Monday, September 01, 2014

What to Do When Life Overwhelms You

It's the first day of September and it's also the first time ever that the song title 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' actually applies to my life. I don't know if it's just because I got up on the wrong side of the bed or if everything just built up inside me and now I want to just blow up all of a sudden.

Image courtesy of Google Images

I was sulking just a bit earlier, almost on my way to a solo pity party but then I thought, what's that going to accomplish? You're right. Nada.

So I thought up a list of things to do when everything gets overwhelming and you just want to quit. Here are some of the things that I came up with:

1. Read a Book. I'm a bookworm and I have a ton of books that I have yet to read, so I might as well put a dent on my to-read list. Reading's great (For bookworms, anyway) because it transports you to a different dimension and temporarily takes your mind off your own problems. It's not expensive either. I get my books from Books for Less or I buy e-books from Ebay or Instagram.

2. Watch a Movie. But for the love of God, do not pick a tear-jerker. That's just going to pull you down further into depression. Action movies, romance-comedies, and hilarious movies are great. Personally, I'm very choosy when it comes to comedies. If it's not witty enough (Read: slapstick humour), I just end up getting pissed.

3. Go Shopping. If you've got the dough and bills aren't what's causing your problems (Bills! I hate you!), then by all means, go shop. They don't call it "retail therapy" for nothing. But to make your shopping spree more meaningful, why not buy your loved ones thoughtful gifts too? You'll end up cheering them up as well.

4. Eat. But please, don't gorge on junk food. True, they'll probably make you happy, but then they won't do anything good for your health either. Go for healthy chow that your body will benefit from. Healthy doesn't have to be bland and yucky, you know.

5. Talk. If you've got a family member or a friend that you can turn to, talk about your troubles with them. Sure, they might not be able to help you with your troubles (Eherm, especially financial woes), but unloading by talking will help you feel lighter. Now, if only talking could also help people lose weight...

6. Pray. This is probably one of my tried and tested solutions. There is no one better to turn to than God. He's there when you're lost in bliss and He's there when you're feeling down in the dumps. Trusting Him to help you get through the worst of your troubles will do you good. But don't forget to thank Him in the end. It kinda sucks how some people forget all about Him when everything gets better...

7. Sit Down & Create a To-Do List. Sure, praying's one thing. But how do you expect God to help you if you won't help yourself? Once you've done anything from numbers 1-6, it helps to hunker down and work on your action plan. And when your plan's ready, make it happen.

It might be hard to make anything happen at first, especially if you're caught in the webs of self pity, but if can you get your mind to urge your body to go along, then you're on your way to feeling marginally better.

I was feeling seriously down when I started this post. But now, I don't feel so bad anymore. I feel somewhat lighter (Weighing scale, where are you?). My first action plan was to write, and that's what I did. Now, I gotta get started on the other things I listed here and maybe my mood will have done a 180 before the day's over.

What about you? What are your tried and tested tricks when life gives you more than you can handle?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Overnight Stay at Elegant Star Apartelle

It was early evening on the night before my birthday when The Memet came home from work and told me to pack a bag - we were going to Tagaytay. Because of his busy schedule at work, we usually find out at the very last minute if we'd be able to take an out of town trip. I've gotten used to this routine, so I quickly whipped out our overnight bag and started packing.

We didn't have any specific destinations in mind. On the way to SLEX, we actually contemplated on going to the airport and hopping on a plane to Caticlan. But it was already late and we weren't sure how to get to Boracay from Caticlan at night. Haha!

So we drove to Tagaytay instead. We had dinner on the way up and because we didn't have any hotel reservations, we drove around looking for a place where we could spend the night. We didn't want an expensive hotel or bed and breakfast since it was already around 11pm when we got there. We just really needed a place to crash.

After driving around for a few minutes, we settled on Elegant Star Apartelle. It's a small place, and the regular rate for their standard room was P2,500, no breakfast. Not bad, but The Memet was able to get us a neat-o discount since we weren't going to stay until noon the next day anyway.

Their standard room was small, but it allowed for plenty of room to move around in. It had a queen sized bed, a TV, a small dining table with two chairs, a closet, and a bathroom.



Their bed was comfortable enough, but the blanket was pretty thin. They didn't have a comforter, so we had to adjust the a/c so that we wouldn't freeze. The towels that were on the bed weren't so bad either. They were clean, but just like the blanket, they weren't thick either.

