Happy Birthday, Gat Jose Rizal!

Philippine Revolutionary and Poet, Jose Rizal

Here is one of Jose Rizal’s most famous photos taken in Madrid in 1890 when he was 29. This was his last portrait shot. Born June 19, 1861, Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda continues to be one of this country’s source of inspiration. It’s quite amazing how advanced his thinking was (or have we just really been changing on a snail mode?) and I think this line of historian Ambeth Ocampo describes him best: “Unfortunately, for Rizal who took his lessons seriously and tried to implement them outside the classroom, he was branded a filibustero. Rizal learned the RIGHT ideas at the WRONG time, and for this, he was shot.” If you’re Filipino and studied here in the Philippines, you’d know him by heart. Google his name and you’ll find a lot of things he did for the Philippines, so instead, I will share some fun/ surprising facts about him from my most favorite books “Rizal Without the Overcoat” by Ambeth Ocampo.

Happy Birthday, Gat Jose Rizal! I honestly appreciated and loved you more without the overcoat.

* Rizal usually had hot chocolate, a cup of rice and sardinas secas (tuyo!!!) for breakfast. For lunch, he usually had rice and ayungin.

* Rizal obviously read a lot of books in his lifetime (he spent a lot of money on books!), including Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales (5 of which he translated to Tagalog for his nephews and nieces!) and also had guidebooks to Paris, Germany, The Rhine, Central Italy and Switzerland.

*The Rizal Bill was passed in 1956 where college students are required to take up a subject on Rizal. The bill was passed with a clause that give exemptions to those who feel that reading Rizal’s novels would damage his or her faith. One can go to the Department of Education with an affidavit attesting to one’s brittle faith and get an exemption – not from the Rizal course that you still have to take, but from reading the novels of Rizal. (comment: there’s really no such thing as state-church separation in politics.)

*He’s often called Dr. Jose Rizal, but this is actually an error because he was unable to take the examination that would have qualified him for a doctorate. He had a Licentiate in Medicine, and being a medical doctor, he was allowed to practice in the profession. Technically speaking however, he could not carry the academic title “Dr.” or attach letters “M.D.” after his name.

*Jose Rizal is made the model of all students because he was supposed to have graduated with a grade of sobresaliente (excellent) in all his subjects. It’s true Rizal had won many prizes, BUT there were only 12 students in Rizal’s class – nine of which, including Rizal, graduated sobresaliente.

*He dreamed of establishing a school called Colegio Moderno in Hong Kong. If he became a schoolmaster, this would have been the schedule:

5:30 am Rise (bathe, dress up, ready by 6:00)
6:00 – 6:15 am Swedish Gymnastics
6:15 – 6:30 am Study Period
8:00 – 10:00 am Classes. On Sunday, religious duties
10:00 – 10:30 am Light buffet lunch
10:30 – 11:00 am Recreation (swimming, fencing on alternate or combined days)
11:00 – 12:00 nn Study
12:00 – 12:45 pm Luncheon
12:45 – 1:45 pm Recreation (music and drawing)
1:45 – 3:00 pm Study
3:00 – 5:00 pm Classes (on holidays stroll until 6:15)
5:00 – 5:15 pm Tea
5:15 – 5:45 pm Gymnastics and Sports
5:45 – 6:45 pm Recreation
6:45 – 8:00 pm Study
8:00 – 8:30 pm Dinner
8:30 – 9:30 pm Recreation in the parlor, social intercourse, dancing, music
9:30 pm – 5:30 am Sleep

* In 1885, Rizal was short of cash. He could pawn his ring, but not his books. His books cost $250 at that time! Considering how he decided not to take a bath from August to December because of the bitter cold and the expensive cost (35 cents/ bath!), he must have treasured his books above all things.

*Unknown to many, Rizal is regarded as the Father of Philippine Comics because of some humorous drawings he made in Germany.

*Rizal left instructions for his death in an undated letter to his family. It reads, “Bury me in the ground, place a stone and a cross over it. My name, the date of my birth and the date of my death. Nothing more. If later you wish to surround my grave with a fence, you may do so. No anniversaries.” Needless to say, none of these instructions were followed. Rizal’s death is one of the most important holidays in the Philippines!

*Rizal was given 3 hard boiled eggs on the day of his execution. He is said to have taken the plate to a corner of the cell saying, “This is for the rats, let them have their fiesta, too!” He was shot at Bagumbayan at 7:03 am on December 30, 1896.

And the last one is from an article and another book:

* “Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita, mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda.” Sounds familiar? We were all taught that these words of wisdom came from no less than our national hero. It seems he did not really write the poem “Sa Aking Mga Kabata” (which bears these lines), though. Read historian Ambeth Ocampo’s article here.

DIY PROJECT: Travel Make Up

If there’s one thing many people probably don’t know about me, it’s that I used to buy A LOT of make-up. Back when my life was a juggle between work, home and the mall, make-up hoarding was my sport. The funny thing, however, is that I never liked wearing a lot of make up. My face always feels icky and heavy whenever I put A LOT. So, you can expect that through the years, I was left with a closet full of expired make up. Such a waste, I know. Honestly, it was the brands’ pretty packaging that got me shelling out my cash. Damn you, little details. Haha!

Anyway, about a year ago, I started throwing expired make up but realized it would be such a waste to throw the packaging, too. So I scraped off the lipsticks and took out the blushes/ eyeshadow one by one and gave the packaging the wash they badly needed.

