Boracay Island – Is it worth it to go back?

From its powdery white sand, blue water and fabulous sunset to a wide variety of beach activities, and a great selection of bars and restos, no wonder Boracay Island is the most popular beach destination in the Philippines.
With the recent reopening of the island from rehabilitation closure, is it still worth visiting?
February 2009 was the first time I came to this island with friends for a few days of vacation. We stayed in small cozy inn/resort made of bamboo. There were sand arts in every station welcoming tourists, poi dancing at night, henna tattooing and hair braiding.
Cagban Port
Cagban Port
The restaurants were mostly Pinoy and the only food chain we could find was Andoks. You were sikat then if you stayed at La Carmella — the popular resort back then. Everything seemed nice except that some establishments were near the sea and a few were even nearer.
And that was my memory of Boracay.
Tourism in Boracay already boomed back then, but nobody really thought about how the island would be more exploited with the increasing number of tourists coming every day.
The headlines about rehabilitating the island promised so much to the tourists. Visiting it  became so hyped after reopening, especially for those who haven’t been there yet.
Last March, I came back, this time with family as my uncle wanted to celebrate his 60th birthday there. I still recognized Caticlan Port though a lot of things already seemed to have improved.
In Boracay, the white sand is still the finest and most powdery I’ve ever seen. There’s no need for aqua shoes exploring the shores, but other than that, the island looked more like a community of resorts and mall with establishments, bars and restos serving different cuisines side by side. And there are a lot of ongoing construction everywhere.
My siblings and in-laws went for Helmet Diving (it cost P1000, cheaper than 2009) and saw ruins of some coral reefs. There is only one coral reef in the helmet diving area and that is where tourists take pictures. Yes, they were able to see fishes just because the guide was feeding them. I really wonder how the island looked before the rehabilitation.
The D Mall
The D Mall
I did enjoy the vacation because I was with family. My son is the happiest on the beach and I didn’t need to worry that he might step on some rocks on the shore as there was none at all. The sunset is still lovely, save for the fact that we shared it with a lot of other people so it was impossible to have a clean photo.
Sunset in Boracay
Sunset in Boracay
Would I come back a third time? Not any time soon. There are a lot of underrated beaches and islands in the Philippines that I haven’t been to and besides, the island still needs a decent break.
Advertisements

Japanese Foodie for 10 Days

One of the stuff in the world that the Japanese are known for is their food. And, whenever people talk about ramen, the “Japanese Ramen” comes into mind without thinking! Aside from that, Japan boasts of many other foods that foodies all over the world would surely love.

I personally like ramen, sashimi and sushi in the restaurants here in Singapore. But mind you, nothing beats the authentic foods tasted in their own hometown! It’s like there’s some magic in their cooking or it could be the freshness of the seafoods and the tenderness of the meats. Above all,  my most favorite food in Japan is a delicious noodle dish called Yakisoba!

After strolling the busy streets of Tokyo, it is expected that we must fill our tummies with something really special. My search for something special means something palatable, something that would make our mouth water. After all, this is our first time to tour this wonderful land of the rising sun.

Listed are the foods we’ve tried and the most recommended:

  • Yakisoba –  is a Japanese noodle stir-fry dish. Although soba means buckwheat, yakisoba noodles are actually made from wheat flour, and are typically flavored with a condiment similar to oyster sauce. The dish first appeared in food stalls in Japan during the early 20th century.[1]
  • Ramen – is a Japanese dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles[5] served in a meat or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, nori (dried seaweed), menma, and scallions.
  • Gyoza – is usually served with soy-based tare sauce seasoned with rice vinegar and/or chili oil in Mandarin Chinese. The most common recipe is a mixture of minced pork,cabbage, Asian chives, and sesame oil, and/or garlic, and/or ginger, which is then wrapped into thinly rolled dough skins.
  • Yakiniku – commonly refers to a Japanese style of cooking bite-size meat (usually beef and offal) and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over a flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation or a gas/electric grill. In many parts of the world, yakiniku is also commonly referred to as Japanese barbecue.
  • Sashimi – is a Japanese delicacy consisting of fresh raw fish or meat sliced into thin pieces and often eaten with soy sauce.
  • Sushi – is a Japanese dish of prepared vinegared rice, usually with some sugar and salt, accompanying a variety of ingredients, such as seafood, vegetables, and occasionally tropical fruits.
  • Miso Soup – is a traditional Japanese soup consisting of a stock called “dashi” into which softened miso paste is mixed.
  • Tonkatsu – is a Japanese dish that consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet. It involves cutting the pig’s back center into 2-3 centimeter thick slices, smearing with bread crumbs, frying them in oil, and then serving with Japanese Worcestershire sauce, rice, and vegetable salad (mainly cabbage).
  • Shabu-shabu – is a Japanese nabemono hotpot dish of thinly sliced meat and vegetables boiled in water and served with dipping sauces.
  • Onigiri – is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed).
  • Takoyaki – is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus(tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion.
  • Edamame – is a preparation of immature soybeans in the pod, found in cuisines with origins in East Asia. The pods are boiled or steamed and may be served with salt. In Japan, they are usually blanched in 4% salt water and not served with salt.

