Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers: The "Pagpapana" Continues

I braved the opening weekend rush to watch Avengers and true to the worldwide hype, all cinemas at Power Plant had "All Seats Taken" plastered on the screen last Saturday. 

Ganyan kami sa Makati. We were able to catch the film the next day. 

Avengers is very entertaining, owing to extremely witty lines and Iron Man's narcissistic antics. 

Case in point:

Iron Man: No offense, but I don't play well with others.
Captain America: Big man, in a suit of armour... take away , what are you? 
Iron Man: Uh... genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist...

*Thor laughs*

It's all about him!

One thing I can't help but notice is Hawkeye's archery skill. Bow is now Hollywood's choice of weapon. I blame Legolas for starting the trend.

How about pitting these 3 in survival battle ala Hunger Games? Sounds interesting.

Black widow exudes hotness that makes strong, kick-ass women desirable... extremely desirable.

Then there's Hulk and his "moment" with Loki. This is a winner.

Can I say Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of the doctor is cute. Geeks for the win!

From a non-Marvel fan perspective, this could be my best movie in a year. Person A briefed me on the next installment: Thanos's possible foray into the movie. He spent two days educating me on the villain.


I can't remember a single thing except that the jewels will make a lovely statement necklace.

I told 'ya, I am not a superhero fan.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good News from Starbucks

I used to be passionate about my frappucino: it's cool, refreshing and tastes really good. I liked it so much that I at my worst, I take in at least a cup a day. Then I got fat, super fat. I made the difficult decision to control my frappe in take to once in a blue moon.

For the sake of old love, I got giddy with what I read from heart-2-heart

With this heat, I think it's okay to indulge. It's summer after all.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pure Porcelain

In my last trip to the nail salon, I was in the mood to paint my nails in neutral, creamy shade I usually prefer. I contemplated among my favorite Bonbon, everyone's favorite Country Club Khaki and Pure Porcelain.

Since I haven't tried this shade yet, I opted for Pure Porcelain.

After application, it came out white and provided a good contrast to my brown skin color. The manicurist put three coats and I find it too thick. Two coats would have been sufficient. 

After a few days, it started to turn baby pink. This is best for fair-skinned and dark individuals. I am medium-toned and it comes out like a clerical white-out. White is not for me, although I like its creamy, smooth texture.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mr. Depp Loves the Philippines

I am lucky that my neighborhood carwash shop has magazines available for its customers. As I leafed through an old magazine this caught my attention.

Who doesn't adore Mr. Depp? The article was written years back.

He has fond memories of the Philippines, too!

It's not the most flattering description but at least he has good words.

Best Job in the World

I couldn't agree more.

I am product of the hard work and never-ending love of one amazing and beautiful woman.

I can't wait for my turn one day.

And I can only pray that I get to accomplish it excellently as you did. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Big missed Steak

I have to agree. I tried before when I was trying to regain my college weight.

I am happy to report that I failed miserably.

Life is good, especially with steak.

Photo is from 9gag.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mountain Tea

If you head to the Cordilleras, there is a local brew of tea known as Mountain Tea. 

I had my first cup in Baguio at a restaurant in Tam-awan Artist Village years back.

I can't find online material about it but it does look like tea leaves, Camelia sinensis. Dried tea leaves which don't undergo typical processing - oxidation. Tea has a specific season for harvesting, known as flushing and undergoes processing. In the case of mountain tea, it looks like it is plucked, dried then sold. Very raw.

It tastes leafy and very fresh. Although it has tang, I find it delicate which is how I want my tea. This is the reason why I like green over black or Earl grey.

I bought a bag from Sagada for PhP 25! and for a week now, I traded my PhP10/bag brand. I typically consume 2 bags in a day. I love my tea and imagine the huge savings!

Brewing mountain tea is as easy as concocting any loose leaf. Since the leaves are not crushed, I just put around 20 leaves in my mug and "steep" it for 3 minutes then scoop the leaves out using tea spoon.

Pardon my office mug, any tea deserves a fine tea cup.  

I don't feel like making arte in my daily work uniform and safety shoes. I would be obliged to get a set if I am in a pretty dress, low-heeled shoes and Philip Treacy hat. The only hat I am wearing on a daily basis is a safety hat ... if only life is always an afternoon tea party with scones and tea biscuits.

