SG with Family!

We have been blessed with an opportunity to travel together again as one family. This was after my niece was born and my dad was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. With the baby in tow and with dialysis sessions that dad should not miss, it seemed impossible to travel. But with go signals from dad’s doctors and all the needful for his health, plus, our baby girl is now three, big enough to walk, off we went to Singapore!

( if you are in the same condition or your family member has the same health issue but you wanted to travel, hit me up, I can tell you what are the things to prepare as advised by our doctors, by the airlines, etc)

This trip was even made special because it was dad’s birthday. This was my second trip to Singapore, yet, this place still amazed me.

Giving you glimpse of our trip.

Accommodation : Strand Hotel

Address: 25 Bencoolen St, Singapore 189619

Phone: +65 6338 1866

You could book via Booking.com / no pre-payment required.

 

What are the places near the hotel?

  • Right outside the hotel is MRT Bencoolen Station, on the other side of the road is Bras Basah MRT station. Very convenient.
  • Across the hotel is a Food Court called Food Republic that offers wide variety of food. ( this was where we had most of our meals specially breakfast)
  • Beside Food Republic are 7-11 store and Starbucks Coffee.
  • About 5 minute-walk from the hotel, we attended Sunday mass at Church of the Sacred Heart.
  • Walking distance from Bugis Junction – One of the well-visited shopping sites in Singapore.

Getting Around the City:

Since we were a big group and my dad was advised to refrain from walking, plus we needed a car seat for our toddler, we always took advantage of grab cars. It may seem expensive but it’s worth it if you are in a big group. We would always book 1 6-seater and 1 grab with kid ( 3adult +1 kid).

So much for my words, here are the outtakes of our Singapore trip.

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Marina Bay Sands at Night

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View From Merlion Park
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Merlion Park
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Jewel at Changi
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View From Singapore Flyer

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Have fun!

Leaving you with this:

Always find time to spend with your loved-ones. Need not be pricey, but memorable.

 

Thank you. Love, SimplymeSMC.

No Filter Needed : Coron Islands

I had an opportunity to explore the Calamian Group of Islands last week. A 45 minute-flight from Manila took us to paradise.

The Calamian Islands or Calamianes is a group of islands in the Philippine province of Palawan. Amongst its numerous Islands, we visited the following major ones:

  • Busuanga Island
    • This is where the airport is located. It’s 40-min drive to Coron Town
    • It is the largest Islands in Calamian and the second largest island in Palawan
    • It is known for recreational diving, this is where you will see WW11 Japanese Ship Wrecks
    • Beautiful Coral Reefs are also seen here
  • Coron Island
    • This is where you see Kayangan lake
    • Twin Lagoon
    • Beautiful rock formation
    • The pristine white sand of Banol beach
  • Calauit Island
    • It is a wildlife sanctuary and game preserve area
    • Known as Safari park

We also did the town tour which includes climbing the freaking 721 steps to Mt. Tapyas summit- the second tallest mountain in Palawan. This mountain has its own story to tell too.

Our trip was made convenient by Be Cool Travels and Tours. Our Agency was all accommodating and thoughtful of our needs. We traveled with kids and they made sure to book us in a hotel with swimming pool.

There was a little adjustment to be done because of overlapping schedule at the hotel due to cancelled flights because of heavy rain the day before we came, but everything was handled accordingly. So much of my talking, please enjoy snaps from my trip.

All these pics were taken through my mobile phone only. Natural lights and clear waters made the difference. As they say, #nofilterneeded!

Feeding these big guys at Calauit
Feeding these big guys at Calauit
Big Cross at Mount Tapyas with the best bru
Big Cross at Mount Tapyas with the best bru

 

Shameless Pose at pass Island - my favorite place
Shameless Pose at pass Island – my favorite place
Breathtaking Pass Island
Breathtaking Pass Island

Banol Beach is LOVE

View From Kayangan View Deck
View From Kayangan View Deck

 

Natural Wonders!

planning to get on the plane and travel to Coron yet? wait, there’s more:

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The Cleanest Lagoon in Asia

View From the Hotel - not a bad view to wake up to
View From the Hotel – not a bad view to wake up to

I hope you had fun!

As for me, I went home with a burnt skin, happy heart and a renewed spirit!