The blue logo on the pillow cases were kinda tacky. It sort of reminded me of hospitals. Haha!


Their TV was the old flat-screen type, but it wasn't a big deal. It had the channel that The Memet wanted, and once we were settled in, we watched some basketball.


The bathroom was small and they didn't have any of the standard toiletries, but then again, it's an apartelle, not a hotel. The rug on the floor outside the shower was a bit dirty though, and the trash can looked too big for the size of the bathroom.

I managed well enough. I just wore my flip flops in the shower. Haha! Oh yeah, the bathroom window sort of still brought in the cold wind from the outside even though it was shut. I think they should consider insulating the bathroom so that their guests don't freeze to death while taking a shower. Or maybe it's a tactic so that their guests wouldn't use up too much water. LOL!

Anyway, our stay at Elegant Star Apartelle was pleasant enough, especially for the price. We might consider staying here again in the future in case we need a place to crash in.


Elegant Star Apartelle
Maharlika East Highway
4120 Tagaytay City, Philippines
0932.860.1243 | 0917.623.9485 | (046) 483.0491
http://www.elegantstarapartelle.com/

Friday, August 29, 2014

JMM Grand Suites = Boat Load of Headache

This blog post is long overdue, but I'm still posting it anyway because I want to share our experience.

February 14, 2014. We were going to participate in the Iglesia Ni Cristo's World Wide Walk for Typhoon Haiyan's victims. The World Wide Walk was to take place on February 15, but we wanted to be "early", so we booked two rooms in JMM Grand Suites on February 14.

I remember we called ahead to let the people over at JMM Grand Suites know that we'll be checking in crazy late. True enough, we arrived close to midnight, because traffic was horrible (Hello, Valentine's Day). But guess what? Nothing was ready for us. Absolutely nothing.

Here's what happened.

We were instructed to look for JMM Grand Birch Tower which was unbelievably difficult to find considering the fact that it was in the vicinity of Robinsons Place Ermita. It wasn't familiar to the people in the area. After going around in circles, we found it and surprise, surprise. They had no parking area / multilevel parking. Their post in Agoda says that they have a car park, but nope, we had to park on the street.

Grand Birch Tower is a building. Not a hotel. So if you want to look for JMM Grand Suites' front desk, you'd have to ask the guards.

The front desk folks weren't very accommodating. Wait, JMM Grand Suites doesn't have a front desk. They have a small room inside one of the floors in Grand Birch Tower. Anyway, it took forever for them to find rooms for us. After a hundred years, we were escorted to our rooms which weren't located inside Grand Birch Tower. We had to carry our luggage across the street to One Adriatico Place and we were taken to two different towers. Yep, our rooms were located in two different towers. And nope, One Adriatico Place isn't a hotel. It's a "condo-tel".

I had booked two rooms for us. One studio room for The Memet and I, and a family room for my in laws. Upon arriving in our tower, it took approximately 30 more minutes before The Memet and I were finally settled in our room.

My in-laws weren't as lucky. The family room that they were supposed to get apparently wasn't available anymore. So after a looooooong while, they were brought back to Grand Birch Tower across the street and were given a small room with one bed. Get this. By in-laws, I mean The Memet's parents, The Memet's sister, and 2 kids. I paid for a family room, but they were given a small room with 1 bed and a tiny bathroom. They didn't get settled in until after 1am.

Had we known that they were going to be given that tiny room, we would've switched rooms. The studio room that we got was big and would've accommodated them better. I don't know why JMM Grand Suites didn't think of that. Anyway, we didn't get to switch rooms anymore because everyone was dead tired and we didn't want to lug our things across the street again.

Here are some of the photos that I was able to take of our studio room:



Sorry about the mess on the bed. The Memet immediately left his mark in the room before I was able to take pictures. I wasn't quick enough. Haha!

The a/c inside the room was wonky. It was ridiculously noisy when set on QUIET COOL (ironic), and since we couldn't sleep with all the racket, we switched it to fan instead. We just left the bedroom door open and cranked up the a/c in the living area so that the cold air would seep into the bedroom. But then, the a/c kept on dying after a few minutes of being on "fan mode".

It was a good thing we found a portable a/c in one of the closets. We used that instead.




The living room and dining / kitchen were okay. 

