ushered in the new year, I vividly remember texting Person A "this year is going to be our year". It was meant to be a general statement to attract and emulate positivity. True enough, 2012 has been very kind to us both. We tried to live the most we can and we were given significant responsibilities in our respective careers. His project made it on national news a few times and may have impacted you directly. In pursuit of my interest, I did a major career shift 4th quarter this year and I was excited and still challenged with my new role at work.

For 11 months, everything was fine; things were going smoothly until the first week of December. The pyramid of priorities that I carefully built for some years was toppled down. I was sad for a couple of days but somehow things felt right. After overanalyzing the situation, I took it as a sign to rebuild the pyramid with the levels (priorities) re-arranged. The pyramid base is still for God but I now have the chance to change my priorities. After all, it's easier to build from scratch than to modify a structure. Engineers would agree.

When the week of December 3 ended, I posted this over on Facebook not knowing that major life surprises are yet to happen. To be fair, the events of that week is more than enough for me to declare that 2012 is exciting.

Then 12.12.12 came, I witnessed the wedding of my aunt as a Flower Girl -(",)-*wink* and on that day as well, Person A surprised me with a commitment of a lifetime. After 7 years of being in a relationship, he finally decided that he liked it and put a ring on it.

Person A and I are officially engaged!

The 2,525 days that we waited are worth it. In fact, everything on that day is perfect: the date, clear, blue skies, God was a part of it, we witnessed the renewal of vows of one of the couples we admire, the excellent meal we had to celebrate, even the exquisite coffee, and oh,the ring is beyond perfect. Plus I get to bag the man of my dreams for a lifetime. I was so happy that day that up to now I can't wipe the silly smile on my face and I exude so much happiness.

And so Lesson #1 my dear folks is: Everything is perfect in God's time.

Lesson #2.The week before 12.12.12 was EXTREMELY tough for me. As shared above, by allowing things to happen, God gave me the chance to rebuild my pyramid of priorities and I am now prioritizing Person A and my family over my career. Isn't it perfect before I embark on this little thing called marriage? He made the events so grand as a reminder that there are a number of things more important in life.

As if the 12.12.12 event is not enough, God has another major major surprise in store for me this week! All I can say, "Dear God, I feel so loved by you. Thanks for putting things in order"

And lesson #3 here is, "When God closes a door, he opens a GARGANTUAN gate." Gargantuan, being the operative word.

Allow me to end this entry with lesson #4 "Everything happens for a reason". And with everything that has happened the past 3 weeks, 2012 is definitely one awesome year. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Brighter Than Sunshine

Please allow me to share my bouquet of flower early this evening

A bunch of yellow and red tulips! 

Tulips are flowers from bulbous plant of the genus Tulipa. Its centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Tien Shan mountain. Surprising? During the Ottoman Empire, it became very popular and was seen as a symbol of abundance and indulgence.

It smelled wintery heavenly when it was given to me. The colors are so bright, especially the yellow! It comes with 2 curious packets

As I understand it, it's to preserve the flowers longer.

This is a good idea for flower shops to give this out with every purchase.

The picture doesn't do justice to how lovely they are on my table. I can't help but smile every time I look at them. Brighter than sunshine, indeed. 

Down Right Red

You know it's the season of festivities, parties and weddings. Case in point, in a span of 10 days, I am attending at least 4 parties and it's always good that your nails are ready to strut their stuff. So, I decided to paint my toe nails in festive red. 

Orly's Down Right Red

It was a toss up between neutral brown and soft pink hues but I decided to rock red nails because it is generally a flexible color that goes well with any footwear and outfit.

It's a very lively shade of red, perfect for the Christmas season. It reminds me of cherry tomatoes. This might be a tricky shade to wear and may work best for fairer skin. I love it and I'll choose this again if I am in the mood for bright red nails.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Les Miserables

I've been meaning to share this video since I saw the extended trailer while living the life two weeks ago. Apart from The Hobbit, this is what I am looking forward to before the year ends.