-Simplymesmc

Photo CTO

I Travel With My Childhood Friends

I know this is a chestnut, but still my favorite quote on traveling: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

About 5 years ago, during the start-up period of this blog, I wrote about one of my life’s blessings which are my friends. For those who have read my blog 3 years ago, you might have remembered (or not!) one of the travel adventures I did with my childhood friends too. So basically, you have an idea that I maintain a 25-year-friendship with my solid core.

Okay, for new subs, to give you a little backgrounder, I grew up being friends with a lot of people – Yes, generally I am friendly but I think everybody will agree that amongst all your friends, you have a core group. The group that you could go silly with or serious with or sneak out at night with. The ones who are with you through ups and downs. Yes, I have a solid foundation. I have been friends with my 4 girls who I fondly call “bru” ( short for Bruha – a Tagalog for witch) for 25 years now. Needless to say, I met these girls in grade school (First Grade to be exact).

I love traveling a lot and some of you have seen that in my series of posts already. Indeed, traveling makes me discover the unknown, thus, changes my perspective as a human being. It makes me humble having to realize that my niche in this world is just a tiny spot in this vast universe.  I am glad that in the last 3 years, I get the privilege to explore the world with one of my best brus , Joan. We went to Bohol, to Singapore, Hong Kong , Macau and our supposed travel to Malaysia (please read my “Why Malaysia Made me Cry’ here.)  not to mention our local travels together. Amongst all the places we’ve been to, I love our recent travel to Hong Kong and Macau.

Why? Well, not so much with the place, ( don’t get me wrong, the country is good but I have been to other better places.) still my favorite  because we went along with another bru, Anna Marie – plus, they brought their kids (and husband). Yes, some of my friends have kids already and I am glad that we are turning the pages of the unknown world together. What makes me a little emotional is this: We were the kids’ age when their moms and I met. (oh boi, times do fly so fast).

Beholding the world in the eyes of my little God-children and looking at how happy they were in every Disneyland rides while, us, adults have gone crazy, in every expenses, responsibilities and “adulting” stuff that we talked about, I realize how lucky I am to have explored life with my childhood friends whom I consider my family ( by choice).  I wish and pray that these kids, 6-year old Liam and 7-year old Eanna, find a solid friendship as strong as their parents’ (and God-parents’).

I wish the same for my future little ones.

Soon, when they grow up, we will tell them how nice it is to turn pages of life, explore the world and rediscover oneself together with your solid friends. Just like their moms.

You may read my HK and MO travel thru the links below:

Four Days in Hong Kong
Day Tour in Macau

 

 

Big Three Zero ( Tagaytay)

So, It was my Bday! And what better way to celebrate my #dirtythirty than have it with family?

Big sis with her Boyfriend, ‘lil sis and myself drove all the way to Tagaytay City to celebrate my #threezero on #10thofJuly.

A short background about Tagayatay City – ( source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagaytay )

Tagaytay  is the Philippines’ most popular tourist destinations because of its outstanding scenery and cooler climate provided by its high altitude. Tagaytay overlooks Taal Lake in Batangas and provides one of the iconic views of the Philippines, the view of Taal Volcano Island in the middle of the lake, viewable from several vantage points in the city.

Tagaytay is relatively close to the capital city of Manila, only 55 km (34 mi) away via Aguinaldo Highway, providing an easy escape for the locals from the heat of the big city.

It is always great to have an escape from your daily routine at work, especially when it’s spent with your family and have it on your Big day!

As brainyquote.com say, Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories.

I thank God for thirty good years full of wonderful memories with people I really care about.

Today, I’m making more memories with my sisters, one of the greatest gifts I ever have.

Sky Ranch Tagaytay
Sky Ranch Tagaytay- It was a rainy afternoon, so fog is all over
Bulalo to beat the rainy weather
Bulalo to beat the rainy weather
Sky Eye covered with fogs
Sky Eye covered with fogs on a Saturday afternoon
a visit to lady of Manaog Shrine
a visit to lady of Manaog Shrine
Sisters goofing around
Sisters goofing around
Smile with sissies!
Smile with sissies!- At the Most Beautiful Starbucks place in the Philippines – Starbucks Twin Lakes
Dinner at Carlo's
Dinner at Carlo’s-Pizza and pasta are great
The cold didn't bother us
The cold didn’t bother us
Breakfast at the hotel - affordable and yummy beef tapa
Breakfast at the hotel – affordable and yummy beef tapa
They know I'm not into sweets so I'm having a mini cake on my Big day
They know I’m not into sweets so I’m having a mini cake on my Big day

Our Road to Big Three – Zero ( Singapore)

With us turning 30 this year, also marks the 24th year of our friendship.