As you can see, the overall space was rather huge since it was just The Memet and I. My in laws would've slept more comfortably in here. There was even a pull-out cot underneath the bed.



The bathroom was okay, but I wouldn't dream of going in there barefoot. The grouts looked dingy and the shower curtain looked like it had molds on it. I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of the shower curtain.

Despite all the bad things I wrote here, JMM Grand Suites did have some redeeming factors:

- The WIFI connection in our room was pretty fast
- It's right beside Robinsons Ermita
- It was near the World Wide Walk's finish line

Oh. By the way, check-out took forever.

So, would I stay in JMM Grand Suites again? Hmmm. No way, Jose. In case you're interested though, you can book a room with them through Agoda.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Villa Ibarra in December

Because The Memet and I do not have children yet, we've made it a tradition to stay in a hotel on December 24th of every year. Last year, we went to Villa Ibarra in Tagaytay, because I wanted him to experience the place. My cousin's family and I stayed in Villa Ibarra back in 2012 when she came to visit the Philippines. I blogged about that experience and you can read about it here.

My first experience in Villa Ibarra was awesome, because we had the place practically all to ourselves. My stay there with The Memet would've been just as great had it not been for the noisy family that occupied the room directly above ours. The 2nd floor was made of wooden planks, and the people checked in upstairs didn't seem to do anything else but walk / run around. Their footsteps were so loud and heavy, and they also had screaming children that ran around the entire place almost all afternoon on the day that we arrived. Some of the kids even went as far as to bang on the piano in the reception area. I shudder just remembering that afternoon.

We were glad that the whole shenanigan died down when evening settled. That was when we started to enjoy our stay. Hehe!

We booked the Divine Room for our stay on December 24th of 2013. It was lovely, spacious, and had an awesome view of Taal from it's huge window.



The highlight of our stay was the bathroom. It was big. It had the usual bathroom amenities like a shower, a toilet, bidet, fluffy towels and robes, as well as a jacuzzi. There was also a TV on the wall right in front of the jacuzzi. 

I think we spent a good chunk of the evening just soaking in the jacuzzi until we were all prune-y. Hahaha!



Breakfast fare at Villa Ibarra was still the same experience. It was no breakfast buffet, but the food was okay.



Overall, I still love Villa Ibarra. But I would seriously advice against going there on holidays if you're after some quiet and relaxation. Or maybe you could call ahead and check if there are families with kids checked in on the second floor. OR you can just book one of the rooms on the second floor. Haha!


Villa Ibarra Tagaytay
130 Gen. E. Aguinaldo Highway
Brgy. Maharlika East, Tagaytay City
(63) 915-960-7481 / (63) 929-205-6511
reservations@villaibarra.com


Friday, August 01, 2014

My Travel Bucket Wish List

Hello! *Stretches & wiggles fingers*

This isn't exactly a bucket list, because I'm not sure at all if we can afford to travel to all these places. Ergo, bucket "wish" list. Haha! However, The Memet and I are only in our 30's so I hope that sometime in our lifetime, we'll be able to visit all 10 cities/countries that are on my bucket wish list below.

The Memet and I both love to travel and we've sort of made it a tradition to travel every year on our wedding anniversary. So far, we've only been traveling locally because, gosh, there are so many wonderful places to visit in the Philippines alone! But once we've exhausted almost all the beautiful natural scenery in our country, we'll start spreading our wings for international travel. (I said "almost all" because, really, the Philippines is full of natural wonders.)

So, without further ado (Before you bid me adieu. LOL!), here are the Top 10 countries on my Travel Bucket Wish List, in no particular order:

1. France



2. United Kingdon



3. Italy



4. Ireland



5. Greece



6. Spain



7. Egypt



8. Korea



9. Japan



10. Singapore


***All photos above are not mine. Credit goes to rightful owner. (Image Source: Google Images)

My list actually doesn't stop at 10. I just didn't want this post to go too long. Haha!

If you noticed, majority of the countries on my list are in Europe. I'm thinking that maybe the Memet and I should just save up for a one-time big-time Euro-Trip to save on airfare. Hmmm. Something to think about, really, because I checked out www.airbnb.com and there are A LOT of affordable accommodations in all of the countries on my wishlist. When it gets right down to it, the only "major" thing we'd need to save up for would be our airfare. Nice.

