Posted in Uncategorized

MY ONLY BROTHER’S WEDDING


I went home for my only brother’s wedding.

I had makeup workshops and shoots in between helping them with wedding prep. I was specifically in-charge of the family presentation. I had to teach everyone the routine my brother and I choreographed together from top to bottom. It was extra-challenging because folks are flying from the US to the Philippines and arriving on different dates so I had to teach them per group until the day before the wedding when everyone was already in one venue. Good thing everything went down smoothly. It was extra fun because we were able to force Papa to join us and learn the steps! I love that he was acting like he didn’t want to dance but when it was time for him to join, he already knew the steps!!! He was secretly practising in their room while we were downstairs dancing. I love it!

The boys from Chicago flew in. It felt like a reunion of sorts. Carlos’ friends from Xavier who I grew up knowing were in complete attendance. After the wedding that was really a dance concert, both families went to Anvaya (where the DHB and I got married) and spent a few days bonding by the beach. 15 years together will already make your families mash well since we all supported their relationship since Day 1.

I am also grateful that the DHB was able to spend a week with us. It was really such a cherished time and memories created during this period will be forever remembered. I also love that I spent most of the time with my Papa and Mama. I felt like I was their baby once again. They shopped for my clothes and treated me like I was the prodigal daughter. I really cannot ask for a better set of loving parents.

I thank God every day for family time.

Until my next adventure,

d.

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SINGAPORE


I always enjoy a long stopover. I don’t like enduring the 13-14 hour flight from Zurich to Manila without any breaks. I like lounging around the airport, even going out to visit the city even for just a few hours.

Singapore has always been my favorite stop because of these reasons:

  1. It has the best airport in the world– TRAVEL TIP: They give a free 20SGD voucher for those transiting in SG which you can use at the stores inside Changi. I always get mine and use it either for a quick snack or a tube of lipstick.
  2. They have Sephora– When you order online at Sephora Philippines, the goods will most likely come from Sephora Singapore. So might as well buy direct and avoid the shipping and custom fees.
  3. Aside from its cleanliness and safety, I love that I can easily go out of the airport without a visa requirement, hop on the metro and roam around the city for less than a few dollars.
  4. The food– Chilli King Crabs, Irvin’s salted potato chips, ice cream sandwich,  Hainanese chicken from the hawkers, the list goes on!
  5. Awesome Filipino connection in SG! Whenever I’m in Singapore, I always end up not spending a dime coz there’s certainly a Filipino crew who adopts me for the day. This time around, it was Kuya L and Ate M who treated me lunch! I am so thankful for generous souls I meet all over the world!
  6. I arrive in SG at around 5 am and I watch the sun rise at the Marina Bay Sands. It’s the most awesome feeling to see the city awaken.
  7. It’s probably my 5th time in Singapore but each time I visit, there’s still something that makes my heart flutter.

Looking forward to going back,

d.

Posted in TRAVEL

MARSAXLOXX, MALTA


Mar-sa-schlock is a small fishing village in Malta.

It’s small but I just have to create a separate entry for it because of its sheer beauty.

I felt like I stepped into an illustration on a page of a fairytale. It’s so nice that we took a lot of photos and forgot the time of the next hop on, hop off bus and eventually missed it! We went rogue by knowingly hopping on a different bus company so we could reach the next destination on time. The DBF and I were holding our breaths until we were sure nobody was going to check our tickets. Getting kicked off of a tour bus is not really part of our What-to-do-in-Malta list.

Anyway, I’m letting the photos speak for themselves.

Overall, our Malta trip was a much-needed one that we certainly enjoyed. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel again as a couple. I thank God for healing the DHB’s knee fast. We really ought to maximise the life and the health we are given while we still have it.

d.

Posted in TRAVEL

VALLETTA, MALTA


The game plan was simple: hop on the red bus that will bring us from Sliema to the heart of Malta– Valleta.

The imposing gates of the city of Valletta greeted us as we were driven around the outskirts and along the different harbours and docking stations. Malta is like the parking lot of European yachts and sailboats. It's surrounded by the Mediterranean sea which allows easy sailing access to Greece, Tunisia, and to its neighbor Italy.

