The Pitstop

During our last trip to Iloilo and Guimaras, we tried one of the specialty restaurants of Guimaras, which has a branch in Iloilo City — The Pitstop. The province of Guimaras is widely known for its sweet, juicy, ripe mangoes. No trip to this island is complete without tasting this coveted fruit. Now, we bought kilos and kilos of mangoes, but we also decided to try this restaurant that offers a pizza that has toppings of, what else, mangoes!

We came at a time when we were super hungry so my expectations were a bit high. Alas! It was sort of a letdown. There was nothing special about it, really. Just seemed like dough with mangoes that are even overpowered by cheese. Thank goodness we were hungry so we still appreciated it, otherwise…

The lechon kawali was a winner, though. I finished a lot of rice with it! The shrimps taste okay but they were the kind that have shells that stick to it like glue.

It was expensive for the kind of food and service, to be honest.

Singapore

This post in ten years in the making. lol. The family went to Singapore, with a short side trip to Malaysia, months ago. In November to be exact during the kids’ term break. As with family trips that include small kids and senior citizens, it was very, very tiring and challenging, but so fulfilling that we get this chance to spend quality time with each other.

The whole trip involve mainly theme parks and eating at hawker stalls in Singapore. Food is insanely expensive in SG like you wouldn’t believe. But everything else was great because SG is a tourist haven because of the accessibility of the attractions, safety in the streets, and . We were also lucky that Mico had a friend who provided transpo, and invited us to several dinners. ๐Ÿ˜€

It was fun, fun, fun!

Bohol, the second time around

Following my earlier post on Dumaguete City, our team proceeded to Tagbilaran City. It was a two-hour ferry ride from Dumaguete, which was pretty uneventful. I slept for the most part because I was afraid of getting motion sickness.

This is my second time in Bohol, the first was with my high school friends and my ex so the memories were good and bad. lol. So imagine my gladness that I have new memories to kind of overwrite the first one a bit.

The hotel we stayed in was forgettable. It was old, and in need of renovation. That’s what we get for scrimping. There was no elevator, and thank goodness we were only staying at the third floor.

For dinner that night, Google pointed us to Gerardo’s, one of the city’s better restaurants. It was an ancestral house that has been refurbished and turned into a family restaurant. Great, great warm interiors. The home cooked food was delicious although kind of common, I didn’t see anything special. It was a bit pricey, too. Was able to only take a photo of the seafood kare-kare and calamares.

Gerardo’s

The following day, after our official work, we get to spend a bit of time going around the province, yay! Because we had limited time though, we didn’t have the chance to go to the iconic Chocolate Hills that Bohol is known for. However, we were able to go the tarsier sanctuary and research center, and got to see the smallest primate there is. They’re a bit sensitive though so we had to be really quiet and not disturb them.

Then we had lunch on the floating restaurant plying the Loboc River.

Last, we stopped over at the blood compact site, which is significant to Philippine history as this marks the official friendship of the Spanish and Filipinos.

Great company, great trip!

Dumaget-me

It was my first time to go to Dumaguete City, and even though it was a short visit (and official at that), I had fun. I and my colleagues even found time to squeeze some “us” time, and explored the city a little bit. There was actually not that much to see in the capital of Negros Oriental itself. Most of the tourist attractions and places of interests are outside the city limits. When we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, we just checked in to Henia Hotel, which by the way has a gorgeous family room for a cheap price (but I don’t have photos!), and just walked around the famed boulevard by the sea. The city was unassuming, quiet, and reminds me a lot of San Jose in the province of Antique. However, the is a street full of restaurants, and by nightfall, we saw a lot of bars that began to open. I actually saw a lot of foreigners lingering within the streets so there might be more to it beyond its charming and laid back surface.

I was so happy to see this monument of the day that the Congregation of St. Paul of Chartres arrived in the Philippines, and landed in the shores of Dumaguete. This was where my Paulinian roots started. All throughout my days in St. Paul, I kept hearing about how the community grew from its humble beginnings, and it is very fulfilling to actually see it.

We also passed by the famous Silliman University.

Then had dinner at Sans Rival Bistro. Very affordable good food here! We even tried their chocolate sans rival, with all its melt in your mouth goodness.

And caught the second day of this year’s simbang gabi (which turned out to be my last, too).

Next, we took the ferry to Tagbilaran City, which will be the subject of my next post.

I am Iloilo

I’ve been to Iloilo more times than I could count. But during this trip, I was still able to see and be in places I haven’t to before. I am glad that it hasn’t run out of things to explore for me yet. Also, I had a newbie with me who I am currently mentoring. Being with her makes me feel old and young at the same time, lol. It is very refreshing because she has the excitement of experiencing first times, at the same time, I realized that she was born the year I entered college. That makes me like her grandmother haha.

So we had three hours to kill before our flight back to Manila, and we went to the Molo Mansion where we had a blue ternate flower ice cream (sooo good), Molo Cathedral (Iloilo is home to great churches, which are architectural icons), Iloilo Esplanade and Madge Cafe (super great coffee!!). Also took the chance of grabbing a good old bowl of the original La Paz Batchoy.

Going Greek

From one European country to the next, I again counted my lucky stars as soon as I stepped onto Greek soil. I didn’t think that I would set foot in this ancient city where myths and history fuse. We stayed here a little bit longer than we did in Italy, and we tried to see as much of Athens as we could. Its grandeur has withstood the test of time, and remains standing like sentinels of past glorious eras.

Among the many places of interest, of course, we just had to do the Acropolis, the ancient citadel where the Parthenon is located; the Panathenaic Stadium, an all marble stadium made for the Olympic games; the Syntagma Square or the government center; the Plaka; and everywhere else in between. And when I visit foreign countries, especially in Europe, I always envy their beautiful parks and public spaces, which unfortunately is few and far between here.

Of course, we got to taste traditional Greek cuisine courtesy of our gracious hosts. Greek food is love!!

The Vatican

The highlight of my trip to Rome is probably the visit to the Vatican. As a Catholic, there are probably two ultimate places that, ideally, should be visited as part of our journey to God. Not required, but I am very fulfilled to have visited Jerusalem before, and now the seat of the Catholic Church itself. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity and having been brought closer to Jesus in my lifetime.

I and some colleagues from another agency went there for two days – first just to have a look at St. Peter’s Basilica, and second, after obtaining a pass for the papal audience, went to get blessed. The second day was particularly challenging as, despite our starting out early, we were met by throngs of people vying for coveted positions in the quadrangle. Everyone was out to get sweet spots that would guarantee a close encounter with Pope Francis when he passes by aboard his mobile.

And we were not disappointed despite me wanting to elbow everyone trying to elbow me. haha. Everything was so surreal! I can’t even describe the happiness I felt in the 3 seconds the Pope was directly in front me. I am truly one lucky girl!