I'm actually quite surprised that I never really browsed through Airbnb before, since I've known about it for quite some time. "Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 192 countries".

I watched this video earlier and I thought I'd share it here because it pretty much sums up what Airbnb is all about.



If you love traveling, are thinking about traveling, or maybe wanting to create your own Travel Bucket Wish List, I would encourage you to sign up with Airbnb. They have listings of accommodations for every budget, which will make planning your next trip less daunting, even for a travel newbie. :)

Click here to sign up for your free account with Airbnb: www.airbnb.com/c/dpaulinogutierrez

Happy traveling! ^_^

#MyAirbnbBucketList

Thursday, July 31, 2014

INC Musical Play

On July 29th, 2 days after the special worship service in Ciudad de Victoria, my family and I found ourselves inside the Philippine Arena once again, but this time to witness the INC Musical Play.

It was raining in Rizal when we left at around 2pm, so we didn't expect that the Philippine Arena would once again be filled to capacity. Well, we were so wrong. By the time we arrived at around 4pm, the roads inside Ciudad de Victoria were already full of vehicles trying to find parking space. Haha! The Memet and I had to circle around for more than 30 minutes just to find a parking slot that wasn't too far from the Arena.

After finally securing a parking space, we had to brave the long lines in order to enter the Philippine Arena. Once inside, we immediately found our seats and waited for the show to begin.

The INC Musical Play featured the history of the church, which was a wonder to behold. As we watched how the church began, we couldn't help but feel truly blessed for where the church is right now.




It was a huge production with thousands of performers, stage crew, an orchestra, a large choir, and so much more. I can only imagine the effort that was put into the musical play in order for the thousands of brethren to enjoy it during the centennial celebration.

Can I also just say that it was really good? I found myself crying, smiling, and cheering at different points during the play. Hehehe!

The closing number was also very spectacular. The crowd was cheering, and I imagine that it gave the performers an increased adrenaline rush. I looked around and everyone was smiling, even laughing while they waved their little INC flags and cheered for the performers. The mood inside the arena was celebratory which was exactly fitting for the celebration of the church's centennial year. I felt the happiness right through to my bones. Haha!




Even though I will not be able to watch Ang Sugo, a stage play to be shown on July 31st inside the Philippine Arena, I feel truly blessed to have been able to witness the inauguration of Ciudad de Victoria last July 21st, the Pyromusical Display & the Special Worship Service on July 27th, and the Musical Play on July 29th. 3 out of the 4 major centennial activities is not bad, not bad at all. :)

Thank you, Lord God, for the blessings and may You continue to shower more blessings unto Your church. To my fellow INC members, once again, Happy Centennial year! :)



(Black Lace Dress from Maldita; Dove Grey Jacket from Biba; Black Wedges from Montego Bay Club for Payless; Dark Silver Bag from The Memet Shop; Black Faced Gold Watch from Casio)

Iglesia Ni Cristo Centennial Celebration

We were on the road, bound for Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan as early as 7:30, morning of July 26th. We dropped by my sister in law's house in QC to pick up a few things and were in Ciudad de Victoria before 9am. And boy, were we glad we left early. Traffic started to build up a few hours later, but we weren't really surprised, because we were all expecting more than 1 million members of the INC to arrive as early as July 26th in preparation for our 100th year anniversary celebration on July 27th.

After securing our belongings and our vehicle, we immediately went for a quick tour around Philippine Arena, taking advantage of the views while the area wasn't jam-packed yet.




From morning till evening, we did nothing but eat, nap, play games, and what not. Haha! The next highlight was the pyro-musical / fireworks display, which we didn't expect to start until 12mn. It actually started a bit earlier than expected, so we didn't get to position ourselves in front of the Arena (we ended up somewhere to the side, near the back).

I got a few photos, but the lot of them wouldn't do justice to the grandeur of the fireworks display, so here's one that I got off of Google Images:

Image Courtesy of www.dailybalita.com
After the fireworks display (around 12:30am), the event management group opened the gates to the Philippine Arena and started to let brethren in, in preparation for the 7am special worship service. The Memet and I didn't get in until around 3am because we had to take a quick shower and change into our Sunday dresses first.


The worship service was very solemn despite the sheer number of the attendees that morning. I can't explain exactly what it feels like to attend a worship service that is officiated by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo himself, because the whole experience is beyond words.