So anyway, I don't normally sweeten my tea but if you prefer mountain tea pairs well with honey. 

It's unintentional, my honey stash at work is from Abra. 

How fitting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Don't Believe in Make-Up: Kiehl's Line Reducing Eye Brightening Concentrate

In one of my trips to Kiehl's Glorietta 5, the staff was kind enough to give me several samplers of moisturizers and eye creams. He handed me 4 packs of Line Reducing Eye Brightening Concentrate enough to last me for 3 months!

The great thing about eye creams, they are pretty expensive but they last eons. You don't really need a lot to maintain a healthy looking peepers.

According to Kiehl's, the eyecream is formulated to improve the look of the delicate eye area with a potent concentration of Pure Vitamin C 10.5%, known for its affinity with skin and powerful ability to improve the appearance of ageing skin. While Haloxyl, a new-patented ingredient, strengthens, soothes and brightens the eye area helping to eliminate dark circles. 

How do I find it?

Let's start with my needs, I have perennial eyebags, the two never go away. 

It doesn't help as well that I only get 6 hours of sleep each night, I look fresh if I get 7.5 hours of sleep. Lastly, I don't want my skin to prematurely age.

After 2 months of application I am happy to report that the eye cream works for me!

Meaning, the circles are noticeably brighter hence if I only slept for 5 hours, it doesn't look as dark. The puffiness is still there though. Secondly, the eye area also looks fresher. I say the haloxyl works for me. I rate this second to Abyssine cream and not yet sure if this is better than the Avocado Eye cream, all by Kiehl's.

I haven't checked how much it is in the local store but the website says USD 41 for a 0.15 oz. 

Please try it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flower Girl

Last Monday, this bouquet was laid out on the passenger seat.

Pretty, pretty spring flowers. It has all my favorites: stargazers, gerberas, carnations, roses kulang na lang hydrangeas, peonies at phalaenopsis, kumpleto na.

This bouquet is not for me. In fact, I bought it to brighten the day of one woman I admire and aspire to be: my aunt, Tita Day.

A word of advice, flowers never fail to make a woman happy. Ika nga, nakakahaba ng buhok. You can never give enough flowers. Trust me. Research on the type of flowers your girl (woman) likes. Is she the roses type? The tulip girl? Does she love carnations or gerberas? Does she squeal with the smell of the stargazers or is she an orchid sophisticate?

Person A knows that I am not big on mums, I am not always in the mood for roses but I appreciate a bunch of baby's breath. Again, ang arte ko lang!

You may also want to know if she appreciates the typical bouquet or does she want it in a bunch.

Iba na ang pinag-isipan.

Because I don't know where to park if I head to Dangwa on my own, I opted to get the flowers at Market! Market! The price is about thrice to that in Dangwa but there's already a good selection from the 7 shops in the strip. There are ~ 200 or more shops in Dangwa. The florists are also good at making arrangements.

I would have opted for this, not your typical bouquet, but it's beyond my budget.

Parang ghetto Gaita Fores lang. Emphasis on the ghetto.

As for the bouquet, I had it sprinkled with water to retain its freshness in the summer heat!

Before delivering it to Las Pinas.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sagada: Cave, Coffins and Coffee

Sagada is unlike most Philippine travel destinations.

In a tropical country famous for white sand beaches and scorching mid-day temperatures, Sagada sits on top, 1800 meters above sea level, crowned with temperate forest and cools down to 16 deg C at night. It's our little spring/autumn town which the little beach girl is now madly in love with.

Going to Sagada is not as easy as booking a Piso Fare flight. It is a heart-stopping, minimum 12-hour bus ride up the Cordilleras. We chose the Manila - Baguio - Sagada route which we risked as the safer one. We also opted not to drive. We made the right choice. Although the road is right beside a hundred-feet cliff, it is paved and motorists drive defensively (traveling at 40 kph max). Having left Manila at 1 in the morning, I slept throughout the entire trip but still got bored with the never ending drive up the mountains. Hindi ko alam ilang bundok pa ang aming tatahakin.

I can't stay still.

After a seemingly never-ending view of mountains, we reached our intended destination.