Now, what was I to do with all those? The traveler in me thought of making my very own travel make up.

You see, I don’t really wear make up when I travel, BUT it comes in handy sometimes. But since I don’t really use it every single day of my vacation, I find having to bring one whole kit full of the basics not worth my luggage space.

For this project, I chose one small eyeshadow palette from Smashbox and turned it into my trio essential kit. I chose it not only because of the size, but because it already had a built-in mirror! That means I don’t have to worry about bringing one (and breaking it!) and that I have a mirror whenever I have to wear my contact lens even though I’m just staying in a tent with no mirror nearby.

3 spaces = 3 essentials and I chose to go with a concealer, blush-on and lipstick mixed with lip balm (you can mix petroleum jelly if you like, too!) I chose them because for me, they are the 3 most essential make-up pieces in case I need to wear make up. Since it’s hard to transfer a powder blush, I used one that’s creamy. Of course, I chose the colors that not only suit me, but will work with any outfit. To apply lipstick easier, I put a mini lipbrush inside the palette.

It’s funny because I intended to use it for my travels but find myself bringing it with me everywhere just in case. With the size, weight and all-in-one feature, I have no excuse not to bring it, after all.

Underwater Signs for Marine Animals

Before I even lose this really cool graphic of underwater signs for marine animals, let me share it with you. Some of you here might be scuba divers like me and even though you own an underwater writing slate, it might still be frustrating to see an animal underwater and not be able to identify what it is to your buddy because s/he’s quite far from where you are. This graphic totally made my day, most especially because back then, I think my funniest moment while diving was that day I did all kinds of funny body movements just to describe to my buddies that I saw an octopus. And still, none of them got it. Haha! So anyway, it’s time to memorize and hope we see all these!

PS: I don’t know who made this graphic but THANK YOU! I saw this on my Facebook feed!:)

 

Philippine Independence Day SALE!

Online store CHICIFY is having a FLASH SALE today! Chicify is online store that greatly supports Filipino entrepreneurs and Philippine products. They give a chance for small brands to showcase and sell their items.

Just today, they’re giving 12 items away at 12% off! Have you been wanting to get yourself that really cool bamboo sound amplifiers of loudbasstard or that market tote you’re dying to use for your next grocery trip? Leyende’s organic products are really nice, too! Get them at a discounted rate today!:) Just key in 12FOR12 upon checkout (make sure you’re registered!)

Follow them on Instagram/ Twitter: @chicify
or on Facebook

PS: This is NOT a sponsored post.

Our Little Garden

I grew up in a house that constantly changed its interiors. My mother, whose forte is country style, made it her weekly habit to change something at home – reupholster our sofa, repaint our walls, change the wallpaper, construct new cabinets, mix and match the throw pillows…the list goes on. If she were to get paid a lot for every interior magazine she bought, she’d have millions by now! Long before the era of Pinterest, my mother’s house was already very pinteresting! We always felt like we lived at Ikea or Pottery Barn. No matter how small the space, she didn’t fail in making it beautiful and functional. She always jokes that since she can’t afford to buy a new house, she’ll just change the look of our house to feel like we have a new house! Not a bad way of seeing things, actually!

Anyway, it didn’t take long for my mother’s love for the interiors to rub off on me. When I was 9, I saw a magazine with a beautiful room and told her I wanted to redecorate my room. The rest is history – with every room I owned, I made sure to have a theme. I couldn’t stand a bare room. I always felt the need to decorate. 2 houses, 1 condo and 5 rooms later, I have A LOT of accumulated decorations and an ever growing love for interior design.

BUT if there’s one passion my mom has that did not rub off on me, it’s gardening. Maybe it’s because in my parents’ house, I only owned a room and not the whole house, so I didn’t feel the need to have a green thumb. I know nothing about growing plants; I only know how to eat them. Seriously.

Like they say, however, some things change when you get married. This is one change I am embracing with open arms. I suddenly became into gardening with the help of my husband and our house genius, Daday. We’ve been working hard to grow our own food – and as vegetarians, you can only expect how excited we are for the day of “harvest”. So far, we’ve planted eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, string beans, tropical lime, kangkong, chinese cabbage and cherry tomatoes.

On this entry, I will teach you a step-by-step guide of a little herb garden we did over the weekend.

I first saw a photo of recycled softdrink bottles used as plant pots from Pinterest. I found it really cool but didn’t know how to make it exactly. So imagine my delight when we were driving along J.P. Rizal in Mandaluyong and saw a house that did exactly just that! We got a chance to study how the owner did it and days after, we were working on our own little project!

So how did we do it? I will make this guide as clear as I can. Hope it helps you out when you make your own garden!:)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Empty Softdrink Bottles
Cutter
Pentel Pen
Latex Paint (if you want to paint the bottles)
Enamel Paint (if you want to paint the bottle caps)
S Hooks
Nylon String
Wire/ Nail
Plants (I think herbs work best with these containers)

STEP 1:

Gather all the softdrink bottles you’ll use. Personally, I prefer to use only one type (same body shape) and color. For our garden, we used 15 bottles because that’s the number of bottles we had in stock. Since we had 2 sizes (1.5 and 2 L), I put the larger ones in the middle of the columns.

STEP 2:

You need to cut the middle part of the bottle (one side only!) to make space for your plant. To make it easier, we drew around the area we wanted to cut (using a pentel pen) then used a cutter to cut through the plastic.

