Friday, December 30, 2011

The year that was...

Just one more day and 2011 is finally over! Can I say I just can't wait for this year to end? I'm all excited for 2012 :) 2011 turned out to be a good year for me. Although I traveled less  which is kind of unusual for a wanderlust like me, I was also able to focus on the other aspects of my grown-up life -- like saving hard-earned money rather than spending it in travel, prioritizing relationships, focusing on work and all other things that matter.

So here are the highlights of my 2011 :) 

#1 - Travel

I traveled less this year compared to the past years but that doesn't mean I am slowly losing the wanderlust in me. It's just that there are other priorities I've wanted to achieve besides traveling.

This year, I traveled to Boracay, Bohol, San Juan, La Union (surfing makes me high!), Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, Baguio, and Iloilo and few more day trips and staycations within Manila.

#2 - Learning new things 

I dreaded Adobe Photoshop for the longest time because it intimidated me. I'm not the creative type, as you know. But the time has come when I have to learn and embrace it because my work calls for it. I started learning it by watching Erick create project covers for our reports. haha.. But of course, I can't always depend on him to do our covers since he's also one busy bee. So I had to learn it myself.  It was a love-hate relationship . I struggled at first but now I can say I can create a decent cover for our project proposals and reports. I am also learning Adobe InDesign to enhance the layout of our reports. Yay for that!

Currently, I am also handling a database project which started out as an ad-hoc task for me. As I often say, I'm not the person to manage this project. I'm getting comfortable managing the project and take ownership for it. I never thought that being a project manager could actually be a very fulfilling job given all the headaches that comes with it.
#3 - Family time

My dad came home last September and it meant more time to be with him. We celebrated Christmas in Iloilo, my dad's hometown. It was great seeing my grandmother who still has a very sharp memory despite her old age at 89. She can still remember all the small details in the family. Our house in Iloilo was finally finished so we can probably go there more often to visit grandma and relatives .. and we can visit Boracay, Guimaras, or Bacolod because they're all close to each other. It was really heartwarming seeing all my relatives in Iloilo. The last time we went there was four years ago and so much has changed but all for the good.

#4 - Running

I joined three fun runs this year: Condura Run, Hyundai Fun Run, and Integrity Run. I recently discovered the joy of running and its health benefits. I used to hit the gym but found it a bit boring except for my belly dancing classes. 

I also went for 10k on the Hyundai Run and finished it in 1 hr and 30 minutes or less. Not bad eh? 

#5 - Food trip

If there's anything that would top my activity list this year, it'd be eating out. Erick and I discovered a lots of restaurants and hole-in-the-wall food places that all served good food.
With the influx of vouchers, we were able to dine in otherwise expensive places also. Thus, I gained a bit weight which I'm liking since I was skin and bones before.

#6 - my BLOG

I started this blog in 2010 but took a break for a while. This year, I became active again in writing and I took time in writing my entries to make them informative and helpful especially the travel and food entries.Writing is therapeutic for me and provides a good break from my 9-to-6 office work.

So thank you for reading my blog :) Seeing the number of blog page views motivates me write better and more.

2011 proved to be a good year for me despite the feeling that something's lacking.  I'm really not sure what it is, but I just get that weird feeling. So, I'm hopeful for 2012. Just good vibes!

Happy NEW Year everyone!



Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Statement Tee Party

So last Monday, we had our company Christmas party at the Trag Hall of San Lorenzo Greenbelt Residences. For this year, our party theme is no other than.. Wear your favorite statement tee! I actually thought of this idea and it was eventually won the vote for this year’s party theme.

Having attended numerous themed Christmas parties, I know that not all attendees wear the required costume. I think some do not want to put an effort dressing up or just are just plain boring. Hehe. So i thought, why not have a theme that would encourage everyone to dress up for the party. After all, it’s just a statement tee!

So here are some of the fun and quirky statements that stood out during our party. Way to go guys!

I was the nerdy type during my high school so dressing up as a nerd is no effort :)

Nerdy me!
Shane on You ..because her name is Shane!
The boss speaks. We know right!

Will work for beer.
Ceeson’s Greetings! Cee’s in festive mood.
Dare to see what's inside.