In the other "regular" worship services in the INC, you can always feel God's presence. I don't know how to explain it, but you just do. On the morning of July 27th, however, I felt that it was greatly amplified. Everyone in attendance, regardless of where the brethren were, felt His power and love. So despite the fact that many of us lacked sleep and were extremely tired, we all felt blessed and uplifted by the time the special worship service was done.

After the special worship service, we were all given a break (1.5 hours) before the Oratorio was set to begin.


An Oratorio is like an opera, but is composed of an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. The production number was magnificent, but The Memet and I weren't able to stay for the entire duration of the Oratorio, because we were really tired and sleepy. Hehe! So we left halfway through the program and I ended up kicking myself that afternoon when I remembered that the awarding for the new Guinness World Record that we set was to take place after the Oratorio.

Since we can't turn back time for me to witness the actual awards ceremony, here's an image that shows the world records that the INC has set so far:


What can I say? I'm just proud. Hehe! I'm proud that I'm a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo... A church that came from humble beginnings, but through God's love and compassion, has grown exponentially and is still continuing to grow across the globe.

I'm also proud to be a Filipino, because I believe that all these world records and the Ciudad de Victoria complex are something that we as a nation should be proud of. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Philippine Arena Inauguration

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I'd be able to attend the inauguration of the Philippine Arena, a humongous structure which currently holds the title for being the largest domed indoor arena in the world. The Memet and I were already resigned to the fact that we'd just watch the inauguration on TV. Thank goodness for live streaming. But at around 9pm the night before the inauguration, we received a call from my sister in law's husband. We were going to the inauguration!

We were set to leave at 2am (July 21st), but we got so lost in the excitement (and trying to decide what to wear) that lights out didn't happen until around midnight. We hardly got any sleep at all. Haha!

The Philippine Arena and its surrounding structures in Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory) are not 100% completed yet. Construction is still ongoing for some of the other structures, while finishing touches are still being done to the Arena, as well as the neighbouring Philippine Stadium. Given that, nothing can take away from its grandeur.

Here are some of the photos that I was able to take from inside the Arena.




The Philippine Arena is said to be able to seat 55,000 people. It's that big. I know several of my friends were able to attend the inauguration as well, but I only saw the ones who were situated as receptionists or event managers at the lobby. The other handful, I did not see at all due to the sheer size of the Arena.

Just look at the background in these two photos below. The people at the topmost seats are like little specks. If not for the two gigantic screens inside the Arena, they're highly unlikely to see what's going on during the program.



A few minutes before 8am, the Iglesia Ni Cristo's Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo arrived at the site's marker. Philippine President Benigno Aquino and his entourage arrived shortly after. The inauguration and unveiling of the marker itself started at 8am and was followed by a short program. The whole thing was done by 9:30am, but we didn't leave the complex until around 11:30am. We had some mingling and picture-taking to do. Haha!



When we were finally able to leave the complex (which proved to be a difficult task if you're not familiar with the site's layout), we headed to UP Technohub in Commonwealth for some much needed food. We were tired, sleepy, and famished. The adrenaline had finally worn off. So, we didn't have any pictures taken during our short and late lunch break at Seafood Island. We all looked haggard. Hahaha!

I was, however, able to steal a photo with my sister in law after we've recharged a bit.


(Black Dress from Sesura; Brick Red Bag from The Memet Shop; and Shades from Onymous)

Sorry for my incomplete OOTD photo (shoes not shown in the shot). The Memet was the one who took our photo and after several tries, this one was the best that we could do. We were just too tired. Haha! I was wearing black wedge sandals from Payless. I'll wear it some other time for another OOTD photo. :p

We got home around 3pm and had no choice but to hit the sack. I can only imagine how tired all the other folks were. We were lucky enough to have been given a pass to travel to the inauguration in our own vehicle. The others had to go by bus. And with the sheer volume of the attendees, waiting for their bus to pick them up at their designated bays would have taken a while.

I cannot fathom what it's going to be like on the actual Centennial Celebration this coming July 27. The number of attendees will most likely be more than thrice the attendees of the inauguration. Let's just wait and see. :)

P.S. All photos in this post were taken either by my ancient iPhone 4 or The Memet's iPhone 5S. I didn't bring my DSLR because I wasn't sure if it was allowed. Hehe!

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