At least I'm hoping they'll show both films before THE festival block books all cinemas and before I head to the place where cinemas don't exist. 

Why I think this film is love:

1. The choice of Hugh Jackman as Prisoner 24601 is fitting. Much like I definitely see Russel Crowe as  Javert.

2. Still on the cast, I am excited to see Helena Bonham Carter's take on Madame Thernadier. I imagine it would be a treat seeing her abuse Cosette.

3. Then there's Anne Hathaway who's doing the real, fragile version of I Dreamed a Dream. I love her line "There's something selfish going for the pretty version... she's (Fantine) devastated, she's literally at the bottom of a hole looking up and realizing that she's never gonna climb out of this". Her shaved head, disheveled look are perfect.

4. Of course, Tom Hooper. If you remember The King's Speech and how you feel for Colin Firth's King George VI, well Mr. Hooper is the Director of the film.

And so because we all love Lea Salonga, I'll end this post with Eponine singing On My Own.

And Lea Salonga's I Dreamed A Dream during the 25th Anniversary concert at the O2 Arena.

Please bring Les Miserables to Manila, I beg of you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Highest Duty: Miracle on the Hudson

Remember the airplane that landed on the Hudson River, New York in 2009?

All 155 passengers and crew on board US Airways 1549 survived the water landing after the A320 hit a flock of birds and lost its 2 engines. In less than 3 minutes, the pilot made a decision to land the plane in the safest spot possible and made Captain Chesley Sullenberger a hero.

I followed the landing on the news and when I saw the video of Capt. Sully's talk in our company's headquarters, I knew this guy has been preparing his entire life to make that historic and heroic landing. You see, the company I work for is BIG on safety, ensuring that all employees stay focus on their jobs and get to go home to their families unscathed. Capt. Sully's leadership and personal commitment to airline safety are very inspiring and that made me decide to buy his biography.

Unfortunately, his book is not, if rarely available, around Glorietta area so on Person A's recent trip to NYC he got me the book. At a heavily discounted price.

Person A mentioned that Strand Bookstore is a book-lover's haven. It has a library vibe and most books are discounted. He said, "You would love it there".

Let me share why you should read this literary piece for entertainment purposes and to learn lessons that you can impart to your colleagues:

1. It is well-written: simple, straight-forward and engaging. It chronicles his life from a little town in Texas and tries to pinpoint the defining moments that equipped him to land the A320 safely on the Hudson.

2. The book reminds me to stay focus and know what are the important things at the moment. In order to execute the landing, he was able to weed out the unnecessary steps and just focus on getting the plane safely on the ground. Similarly, there are a thousand distractions in this world and we just need to learn to focus on what is important and necessary for the moment. Of course, without losing the big picture.

3. I admire the man. He knows what he wants and constantly reinvents himself. From the age of 5, he knows that he wants to be a pilot and so at 16, he was able to get his pilot's license. Then he needs to get a good education so he enrolled at United States Airforce Academy and named Outstanding Cadet in Airmanship in his graduating class. He holds 2 master's degrees. He has a safety consulting company.

4. He's a real person who is devoted to his family.  He has stay married to his wife since the early 1990s and they have 2 adopted daughters. It's a lovely story how they tried to conceive and ended up with 2 daughters who look like them.

Very inspiring. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mactan Quick Getaway

Last weekend, Person A and I stole a quick getaway to Cebu. Stole because we only spent a night in the Queen City of the South but it was a getaway because in the 40 hours we were in town, 70% was spent on the beach while the remaining 30% was spent with family. It was one of the most efficient vacations we've had mainly because we availed of extra cheap airfare, value-for-money hotel stay, we were able to recharge and we get to meet family.

Let me share with you how we managed to be that efficient.

The Carrier: Tiger Airways

Cebu can easily have the most number of flights from Manila, with the 5 well-known carriers flying the route 5 times a day. Tiger Airways , the budget airline from Thailand, started operating in the country and we were able to avail of their initial offer. The airline flies in partnership with Seair. 