STEP 3:

STEP 3:

Make 2 sets of holes:

a) one on both sides of the cut area (left and right, top and bottom) to make space for the nylon string which you’ll use to hold the bottles together
b) holes on the part of the bottle that wasn’t cut (this should be the bottom middle) to serve as water holes

To do this, we used a soldering iron. A soldering iron is available at hardware stores and it isn’t expensive.

STEP 4:

This isn’t a necessary step if you’re fine with the color (or lack thereof) of your bottles. I chose to go with white paint. The kind we used was latex. Latex will not work on the bottle caps if you want to paint the caps as well. For caps, you should use enamel. My niece and I have a separate project for the caps. Will update you soon!

STEP 5:

Dry the paint! We found S hooks to be the most effective way to dry them. S hooks are available at hardware and home stores.

STEP 6:

Hold the bottles together! We had to measure the gaps in between the columns so they’d all look the same! Anyway, just put in the nylon string in between the nylon string holes (look at Step 3) and make a knot after every bottle to hold it in place.

STEP 6:

Transfer your plants to the containers! We got herbs from Manila Seedling Bank a few days ago, and we got the ones that survive Manila heat (according to the salesperson) the most: Peppermint, Oregano Thyme and Rosemary. We tried planting Cilantro before but it was very hard to keep them alive. Maybe we’ll try again soon!

We also tried planting kangkong seeds in it. Not sure how it will turn out.

Anyway…

STEP 7:

Hang your plant containers! Depending on what you choose to plant, the area has to receive full sun, half sun or indirect sun. We chose herbs (since they don’t grow so tall and don’t need huge spaces) that need direct sunlight so we put it in an area that is directly hit by the afternoon sun. Since our chosen area already had grills on the upper part of the wall, we didn’t need to drill a hole and make space for a large nail. We just turned wires into S hooks then hung our garden columns there. If you don’t have something like our grills, you can drill a hole (depending on your surface, you might not need this), put a large nail and hang the containers there.

So…this project is kind of easy – and quick. You can surely do one, too! I hope this entry helps you! Happy DIY-ing!:)

#KasalanSaPinaglabanan, My Wedding!

This article I wrote was originally published in my sister’s blog. I was married to Charlie Fernandez last February 23, 2013.

For more articles about my wedding, you can check these out:

#KasalanSaPinaglabanan, My Sister’s Wedding by my sister Rica Peralejo
Real Weddings by my good friend Lia Del Castillo
Paula Peralejo ties the knot in Filipiniana Fashion by Rose Garcia

To see our photos and videos (prenup and wedding day), you can check these out:

Prenup Photos by Mango Red Studios
Wedding Wednesday by Patty Laurel-Filart
Wedding Day Video
by Redsheep Cinema (not same day edit. we did not get one)

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While you may call me a social butterfly, I actually like keeping the daily and special events in my life intimate and private in general.

I was never the type to throw parties till dawn, or intentionally celebrate my birthday with a gazillion people, but this was one event I didn’t mind celebrating with hundreds of guests.

Sure, I wanted to keep it as intimate as possible in wedding standards, but knowing how big weddings are in the Philippines, my husband and I both knew it wouldn’t happen that way.

To the brides-to-be, as early as now, I want you to know that it’s normal if not everything you wanted for your wedding (especially if it’s a big one!) actually happens. There will always be requests you can’t say no to, people you need to invite but don’t actually want there, guests who won’t conform to the attire you set and friends/ family members who will do more stress than help during the planning.

There are also those who confirm and don’t come (even if they know that the food is charged per head), and guests who don’t confirm but suddenly show up (even if they know there’s such a thing called seat plan).

That doesn’t mean any of those things are right, and to some extent, it can be annoying, but one thing I’ve learned about my wedding is that it’s not true every bride turns into a bridezilla – even when those unwanted but appraently normal things take place (I had to double check with my maid of honor if I was ever a bridezilla before making this statement, haha).

I am not writing to rant about those things, but it’s important that you know they’re normal – so you don’t feel like you’re the only unfortunate bride-to-be to experience those. Moving on, I would like to tell you more about how our wedding was planned, and how we saved a lot by planning well!

Now, here’s a sad reality: wedding suppliers charge a hefty price in general not because their goods/ services are actually expensive, but because they take advantage of families who are willing to spend A LOT on weddings. After all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, so why not celebrate it in millions? Well, some people have money they don’t mind spending for an event, and if you’re one of those people, then there’s no issue and the suppliers will love you. In return, you don’t have to do many things. You just need to fit your gown and show up at the wedding.

But I’m not one of those people. Even if I had millions (I don’t, by the way), there is NO way I am spending that money on a single event. They say your wedding is the most special day of your life; I say my quality time with my husband everyday is, and that shouldn’t cost me millions.

I am also the type of person who likes to be hands-on on things like these, so I enjoyed planning it with the help of my friends and wedding coordinator Teena Barretto.  While I can say that you don’t necessarily need a coordinator all throughout the process of planning, I believe you still need to hire a coordinator on the day of your wedding. Teena’s team was simply amazing and made my day stress-free!

To tell you honestly, while we were planning our wedding, it wasn’t our goal to make it unique though it turned out to be that way to our guests’ eyes. We just wanted our wedding to conform to our lifestyle and beliefs. We didn’t see the need to do it for the sake of pleasing others. It was OUR wedding, after all.