The Place

Sagada is a SMALL municipality. The town proper consists of a main street where most of the inns and restaurants are. It is also the road that leads to Ambasing, the Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves. The two minor roads lead to (1) Besao (the path to Lake Danum) and (2) Bontoc and Baguio (leads to Bokong and Bomod-ok as well). 

The surroundings consist of cliffs, mountains, coniferous forests and rice terraces. It is a farming community with rustic and simple houses, farm animals on people's backyard, and dogs going up and down the hill.

The flowers are also very beautiful.

Apart from long-haul transportation, there's no way to commute in Sagada, hence everything is walking distance, 500 meters, 5 kilometers and 20 kilometers. If you don't have a car, you're gonna walk them all.

We did.

Let me tell you about the residents of Sagadas: the Sagada Igorots. Don't go looking for an Igorot, everyone is an Igorot - minus the traditional costume. Don't mistake them for the Ifugao Igorots, they're different and some locals take offense. They speak English, with excellent accent: guides, farmers and almost everyone. Second, they have a strong sense of integrity: very honest, polite, and they don't charge more than an acceptable profit. 

Very admirable.

Sagada is an adventure and coffee destination. All must travel sites require physical fitness and getting your feet, hands and bum muddy. Bawal maarte. 

If you are not joining a professionally-organized trip, everything starts at the Tourist Information Center, where there's a menu for all available stops and where you can hire a guide. For first - timers, like us, I highly suggest to get a guide unless you have a detailed map or you have Bear Grylls strength and survival skills. Most adventure charge an average of PhP 600 for a group of 10. The cost per person gets expensive as the number in the group diminishes. Makes sense.

1. Eco - cultural Trek at Echo Valley/Hanging Coffins (PhP 400)

The cost covers trekking the nearby mountain with a view of the public cemetery, hanging coffins, cave entrance and ends with a walk to Bokong falls. It took us 2.5 hours to complete the trip and is best done when it hasn't rained yet as the trail gets muddy.

Trip starts at the Anglican church then heads to the public cemetery. The elder council decides where the dead will be buried: in the public cemetery or to be hanged in the cliffs. If you are older than 80 y.o., chances are you will be hanged (the coffin, at least). In the public cemetery, local tradition of burning coals instead of candles is practiced. 

Then you start trekking the pine forest where you can volley echo, take photos at a viewing spot and marvel at the surrounding.

Then head to the hanging coffins. This cliff is still being used and the last one buried was 4 months ago.

The trail to the stream 

and cave entrance gets slippery

but you get a view of coffins high up.

Coffins are hoist tens of meters up. How do they do it? Coffin is first hanged on the cliff using scaffolding (must be a super scaffold!), then the body is brought down the valley, hoist up the cliff, and put inside the pine coffin. The body is not embalmed.

This is worth the slips, muddy bum and almost fall.

2. Bokong Falls

Coming from the valley, we headed straight to Bokong which is 15-minute walk from the town center. It's actually very near. This can be done without a guide and if you're in Sagada for a long time, the walk and trek down the rice paddies is a good exercise while the falls  is a good place to have a picnic (which most locals do).

The falls provide irrigation for the rice paddies. The cool water is very refreshing after the walk. There is also a small pond, 15-ft deep and is perfect for taking a dip.

The area is also a good site to sunbathe (most foreigners do) and take photos.

3. Bomod-Ok Falls (PhP 500)

I've written about it here. To get there, you have to go to Banga-an or Aguid, do a 45-minute hike along the rice terraces, which is a trip in itself,

before you can enjoy the magnificent falls.

The falls is humongous, has a bigger pool where you can swim (the water is freezing though) and the spray and splash of the falling water are very soothing. It is also a Sagada winner!

4. Sumaguing Cave (PhP 600 or PhP 800)

This cave has one of the best stalagmite formations and still pools sufficient for dipping. These two are reasons enough to pack your bags, risk your life and head to Sagada. Here's our adventure inside Sumaguing.

You can do the basic caving where you get to see the formations or do the Lumiang-Sumaguing Cave connection to road-test your spelunking skills. The basic caving is already challenging enough for people who are non-spelunkers so unless you are a spelunker, it is best to stick with the easier option.