It has always been a part of our bucket list to travel abroad before we reach 30. Amongst the “brus”, as we call one another, only Annalyn has the chance to go out of the country for several times already with her family.

It was Joan’s and my first time to travel a foreign land and SG is our first destination.

Sharing with you our Singapore Adventure- The first destination on our road to big Three Zero!

Singapore Flyer: The world's tallest Ferris Wheel
Singapore Flyer: The world’s tallest Ferris Wheel
Tourist Unlimited Card that we purchased that could be used in MRT, LRT and bus
Tourist Unlimited Card that we purchased that could be used in MRT, LRT and bus
Bugis Junction Area
Bugis Village Area
Trying out local food with my Bru
Trying out local food with my Bru
A pose with Merlion, ofcourse
A pose with Merlion, ofcourse
Marina Bay Sands at night
Marina Bay Sands at night
Obligatory Selfie at Universal Studios Logo
Obligatory Selfie at Universal Studios Logo
Goofing around like true-blue foreigners :-)
Goofing around like true-blue foreigners 🙂
In a land of Far far away
In a land of Far far away
Giant grove at gardens by The bay
Giant grove at gardens by The bay
We were like Kids again
We were like Kids again
We saw panda bear
We saw panda bear
Taken by my beautiful travel buddy
Taken by my beautiful travel buddy
Singapore Botanical Garden
Singapore Botanical Garden

Life’s Best: Travel and Girlfriends

Traveling is one of my hobbies. It gives me a bizarre experience, a feeling of independence and a chance to appreciate world and its beauty.

When I’m not travelling, I love spending time with my friends. Being with them makes me feel happy, at peace and our time together could take us down memory lane. – remembering everything that we went through as kids, as teeners, asstudents, being adults, and for Joan, Motherhood.
I recently got the chance to hit two birds In one stone – an out of town vacation with two of my treasured girlfriends, Annalyn and Joan.

I practically grew up with these ladies, along with other childhood friends. 10 years of being classmates, a lifetime of being friends, and now, travel buddies. What else could I ask for ?
In an ordinary blog, I would probably be sharing with you my travel itinerary, budget breakdown and practical tips on exploring Bohol island, but now, I will give you a snap shot of my treasured moments with my girlfriends of 24 years at the beautiful island of Bohol.
This is just a start of our travels together.

The next time I reminish with them, this travel is surely a part of of wonderful memories that we will always go back to.

Lunch by the floating restaurant in Loboc River
Lunch by the floating restaurant in Loboc River
what's a trip to bohol without a visit to  our little friends?
what’s a trip to bohol without a visit to our little friends?
Butterfly sanctuary
Butterfly sanctuary
Driving an ATV
Driving an ATV
chocolate hills which we jokinlgly call Pandan Hills because it was green when we were there
chocolate hills which we jokinlgly call Pandan Hills because it was green when we were there

Camera 360 Camera 360

Joan and Me on snorkeling DAy
Joan and Me on snorkeling DAy
With Annalyn : this is has been here a couple of times already but for us, she didnt mind going again.
With Annalyn : this girl has been here a couple of times already but for us, she didnt mind going again.
Man-made forest at the background
Man-made forest at the background
Shell Museum
Shell Museum
I love these girls
I love these girls
just like the old times
just like the old times
being in a beautiful place with eautiful people
being in a beautiful place with eautiful people

My “Magayon” Experience

It was just a spur of the moment invitation and I didn’t let it pass, I immediately said yes. An invitation from my friend/ housemate has finally crossed out one of the many things in my bucket list:
• Visiting Bicolandia specially seeing Mayon Volcano. —– Checked 🙂

I’ve only read it from my geography books back in grade school that this Mountain is known for its perfect cone. I at last came face to face with what Bicolanos call “Magayon” – (Bicol word means beautiful).
Mayon last erupted in 2010 but it has maintained its perfect cone.

I was lucky it was not foggy during my visit and I Was able to see “her” in full. The 12 – hour bus ride to Bicol was all worth it.

