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GWEN’s 7th Birthday (Outing at Water Camp)

23 Oct
Another overdue post...

* September 18, 2011

The Husband and I initially planned for a big and grand party to celebrate our dear daughter’s 7th birthday. I psyched myself of being a party planner once again. I already planned the theme and the design of the invitations that I was supposed to make personally. Seeing that there would be lots of things to do and to plan, the Husband half-seriously asked the little girl if she’d rather receive a gift from us which would be something she really wished for and/or liked very much, and not have a big party at all. Amazingly, dear daughter agreed. When we asked if it’s really okay with her, she said that it is and she’d already be happy with just the gift. Awwww! isn’t she sweet? I felt that my baby is so mature.

Since there wouldn’t be a party anymore, the Husband and I decided to have an outing on her birthday, with cakes and banners and loot bags for her cousins, just so she could feel that we celebrated her birthday.

So we invited my side of the family, and we went swimming at Water Camp Resort in Kawit, Cavite. The travel to the resort was only 15 minutes because we went via the new Cavitex highway. There were lots of food prepared by my mother. We rented 2 rooms and a cottage in the resort so we were comfortable. I bought a cake and prepared a birthday banner and loot bags. I let the kids sang the Happy Birthday song first, then Gwen blew her candle. I really could tell that she liked it a lot. Afterwards, the kids ate and then went off swimming.

The resort had a lot of changes from the last time we were there. Another big swimming pool was added and of course, our new favorite – the Wave Pool! Oh we had a lot of fun there. The kids really loved it and they kept on coming back.

Before we went home, Gwen handed her lootbags to her cousins, and let each of them get a Squinkie ball from her Squinkie Gumball machine. They had a fun getting their prizes from a little ball.

At home, Gwen opened her remaining gifts from us. 🙂

Happy 7th Birthday, Gwen! 🙂


Cebu Trip

22 Oct
After almost 2 months, am finally posting our Cebu Trip. This is really an overdue post.

* Day 1 – 27AUG2011

We spent the long weekend of August in Mactan, Cebu. It was a good thing that we booked the trip in Cebu Pacific 3 months ago because airfare at that time was not that expensive. We got our tickets at almost 20K (there are 5 of us: 3 adults and 2 kids), including seat selection and prepaid baggages. When August 30 was declared a holiday, airfare prices skyrocketed. Had we not booked earlier, we’ll be paying for our tickets at twice the amount. 🙂

It was raining hard when we departed for Cebu because of typhoon Mina. I was a bit worried that our flight might be cancelled because of the bad weather. But since the typhoon is affecting the northern part of Luzon mostly, we were still able to go to Cebu. The only problem we had was the 1 hour delay in our flight.

Before take-off in Manila

Near landing in Cebu with very nice weather

At Shang Mactan's Airport Lounge

Shangrila's Airport Shuttle Service

Finally arrived at the hotel

Hotel room pics:

We really enjoyed our stay at Shangri-la Boracay so we opted to stay in Shangri-la Mactan in Cebu. We hoped that Shang Mactan  would offer the same excellent service that we had when we were in Shang Bora. After all, our ultimate goal for this trip was to rest and relax. We even limited the places to go to just so we won’t be stressed and not get all tired.

Most of our first day was spent at SM Cebu. We ate our lunch at the foodcourt there and then shopped for souvenirs – Cebu shirts, danggit, and otap. We also bought take-out dinner from Chow King so we didn’t have to order room service.

* Day 2 – 28AUG2011

Our second day was packed. First agenda of the day was a buffet breakfast at the Acqua restaurant.

After a little rest, we headed to the beach for a swim. We didn’t spend a long time at the beach because Gwen suddenly had rashes on her face. Luckily we already took some pictures by the beach so we decided to just swim in the pool.

The pool was great. We spent a long time in the Main Wing Swimming pool because the Ocean Wing pool is deep for the kids. They couldn’t wear the vests as it wasn’t allowed, really didn’t know why. This got me irritated because in Shang Bora, the vests were not a problem. Anyway, we still enjoyed swimming, specially Gian and Gwen because there’s a squirt gun in the Main Wing pool which they hogged and played.