To: Women, From: God. hahaha
Because we've been acquired. 
I <3 Halcrow

Yrish you a Merry Christmas!

Is it punk or phuk?
Mahalay daw.
Crazy and innovative
All I can say is Lah!
Proudly Pinay

Meh ganun
And guess who bagged the best statement tee award?!

It's the twin crocodile Lolongs.

the white Lolongs
Mistress and Wife
Whatever happened to Lolong, these two sure know about it! :D

It was fun and interesting seeing all the statement tees flaunted by my officemates. It brought the fun side of us "corporate slaves".

Have a great holidays everyone! XOXO

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Filipino fare at Café Via Mare

I always pass by Café Via Mare in Greenbelt 1 and the one in Landmark on my way home.  But I never had the chance to dine there. Seriously, I never knew what I was missing until I  discovered the joy of eating Filipino comfort food at Via Mare. First off, Erick had a Php2000 gift certifcate for Via Mare as a sort of reward or incentive he got from one of his projects. Greatness..


Café Via Mare prides itself as the café restaurant that serves traditional Filipino merienda fare in a very cosmopolitan setting. It was one of the very first establishments that led to the development of Manila's café scene. Not only it is famous for its merienda selection like bibingka and puto bumbong, but also for its favorite Filipino dishes.

We knew we won’t be able to consume all the 2k GC in one dining so we made like 2-3 visits to Via Mare. Let me share with you what dishes are a must-try.

If you’re in the mood to try some seafood, think no further and try their Adobong Pusit. This dish is an instant hit for me. I’ve always loved eating squid –  it may be grilled, stuffed, or served in a pasta. The baby squid meat was so tender and the adobo taste reminded me of how we cook our Adobong Pusit back home in Bicol.

Crispy binagoongan and pinakbet was Erick’s top pick. I'm really not a fan of pork binagoongan. Yes, I  crave for bagoong (shrimp paste) always but not when it's cooked with pork. But the bagoong blended well with the pork bellies and the pinakbet is something not to be missed.

Since I first tried Bagnet in Ilocos, I can’t help but look for bagnet dishes here in Manila. Via Mare’s version of Ilocos Bagnet is almost good as the one served in Ilocos. They reinvented it by making it as Ensaladang Bagnet. The crispy roasted pork tasted good with tomatoes and shallots in calamansi and bagoong dressing.

We tried Sinigang na Karne. It's one of the recommended dishes and had the right taste of tamarind broth. My favorite sinigang is from Sentro 1771 but Via Mare’s is also a good alternative. Plus, they have generous servings of meat in your sinigang. What’s not to like about that?

We also ordered the all-time Filipino favorite Kare-kare. Erick was not quite keen on ordering it but I insisted. Haha.. Let’s just say we loved it from the oxtripe, vegetables, peanut sauce, and bagoong alamang. The meat was tenderly cooked and the vegetables were fresh and cooked. I am a peanut butter person so I definitely love any dish with a peanut sauce or butte but the kare-kare was all good not just because of the peanut sauce.

For side dish, we ordered Fresh Lumpiang Ubod. Well, I didnt like it that much because I’ve bitten a garlic thinking it was ubod. They give you chopped garlic to complement the taste of lumpia but according to my 'very-forgetful boyfriend' I was the one who scooped the garlic and didn’t spread it evenly on the lumpia. I don’t remember doing that. Haha. But I see a few tables ordering it and Erick approved of it so it must be good. 

We also tried the Kalkag Rice which is basically fried rice with tiny dried shrimps. I must say it’s already a meal on itself. The serving size is for 2-3 persons.

And now for my favorite part of the meal.... desserts!

I was in for a dessert treat at Via Mare. The mais con yelo we ordered was one of the best iced desserts. Well, making a mais con yelo is no-brainer but Via Mare’s version was very creamy and the shaved iced was very thin making it very enjoyable to eat. It literally melts in your mouth.

We got curious with their summer shooters which is a dessert sampler including mais con yelo, sago’t gulaman, and guinomis so we went ahead and ordered it. Of the three, I like best mais con yelo and then guinumis which is sago or tapioca peals with milk and crushed ice  then topped with pinipig. I found the sago’t gulaman too sweet for my taste.