Basically, we had five requirements for our wedding:

1.    Eco-Friendly – no waste policy as much as possible. We didn’t want to end the night with a lot of beautiful decorations and props that’ll only be thrown at the garbage.

2.    Vegetarian Food – we’ve been vegetarians for at least 5 years for animal and environmental reasons. We didn’t want all our efforts and beliefs to go to waste by going all-meat on our wedding reception. It was one meal for our guests to stand. After all, all of you eat vegetarian food every once in a while – only you don’t know it’s vegetarian and that makes a difference! (think pancakes, French fries, pastas, etc!)

3.    No real flowers – as nature lovers, we don’t like the ironic idea of killing a flower for an event. We would rather see them blooming in the wild or in a garden, so there was a strict no cut flower policy at our wedding.

4.    Filipiniana Theme – Our six years together were full of travels, mostly around the country because one of our goals is to really understand our history and culture more through traveling, so this theme was a no-brainer. We knew right there and then it had to be Filipiniana! We hardly hold events as big as our wedding, it was our chance to show just how beautiful our culture is! This also meant sourcing our materials from the Philippines, which would somehow help the local economy.

5.    Cost-Effective Wedding: We knew hundreds of thousands would be spent for a wedding, but we wanted to spend it on the right things. Just like in our kind of traveling where we’d spend on activities and scrimp on accommodation (cause we just go there to sleep for the night!), we both identified the things worth spending for, and things we would rather scrimp on.

How did we execute it? The secret really is to work with people who support your requirements. It was a breeze for us because our family and friends who helped gave their full support on our wishes and requests!

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Now for the reception…

ENTRYWAY

When Charlie first asked me if I could be his girlfriend, he walked me towards their garden with brown paper bag and candles along the entryway. It was lovely. We repeated this at the wedding but used this non-flammable (and reusable) paper bags from Party Boutique Creatives instead.

entrywayforblog

We had our reception at Charlie’s house so we had to rent tents. And they didn’t come with drapes and all those jazz. So my mother-in-law sourced beige fabric and sewed them herself! Since she rents the same tent for all the other parties, the drapes will be used over and over again.

tent

For the main tent, we put buntings to add a touch of Filipino fiesta but we used scrap fabric from a friend’s clothing factory. We cut it with the help of our friends, stapled them one by one on a nylon string and hung them on the main tent! This cost us nothing since we used scrap fabric and existing strings!

buntings

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My husband has a lot of jutesacks in stock because that’s how soybeans are delivered to him for his soy business. So my niece/ Maid of Honor Nica sewed them and turned them into table runners and utensil/ napkin holders! We just steamed them to polish the look.

We wanted things in the table to be recyclable or reusable so we used Charlie’s mom’s existing hurricane lamps with palayok underneath. As suggested by our coordinator’s team, we added coffee beans on the palayok to complete the look. But of course we didn’t want the coffee beans to be wasted, so my niece thought of putting buttons on the utensil holders so the guests can put the coffee beans inside and use them to fertilize that plants we gave as souvenir!  Brilliant idea. I spent nights sewing the buttons myself (Charlie’s mom’s helpers also did some of the sewing).

For the VIP tables, we used the same table runner but instead of putting the lamps with palayoks, we used existing transparent bottles, put twigs (bought from Dapitan Arcade) with angel’s breath-like decorations and existing mason jars with coffee beans inside and a jute ribbon string outside. My niece also used existing styro balls and covered it with white crepe paper just to give the look a little more party vibe.

SOUVENIR:

For our souvenir, my mother-in-law decided to plant basil, cilantro and ashitava! I made the Thank You cards attached to it with description of the plant.

muntinghandog

VEGETARIAN FOOD:

We originally wanted our caterer to be a vegetarian restaurant and found one we liked. Unfortunately, they never got back to us with their rates so we ended up getting a wedding supplier who agreed to serve vegetarian food. The food wasn’t Filipiniana because we knew people would look for meat in kare-kare or sinigang ang the like, but we made up for this by serving Filipiniana cocktails. We had taho from Taho Bar, sorbetes, kesong puti (all the way from Cebu) with Pandesal, bibingka and putobumbong!

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We also gave these Pastillas from Bulacan as prizes And since no Filipiniana event forgets lechon, we decided to have lechon as our wedding cake!

merrymacarons

Our friend who owns the super yummy Merry Macarons also gifted us with a macaron tower (which everyone loved!) but I was pleasantly surprised that she even made it Filipiniana by using our invitation’s logo! Beautiful and sweet!

NO REAL FLOWER POLICY:

We found some lovely paper roses from Dapitan Arcade and my niece turned it into an eye-candy! Even our photographer and videographer loved it. Now my mom is using them as home decoration.

paperroses

It was a bit of a challenge to exclude flowers for a big event, but it can definitely be done!

FILIPINIANA:

From our invitation down to the photobooth, we wanted it to be as Filipiniana as possible.