After the swim, we got back to our room and showered because we registered for the 10AM shuttle to SM Cebu, again! Well, we took a little tour of Lapu-lapu City.

– Early lunch at Shakey’s
– Mass at Basilica de Sto. Nino
– Queued to get a glimpse of the Sto. Nino
– Lit a candle beside the Church
– Spent a short time at Magellan’s Cross
– Back to SM Cebu to buy more otap and danggit and food for dinner
– A little tour at Lapu-lapu Shrine

We were very tired after our “gala” that I just wanna crash in the bed. But the kids still wanted to go to the Adventure Zone for some more play so we let them play for an hour. BTW, there’s a fee in their Adventure Zone unlike in Shang Bora, and make sure that your kids wear a long-sleeved shirt. If they have none, you have to buy their shirt there for P400, I think!

When we were about to hit the sack that night, the Husband and the little boy got hungry so he ordered room service – cheeseburger and fries.

* Day 3 – 29AUG2011

Happy 11th Birthday, Gian! 🙂

We had our buffet breakfast again at Acqua Restaurant. I got a little birthday cupcake with a candle for Gian.

After eating and a little rest, we spent an hour swimming in the pool, and little time on the beach for some more pictures.

Then the kids’ stay at the hotel won’t be complete unless they play in the bathtub.

We again ordered for room service for lunch. We had Sinigang na Hipon and Beef Tapa, which were enough for all of us.

After that, the kids went to the E-Zone for just a short time until it was time for us to check-out.

And that’s our little getaway to Cebu. We had fun, really!

Our stay at Shangri-la Mactan was very good, although I think Shangri-la Boracay was still the best for me when it comes to service.


Boracay Day 3

31 May

* May 15, 2011, Sunday

We made most of our last day at Shang Bora swimming in the hotel pool and at the beach.  Of course, we had our buffet breakfast again at Vintana restaurant.  After that, we immediately changed into our swim clothes and headed for the pool.

We also went to the beach for our last swim at Shangri-la’s beachfront.  It was so much fun to swim there because there were fishes near the shore, so it was like we were swimming with the fish.

When it was getting hot, we went back to the pool and passed our remaining time there.

It was time to hit the showers, and packed all our stuff.  By 12 noon, we were out of the room for check-out.  Check-out was also a breeze so we finished in no time.  For our stay, I was eligible to be a member of Shangri-la’s Golden Circle.  Cool!

Our speedboat ride to Caticlan was scheduled at 2PM, so we still had 2 hours to spare.  The kids went back to Adventure Zone…

… then fish feeding …

After that, lounged at the lobby until they called us for the buggy ride to the dock.  Our speedboat were ready.

Bye, Shang! We had a really great time with you.  I hope we could return soon. 🙂

Up to the last minute, Shangri-la staff were still there to assist us.  They really helped us with everything.  From the jetty port, we were escorted again to their lounge for some refreshments.  Then a van took us to the airport.  The staff was still there to help us check-in.  We just basically waited and stood there doing nothing, until we were called to stand at the weighing scale to get our body weights.  The staff was literally with us up until the time we entered the waiting area of the airport.  That was really first-class service!

To Shangri-la Boracay Resort and Spa, thank you for your excellent service! We really had a great experience with you.  I absolutely would want to stay with you again when we return to Boracay. 😀

Here are some pictures while waiting and during the flight back to Manila:

There was a mini-game in the plane again and this time, the Husband and MIL won a small pouch each. 🙂 Our chances were great since there were not that many passengers in the plane. LOL! 😀

All of us really loved our vacation.  Hoping we’d be back the next year.  Ciao! 🙂

Boracay Day 2

30 May

* May 14, 2011, Saturday

We started our 2nd day in Shangri-la Boracay with a buffet breakfast at the hotel’s Vintana Restaurant.  There were a lot of breakfast choices – breads, rice, salads, congee, sushi, fruits, etc.  Here are pictures of the restaurant:

Bread Station - croissants, bagels, muffins, etc.