We wouldn’t miss to order their puto bumbong. It’s holiday season and where else can you order a good puto bumbong when you’re right in the smack of Makati. The puto bumbong tasted liked the one I usually buy right beside our home. Filipino desserts are  really no like no other!

Overall, I was very satisfied with our Via Mare dining experience especially with the taste of their food and the quality of the service. It will be no wonder if I'm back soon. I'm one happy eater :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Of birthday surprises

It was Erick's birthday last Wednesday and I thought to come up with a surprise for his birthday.  It was challenging this year to execute his birthday surprise since he's in Singapore. But I wouldn't be easily turned down by that.

A card sent via snail mail, an online birthday groupcard from his friends, and a birthday cake were the ones I thought from the start and decided that I could do all of them to make Erick's birthday special.

Birthday surprise #1

Birthday greeting card via snail mail.. This was Erick’s favorite birthday surprise.

I know I know.. sending letters via snail mail aren’t popular these days anymore in this age of Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and internet video calls. But hey, I would still love to receive old fashioned love letters and so I did to Erick! Exactly seven days before his birthday, I sent a greeting card thru our very reliable PhilPost. And I’m happy to say that they are very reliable indeed. I was told that it’d take a week before my mail gets delivered but voila it arrived in 6 days. Woot! for the fast mail service! My letter came just in time.

Birthday surprise #2

Online birthday groupcard from all of his friends

This one’s caught Erick in a big OOOOH.. thanks love! He surely enjoyed reading all the birthday messages from his family and friends as much as I enjoyed bugging/spamming his friends to sign his card :)

Here’s Erick’s birthday greeting card

Birthday boi ;p

I enjoyed doing this small project for him. I found this great paid greeting card service online. GroupCard provides greeting card services where you can ask your friends and families or just everyone else to sign the card for the recipient. What’s good is that everyone can chip in to a gift for the recipient. But a simple HBD greeting goes along way! Customizing the card is free but if you want it delivered to the recipient or print it you gotta upgrade for an annual membership or pay a one-time fee to be able to send/print the card. No worries, the one time fee is very minimal. GroupCard will deliver your card via email or post in the Facebook wall of the recipient. You can specify the date and time for delivery. Easy as 1-2-3.

It wasn’t easy asking all of Erick’s friends to sign in the groupcard. But with the help of his high school friends and officemates I’ve met, we were able to come up with birthday greetings from his 70 friends. Thanks so much friends!

Birthday surprise #3

Birthday cake from moi!

It's a white chocolate cake with strawberries on top

For me, a birthday is not a birthday without a cake. I remember seeing Erick’s surprised "teary-eyed" face when I surprised him with a birthday cake last year. Although I wouldn’t be able to see that this year which I was kinda looking forward to, I still wanted to give him a cake. I know he would still look like a teary-eyed birthday boy when he gets the surprise cake delivery.

This one is the most challenging birthday surprise plan. First, I had to search for all bakeshops in Singapore that provide cake delivery. I found a few but was not quite sure if they have a good delivery service.. until I found BreadTalk. They just started their delivery service and there are quite a few cakes in the selection to choose from. What’s really great is they have free delivery offered for a limited time to anywhere in Singapore. Greatness!  I ordered a cake online two days before Erick’s birthday but encountered some problem with the processing of the payment using my credit card. I had to call my credit card company to confirm if the payment went through since I didnt get a confirmation message. I posted a message for BreadTalk's Facebook wall. After a few minutes of posting it. I got the confirmation from them that they got my order. Good thing, they confirmed my order asap. It was already 12mn when I posted that message and I received a reply in a matter of minutes. Two thumbs up for the quick response!

Preparing all these surprises made me giddy all weeklong. hehe. Erick actually hinted a few days before his day that I was hiding a secret from him. Lol. I simply told him that he will know in time. I do miss him these days but somehow I was relieved from the "pangungulila" by preparing his birthday surprises. Who said that you can’t surprise your loved one when you are apart because of time, money, and distance. For sure, there are so many ways to do that but you gotta be creative and resourceful.

Happy Birthday Love! XOXO

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sentro 1771

Last night, I met with my high school friends Karen and Astrid for a small get-together. Karen is in Manila for her 2-week vacation from the US. It’s been almost two years since we last saw Karen. Since I work in Makati CBD and I will be coming from the office, we decided we’d meet at Greenbelt 3 for dinner.