The cover of our invitation was a list of Philippine history, making the 6th history (on our 6thyear) about our wedding. It was written in pure Filipino (to the nightmare of our guests) which our friend Jboy Gonzales translated for us (you rock, pads!).

invitationdhistory

For my gown, I went to the library of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and found a book Patterns for the Filipino Dress (which I now have a copy of). I used this as inspiration for my gown and showed it to my designer Rosalyn Lagdameo. From there, she designed Charlie’s barong and the female entourage’s elegant Filipinianas. You might be wondering why I didn’t go for an all-white gown (in western style using pina cloth like most brides in Filipiniana style do). It wasn’t my intention to be “different”, but I certainly did not want to own an expensive gown I won’t be able to use again because it was shouting BRIDE all over. I wanted my gown to be reusable. So I opted for a beautiful Filipiniana piece, which I can now reuse for the next Filipiniana event. I love how Rosalyn understood this reasoning of mine and made sure to keep my train short (or I’d still be looking like a bride on the next Filipiniana event). It was traditional, but not normal for weddings. For my shoes, I went all out and wore a bakya which I had carved from Paete, Laguna.

filipinogown

Grupo La Tercera sent me a beautiful bridal robe, too, and since I told them it was going to be a Filipiniana wedding, they chose this lacey design for me! My only booboo was that I forgot to tell them to write Gng. instead of Mrs. But I love how it went with the Filipiniana theme.

latercera

The music was mostly Filipino. For the cocktails, our favorite Folk CD “BAHAY KUBO: Timeless Filipino Folk Music” was playing. They were beautiful renditions of folk songs like Bahay Kubo and Leron, Leron Sinta. For the dinner, Manila Philharmonic Orchestra played pop songs from the 70’s and 80’s such as Dahil Sayo and Gaano Kita Kamahal.

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The photobooth was our favorite. We decided to buy Filipiniana props that would be useful to us again, so we ended up buying a bunch of wood frames (PHP 900 in total) from Bangkal (which we refurbished) and hung them on the trees to make them look like frames from your Lola’s house.

PHOTOBOOTHSETUP

We then came up with interesting Filipiniana props! This was the result!

PHOTOBOOTH-1

Our gifts were also Filipiniana.

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COST EFFECTIVE WEDDING

Like I said, we identified the things we were willing to spend on, and for me, there were only 2:

PHOTOGRAPHER AND MAKE-UP

Why? When the wedding is finished and all that jazz is gone, you’re only left with photos, and it would suck if you’re not happy with them. So scrimping on a photographer was a no-no for us, and as for the make-up artist, well, if your make-up isn’t lovely, then you’d look bad in your photos, too! But I think it’s not about getting the top make-up artists in the industry; it’s more about finding the one that complements your face. That person may not charge high but really works for you. We’re lucky enough to be accommodated by our first photographer choice, Mango Red. It was really a pleasure working with them from the prenup to the wedding.

Then of course there are things we weren’t willing to spend for, and my best example would be our wedding cake. I initially wanted a three-tiered cake that looks like a banig (we collect mats from all over the country, that’s why!) but when I asked this big wedding cake supplier, she quoted me PHP 56,000 for a cake! It was more expensive than my gown (I had thoughts of wearing that cake instead hahaha!) but honestly, I couldn’t fathom the thought of spending that much for a cake. I can think of many ways to make me happy using PHP 56,000, and buying a cake is not in that list. Someone told me that she can ask that supplier to sponsor my cake, but I told her nevermind, because I couldn’t in my heart advertise that cake even if it were to be given to me for free!!! No offense meant to them, but that’s just really a funny price.  So I continuously searched and surfed, and I was lead to Nothing But C’s multiply account. She sells Lechon Cake and for a big one (mine was 35 inches), it cost us PHP 6,300 (PHP 300 for shipping). Imagine that? And that cake, of all things, was such a hit. So much that I think it was the most tagged photo in our hashtag #kasalansapinaglabanan (in Instagram) and people actually ate it after our “cutting of the cake” part (it was really good, too! All chocolate cake inside).

So was our wedding cost-effective? We answer with a resounding yes.

Our wedding was a happy, successful event because it was really a labor of love. It wasn’t just about us, but about the people who we love and love us back as well. Our speech in the wedding was long even though all it contained were thank you’s to people who helped us all throughout. You know who you guys are and we’ll forever be grateful for your love, help, and support.

My brother-in-law Joseph Bonifacio couldn’t have described our wedding better: “Nationalism, vegetarianism, cause-orientedness, bound up in a promise of lifelong love.”

Now that our wedding is done, I’d like to recommend suppliers we really had a pleasure working with, and you can use them for your wedding or future events:

PS: No, they weren’t sponsors. We paid for MOST of them (minus some that gifted us with their service cause they were our friends) and we just really like to help!:)

Wedding Coordinator: Hitched Events (Teena Barretto)

Photographer: Mango Red

Videographer: Red Sheep

Make-up Artists: Pia Reyes and Kai Fortuno

Lechon Cake: Nothing But C

Macarons: Merry Macarons

Party Props (our Luminaries): Party Boutique Creatives

Bridal Robes: Grupo La Tercera (they can work depending on your budget)

Photobooth: FunShots Photobooth

Gown Designer: Rosalyn Lagdameo (she’s really good, has great taste, is known for great fitting, and doesn’t charge as much as other designers)

Tent: Pancipane

Invitation Design: Anna Cristobal

Nails: Posh Nails

DJ: DJ Alvin De Guzman

Thank you for reading this long blog. I hope this helps you plan your wedding, someone else’s wedding, or a different event. :)

Why We Travel

*This was first posted in our wedding website for our guests. We will soon take the website down so I’m transferring the text here.

They say traveling is one of the best gifts you could ever reward yourself with. And we agree. For a few years now, we’ve been on a quest to explore every corner of the Philippines, walking on unpaved roads surrounded by landscapes that are both strange and familiar. Often, we get asked by friends, family, even strangers, why we travel, and most of the time, our response doesn’t fully encapsulate the true reasons behind our deep desire to not just be on the road but also to embrace and to immerse ourselves in our country and the world’s diverse beauty and rich culture.