This small country has become the haven for Italian and British tourists. In the plane, I saw a lot of real estate ads for Malta properties in the in-flight magazine. I'm guessing there are a lot of senior citizens who choose to retire in Malta. It is not surprising because aside from the scenic view, quaint houses with colorful balconies, and clean surroundings, Malta has close to zero crime rate.

My husband was already getting annoyed at the amount of pictures I was taking while on the bus. Who can blame me?Malta is probably at the top 2 of the most photogenic countries I've ever been to. It's like all of the houses were filtered in Instagram Valencia. Everything is color limestone beige. This provides a clean background to all the Maltese balconies that pop-up in every tasteful color imagineable. And when I say tasteful, their pink is not the loud and awful Barbie pink (no offense meant to Barbie) but always 3 shades lighter, leaning more towards peach than red, and always so subdued. Pure class.

I loved everything about Malta except for the fact that it's not as cheap as we thought it would be. Meals are almost as expensive as in Zurich! The good thing though is that you have options unlike here in Switzerland where you can't find anything cheaper than 10 dollars.


 

 

Posted in TRAVEL

SLIEMA, MALTA


We celebrated our 2nd year anniversary as a married couple last January. True to his thoughtful nature, the DHB surprised me with booked tickets to Malta. But as fate would have it, he met a basketball accident and had to be operated on some time in December. He tore his ACL and his meniscus disc got twisted. He couldn't walk normally for months. He had to undergo physiotherapy everyday after his surgery. We had no choice but postpone the trip and rebook the tickets to April, in time for his 35th birthday.

Malta is a country much like the Philippines in the sense that it is also made up of islands and it was also conquered by different nations throughout its history. Malta is so much smaller though. You can tour its biggest island in a day or two.

We decided to stay in Sliema which is at the coastline and strategically located between Valletta, the city center, and St. Julian's the more touristy beach place.

What I liked about our hotel, Park Hotel, is that it's perfectly situated in front of the hop-on, hop-off bus stop. It's also just across the coastline that was perfect for walking at the crack of dawn or at night where the lights enliven the walk way and the music from the cafés provide such a dreamy atmosphere. The DBF and I walked along the coast several times, holding hands, while discussing the future. I will forever cherish these peaceful moments.

For dinner, we had kebab at this Trip Advisor awardee place that was literally just at the corner of our hotel. We also tried gluten free pasta at the Sicilian place nearby on the DHB's 35th birthday. The DHB had his favorite vongole although he wished he opted for the less healthy pasta.

The only bad thing I remember about Sliema was how rowdy the Italian teenagers were at our hotel. We were awakened every time they'd come running back to the hotel from wherever they were the entire day. Their noise just filled the halls. Malta used to be a part of Italy which is why many Italians choose it as a destination for summer. What's interesting though is that the Maltese were also invaded by the Moors, the Knights, the French, and the Brits. So you'd hear the people speak with British accents yet the doors of their houses would either have a Muslim symbol or a Catholic religious sculpture.

Overall, I think choosing Sliema as our base was a wise decision because it was not as packed as St. Julian's and not as landlocked as Valletta City.

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WALENSEE, SWITZERLAND


I am not a very sporty person. And so the idea of hiking up the mountain for a photoshoot did not excite me at first. In fact, it terrified me a bit. And so I initially just planned on having this gorgeous bride-to-be go to my place for hair and makeup, let her go, and trust that the makeup stays in place. After all, she only wanted a fresh and natural look. The thing with the Swiss though is that they are not very flamboyant. They are usually understated. And so there are no dresses or ball gowns in this shoot. Just the bride-to-be wearing a black jacket with small cute flowers (by M) on her hair, and the groom in a straight-up black thick parka.

But something felt right about that day that I found myself agreeing to go with them up the alps. I did not regret my decision though. Although panting at a certain stage of the hike, I was able to join them where they wanted to take photos and the view was just magnificent. Pictures cannot even capture the feeling of grandeur and satisfaction. I wish every man can see what I saw that day so he’d probably start believing in the divine. No man could have ever created this thing of beauty. It was just so intelligently designed. The parts where the snow touches the sky, and the mountains contrast with the lake– no man could have ever thought of that. It was just poetic at every turn.