We were so lucky that Tito Minoro loves to cook. Most of the Japanese food we tasted are cooked from his kitchen (tipid!). 🙂

*** Definitions of foods are from Wikipedia.

How to Get a Japan Visa

Is it easy to apply for a Japan Tourist Visa? Yes, but of course, we have to comply with the requirements.

In 2005, Philippines is second from China for the most number of visas issued by Japan. Through the years, Japan has always been one of the most visited countries of travelers from all walks of life.

There is a total of 68 countries and regions with visa exemption to Japan for a short term stay. For the not so lucky Filipinos, we have to apply a tourist visa to visit Japan.

How much is the damage?

Visa application is actually free but agencies always ask for visa processing fees. It all depends on the travel agency and the kind of visa that you want to apply. Visa for the purpose of tourism varies from P800 (promo, especially on travel fairs) to P1500 and for a visa to visit relatives and friends (price is higher like P2500). Normally, Japan Visa application processing takes about 7 to 10 business days but it takes shorter for recurrent visitors.

Click this link to view the list of accredited agencies. Accredited agencies has International Air Transport Association (IATA )accreditation, which allows them to transact with travel agents and airlines worldwide. As for me, I transacted with JLT Travel & Tours and the processing took 6 business days. I found this agency during a travel fair in Trinoma mall. Though JLT Travel & Tours is not an accredited agency, I didn’t worry because their agency has a license. My friends processed their visas with Reli Tours and it took them 4 days only.

So friends, I encourage you to visit Japan, not just for a short vacation but for a hiatus. It is indeed one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I would definitely go back again. 🙂

Skin Problems? Go to Skinovative

Our skin is the largest organ of our body. It is an external organ that we wear and people see it from the outside, which gives us all the more reason to take care of it. Skin problems are normal and for me, they vary from manageable to beyond manageable — wherein I seek the help of experienced skin professionals.

It was around 2007-2008 when I experienced breakouts and I didn’t know what to do. My friend Cath introduced me to his doctor friend, Dr. J. Waltenspiel. He is a graduate from De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute and was trained in Dermatology Institute Foundation of the Philippines. He was just starting out and rented a 2-storey house in Dian Street in Makati and turned it into a clinic. I found his treatment very effective and I was so happy with the results.

Come 2009, he moved his clinic to a better area in Calatagan Street in Makati and named it to “Skinovative Clinic” by J. Waltenspiel.” In 2013, he established another branch in Dasmariñas, Cavite. Both clinics are specialized in Aesthetic Dermatology and are still open for business.

I also tried other derm clinics especially those in the malls because they are mostly accessible (I live in Valenzuela) and none of those were effective. For 5 years, I also stayed and worked in Singapore and went to different skin clinics for my constant need for skin treatment (because I was exposed to sun 8 hours a day); but none of them helped me solve my skin problems, plus the services are very expensive. See my blog post on facial services in Singapore.

Derma Rollers.jpg

So everytime I go for a vacation in the Philippines, I always make sure that I make an appointment with Doc J. His clinic has the most professional aesthetic feel and skin treatments anyone would ever need. His staff are amazing and the clinic’s services are really a value for money.

 

Kumusta na si lolo Jose?

Lagpas isang buwan na din simula nung huling araw ko sa trabaho sa Makati pero dahil may kailangang lakarin halos tuwing Miyerkules ako pumupunta ng Makati. Dinadaanan ko pa din si lolo Jose, minsan andun sya minsan wala. Nang natyempuhan ko sya nung minsan, tinanong nya ko “Hindi ka ba napapagod”. Sabi ko “Bakit po?”, “Lagi ka kasing may nilalakad.” Napangiti na lang ako sabay kumusta sa kanya. Nakita ko na konte lang laman ng bag nya kaya napatanong ako kung asan na yung mga gamit nya. Nanakawan na naman sya ng mga gamit kaya ayun wala na yung unan at kumot na dinodate ng kaibigan ko. Ayaw na din daw syang patulugin dun sa tinutulugan nya sa Mandaluyong kasi maraming nawawalan ng gamit.

Lolo Jose
Last July 19, 2017

Kinumusta ko din kung magkano na naipon nyang pera dun sa doctor na sinasabi nya na tutulong maoperahan sya, asa anim na libo na daw eh bentesingko ang kailangan para sa operasyon nya. Ganun pa din tinanggihan pa din nya ko kumain kahit sa malapit na fastfood lang. Tinapay lang daw ok na sya. May ilan ilan na ding akong napagforwardan ng kwento ni lolo Jose pero sa facebook lang. Katulad ng Fan Page ng DSWD, TV Patrol, Jessica Soho, DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo, DOH, Mandaluyong City, My Makati pero di sila nagbabasa ng message. Nagreply si DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo after isang buwan kung andun pa si lolo pero di na nya ulet nabasa reply ko sa message nya.