Congee Station

Garden Salad Station

Main Courses Station (you can ask the chefs to cook the eggs you want on the left side)

Fruit Station

More fresh fruits

Fruit Juices Station

 As usual, Gwen had her scrambled eggs and rice, while Gian had pancakes, eggs and rice, pizza, and cereal.

Since we planned to do some water sports activities the whole morning, MIL just opted to stay in the room while we were out.

First stop: Ride the Zorb

Shangri-la Boracay truly want their guests to be spoiled and have a pleasant stay at their hotel.  When the Husband asked them how we could go to the Zorb ride, they happily arranged the transportation for us.  We just waited for Shang’s  shuttle that took us to Fairways and Bluewater, and once there, we waited again for the shuttle that took us to Zorb.  Oh, since we went off route from Shang’s usual way, there was a fee of Php 300 for each adult, and free for children.  But still, no hassles, really! Love it! 😀

Some pics while we waited for the shuttle:

For Php 400 each, Gian, Gwen and I had a rolling experience inside the Zorb ball.  We did the Hydro Zorb since we were told that the harness was not for the kids.  The Husband took pictures and video.

The ride was fun for me and Gian, but Gwen cried because I accidentally hurt her with my knee while I was holding her during the roll.  But still, it was thumbs up! 😀

Thanks to the staff of Zorb.  They were kind enough to drive us (free of charge!) to Boat Station 1 for our next activity. 😀

Next Stop: Parasailing and Reef Walking

At Boat Station 1, we looked for Diamond Water Sports for Parasailing and Reef Walking.  They have a small booth there, but you wouldn’t miss it.  Original rates were as follows:

Parasailing – Php 1,700 each for 15 minutes; Php 200 for the observer (companion who will not parasail)
Reef Walking – Php 800 each for 15 minutes, with pictures and video (CD to be claimed in the afternoon)

We negotiated for the cheapest rate we could take for both activities and here’s what we had:

Parasailing – Php 1,500 each for 15 minutes (only Gian and I parasailed)
Reef Walking – Php 500 each for 15 minutes, with pictures and video (the four of us did it)

Not bad, really! 😀

Now on to our adventure…

A speedboat took us to another speedboat equipped for Parasailing.  It was really exciting.  I got nervous when we were at our highest because the wind made us sway like kites, but seeing that Gian was also nervous, I just talked to him so he could forget his nervousness.  Talking with him helped because we finally got to enjoy the view and the experience.  Only when we were getting lower that we noticed our time was already up.

All geared up!

Before take-off...

Up, up...

... and away!

Thumbs up for the parasailing experience!

The speedboat then took us to the stationed platform for Reef Walking.  A lot of people were there so we just waited for our turn.  We were shown the gear which looks like an astronaut helmet with a cord attached to it.  Apparently, the helmet weighed 30 kilos but when in water, it only weighed 2 kilos.  We were told that there would be pressure in our ears so we should yawn or move our jaw to release the pressure, or to insert our hands in the helmet, close our nose and mouth, then blow.  We tried it and there was definite popping from the ears.  They also briefed us on the hand signals for communication.  I was repeating the instructions to Gwen because I was worried that she might get scared.  I asked her to practice, and a smart girl that she is, she remembered everything.

The Husband went down first, followed by Gwen.  I noticed that Gwen was a little teary-eyed while going down the ladder so I gave her encouraging words.  I thought that she would back out when we noticed that she was coming up again but then, she continued to go deeper a little later.  When she was already ok, Gian followed, and then it was my turn.  The helmet was really heavy and uncomfortable.  My ears hurt a little so I always opened my mouth as if yawning.   I immediately checked the kids and found that they were already enjoying the reef walk.  I am really so proud of my kids and of our family for doing it together! We got to feed a lot of fish while the diver took our pictures and video.  The kids were most happy to see Dory (Blue Tang fish), but they weren’t able to spot Nemo (clownfish).

Fish feeding

We stayed underwater for less than 15 minutes since Gwen felt a little uncomfortable already.  But it was truly a different experience for us!

