Friday, April 18, 2014

A Weekend Retreat

My constant road trip buddies, my college friends frustrated from a cancelled flight to an island destination were determined to leave the city for another weekend getaway. Nobody wanted to unpack their vacation bags and by sheer determination, it took us less than hour over breakfast to plan this road trip to Batangas.
Laiya, San Juan, Batangas is an hour away from the Lipa exit of STAR Highway. I've often wondered why it's called STAR, maybe because the Governor of Batangas is our much loved Star For All Seasons, I thought. Well, after much Google-ing, I found out that it stands for Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, how unromantic!
From our van, we booked an overnight stay at the Coco Grove beach resort, the package that comes with free buffet meals was very reasonable. The tree houses were comfortable and one could just watch the waves from the balcony.
As we get older, nature becomes our best friend and confidant. Long drives and the laughter that goes with it works better than hypertension medicines. Prayers calm you more than Valium.
Happiness is a choice and sometimes just a Google away.

A refreshing sight, the road to Laiya, San Juan, Batangas lined with Mahogany trees.

Coco Grove

Tree house accommodations in Coco Grove.

Bukayo, sweetened strips of coconut meat.

My friend Beth braving the waves.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Mediatrix built on a 1.5-hectare lot banker/art lover/philanthropist Danny Dolor donated to the Parish of Lipa City.

The main altar of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mediatrix.

Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, Carmelite Convent, Lipa City

The beautiful rose window of the chapel.

The garden where it is believed, the Virgin Mary appeared before Sr. Teresita Castillo.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Breakfast At Third District

I love breakfast food, I love bacon and eggs, I love coffee. One sunny morning, I met up with my friend Dom Hernandez at his newly opened cafe to try my favorite breakfast fare.
Third District is located at the corner of Esteban Abada and Rosa Alvero Sts., behind Katipunan Avenue across Ateneo University. Upon entering, I was reminded of Central Perk, the coffee shop in the TV series Friends. A brick wall painted white, another wall with a couple of artworks, unpretentious drop lights and buttoned couches, it was invitingly cozy.
I had my yummy fill of waffle, bacon, eggs and coffee and it felt like I was in Central Perk with a real good friend.

I love this shade of blue!

One of Third District's owners, my good friend Dom Hernandez.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Remembrance Of Things Past

Summer has always reminded me of my childhood. As school year ends, my brothers and I would pack our bags and spend our vacation with our grandparents. Two months of carefree afternoons in my hometown of Bauan, Batangas. We would get as dark as fried chicken from too much dipping in the nearby Anilao beach and playing in the town plaza. The Balayong trees, our version of the cherry were in full bloom at the Church courtyard. I look forward to the Holy Tuesday and Good Friday processions. The ivory images of saints, apostles, the Blessed Mother and Jesus dressed in velvet and brocade were my first fashion spectacles.
I recently went back to visit, my grandparents long gone, their former house torn down. The Balayong trees were gone too and what remains is a huge paved parking lot. Except for the panciteria, there was little to remind me of the once breezy town where everyone knew each other, where one can walk from house to house.
Bauan has taken another form and so did summer, and I've started to advocate planting Balayong trees.

Summer of yore, Jake 7, JC 10 and JB 9.

The remodelled Church of the Immaculate Concepcion.

One of the few remaining old houses on Don Quintin Castillo St.

Tia Nene's former house.

24/7 construction where my grandparent's house used to be.

Good old Romy's Panciteria.

Pancit Miki

"Pupod" Pork Chicharon

Modern day panciteria, McDonald's.

Cadena de Amor.

Thank God! Heritage advocates Belen Marquez and Fe Ferrer opposed the cutting of the town cemetery's 162 year old Acacia tree.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Filipino "Shabby Chic"

On our way back to Manila from San Juan, we made a stop-over in Dagupan, Pangasinan for late lunch and a visit to another dear friend from college, Ivi Crisologo-Dimasuay. Ivi and her husband Arnel are both based here in Dagupan City, where they have a design showroom of beautiful furniture made from mostly recycled wood. On the floor above the showroom is their home where every nook has a story to tell, from old gasoline containers turned lamps to capiz window shutters simulated to look like real window shutters.
Ivi is still the same sweet soul I knew from college and Arnel who I met for the first time comes across as sincerely kind.
The warmth of wood and the warmth of the Dimasuay family, both joys to keep forever.

Arnel and Ivi Dimasuay

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

San Juan In Fourteen Hours

It was a long drive from San Jose, Tarlac to San Juan, La Union, we reached Cube-O-Grill at half past nine in the evening where our friend Maria Antonia was treating us to dinner. It was her birthday month and it was the perfect opportunity for us to see her hometown. San Juan is popular among surfers because of its huge waves and its proximity to Manila. Oh, but we didn't come for the waves, we came for the Bagnet!
We spent the night at the charmingly rustic Final Option Beach Resort, yes, it is called Final Option. The sea breeze and the sound of the waves lulled me to sleep, the kind of sleep that didn't have dreams, it was the best I've had in years.
The following morning was relaxed, a morning stroll at the beach and late breakfast. After our usual banter, we packed our bags and started the road adventure back to Manila.

San Jose to San Juan

Late dinner at Cube-O-Grill.

Oh, we didn't come for the waves, we came for the Bagnet! (photo by Marita Nagar)

Charmingly rustic, Final Option Beach Resort (yes, the resort is named Final Option)

Morning stroll. (photo by Maryann Galeno)

Kahuna's beach front.

Stopping for some cold tea at Moonleaf.

Surf board post-its.

I forgot what flavour I got, but I finished it in two minutes.