Christmas away from home

For the first time in my 36 years of existence, I did not spend Christmas day in my own home. From my grandparents’ house to my parents’ house to our house in Taytay a few years back, I have always spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in wherever home I call mine. But this year, we celebrated the most important day in the lives of Christians in my brother’s house. I was actually very tired this year because I had to render overtime days before we had our Christmas break and I was always up at dawn to complete the 9-day novena for Misa de Gallo. But of course, I cooked our noche buena. It was nothing fancy–just had Christmas ham and cooked three kinds of pasta. The kids were asleep the whole time so we also didn’t get to have a family photo.

But everyone was happy that we were all together.

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The next day, we jumped house to my sister in law’s where the husband’s parents, siblings and our nieces and nephews were. Too bad we didn’t get to take any photo at ALL.

Hope your family also had a meaningful celebration.

The US capital

Despite this being way long overdue, here is a glimpse of my visit to the capital of the United States, Washington, DC. It’s been almost two months since I came back, and frankly, it is only now that I get to think that I did enjoy myself somehow. You see, the magic of traveling and seeing and experiencing new places wasn’t quite there with me as I traipsed around DC. Remember, my little girl was hospitalized when I was there, and half my mind was in the Philippines. Despite that, as always, I am thankful for the opportunity and experience!

So these are where I went on my side trips (will not probably post the official meetings!). I was very happy to have friendly “aunties” and “uncles” who made time to tour us around on our free time. For some places, we just walked around and took in the beauty of the city. It was a little rainy the time we were there, which was unusual they say, but I liked that it was busy but not manic-busy. It had old world charm, mainly because of the brownstones that dotted most of the streets, and there were no high rise buildings unlike in many urban cities in the US. I was told that this was because there is a law prohibiting the construction of structures higher than the US Capitol. We got a little as far as Virginia.

Pennsylvania Avenue including White House

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National Basilica

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US Capitol

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Washington Monument

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World War II Memorial

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Iwo Jima

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National Geographic Museum

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Slumber party

Mischa used to have pajama parties in her old school during her Kinder 1 and 2 days. She had fun with her classmates then, and she got excited when I told her that it will be children’s party theme at the office this Christmas. What’s more, she can bring her little sister to tag along, but who had absolutely no idea what’s going on. lol.

The party hosts, who are also our staff, read a story to the kids (who are mostly kids of the staff, as well as nephews and nieces of some), did some games (which Mischa won), had a piñata, and of course, served Jollibee food (who could go wrong with that!).

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The Clean Plate by Twist

A random weekend brought us to UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City to meet up with Mico. I was surprised that what used to be a small row of restaurants along Katipunan Avenue has bloomed into a full complex of go-to places. Think medium- to high-end restos and bars, and retail stores targeting families and college kids populating UP, Miriam, Ateneo and other schools in the area. It’s awesome! Ayala Land (I think) did a wonderful job developing that parcel of land. It has grown exponentially since the first time we went there a year ago. Too bad I didn’t get a photo of the huge compound.

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We also had a late lunch at the Clean Plate by Twist. We chose this because it appealed to the husband because it offers healthy options over all the newer establishments we passed by. I was hesitant because no. 1: I wasn’t exactly into commercialized healthy living/eating, no. 2: it is probably crazy expensive, and no. 3: it’ll probably be bland, which is not exactly my cup of tea. I was all into enjoying and savoring my food. But since the husband almost always just goes wherever I want to go, I decided to give in this time.

But sadly, my fears were founded, and I was right on all counts.

I know I have mentioned it somewhere in my blog before that I frown upon commercializing organic and healthier choices. Yes I know, we could all do good by choosing healthier food and living a healthier lifestyle. But in my humblest opinion, and I may be wrong, I don’t think it shouldn’t cost an arm and leg. I may also be ignorant, but shouldn’t food grown organically does away with chemicals, such as artificial enhancers, fertilizers, etc. etc.? So doesn’t that mean that producers actually save some cost intended for that? Maybe I have yet to learn more about this. The thing is, being healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. It makes it even harder to get the message (if this is an advocacy for health buffs) across if this looks like it’s a fad not meant for those who are scrimping on their budget.