We still look so much like high school girls :) 

We let Karen decide where she wanted to eat since she’s the balikbayan who probably was craving for some good Filipino food. Without a blink, she said she wanted to eat at Sentro 1771. 

Sentro 1771 offers a modern Filipino cuisine. They serve familiar Filipino favorite dishes but infused with a cosmopolitan dimension. I’m sure that everyone would agree that Sentro is one of the Filipino restaurants where you can bring your balikbayan family and friends or foreigner visitors.

We would not miss to order their Sinigang na Corned Beef (Php 595/sharing).

Sinigang na Corned Beef 
When you order the sinigang, they would let you taste first the tamarind soup and you can request to make it more spicy or sour depending on your preference. I was still full by the time we had dinner because I had one large Gong Cha milk tea but I just couldn’t resist the Sinigang na Corned Beef.

The broth was perfectly concocted and the corned beef chunks are firm and soft. Truly one of the best sinigangs in town!

We also ordered Fried Galunggong Fillets (Php 220). Karen liked so much the galunggong that she ordered another plate.

Rated GG
We also had Adobong Kangkong (Php 80) as side dish.

Adobong Kangkong 
I wasn’t really feeling hungry that night and the Sinigang na Corned Beef was more than enough to satisfy me.

I’m one of those people who frown upon taking pictures in the bathroom. But seeing Sentro’s bathroom awed me. I want a bathroom like this. So please excuse the bathroom photos :) I just can't ignore it.

Nini in Manila 20111
Bathroom love at first sight!
It was a good night! Seeing my high school friends changed my Friday night routine. The food and ambiance at Sentro 1771 and the company of closest friends surely made my day complete after a weeklong of stressful work days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The week that was.

I’m finally breaking my week-long blog hiatus. The past weeks were very eventful and I was juggling between work and personal life. There were tons of things to accomplish in the office. We were finishing around 2-3 project proposals and reports weekly. I was preoccupied overseeing the completion of the consultants database where I am acting as a project manager. The regional director visited the Manila office and we were required to provide a team presentation. And there were nights that I had to work overtime for a project proposal. Spell STRESS for me.

On the other hand, I was also busy helping Erick prepare for his Singapore trip. We were running some errands, packing his stuff, and organizing his things since he was moving out from his place. He left last Sunday. I admit I’m feeling a little down these days since I’m not used to not seeing him at all. The longest time that we’ve been apart since we got together was two days. Beat that. It wasn’t easy for both of us. But sometimes we are compelled to do things for the better. After he’s gone, I was feeling uninspired and I couldn't think of anything to write. After all, Erick has always my partner-in-crime, whether it be out-of-town trips, shopping spree, pigging out, watching movies, or just simply staying at home..

But hey, I realized that life must go on. At least I still get to talk to him everyday. And if I can’t take anymore the distance, Singapore is just three hours away! We can do this! So, I’m slowly going back to my old self and I'm ready to take on new adventures on my own. I’ll keep you posted guys!  XOXO

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hydrotherapy massage at Ace Water Spa

Last weekend, instead of joining the mad crowd trooping out of Manila we decided to spend it the long weekend at home. These past few weeks have been really scorching hot, well except for some days. One of the best ways to escape the heat is to spend in the water and combine it with a good massage.

I purchased two vouchers (Php299/each) from Ace Water Spa for a 4-hour hydrotherapy massage via CashCashPinoy. Regular rates are Php550/adult and Php250/kid. We called up Ace Water Spa's reservations a few days ahead and they confirmed that we can just come to the spa any day we want,there was no need to reserve slots. So last weekend, with the unbearable Saturday heat, we thought it was time to visit Ace Water Spa.

Ace Water Spa follows the European concept of therapeutic spa that utilizes ultrasonic jet system that massages specific areas of the body and when combined with heat, it removes oils,fats, and other non-essential materials from the skin. This results to slimming and good blood circulation. This type of massage is is also more commonly called as hydrotherapy massage.