5. Lumiang Burial Cave

Among the sites open to visitors, this has the most concentration of coffins. Unlike the valley, coffins here are piled and this is an old burial site. It was last used in 1986 hence the bones you'll see are not as scary and the pine coffins are nicely petrified. 

The lizard and snake are revered by the Igorots. They believe in reincarnation and these cold-blooded animals are believed to be reincarnate of their loved ones.

You don't need a guide to access the cave. It is a good trek on the main road past Ambasing, then down the pine forest to the cave. 

6. Sagada Potters (Php 100)

If you want to know how vase are made, a real potter will provide a demo for PhP 100. 

Sagada clay mixed with kaolinite and minerals, molded, baked in the kiln, designed and glazed. Each pot is an art and costs around PhP 500 for a small jar. It's an art.

7. Sagada Arabica Coffee

There are no desserts in Sagada save for yoghurt but if you want to enjoy the best coffee in the country, it's got to be Sagada ... or the Cordilleras. 

Civet, regular blend and milk-infused all taste great and at a fraction of Metro Manila cost. Being a highland, Arabica is grown in Sagada which explains the delicate and sweet flavor of their coffee. Robusta's strength is in its aroma and caffeine content. We love the coffee at Bana's.

8. Mt. Ampacao and Lake Danum Trek (PhP 600)

A good clearing after 1 hour hike. The view on top is very relaxing, pitcher plants and other temperate plants are abundant and autumn colors dominate. It's a good picnic site.

The fee comes with a hike to Lake Danum where there are wild berries in April - May. Unfortunately our guide got us lost so we just decided to abort the trek and head back to town.

9. Marlboro Country and Orange Picking at Rock Farm

We didn't get to visit these 2 places but I would definitely be coming back for them.

Marlboro country is where the wild horses roam while orange picking in a 4-hectare orchard is available around September. 


Instead of doing a summary, I'll provide some tips we learned during our 5-day Sagada adventure.

1. It is okay to commute to Sagada. The Baguio route is safe enough, motorists drive defensively, it will save your car the damage from a 400-km drive one way, and you won't get tired from driving. The downside is, you might not be able to do things at your own pace and you have to walk while in Sagada. It is also advisable to be in Baguio/Banawe early in the morning (before 12noon) so that you can travel safely to Sagada before the fog descends late afternoon.

2. Sagada is an adventure trip. It is not for everyone: you have to be physically fit, you don't mind walking at least 5 kilometers, you don't mind getting dirty, slipping and falling on your bum. It is also a farming community hence don't expect a glamorous adventure. Other than that, it is an exceptionally beautiful place which you can rarely find in tropical Philippines: the weather is cold, the trees and flowers are pretty and the people are the nicest. 

3. If you can, reserve an inn before your trip. This will save you a lot of hassle. If you don't mind spending ~PhP 600/person a night, book at St. Joseph's Inn. Although the amenities are limited to a bed and bathroom, the place is centrally located, it is charming and away from the noise of the town. The cottages are a winner. Please avoid the peak seasons such as the Holy Week. You will be competing with all resources: the sites, the guides and even the inns.

4. You won't do Sagada justice if you will do an over the weekend trip. Travel time will already take 2 days. Each adventure takes a minimum of half day - you will just literally drop by the site. Everything is so beautiful that it would be nice to stay for an hour or more before walking back to town. If you are walking like us, you will get your legs killed on the second day so the longer you stay the more time you can pace each trip. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Let's take a break...

… and stop discussing about Sagada.

I’ve been itching to get a foot spa and pedicure because my feet and toes badly need one. It’s so dirty that Shrek’s stinkin’ feet and toes would pale in comparison to what I’ve got.

Okay, O.A!

In a once in a blue-moon (read: annual) phenomenon, I was able to convince my singkwenta-lang-ang-pedicure-sa-parlor-sa-Caloocan boyfriend to a “bestfriend bonding” salon trip to get a pedicure.

While browsing a magazine I read an interesting article which I thought of sharing with everyone.

Not the main criteria.

Check. Check. Check.

I always get asked why I need to bring my 2 moisturizers for a trip. And I always love that he can efficiently pack things and he carries all the bags.

Some of the benefits of being a little girl.


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