Mount Mayon- known for its perfect cone
Mount Mayon- known for its perfect cone

My SuperMom

 20 years ago, when I was just about 7, I regarded you as the antagonist in my own story:

  • A woman who woke me up early everyday
  • A woman who nagged at me when I went home late from school
  • A woman who required me to pay respect to ALL people even when I don’t feel like doing it ; even if they are mean
  • A woman who would scold me when I get home with bruises and cuts from my irresponsible- childish games
  • A woman who violated the anti- child labor law by forcing me to make my bed; to clean the room; to wash dishes and worst of all, by forcing me to learn how to do the laundry.
  • A woman who forced me to stay at home when I feel sick
  • A woman who turned off the TV during exam days even if our favorite show is airing
  • A woman who made me wear clothes I don’t like wearing at all
  • A woman who made an inventory of how I spent my allowance  for the day by making me recite everything that I bought

My list was never- ending. I could go on and on pointing out  all that I hated in you when I was growing up.

But you know what? I miss all of those things now.

Now that I have grown into a fine woman, living my own life, all I can say is, thank you to the WOMAN who made me into who I am today.

 Thank you for teaching me to develop a pattern of waking up on time every day, it taught me how to value not just my own time but of others too.

 Thank You for training me how to make the bed and for  forcing me into doing the laundry. I am now living on my own and surviving because I can do all these chores.

 I am on my way to reaching my dreams because you didn’t give up on me and my siblings. We are living life to the fullest now because you raised us well.

 Just when I thought you were just simply being difficult to us when we were growing up, you were patiently giving us your tough love. You only wanted the best for us.  And I have long realized that.

Thank You for playing a very important role in my life, Nanay.

You are the best woman in the whole –wide –world. And I’m taking  my word back 20 years ago.

 I meant to say, you were, you are and will always be a Superstar in my life story!

Cebu Side-Trip: Simala Shrine

And God said: “Let there be Light”, and there was light!

 

Closely two-hour travel by bus from Cebu City lays a magical place which for me seems like the closest thing to Heaven.

So, our Bantayan Island Trip was over, it was our last day in Cebu,  we will be checking out from Tune Hotel at 11am. My travel buddy Ann S.and I were discussing about the things that we can do with our remaining hours as our scheduled flight for Manila is at 9pm.

Good thing Annalyn G. stayed with us at the hotel for a night. She suggested that we go to Simala Shrine.

And so we went.  We had to ride a motorcycle from the main road to the church itself. There are tricycles or motorcycles on stand-by for hire. The short motor trip to the hill-top alone is a blessing on its own. Green is everywhere. It was such a breath of Fresh air, literally!

There are just a few things to bear in mind if you want to visit Church of Holy Eucharist in Simala.

  • Proper attire: shorts, sleeveless , see- through blouses are not allowed
  • Bring water and umbrella

The church was located at a hill-top which gives a better view from below. The grand stair-case and the castle-like stature were just oh- so amazing!

The entire place is unfinished yet; castle-like buildings and towers are still on the works. This made me promise to myself that I will be back here with my family in the future.

The grand architectural design is one, but more than the physical aspect, it is the story behind this vast structure that is significantly honoured by Catholic devotees.

With my limited capability of speaking Cebuano dialect, I was able to gather interesting facts from the locals.

Bike driver, who is so accommodating and willing to tell stories while on trip down the hill, related that the church used to be a little chapel just suited for the community until 1996 when a miracle happened.

According to kuya driver, during a procession, Mama Mary’s forehead was accidentally hit which should understandably leave a scar or a scratch on Her marmol-made body, but Lo and behold! Mama Mary’s wound bled to the surprise of the devotees.

Since then, pilgrims from all over Cebu and all over Philippines started to pay this small church a visit, leaving their petitions and marking their answered prayers.

Sponsors keep coming in and monetary assistance keeps pouring to build this humungous church for everybody.

Today, the same Mama Mary statue is being visited by thousands of people. Every day, people queued-up to just take a look, hold or pray at the Virgin’s foot.

Many have testified about answered prayers and healed illness through the help of this miraculous Virgin Mary. “Answered Prayers kiosk” at one corner of the Shrine speaks it all. It is where testimonials of people whose prayers have been answered are posted.

According to locals, since the miraculous day, Mama Mary’s Statue is only being used for parades or processions every 8th of September, the Mama’s Birth day.

Ceiling is colorfully painted with holy images; Granted Prayer Kiosk and the altar

The Facade