A banca fetched us and took us back to the beachfront.  I got dizzy from the ride, maybe because of the heat of the sun and all the activities we did.  The shuttle of Diamond Water Sports also gave us a free ride back to the hotel.

Back in our room, the kids took a leisured bath in the tub while the Husband and I took turns showering.  We didn’t eat lunch as we are still full from breakfast, but the kids each had their noodles and biscuits.

At 3PM, the Husband and I headed back to Station 1 again to claim our CD from Reef Walking, and also to buy dinner.  We left the kids and MIL at Adventure Zone.

Our CD was not yet available when we arrived at Diamond Water Sports booth, so we decided to walk to Willy’s Rock.

After some photo opps, we headed back and claimed the CD.  The Husband and I had Henna tattoos.  Their fee starts from Php 50 depending on the size.  Mine was a butterfly for Php 50 and the Husband’s was a dragon on his arm for Php 100.

The Husband's Dragon Tattoo

My Butterfly Tattoo

We rode a tricycle to D’Mall to buy our dinner and some more pasalubong.  From there, we waited for Shangri-la’s shuttle service ride back to the hotel.

We just ate dinner in our room, and we learned that while we were out, the kids got to feed the fish after they played at Adventure Zone.  They were so excited telling their stories that I could tell they really enjoyed themselves.  I was glad that they had fun while we were away.

The Husband and I had an 8:30PM massage appointment, so the kids and MIL just slept as we headed on to CHI spa.

— At the CHI Spa

The place was very quiet and serene.  They gave us cold tea and towel.  I liked the tea but the Husband did not since he’s not fond of drinking teas.  We were given a short questionnaire to know which was our element sign.  I think mine was wood.  Too bad I didn’t get the Husband’s.

Picture taken at the reception area of The CHI Spa

We availed of the Yin Yang Harmonizing Massage.  The Husband and I wanted a massage where we could be together so that was perfect for us.

We were then asked to go to our assigned pavillion – Jampa.  It meant love, kindness and compassion.

The place was also very nice and calming.  We went to the changing room first, where we shed all our clothes, and just wore the disposable underwear and robes provided.

From the changing room

We then went to the massage room proper.  No pictures since they asked all accessories including the camera to be left in the electronic safe in the changing room.  We were offered with ginger tea but we declined.  Our feet was then soaked in warm water, scrubbed, and washed with hot water.  After that, while they used a blanket for cover, we were told to remove our robes and lie on the bed facing up.  They put eye patches and towel on the face, and started the massage.

The massage was very relaxing.  I felt that all the stress and tension in my body were released.  The whole massage took an hour and 15 minutes.  I was almost asleep when I heard the sound of the bell which signaled the end of our session.  It was really good.

They again offered us the ginger tea before we dressed.  I tasted it and liked it, although I didn’t get to finish it.  Back at the reception, the staff called for another buggy to fetch and take us to our room.

Hmmm… our stay at Shangri-la made us really feel like royalty.  Hehehe! Love it! Love it! Love it! 😛

Boracay Day 1

29 May

* May 13, 2011, Friday

Our family, together with MIL, spent 3 days and 2 nights at the luxurious Shangri-la Boracay Resort and Spa.  Despite the cost, we decided to stay there so that we could have a stress-free vacation.  Have read in most reviews that Shangri-la Boracay offers superb service and convenience to its guests so that sold us out.  We wanted to spend some R&R with zero worries on everything, and Shangri-la offered just that. 🙂

Our flight was at 9:25 AM, and we were already at the airport 2.5 hours before.  As usual, there was no check-in counter yet so we just waited.  I got a little worried during check-in because I forgot to ask MIL to bring her ID and the kids’.  Good thing we were not asked to provide IDs so we breezed through checkin.  Immigration was also fast since we only paid the Php 200 terminal fee for each of us. 

The kids were a little bored while we waited for boarding, as usual.  But they enjoyed Cebu Pacific’s bus ride from the boarding gate to the plane.  However, their joy was replaced with disappointment when they saw and board the plane.  The kids said that it was small with no monitors.  Well it was a domestic flight, so the plane, as I was informed, was just an ATR, and not an airbus.