As you can see, I am still completely overwhelmed. I should be hiking up mountains more instead of chilling at home to watch Netflix. This kind of view is so much more satisfying than the next episode of Designated Survivor. or Riverdale.

(I’d like to thank F and T for taking me up with them to the alps. They’re gonna get married here in October by the lake, surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It’s gonna be epic. Below are my behind-the-scenes shots. )

d.

 

Posted in TRAVEL, Uncategorized

BARCELONA, SPAIN


I prayed for more weekends like the one I had in Milan (see previous post) and God granted my wish.

He gave me a trip to the land of Conquistadors to meet my cousin and her husband.

When I was still single, Spain was in my list of countries to visit. My friend and I were planning on partying in Ibiza. But that was around the time I met my now husband and my “hedonistic” plans got derailed by his protective ways. He didn’t want me to go to Spain all by myself (or just with a girl friend) because he said it wasn’t as safe as other EU countries. We never went together because he’s been there several times already and I didn’t want him to repeat a country instead of seeing a new one. And so when my cousin told me about going to Spain, I immediately took her offer of free lodging at a 5-star hotel if I meet her and her husband there. Finally, a guy to tag along and defend us just in case we get mobbed! Perfect justification to give my husband!

My cousin’s mom and my mom are sisters. They are both “mestizas” because they have Spanish blood running through them. Their surname is actually a brand of olives in Spain. One of our uncles living in the States traced and visited our relatives whom he found to be residing in Malaga. “Some of them don’t even speak English!”, he said. And this is why it’s so cool for me to be meeting family in Spain. It’s unfortunate that it was so quick but I’m grateful nevertheless.

Although we were able to go to historical sites (luckily, most of the Gaudi-designed establishments were just along our hotel street in Passeig de Gracia), most of our time was spent shopping at the luxury stores within the area. My cousin is fond of bags and shoes while her husband is into eyewear and watches. And so they both wreaked havoc from Chanel to Celine, Rimowa to Armani, Dior to Bottega Veneta. I understand though because luxury items are way cheaper in Spain than anywhere else in the world (except maybe Paris). The tax rebate was also very inviting. It was but logical and even practical for them to splurge in Europe where items are not only cheaper but quite newer than those that manage to reach Asia.

I arrived in Barcelona a day before they did and so I first stayed with my friend A who’s studying there. I met him while I was working in the Philippines. We worked on the first ever local TV commercial of Watsons. I was the Marketing Manager and he was the producer of the shoot. This is why it’s nice to have friends who are also vagabonds! You manage to bump into them during their travels or in this case, his short study escape to Barcelona. His flat was very nice and airy. It had a high-ceiling and it was just a few blocks away from touristy spot La Rambla. So that’s what I did on my first day, roam around Plaza Catalunya and have A take photos of me amidst all of the tourists.

When I finally met-up with my cousin at the hotel, we walked straight to the Boqueria Market and had paella Valenciana and a seafood platter. It was the best paella ever and this is saying a lot because we like our paella. There’s something soothingly tasty about this dish. It’s special order so they only cook everything once you decide to get it. It took about half an hour just to wait for the paella and so we had scallops, mussels, shrimps, and squids dipped in lemon butter sauce for starters. I still dream of the paella to this day! And I don’t even wanna start talking about the tapas and gold-dusted foie gras! Spanish food is worth flying to Spain for.

One of the highlights of the trip was the spontaneous yacht ride across Barceloneta Beach. We saw the expanse of the shoreline and M thought that what would heighten the experience was to sail in a boat with Moët in one hand. Who wouldn’t cheers to that?

For me, the surreal moment though was finally seeing the Sagrada Familia. It is still under construction.  It is, however, in its final stages already.

They say that 6 new towers will be added to the basilica, finishing the work that was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1882. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ, will measure over 172m and it would make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe.

Chief architect Jordi Fauli said it will be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death. I sure hope to come back to finally see it completed.

Now that I have experienced Spain, I can say for certain that this first visit won’t be the last.