All-in, roundtrip flight cost to Cebu with 20kg baggage allowance: PhP 700/person. Tiger Airways operates from NAIA Terminal 4: that's the old domestic airport. They had it renovated but not quite there. There's Seattle's Best though.

We were in Cebu at 6 in the morning.

Left our bags in the hotel and by 7:30 we've traversed the city and found ourselves in Talisay to meet my Aunt. Then we started our way back to Mactan with a brunch stop at an Austrian-themed restaurant.

By 10AM, I received a call from the front desk that our room is ready. We can't contain our excitement.

The Hotel Stay: Shangri-la Mactan Resort and Spa

We looked for the resort map and decided to explore the place. Boy, it was a good mid-day walk. Guaranteed sunog! One of the numerous reasons why you want to pay for a stay in Shangri-la is they got it all for you. 

There's the grand hotel entrance and excellent hotel rooms and amenities if you want the all-out, luxury experience. There's a lush garden with generous walkways if you want a relaxed and family activity filled stay. You can bird watch. 

The center piece of the humongous garden is a pool for babies, toddlers, kids and adults! There's a water slide, playground for the kids, miniature world-renowned tourist sites and a giant chess set.

Yes, I have the King wrapped around my fingers and let me point out that the minions are surrounding the queen-wanna-be. The photo shoot is Person A's idea. He doesn't want to join.

There's a secondary adult pool by the Ocean Wing and since it has an "infinity" view of the sea and lesser number of swimmers (with no kids because it's at least 4ft deep), we prefer to tread and swim in the Ocean Wing pool. It's really relaxing. The photo below is a view of the ocean wing coming from the beach.

There's also the award-winning Chi Spa at the far, right corner of the resort. And there's an expansive golf course. 

Here's a lone tree we fancy taking a picture with. Sariling sikap yan!

As you head out nearer to the sea you will be treated by this view.

So nice, breath taking. For the most part of our stay, we were in this part of the resort.

We lounged by the cabanas. Notice the hearts carved on the path. We sat there for a good time and took photos. That night, the 2 cabanas were set-up for a private, candle-lit dinner by some guests. Sweet.

Strolled and dug our toes in the sand

Lounged by the beach. That's my 2 boys right there. 

Had milk shake 

and pizza by the beach. 

That's what we call "Living the Life".

Service is exceptional. Staff appears discreetly to cater for your needs. May it be a glass of cold water, setting up your lounge chair with those pretty cave-like shades, or fresh towels. 

To my surprise, snorkeling is also a good thing to do in Shangri-La. I have low expectations having snorkeled in Puerto Princesa and El Nido but on Saturday morning when the tide was low, we were able wade, dip our heads and manage to snorkel in thigh-deep water to be greeted by a cacophony of fishes. Like hundreds of them in different species and sizes!

1-ft length parrot fish is not rare! 

I was even sad because before we headed back to Manila, we dropped by Tabo-an and I saw these dried parrot fishes. I was just chasing their kin a few hours earlier.

The only downside is the corals look battered. The hotel can use some rehabilitation program. It's really awesome. There are even clown fishes-anemone patches. The clown fishes are territorial that day and loved to pick a fight with my aqua shoes. You don't need flippers that shallow. 

Another thing we love about the hotel is the lounge. Every night, there's a piano player and a band 

that plays 45-minute sets so it's nice to have coffee, 

surf the internet and engage in a conversation.

And before we forget, the food is also awesome. There at least 4 restaurants: Tides (main buffet), Aqua, the one by the pool, another one by the beach and Cowrie Cove. This is dinner we had from Cowrie Cove, the best seafood chowder we've tried and delicately grilled seafood. 

Then this is what's left of our fare from the breakfast buffet before I thought of taking a picture. Wide selection of Japanese, Chinese, American and Filipino breakfast. It's one of the better Shangri-la selections I've tried. 

While we were dipping in the pool some minutes before check out, Person A and I seriously contemplated on extending our stay. 

Good thing our rational selves kicked in and we were contented on saving up for another trip, hopefully sooner than later.


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