You really wouldn’t mind the travel time since the flight was only 1 hr from Manila to Caticlan.  There was also a mini-game in-flight where we tried to participate but sadly we didn’t win.  Anyhoo, in no time at all, the pilot was announcing that Boracay Islands can already be seen from the windows.

When we got off the plane, a staff from Shangri-la was already there waiting for our arrival.  He took care of getting our luggages while another staff led us to the van, and took us to the Shangri-la lounge at the jetty port.

The lounge was fully air-conditioned, equipped with a flat-screen TV and WiFi access.  We were greeted and given cold towels, lemonade and some cookies while we waited for the speedboat that would take us to the hotel.  They also tagged our luggages and after 10 minutes, we took a convenient speedboat ride to the resort (as opposed to the 20 minute ride on a normal banca). 

From Shangri-la’s port, the hotel manager (didn’t get his name) greeted us and a buggy took us to the open air lobby.  The hotel is really beautiful and huge.

It was only a little over 11AM, and check-in time is at 2PM, so we thought that we wouldn’t be able to get a room yet.  But upon arrival, Jason (hotel staff) led us immediately to our room and we did the check-in there.  We were very thankful that they already checked us in (3 hours earlier 🙂 ) so we could rest for a while after our journey.  I was giving him a tip after but he refused with a smile.  Hmmm, maybe they are not allowed to accept tips? 😛

Anyway, we stayed in a De Luxe Seaview Twin room at the south wing.  Local resident’s rate was 15K+ per night net of taxes.  All of us liked our room, especially the kids who run around examining every inch of it, and screamed every time they saw something great inside (eg. the bathroom, size of the tub, the shower, the beds, the phone, the view, etc.).  Here are some pics:

After we were rested, we went back to the lobby to wait for the van that will take us to D’Mall.  BTW, there’s a schedule for the van so if you plan to go somewhere, reserve your slot preferably an hour before.  The van schedule was given to us when we checked-in.  The route is from the hotel to D’Mall and back only.  If you want to go somewhere else, it could also be arranged but there’s already a fee.

Shangri-la Boracay's Shuttle Service

At D’Mall, we first looked for a place to have lunch.  We settled at Andok’s since they have fried chicken (the kids were with us so what do you expect? :P).  After lunch, we did some shopping for pasalubong.  By 3PM, we headed back to the hotel, and rested again.

After an hour, we decided to swim in the hotel pool.  Again, a buggy took us from the lobby to the pool area.  The pool was huge, with a jacuzzi that you can turn on yourself.  The water is clean but salty, though.  A lifeguard was present, kiddie life vests and floaters were available and could be borrowed (for free).  You could also just ask for towels and bottled water.  They would really take care of you there. 🙂

We also swam by the beach so the kids could enjoy playing in the sand.  They tried to make sandcastles and looked for some shells.  The quality of sand is not like in the main island.  The texture is very rough that I felt my feet were exfoliated too much.  We made a mental note to wear our aqua shoes the next time.

Gian trying to make his sandcastle

Gwen playing with the sand

Loved this photo of Gian while the sun set

Of course, Gwen also has to have one 🙂

We finished swimming after the sun has set.  A buggy fetched us after the Husband has called for one. 🙂

We just had room service for dinner as we were too tired to go out.

The kids asked us to check out the Adventure Zone and Entertainment Zone.  Unfortunately, the Adventure Zone closes at 7PM, so we weren’t able to go there.  We went to the Entertainment Zone and the kids played Air Hockey, Foosball, Basketball and ping pong.  Billiards was also available but we didn’t try it.  Playstation and WII could be used for a fee, I forgot how much.  You could also use their computers to surf the net but I didn’t get to ask if there’s also a fee.

Air Hockey

Ping Pong




We just stayed there for a while and then headed back to our room to hit the sack.  Gotta prepare ourselves for the next day. 🙂

Hong Kong Day 3

6 May

* April 21, 2011

It was our last day in Hong Kong.  We had another breakfast at Chef Mickey.