 Perhaps, now is the best time for us to really answer that question. There’s no short and quick way to do it, so we give you memories, thoughts, and moments from our journeys that remind us why we travel and why our backpacks will never sit idly in the closet for long.

We travel . . .

to catch the sunrise

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then watch nature transform as the day breaks

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to witness the sunset

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to hear the calls of wilderness

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or feel one with nature

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and closely admire its wonders

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to practice our interest in taking photographs

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to laze under the sun

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and search for the best beaches wherever we are

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to camp under the stars

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to explore the sea’s depths

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and have a deeper understanding of a complex life system where humans can’t live

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to be awed by the views from the mountain

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to walk along busy streets

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and empty alleys

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to clear our heads from the noise and distractions of everyday life

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to admire man’s creation

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and understand our history

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by hearing tales from the past

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or experiencing things first hand

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and meeting people from all walks of life

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to say yes to adventure

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and let go of our fears

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to be a tool in making others experience new things

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to understand what it means to enjoy life’s simple pleasures

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and lift our moods simply by staring at breathtaking sceneries

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to have a deeper appreciation for all things handmade

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and learn patience as we watch elders work all day

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to hug a stranger

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and make this world a little better

by reaching out to those who are less fortunate than us

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or helping out in whatever way we can

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to make at least one person happier

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and allow others to contribute to our happiness

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to meet ordinary people who become our inspiration

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and to learn a lot from their strength

DSC_0037to learn more about others’ cultures

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or religions

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and destroy our prejudices

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to go somewhere fresh

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and be welcomed only with light hearts, warm smiles, and good vibes

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to remind ourselves that no matter how different we all are, at the end of the day, we are more of “same same”

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to meet people who have the same passion

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and form friendships that know no boundaries

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to continuously prove to ourselves and to others that kindness is universal

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and that smile goes a long way

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to remind ourselves that there are issues much bigger than ours

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and to help address the concerns we believe in however small our contribution may be

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On the road, the moments are priceless; the lessons even more so. They say that experience is the best teacher, and we agree. This big world is our classroom, and each time we travel, we’d like to think that we somehow make it smaller as we grow in understanding and compassion.

As we travel together, we look back with no regrets, only beautiful memories. Our sort of nomadic life continuously assures us that we are living in the moment, making the most of the now. And it becomes a lot more meaningful and memorable because we do it together. Nothing can ever replace our experiences, and when we’re already old with gray hair, we know for a fact we’ll have all these good times and a multitude of lessons to look back at and gladly remember.

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Photo Credits:
To Catch The Sunrise – Jun Osano
To Feel One With Nature – Jasmin Meren
To Explore the Sea’s Depths – Albert Kang
To Be Awed by the Views from the Mountain – Carla Peralejo
To Meet People Who Have The Same Passion
– James Betia
Last Photo (Ayutthaya, Thailand) – Kay Vatanasombut

Beach Camping in Pangasinan

You want to know a secret? After covering more than half of this country’s 80 provinces, I haven’t been to the Hundred Islands of Pangasinan until a few weeks ago. Yes, Hundred Islands of Alaminos, one of the most famous postcard destinations since the 1990’s! (or maybe even before that!)

No, I’m not kidding. Well, my mom says she took me there when I was little; but that doesn’t count.

Pangasinan is such a HUGE province with so many things to do, and I am the type of traveler who’d rather explore one province and see all its gems, than to combine 2 or more provinces over the long weekend just to tick more off my list.

So for years, I’d happily give up X number of provinces on a long weekend to explore just one province. By this time, I could have finished all of my country’s 80 provinces if I traveled that way, but for me, that would be cheating. And with the number of interests I have (it’s growing per second!), a few days worth of vacation aren’t even enough to cover all of them in one province alone! From historical sites to cultural gems to cave exploration to trekking to hiking to scuba diving to snorkeling to island hopping to birding and to any other wildlife related thing, you can just imagine how I feel whenever I make my itinerary. It’s so long I have to cut it down, but I feel that’s betrayal to the destinations each time! The only places I don’t visit in the list of tourist destinations are the captive animal facilities or places that support animal cruelty.

But, Pangasinan has always been on the list, and time came when my birder friends and I were discussing where to go for the weekend. Somehow, Hundred Islands made it to the list and as if fate had planned it, none of us have ever been there! And then, I thought about the other places I want to visit in Pangasinan and realized that since I don’t have to fly to Pangasinan, I could just go back for the other sites on other weekends. My travel buddy slash boyfriend Charlie and I can drive to Pangasinan some other time to explore the other towns!

And so, Pangasinan became my spur-of-the-moment destination. Too bad our birder friends cancelled last minute. So in the end, it was just me, my boyfriend Charlie and my bestfriend Voltaire.

The Hundred Islands is, as expected, Pangasinan’s must see destination when you’re heading up north. The view of the islands from Governor’s Island (which would be your first stop in your island hopping tour) is spectacular. All that cardio going up to the top is worth it. From Governor’s Island, your next stop would be Children’s Island and when it’s high tide, there’s no shore in sight. We skipped that island and proceeded to the last stop for the basic package: Quezon Island. This is where we were supposed to set up our tent and camp for the night. We were told there were cottages with electricity for P2,000 a night, but we insisted that we wanted to camp.