We arrived in their Banawe branch around 4pm on a Saturday. At the reception, we were given stubs for our lockers. As I entered the locker room, the attendant requested for my slippers to be taken off and provided me my locker key.

The locker room consisted of shower cubicles, lockers, toilets, and changing rooms. It was clean and very well-maintained. I did not see any spot of untidyness but I just didn't like stepping on a wet rubber-matted floor. But other than that, the locker room was spotless. Two thumbs up for Ace Water Spa on cleanliness!

I immediately changed into swimming clothes and met Erick outside the waiting area. I must say that fitted swimwear must be worn during the hydrotherapy massage. It would be better if a one-piece swimsuit will be used. I am guilty of this. I brought my 2-piece string bikini thinking that it was just okay but I felt awkward. Good thing, I bought an extra tight-fitting swimwear. For males, fitted swimwear like swimming trunks or cycling shorts are required. Boardshorts are not allowed.

The water spa was big enough but since it was a long weekend, the spa was crowded. It seems that everyone was there to beat the summer heat that afternoon. I also like the fact that cameras of any kind are not allowed in this establishment because this is a spa and not a resort.

There are five main areas in the spa which you can use: kids area, lapping pool, hydrotherapy massage area, hot herbal pools, and sauna and steam rooms.

The kids area was a treat for both kids and those young at heart. There are a number of water activities to choose from. I especially loved the Lazy River where you can just enjoy floating in the current using a floating mat.And oh there was also the Bucket Splash where you can pull the bucket from above using a rope and cold water will be splashed to you.

The lapping pool was for spa-goers who would love to take a swim in the pool. The pool was divided into two: fun swimming area and non-stop area. As the name suggests, when you decide to swim in the non-stop area you should be aware that there are other people swimming behind you, thus you have to continue swimming until you reach the other end. The whole pool is just 4 feet deep so you wouldn’t worry about getting drowned.

On the other hand, the hydrotherapy massage area is one huge and spacious pool with more than 20 unique and automated ultrasonic massage system. It is equipped with therapeutic aquatic jets for you to relax and target those tired muscles.  The massages can be categorized into soft, moderate, and hard massages. I personally liked the bubble bed where you can lay down comfortably and feel the bubbles massage your back, buttocks, and feet. I also had a great massage time in the chest and waist jet chairs. In the waist massage, the water pressure vibrated and massaged my tummy and waist. I felt like losing a few inches after. What you can do is alternately use the aquatic jets to target specific parts of your body such as the tummy, chest, back, and leg areas. Although the place was packed, we were able to maximize the aquatic jets since the other spa-goers were all courteously taking turns in using the water equipments. Plus points for this! Also since this is spa and not a resort, the people are not so much rowdy..well except for the kids.

The hot herbal pools are my top favorite in the spa mainly because the pools are scented with natural herbs. In this area, there are separate sections for men and women which is just actually just adjacent to each other. There are three pools in each area: mint pool at 32 degrees, jasmine pool at 36 degrees and the hottest of them all- the lavender pool at 40 degrees. Persons with high blood pressure are not advised to soak in the hot pools for it may trigger their blood pressure to rise. There are steel neckrest/side handles in the pool where you can rest your neck and head to balance your body’s temperature.

To fully maximize the benefits of the aromatic herbal pool and prevent you from exhaustion, you can alternately dip in the hot pool and in the cold pool. I did this so I can endure staying in the hot pool. If you are the type who easily gets cold, dipping in the cold pool once or twice would cause your feet to freeze and feel numb. I can only bear plunging once on it and then I run to the hot herbal pool to defy the coldness. It’d also help if you hydrate especially when you already feel parched. After all, there’s a free flowing potable water in the area.

Lastly, there are also steam and sauna rooms separate for men and women. But when we were there, only one steam and one sauna rooms are open. That means sharing the rooms with the opposite gender which wasn’t bad at all if you want to spend it with your friends. We spent five minutes in the steam room since I am not really comfortable with the steam getting into my eyes. I was wearing contact lenses. And I find it really hard breathing in the steam room, the air was just so thick. But if you have colds, the steam would help clear your lungs and air passage. We stayed in the sauna room for 15 minutes and just waited for the hour glass to finish the time.
By this time, we spent a good three hours already. Believe it or not, we felt exhausted and sleepy from all the aquatic jet massages and dipping in the hot herbal pools. We decided to have a quick nap in their rest area. Feeling recharged, we went to the lapping pool and swam for a few minutes.