Did a little more shopping as the kids wanted this:

When we were all packed and ready, we took a last picture from our room:

Checked out at 11AM.  We lounged at the hotel lobby since our flight is at 6PM.

Bye Hong Kong! Hope to see you again! 🙂

Hong Kong Day 2

6 May

* April 20,  2011

Most of our second day was spent in HK Disneyland Theme Park.  But first, breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey’s!

Mickey waffles

Happy Face Hash Brown

After breakfast, off we went to the theme park again.  We wanted to ride the train but it was not yet opened so we took a peek inside Art of Animation.  Not that many things to see so we just spent a little time there.  The railroad station opened exactly when we went out so we joined the throng of people who went inside the station.  I was kinda shocked with some of the people who didn’t care if they hurt others just so they could get themselves in.  Gwen was almost hurt when the old people following us kept on pushing themselves in.  They were already senior citizens so I just let them pass.  But I was really disappointed that they were like that. I’ve just chosen to forget the incident and enjoyed the ride as we were treated for a grand tour of the park.  It only took about 10minutes and boarded off from where we started.
I was hoping to meet some of the Disney characters but either the line was long, or the line for photo opp was closed.  That really bummed us.  We headed to Adventureland, and passed by Tarzan’s Treehouse and the Liki Tikis.

At Tarzan's Treehouse

The Liki Tikis

We then saw Jiminy Cricket and had our first photo with a character.

with Jiminy Cricket

Then, we watched Mickey’s Philharmagic show.  FYI, it’s a 3D show so I can’t show you any pictures.  It was also during the show when I lost my Gucci shades.  Huhuhu! 😦

We liked the show because they let you feel what you were actually watching.  For example, for scenes with water, we got a little wet because we were splashed with water; Or there was a scene where Donald rides the magic carpet with Aladdin and Jasmine, so the wind was blowing through just like you were also on the same ride.  It was really fun and I highly recommend that you don’t miss this one. 🙂

After that, we immediately went back to Adventureland to watch The Festival of the Lion King.  The story of Simba was told, and some of the songs in the Lion King were sung.  It was also good.

Festival of the Lion King

Then we went back to Fantasyland and hoped to meet some more characters.  And we were lucky because we got there at the right time!

with Tinkerbell

with Minnie Mouse

with Mickey Mouse

with Donald Duck

with Pluto

with Winnie the Pooh

The kids each had their picture with each of the characters also.  The Park crew/staff could take your pictures with your own camera.  For the ones they took with their camera, you can opt to print them at the Kodak Photo Booth, for a fee of course! 😛

Gwen was quite disappointed because we only got to meet Snow White.  We also saw Rapunzel (from Tangled) but the line was as long as her hair so we didn’t get a picture with her. 🙂

with Snow White and Dopey

Rapunzel (from the movie Tangled)

Took a family picture at Cinderella’s castle.

We went back to Tomorrowland and took another ride at the Astro Blasters just like what we promised the kids.  After that, we had some snacks just in time before the Flights of Fantasy Parade.

After the parade, we did a little shopping.  Got ourselves some shirts and “pasalubong” for some relatives and friends.  Then, we went to Kodak Photo Booth to look at our pictures.  Since printing of the photos were expensive, we just chose this:

Ain’t it cool?! Tinkerbell’s on our hands! 🙂

We also got 2 keychains with our family picture.

Out feet started to hurt again after all the walking, so we decided to sit on a bench and rest for awhile.  But while resting, we took these:

with Chip n Dale

Minnie and Mickey

We also watched Stitch Encounter.  It’s an interactive show where Stitch talks to the audience.  It’s also good and fun.  The kids enjoyed being able to talk to Stitch.

from Stitch Encounter

 At 8PM, it was time for Tinkerbell’s Castle Illumination.  That included fireworks.

A little after that, Disney in the Stars Fireworks Display started.  Can’t really take good pictures of fireworks so I recorded a little of it through video.  We didn’t finish the fireworks display because we didn’t want to queue for the bus ride, and we are all getting cold.

So we bade goodbye to HK Disneyland. It was tiring, but we still enjoyed it immensely. 🙂