Extreme Family Adventures in the Sand Dunes of Laoag (video)

Extreme Family Adventures in the Sand Dunes of Laoag (video)

LAOAG CITY. MAY 2, 2014. – It’s the second and last day of our Ilocos family road trip. We just visited the bell tower ruins of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. Our next stop in our very busy itinerary for the day: the sand dunes of La Paz in Laoag City.

We arrived in the sand dunes of Laoag City around 1:00PM. Not the ideal time to do any of the activities waiting for us in the sand dunes. We know that all too well but we really did not have much choice. That was the only available time for us to visit the place.

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All Strings Attached

FIRST, I have to give credit to Marielle for creating this cheesy but quite appropriate photo art (using Photofunia, I assume).

Marie is actually complaining about this photo. She said that to be fair, Marielle should have also used her college graduation photo. But that would not have made the photo right either, because although Marielle used my graduation photo (According to her it is the only decent enough photo of me that she could find. Ouch!), it was actually taken during my MBA graduation just about 5 years ago.

Setting aside our frivolous complaints, Marielle actually made a photo that perfectly captures the very essence of the last 12 years. Yes, it’s been 12 years that Marie and I have been stringed and attached together. As far as I can tell neither of us is complaining. Or maybe I should speak only for myself, LOL.

Our life together isn’t perfect and between the two of us there are still many dreams that are yet to be realized. But our own personal dreams have now been set aside in favor of our dreams for – and the personal dreams of – our two wonderful kids, Marielle (9) and Johan (7). I guess you can say that Marielle and Johan are the strings that bind us together, forever.


Bong and Johan: Football Superstars

JUST FOR FUN, Marielle superimposed photos of me and Johan in this photo (using Photofunia). And then we all had a good laugh about it. My ex-girlfriend commented that I actually look good when morphed into a a football superstar’s physique. Haha, was that wishful thinking on her part? Maybe I should start playing football.

Superb Cultural Dance Presentation @ Villa Escudero

Every day, the cultural dance troupe of Villa Escudero gives a world-class presentation to local and foreign visitors to this Filipino-culture-themed park near the boundary of Laguna and Quezon provinces.

My family visited Villa Escudero in May 2011. Villa Escudero impressed me a lot, so much so that I actually wrote and posted three articles about it in this blog. This one is the fourth.

I am very glad that my kids – Marielle (9) and Johan (7) and their cousin, Marian Rose (7), have been introduced to traditional Filipino folk songs and dances early on. And I am doubly glad that this introduction was by way of Villa Escudero, as it undoubtedly left only positive impressions on them.

Villa Escudero and its cultural presentation are definitely two must-sees by tourists and visitors. As a Filipino, they make me really proud.


In the photo with the the Villa Escudero cultural dance troupe members are my sister-in-law, Mary Ann (standing in the middle, wearing white shirt), my sister Orchid (seated, 2nd from left), Johan, my ever cool and beautiful Nanay Paz, my niece Marian Rose, and Marielle.


Destination: Marinduque

Trip to Marinduque

DECEMBER 2, 2011 – For our annual family vacation to celebrate our wedding anniversary this year, my xxGF and I brought Marielle and Johan to a still undisclosed place somewhere in Marinduque (i.e. the kids did not have any idea where exactly we were going until we got there). Read more

“Nanny” for a Day

THE WORD NANNY has always assumed a female gender, and there really is no word for its male equivalent, is there? I googled it just now and all I got is “male nanny.” I guess I’ll just stick to “nanny” in referring to myself in this very short tale I would like to share. After all, it was just for a day. Only for a few hours on August 5, actually.

Parents and nannies waiting for their wards in a pre-school in Paranaque City

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Around Sentosa, part 2 of 3

MAY 30, 2011, SINGAPORE – On the 3rd day of our Singapore Family vacation we explored the many attractions of Sentosa (exclusive of Universal Studios Singapore and Resort World Sentosa). Several years ago I used to tell friends that Singapore is so small you can visit all its attractions in just two days. That’s not true anymore (and I am eating my words!). Now you need a full week, maybe even 10 days, to explore all that Singapore has to offer. The people running tourism in Singapore are amazing. They are able to offer more with whatever little piece of real estate they have. I hope I can say the same for the Philippines in the not so distant future. Read more

Happy 2nd Birthday, Mario


Johan and Mario

MARIO celebrated his 2nd birthday on July 28. Marielle read somewhere that a dog year is equivalent to approximately seven human years.  That would make Mario 14 years old!