The Lazy River was really my favorite so we went back there once more and just laid on our backs in the floating mats as the current gently pushes us.

After that, we decided it was time to shower and change clothes. It took me around 40 minutes to shower and dress up. Ace Water Spa’s locker rooms also have free lotion, hair gel, and cotton buds. They even have free plastic bag for your wet clothes.

The hydrotherapy massage was good, relaxing, and fun. It really felt like getting a real massage from a therapist. My legs and tummy areas were firmer. My back and shoulder areas felt relieved. It’s really like stepping out from a spa! Plus having fun in the water!

Ace Water Spa is my new discovery. I know i know, they have been here for quite sometime with two branches already – Pasig and QC. I am definitely coming back! And just to let you know that I had a really good hydrotherapy massage at Ace. I had a nice sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and energized.

Hydrotherapy massage, you will keep me coming back at Ace.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Birthday Staycation

For my  2xth birthday, Erick and I decided to have a staycation just here in Manila. Staycations have been becoming popular these days especially for urban professionals and families who don't have the luxury of time to get away from work or responsibilities at home.  Staycation is just staying in the comforts of your own home or somewhere close to your home for vacation instead of traveling to a destination.

Last year, we celebrated my birthday in Bangkok. Although I enjoyed my birthday getaway with my girlfriends and the boyfriend, I kept thinking about home. So for this year’s celebration, I had it simple and low-key. It was a simple dinner with the family and a birthday staycation.

I must say that I’m very persistent when chasing great travel deals. We attended the Philippine Travel Mart (see related post here) last September and I was able to book a discounted overnight stay at A.Venue Suites in Makati. Aside from that, during the travel mart we booked our stay with Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, San Fernando La Union. Read the first and second parts of my Santorini-esque experience. 

Our very suite stay

We arrived at A.Venue Suites a little past 2pm, just in time for check-in. It took awhile for the receptionist to accommodate us. He was the only one in the front desk and there were like five of us waiting for him to attend to us. So anyways, we patiently waited for our turn. I filled out some forms and paid an incidental fee.

After checking their records, he informed us that they ran out of deluxe room which I reserved weeks ago so they’re upgraded us to a two-bedroom family suite. Yey! Good things come to those who wait. What a great birthday treat :D

We immediately proceeded to our room at the 12th floor. And the moment we opened our door, we can help but say that the suite was huge. There was a living room, dining area, and kitchen.

Living and dining areas
The moment I saw how big is our room, I wanted to text all my friends that it was house party tonight care of moi.. haha but of course, it was such late notice so I didn't. 

There was a smaller bedroom with a single-size bed and a study desk.

Bedroom 1 aka the smaller room
The master bedroom was complete with a queen size bed, study desk, wall-mounted flat screen TV, closets, and the bathroom.

chillaxin in the master bedroom
nooks of the master bedroom
The bathroom was small but was equipped with the basic necessities. There was a bath tub which is a + point although it was small. There could have been a view while you soaking in the tub – but the outside was a construction site for another hotel/ condominium complex.
the cozy bathroom
Yes, I brought the whole bathroom with me
Our hotel suite has no view at all. Everywhere you look, it’s all construction site.

There was also a hint of funny smell in the suite. It smelled like cigarette smoke that stayed in the couch and the room. 

Another downside of the whole suite is that the rooms would have to share the bathroom which is inside the master’s bedroom.

But other than that, we are satisfied with the hotel room. As soon as we settled in the room and organized our things, we just watched TV the whole afternoon and went online. The hotel has a wifi service but you have to pay for it. Good thing I brought my very portable Globe Wimax.

It was already 6pm when we prepared for our dinner date.

the maxi dress is a gift from Erick and my koosh sandals is from VNC :)

The birthday dinner

It has been planned long before that we’d have the buffet dinner at the Spirals in Sofitel. But unfortunately, as you all probably know the famed Spirals was closed for renovation after Typhoon Pedring storm surge flooded the ground floor of Sofitel where the restaurant was also located.