And this resto is not an exception. The portions were small for the price. I could have spent that much and been able twice the number we had. It gives a whole new meaning to the word bitin.

As for the taste, I really had better. If only they made up for the steep price, I probably wouldn’t have said all these things haha. I have dined from the streets of Paranaque (where I had my primary schooling) to the posh hotels and restaurants in London, Washington DC, Dubai, and forking out money for food has not been an issue if the quality was great.

It was bland, and the beef was completely rubbery. Good luck to those who have dentures.

But their decor is a completely different story. It was ‘clean’ by all means.

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Pork Binagoongan

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Bistek Tagalog

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Homestyle Fried Chicken

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Escabecheng Maya-maya

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House Brewed Organic Iced Tea

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Discovery Shores Boracay

Our year-end office planning took us out of town, and we couldn’t have asked for a better venue than Boracay! It is one of my favorite places on Earth with its white sand, blue sea and skies, and that wonderful vibe. It is unfortunate though, that while this is the first time that both the husband and I were out of town at the same time, it is the time that Mischa got sick and had to be checked at the ER. Thank God it wasn’t anything serious but it was a gritting-my-nails (figurative because I don’t bite my nails but the feeling is akin to this) kind of worry. So essentially, we had to work, and although we were given some leeway to enjoy ourselves, it is half-hearted.

So here we are on the way to paradise…

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Had to put our heads together and work, work, work…

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But one thing about this outing, we were treated to A-class amenities! We were billeted at the Discovery Shores Boracay, which is way above the joints I have stayed in so far in this island. The first I noticed was how courteous and warm all of their staff was. I know it is part of their duties and functions to be polite and helpful to customers, but I really felt their sincerity in rendering service. It was as if it was really their pleasure in having us. I mean really! It does not feel perfunctory or forced.

So two thumbs and two big toes up for service!

The set up for meals are also pretty to look at, case in point is our exclusive table for our welcome lunch.

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And this is what our amazing suite looked like. Since there were four of us, we were given the 1-bedroom family suite. It had its own dining and living area, and the latter can be converted into beds for two. Everything, including the bathroom was just inviting, with their warm tones and soft hues. I could have stayed all day during our free day if only the beach didn’t beckon.

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Unfortunately though, I was not that satisfied with their food. It was only okay, and I was honestly expecting more for an ultra-rated resort. It was not bad, but it was a definitely a letdown.

But as I said, the amenities and the staff, more than made up for it.

And how could being on this beautiful place on this planet fail to lift one’s spirit up? Aside from being with my daughters, being on the beach, specifically this beach, are some of the best moments of my life. Digging my toes on its pristine white sand as the waves softly lap at your feet is one of greatest joys.

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And witnessing this sunset almost tops that!

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This is truly the life!

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Raffaele Woodfired Pizza

Once upon a lunch, we did Italian. And we did Raffaelle Woodfired Pizza, a chic pizzeria housed inside the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila. Its floor to ceiling glass windows occupying three walls of the room offer a fantastic view of Manila, be it day or night. The purple and green furnishings just did me in. They screamed vibe and energy, a fantastic backdrop to a first or special date, or meeting. One could already expect good things to come out of get-togethers in the restaurant.

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Food was great, and service was more than superb. You could say that we truly got our money’s worth, and the prices did not come cheap. I had the mushroom pasta with the truffle sauce, and it had the right flavor and serving. Almost perfect, but just a teeny tiny bit overpowering. Pizza was also two thumbs up.

Woodfired bread and balsamic dip

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Gamberetti

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Uva
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Tartufo Funghi

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Pomodoro con Gorgonzola

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Frutti de Mare

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Pescatora and Quattro pizza

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Lingua

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Vanilla Panna Cotta

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