When we got there, however, it was crowded! The beach wasn’t really big for us to have a “private” area, and we were told that since Quezon Island is a major stop for daytrippers, we couldn’t set up until 5:00 in the afternoon, and it was just 2:00 then. Ready to give up and just sleep in a hotel in Alaminos, I took one last chance and asked the tourism guy if there was any way we could sleep in a less crowded island (I thought this was hopeless cause the front desk officer told us we could only sleep in either Quezon or Governor’s Island.) To our surprise, he told us we actually could, but that it was a very small, undeveloped island. “Undeveloped” was music to my ears! In less than a minute, we were out of Quezon Island and were on our way to Old Scout Island, where we were dropped off by our boatman to spend the night on a tiny island – with no freshwater, no electricity, no signal. Sarcasm aside, it was really a small piece of heaven here on Earth (for me atleast!).

As soon as the boatmen left, we set up our tent, our “restroom” (thank God we bought freshwater before we left the mainland), our dining area and our hangout area. Okay, let me rephrase that. Charlie set up the tent while I was sitting on the calm, shallow waters of Old Scout Island. It’s amazing that of all 124 islands (123 when it’s high tide!), we were brought there. It was somehow hidden and covered, hence the calm waters. Just a few meters out and the waves were already crazy!

And so…our beach camping began. Beach camping is one of my most favorite travel activities! It’s an easy take on camping for one, which means I don’t have to budget-pack! I can bring my speakers, my books, extra tents, etc. cause no major hiking is required in most of the beaches. It’s also comforting to know that if ever it gets too hot, I can always take a dip in my very own beach! So, with everything ready, the three of us just really relaxed and made the most of our lazy day (if that even makes sense!) I’ll just let the photos do the talking:

Our day ended with a packed vegetarian dinner (veggie meat adobo & rice). And then, our long night began. It seemed like forever when the three of us lay on the mat, talking, stargazing (thank you Stellarium App!), planetgazing (we actually spotted Venus and Jupiter!) listening to music, reading, playing cards and finally, dozing off as the waves lulled us to sleep. I think we spent more time sleeping outside (constantly having a battle with the windbreeze) than actually sleeping in the tent!

I think it’s wonderful how time runs so slow when you’re one with nature. It took forever for the sun to come up, but bored we were not! I woke up early though, because a Pied Fantail was already singing by daybreak. How lovely to wake up to a bird’s call! Half an hour later, our boatmen arrived and we began our “extra” island hopping. We paid P800 more to see more islands. The rate isn’t bad at all! We first stopped at Coral Garden where we were supposed to snorkel. But it’s jellyfish season, so after a minute underwater, I got so paranoid with the jellyfish literally just around my corners!

We visited a few more islands (or our boatmen would point islands to us and give the names), but my favorites would be Marcos Island where you can jump to Imelda Cave and swim your way out; and Magsaysay Island. It’s great we woke up early and got to Marcos Island early. By the time we left, more and more boats were on their way to the docking area! I liked the beach of Magsaysay Island, and it had small rock formations that were worth seeing, too! Being a birder, I requested the boatman to take us where the birds where. It seemed like he only knew where the Philippine Ducks were, so that’s where he took us, but it was still great. There were about 40 of them on water when we arrived. No matter how many times I’ve seen Philippine Ducks, they’re always candy to my eyes, especially when in flight!

Our last stop was in Bat Island. We didn’t go down (you can’t!) but our boatman slowed the boat down while we passed so we could observe the sleeping bats. Good thing we had our binoculars with us, so we had an even better view.

By 10:00 am, we were back in the mainland where we hurriedly carried our things back to the car so we could make it to Tondol Beach in Anda, Pangasinan (which they say is one of the most beautiful beaches up north!) before high tide.

Post on Tondol to follow.

*****

TRAVEL TIME:

Alaminos, Pangasinan is about 4 hours away from Metro Manila. Hundred Islands is located in Barangay (Brgy.) Lucap, Alaminos, Pangasinan. There are many signs leading to the jump off point. Go directly to the Tourism Office Center to avail of their standard rates.

TIPS:

1. The Hundred Islands National Park is about 30 minutes away from the jump off point. Boats go back and forth the islands until 5:00 pm but it’s better to go early to avoid waiting or getting stuck in crowded beaches.

2. If you’re planning to camp at Governor’s Island or Quezon Island, (staying overnight would be the best way to maximize the islands!), I suggest do the island hopping to the other islands (extra pay) on your first day and then go to your campsite late since you can only set up camp after all the day-trippers have gone.Governor’s Island and Quezon Island are “developed” so if you’re looking for convenience, stay here. They have sari-sari stores, electricity (not sure if it’s the whole day) and restrooms.

3. If you plan to go island hopping the next day, wake up early so the day-trippers/ other tourists aren’t that many yet when you tour the islands.

4. There are many things to do in the islands. You can even kayak, explore caves, parasail and snorkel/ dive!

5. Pay extra and explore the other islands!

6. If you’ll camp and you have a car with you, bring coolers, freshwater, etc to avoid paying extra for them.

OUR COST BREAKDOWN:

PHP 1,400/ boat (good for 5 people) – will take you to Governor’s Island, Quezon Island & Children’s Island, overnight rate
PHP 800/ boat (good for 5) – will take you to the other islands (there are 21 islands people can explore!)
PHP 40/head entrance fee – overnight rate
PHP 75/ container of freshwater
PHP 75/ overnight rate of lifevests
PHP 200/ tip to boatman

=

P990/ person for a group of 3

* We brought our own meals and camping stuff.
* There’s a tent fee (PHP200) if you set up at Quezon or Governor’s Island. We weren’t asked to pay for this since we slept in a different island.