Lolo Jose
Last August 16, 2017

Sumusulat ako ulet para magbakasakali na may makabasa nito na nakakakilala kay Gilbert Flores Salgado kapatid ni lolo Jesus na asa Bicol. Kung hinde ko man magawan ng paraan na madala dun si lolo baka naman masundo sya ng kapatid nya. Bukod dun gusto ko din magpasalamat sa mga kaibigan ko na nagshare ng post ko at sa nagdonate para kay lolo, God Bless sa inyo.

For lolo Jose

Sa paminsan minsang pagdaan ko sa Paseo De Roxas sa building ng China bank during lunch break nakikita ko ang isang lolo na nanlilimos. Sa kapirasong karton nakasulat na humihingi sya ng tulong pambili ng gamot. Pagkain talaga ako kapag nagpalimos hangga’t maari kaya naman napapunta ako sa nearest convenient store para mabilihan sya ng lunch. Tumatak Sa puso’t isip ko nung inabot ko yung pagkain, napawika si lolo ng “Hay Salamat” and I felt how hungry he was then.

Mula noon I make it sure na may maabot akong good sa kanya pag mapapadaan ako dun. He’s name is Jesus Flores Salgado, may ulcer sya kaya nanlilimos ng pambili ng meds. Dati syang nagtatrabaho as driver hanggang Sa magkacataract na sya. Enthusiatic pa nga si lolo nung sinabi nya na makakapagtrabaho pa sya kung maoperahan lang sya.

Hanggang ngayong July na Lang ako magwowork Sa Makati mamimiss ko yung habbit ng pagdaan daan kay lolo Jose kaya naisipan ko na araw arawin. 80 years old na pala si lolo. One time niyaya ko sya maglunch para sana makakain naman sya ng maayos kaso masakit yung tuhod nya. I asked him kung nasan yung pamilya nya. Namatay sa sunog last year yung mag ina nya. Wala syang bahay minsan asa may ilalim ng tulay sa Mandaluyong daw sya. May kamag anak pa naman sya kaso asa Mindanao pa.

May ibang mga tao din na tumutulong sa kanya pero in a way nakakalungkot na short term solution lang napoprovide namin sa situation nya. Nagpaalam ako if ok lang picturan ko sya para maiblog and he agreed. Sabi ko “Sana po may tumulong sa inyo”. Ang optimistic naman nya na sinabi na “Meron yan”.

I am hoping that this can be a way to find him help that he deserves, yung long term ba. Tipong mapagamot yung mga karamdaman nya and madala sya sa kamag anak nya Sa Mindanao na gusto pa nyang makasama. I believe in the power of social media sana makarating sa mag taong makakatulong kay lolo. To those people na kilala din si lolo Jose and nagaabot ng tulong sa kanya, God Bless!

 

Must haves for a working mom to be

Must haves for a working mom to beBeing pregnant is hard. You’ll experience a lot of changes mentally, physically and emotionally.

For most pregnant women, the first trimester is the most delicate, which makes it more difficult for a working mom.

There are a lot of things I wished I knew during my pre-natal months. If you are pregnant or planning to have a baby soon, the following might also help you cope up with pregnancy.

Candy – Helped me ease morning sickness and dizziness from everyday commuting. As too much sugar must be avoided, go for sugar free. There are write-ups that peppermint is not good for pregnant women so if you love methol candies like me, you can have spearmint as an alternative.

Plastic bag – I often vomited on my way to work, especially when I smelled something unpleasant for my picky nose. There were times I forgot to bring one so I ended up buying something from sidewalk vendors just to get a plastic bag.

Water – Pregnant women are prone to UTI so always drink water. Always remember, you are drinking for two.

Fan/umbrella – Our body temperature rises during pregnancy thus we feel more hot. And for my case, it was the reason why I got irritated at times.

Lala even bought me a window-type aircon because I couldn’t take the summer heat. And when I wasn’t home I used a mini battery-operated fan whenever the temperature was unbearable.

Balm – This helped me a lot during the times when I smelled something weird like while on public transportation. Vicks and White Flower also worked.

Maternity/Nursing bra – One of the physical changes encountered during pregnancy is that your boobs get bigger. Maternity bras are indeed a must have to make you comfortable. Buy a maternity bra that is also designed to be a nursing bra. I use Coobie bras until now.

Snack/Lunch Baon –
It is normal for pregnant woman to be always hungry or craving for food. In my case, I was also picky so I brought snacks and lunch so that I won’t spend too much on food. Besides, eating clean food is a must so it’s better to eat your baon — at least you are sure it’s clean.

And that’s all. I hope this list can help you on your day-to-day commuting and working. You can also check my cousin’s pregnancy must haves in her pregnancy update posts at http://www.thebluepurse.com.