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.