BEACH CAMPING ESSENTIALS:

* Tent
* Earth Pad/ Sleeping Bag
* Food (portable cooking set if you’ll cook, or you can bring packed meals)
* Garbage Bag (please, please, please, do not leave your garbage!)
* Water
* Waterproof Bags (or rain covers for your backpacks)
* Personal Stuff – clothes, toiletries, towel, books, etc
* Fan (when it gets hot!)
* Insect Repellant/ Sunblock/ Tanning Oil
* Sarong
* Flashlight and Headlamp

ONLINE HELP:
Hundred Islands Site

Welcome Message Part ?

In October 2003, I gave in to the crazy world of blogging. Back then, I didn’t really know what it entailed, considering how ironic I thought it was to own a “public diary”, most especially because I honestly couldn’t recall writing on a real one. Two months later, I moved from Blogger to Xanga, and it became my little piece of heaven for three years in the world wide web.

With me writing my opinions and thoughts on most of the everyday things that baffled me, you could say my blog was quite a controversial one. It wasn’t always liked, but oftentimes, I was given praises for being vocal about my beliefs. Those were the years when I was really shaping my values, and somehow, my blog served as one of my greatest teachers. Comments from other people taught me things, and my blog somehow taught others, too. It was, I would say, a symbiotic relationship between me and most of my readers, and whether we agreed or disagreed on my thoughts and beliefs, there was always a lesson learned at the end of the day. Truth be told, some of the people I consider my greatest friends are ones I met online.

Time went by, I got busier and somehow, blogging got lost in the process. As is the case most of the time, it’s harder to go back that to start something, hence, the title of this post.

For years, I’ve been registering blogs – from Xanga to Blogger to Livejournal to god-knows-I-already-forgot-the-famous-blog-hosts-back-then and of late, to Tumblr and finally, WordPress.

As the world evolves, so does the internet. While I was happy with PhotoBucket back then, now you have Multiply, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc to parade your photos. Blogging had greatly evolved, too. Back then, atleast in the blogging community where I was accustomed, it was purely a “diary” for many of us. It was a sanctuary we had in this chaotic world, and so, all eager to share our thoughts (without anybody interrupting us while we were talking), it formed a compassionate relationship among us, making each other feel as if we really knew the person whose blog we read, because it is where his/her deepest emotions, thoughts and beliefs were shared. Having been absent from the blogosphere, I honestly don’t know if blogs like those still exist.

Blogging, in my opinion, has somewhat evolved as a means of making money, or a way to showcase some of the things you think you’re good at. Now, I meet people who start blogs primarily to earn. It has become some sort of job. It has even become a portal for promotions and giveaways from different brands and companies! Bloggers now celebrate their “anniversaries” or “birthdays” or whatever occasion with giveaways! And boy, it has become even more user-friendly, too. Now you can like posts, reblog or retweet them!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against all these. I just haven’t caught up with the trend. But with that in mind, I might as well cope and write about the things you can say I’m good at, with TRAVELING on top of the list. You see, in 2006, after I quit the blogging world, I started a new adventure: traveling. No, it wasn’t my first time to travel in 2006, but it started my love affair with traveling. What began as an adventure-injected summer break (I did all kinds of stuff – including wall climbing, Yoga, wakeboarding and scuba diving! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I was “almost” a homebody before all those!) ended up with me, becoming as my sister from another mother Jude Bacalso pointed out, a fernweh, a German word that literally means “farsickness”; someone who has an ache for distance. Figuratively speaking, a wanderlust. In December that year, my sister invited me to join a climb to the country’s 3rd highest peak – Mount Pulag. Without any skills on climbing or even owning the right gears, I said yes! And I must say, that was one of my best trips ever. I literally didn’t know what I was going into. I just took the plunge and came out with so many realizations – about myself, my country and the things I actually had the power to do!

To make it an even longer lasting love affair with traveling, in June of 2007, I signed up in a Tourism elective and took the class of  one of the greatest professors on Filipino culture whom I now call my mentor: Professor Felipe De Leon, Jr. Now the chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, this amazing man who ran faster than us inside the caves of Sagada and hiked faster than we did at the rice terraces of Banaue became one of my life’s sweetest surprises. His teachings greatly challenged me, making me realize how much I didn’t know about my country, and how much I had to unlearn, relearn and learn. He has literally made me fall in love with my country. And I tell you, I was once one of those people who thought this country was hopeless!

At that point, I realized, that I couldn’t talk about my country without KNOWING my country. I felt that for me to able to have valid opinions about my country, I had to go around and see it. And so, the quest to finish the Philippines’s 80 provinces began.

Since then, I haven’t stopped traveling, making sure I go out of Metro Manila atleast once a month.

5 years later, I am still at awe with the beauty of my country. And this is what I plan to share to all of you, hoping I can make a positive change for my country, one blog at a time.

I suppose this is already a lengthy post, so enough with the words, sit back, relax and see the world with me! 🙂
PS: This blog will not be all about traveling or domestic travels. Expect bits of other things that interest me in my everyday life (especially when I’m not on the road exploring new sites!)