Johan finds the idea that Marielle is no longer the eldest “kid” in the family somewhat amusing. My ex-exgirlfriend and I suddenly realized that we have an adolescent in the house, and find the idea somewhat unsettling. Are we supposed to be worried?

Mario, meanwhile, has grown much bigger and heavier. We never thought a shih-tzu would grow that big.  But of course Mario is not just a Shih-tzu. He’s a Pug, too.

At two years of age Mario behaves much like a 14-year old adolescent would; He gets excited every time a lady dog is nearby; He would pick fights with other male dogs, even those twice or three times his size; He eats a lot; He has a bad case of body odor; And he is as adorable as ever.

Happy birthday, Mario. And no, you cannot bring girls home. And yes, you have to take a bath more often.


A Taste of the ‘Suite Life’

MY FAMILY had a taste, albeit briefly, of the “suite life” one weekend in July 2011.  It was July 9, a day after Marielle’s 8th birthday.

About a month from that particular weekend my sister Kiddo gave us a Gift Certificate for an overnight stay in Peninsula Hotel Manila.  She didn’t know what she was giving away.  It was not for an ordinary room.  It was for a Premium Suite. We decided to use it on the weekend following July 8, Marielle’s birthday.

We did not stay in the Premium Suite, however.  Guess what?  We’ve been upgraded to an Executive Suite!!!  Holly molly wow!

Of course curiosity got the better of us and even while still in Manila Pen, using Manila Pen’s complimentary Super fast Wi-Fi, we googled the rates of Manila Pen’s rooms.

The original Premium Suite costs at least PhP 14,000+++ per room night.  Wow. But wait, we didn’t stay in a Premium Suite, remember?  So how much does an Executive Suite cost?

At least PhP 20,500+++.  WOW!!!  Even if we could afford it, and we couldn’t, we would not have paid for that room.  Thanks a lot, Kiddo!  We love you oh so very much. :)

PS>  View the complete set of our Manila Pen photos in my Picasa Web Album.


A visit to Villa Escudero. Finally

I’VE LONG wished to visit Villa Escudero but somehow never got the opportunity to do so.  Until May 22, 2011 that is.

Villa Escudero is not a new attraction.  I remember that the first time I heard about it (and planned to visit it) was like 15 years ago (that means I was like 7 years old then, LOL). Read more

Two Bored “Aliens”

WAIT these are not aliens.  These are my kids, Johan and Marielle!

These are the sort of stuff that one might get while in a 3-hour no-frills flight with two bored kids and a MacBook.

I quite accidentally discovered these in my Mac’s hard drive when I was wondering why my storage usage seemed approximately 2GB more than expected.

I randomly chose these from almost a thousand of photos taken from my Mac’s Photo Booth.

Bohol Resort Hopping. 2nd Stop: Amarella Resort

NO IT IS NOT related to Amorita, the first hotel we stayed in during our Bohol vacation.  Yes it is another beee-a-u-tiful resort-hotel.

I will have to tip the hat to my xxGF for finding great resort-hotels.  The credits are all hers. Not only are our resort-hotels in Bohol beautiful.  Their names even rhyme!  Beat that.

If Amorita has a great infinity pool with a perfect hilltop view of the dreamy and famous Alona Beach of Panglao Island, Amarella offers an idyllic atmosphere with its rustic and colorful indoor and outdoor ambiance.

The whole place is inspired by artworks and old-world amenities.  The furnitures and fixtures inside the rooms were made to look and feel like antiques.  The bed cover is crocheted.  Inside the bedroom there’s a cute little bath tub, a wood-paneled wall, and windowsill also made of wood.

Each room has a veranda, too.  Ours was overlooking a manicured garden with colorful tropical bouganvilla and gumamela flowers, the swimming pool, and the sea a little further down.

Amarella has its own little art museum, where the owner’s personal collections are apparently kept – and shared to interested guests.  There’s also a library with an interesting collection of both old and new books, as well as old and new DVDs.

There are artworks everywhere.  Inside the rooms, in the walls along the corridors, in the lobby, in the gardens…  The whole place may as well have been a big art gallery.

At night the breeze from the sea is so loud and calming at the same time.

Amarella also offers an access to the sea.  Its beach front is quite good.  The beach is shallow, flat and safe for kids.  It offers little beneath the surface, however.