It was hard thinking of another alternative since we’ve been dead-set to try Spirals buffet. Oh wells. We decided we’d just have dinner at Serendra in Bonifacio Global City. I’ve been hearing good food reviews about Mamou so we tried our luck to get a table there. We arrived at Mamou around 7pm and the attendant reserved a table for us at 8:30 pm. Okies, not a problem.

We checked the shops at Serendra and BHS and then we landed at Topshop where I bought a cute orange bikini. When I was a bit younger (gosh I feel old now), my hobby was to collect swimsuits since my friends and I love hitting the beach almost every month. It was only recently that I had to stop this addiction and instead buy clothes that would actually cover my whole body :D I didn’t buy it but Erick seemed to see in my eyes that I really wanted that cute bikini. So being a good boyfriend, he bought it for me as another birthday gift. Thanks love <3!

We then received a text message from Mamou’s that we already have a table. So we rushed back to the restaurant.

Mamou is one the best restaurants in Serendra and Bonifacio High Street according to my favorite food blog, OurAwesome Planet. It has one the best steaks in Manila and its other entrée dishes could not be missed too.

Mamou's homey ambiance
The restaurant has a homey ambiance for family dinners and get-togethers which makes it a perfect venue for those special occasions. The place is cozy and has an intimate ambiance. We were seated in small corner near the counter. 

We ordered the following.

For appetizer..

Truffle-flavored Vegetable Mushroom Dip with Whole Wheat Melba Chips (Php 195)
We both  loved this appetizer especially the mushroom dip. We kept on munching it until we realized it was gone. That's how we liked it so much. It's also very light on the stomach.

They also gave us complimentary white and wheat bread and butter placed in a small woven basket. The bread was very soft.

Complimentary appetizer
And for our entrées...

I wasn't very happy when they served my plate. First off, it wasn't the look of the Asian Duck I saw from other pictures. Where's the duck?? Look and dig till you find it. It was actually cut into strips instead of a quarter serving of duck.

What it lacked in presentation, it compensated for its taste. Although I did not taste the duck in my meal, the chorizo rice is already good by itself.
Asian Duck with Red Chorizo Rice (Php395)
The Roast Pork and Chicken is Mamou's version of citrus rubbed pork and chicken , buttered onions, red or white Cuban rice (Erick had the red rice), cinnamon saba, and black beans.
Roast Pork and Chicken (Php345)
I think this plate is one of those food where you get the best of everything. There's pork, chicken, vegetable, rice, and even a fruit. Their taste complemented each other. I surely loved this entrée although this wasn't my order.

And lastly for dessert.. It is always the favorite part of my meal.

Whew.. I love their Dark Chocolate Sans Rival! I can be so shallow when it comes to sweets, so please bear my indulgence for the Sans Rival.
Dark Chocolate Sans Rival (Php180)
By the time, we were having our dessert I was feeling very sleepy which Erick noticed. I don’t know if the food was such a comfy food that evoked my feeling to sleep. I felt very bloated after our meal. We finished dinner around 10pm and since I wasn’t feeling very lively that night, we went home to our hotel.

I was feeling a bit guilty because I dozed off to sleep as soon as we got back to our hotel. I was such a lousy birthday girl that night. Me thinks.

Things always get better in the morning as they say… I woke up with a slight fever and I can’t seem to move my body normally. Every step is an effort for me. I was officially SICK. Boo.

But since I am still mobile, we went down Azzuro Bar in the 4th floor to have our breakfast, I wasn’ hungry to eat but I needed to get something in my stomach. The breakfast spread was limited with soup, fried rice, adobo, scrambled eggs, breads, pastries, and cereals.

We checked out the pool after our breakfast. Erick went for a swim while I stayed in the pool bed.

Pool area

There are two pools - one for adults and the other one for kids. There wasn't any other guests that time so the place was all to ourselves.  I learned that the upper floors of A.Venue is actually a residential condominium based from what I read in the pool policy.

They also have a small gym in the hotel but we weren't able to check that out.

We went back to our room and prepared for check-out at 12nn.

I loved the whole idea of staycation so I guess I'll be having more of these vacations. It's self-paced, relaxed, inexpensive, and fun. Who says you have to travel far to have a vacation?
Our very suite staycation