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Revisiting Club Laiya.

It's been years since I last visited Laiya. If I remember correctly, my last trip to the beach was in the summer of 2015. And that's because all the succeeding (Philippine) summer seasons until before the pandemic, we were enjoying spring in South Korea. That's approximately seven years of not being able to visit the beach!

So much has changed in Playa Laiya since my last visit, hence, this blog post update. For starters, the entire resort community is now known as Club Laiya, which encompasses not just the beach park, but also the pool deck, club house, and all the amenities, walkways, and forest trails within the area. 

Speaking of amenities, they now have Cocoons, which are perfect for overnight stays. These cute and quirky cylindrical pods are fully airconditioned and come with a queen-sized bed, a flat-screen TV, a mini-fridge, and a safety deposit box. 

Back in Laiya after almost seven years!

Aside from being cozy, this accommodation is also Instagram-worthy with its beach-themed mural paintings on the exterior, and starry night-themed interior. However, there are no bathrooms inside the pods. No worries though, since the clubhouse's bathrooms and shower rooms are just within an arm's reach. In addition, the pods also have a nice view of the pool and the beach, both of which are just a few feet away. 

Cocoons at Club Laiya. Rates start at Php 5000.

Eye-catching murals.

More of our Club Laiya experience after the jump!


Enjoy Nutritious Ginisarap Dishes Without Straining Your Budget.

With the continued soaring prices of onions and garlic, Filipinos are having a hard time adding these essential ingredients in their dishes. With that, home cooks are now looking for alternatives to continue serving their families delicious and nutritious dishes while still staying within their budget.

Ajinomoto Philippines Corporation (APC) offers an affordable and delicious alternative with Aji-GINISA® Flavor Seasoning Mix. With its powdered form, the flavor seasoning mix can easily bring out the gisa deliciousness in every dish, even without garlic and onion. For only Php 3.00 for every 8 gram pack, veggie dishes can become more enjoyable for both kids and adults alike.

With Aji-GINISA®, even without real onion and garlic in dishes, home cooks will still be able to achieve gisa deliciousness affordably and still prepare nutritious meals that their family can enjoy,” says Roann Co, APC’s General Manager of Corporate Planning and Public Relations.

Here are gisa delicious vegetable recipes made with Aji-GINISA® Flavor Seasoning Mix that homecooks can try at home:

Meatless Chop Suey
Meatless Chop Suey is a classic all-in-one meal that Filipinos love. It is a medley of vegetables filled with vitamins and minerals that helps maintain a healthy immune system. Not only is it delicious but it is also easy to make, just add Aji-GINISA® Flavor Seasoning Mix to bring that gisa flavor. See the full recipe here.

Dinengdeng is another Filipino dish filled with vegetables that are good for the body. The fiber in the vegetables help lower the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease while maintaining healthy hair and complexion. Add two packs of Aji-GINISA® Flavor Seasoning Mix to add more flavor to this healthy dish. Try the recipe here.

Ginataang Sigarilyas at Tinapa
This soup-based dish will warm up mealtimes with its delicious flavor. It is also highly nutritious: sigarilyas has fairly good amount of iron and B vitamins that helps maintain alertness and vitality. Level up this recipe with gisa flavor with Aji-GINISA® Flavor Seasoning Mix. See full recipe here.

Lumpiang Kalabasa
This popular dish is given a twist with a kalabasa filling. This vegetable is high in antioxidants like beta-carotene and polyphenols that help prevent illnesses like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. You can pair it with rice or enjoy it on its own! Full recipe here.

One of our key thrusts at APC is to promote a healthy lifestyle. These recipes are part of our Eat Well, Live Well promise, which aims to create quality products and services for good food and better health among Filipinos,” ends Co.

For more delicious and healthy recipes, visit Ajinomoto’s Cookmunity website at Aji-GINISA is available in the nearest stores and official online shops of APC Group.


My Bioessence Experience | Swedish + Hot Stone Massage.

I used to get massages quite often when I was still a single, corporate employee. Like, I'd treat myself to a massage almost on a monthly basis.

When I became a mom, massages then became quite a luxury. Me-time is considered a luxury when you have tons of chores to do and a kid to look after, if you understand what I mean. What used to be a monthly treat for myself became like a bi-annual thing (not even quarterly, haha).

And then the pandemic came, and massages became a thing of the past for me. 'Extinct', as I would jokingly call it. Spas, salons, and the like were not considered "essential goods/services" during the pandemic and were closed for the most part of 2020 until the early months of 2021, at least here in the Philippines. It was only during the latter part of 2021, when most cities and provinces in the country started lifting restrictions, that spas and salons slowly began to reopen. And while my siblings and my Mum got massages as soon as their favorite spa resumed operations, it took me quite some time to pluck my courage and treat myself to a much-needed massage. 

Yesterday, I finally did. After almost two years of struggling with COVID anxiety, I finally had the courage to walk into a spa and get a massage. But instead of visiting the spa where my Mum usually goes to, I went to Bioessence instead. Since I was already at SM San Pablo yesterday, I thought getting a massage there would be much more practical than having to commute elsewhere, spend a lot on gas fare, and get stuck in hellish traffic.

Bioessence Slimzone at SM City San Pablo.

A premium beauty and wellness center, Bioessence specializes in skin, slimming, and spa services tailor fitted for Filipinos. Its pioneer branch was built in Davao City in 1994 by its founder, Dr. Emma Beleno, a renowned dermatologist and skin care specialist. Now on its 29th year in the industry, Bioessence has over 30 branches nationwide, majority of them located in leading malls.

The services they offer.

You usually need an appointment to avail of Bioessence's services, but thankfully, they accommodated me even if I was a walk-in. And that's probably because not too many people get massages at 2pm like I did, haha.

Cozy waiting area.

My original plan was to get just the good old traditional Swedish massage, but the nice and congenial branch manager was able to convince me to make it a complete package and add the Hot Stone massage. I thought, well, since this is my first time to get a massage in two (almost three) years, might as well go a little extra! And so I did. I got the Swedish massage (Php 700) and added the Hot Stone massage (Php 380) for an hour and a half of well-deserved and badly needed R&R. 

The hallway leading to the treatment rooms.

As they prepared my 'treatment room', I sat in the waiting area and was offered a cup of tea. I asked for water instead, since I was at Starbucks earlier and had just finished my first cup of coffee for the day. It took them about ten minutes to prepare the room, but I didn't mind because sitting in the waiting area was already very relaxing, with the soothing scent of peppermint and lavender wafting throughout the place. 

A glimpse at one of the treatment rooms.

The branch manager then led me to my treatment room, where my therapist was waiting. Before we started my 'treatment', she asked me to change into my spa robe and soak my feet in a basin of lukewarm water. After a few minutes, she dried my feet and asked me to lie face down on the massage table for what turned out to be the most relaxing 90 minutes of my life. 

Treatment rooms are regularly cleaned and sanitized.

Halfway through my session, the therapist stopped for a few minutes to prepare the stones. And oh my goodness, the Hot Stone Massage was soooo soothing and warm and relaxing. As my therapist was rubbing the warm stones on my back and then lining them up along my spine afterwards, I was thinking, "this is one of the best decisions I have ever made, post-pandemic". The massage was so good that I seemed to have dozed off along the way. Lol!

Hot Stone Massage - highly recommended!

After my treatment, I was advised by my therapist to lie down for five more minutes, which I did. She also reminded me to drink lots of water for the next 24 hours, not shower immediately, and use warm water for bathing. After getting dressed, I was given a hot cup of tea - the perfect way to end a rejuvenating massage.

Thank you, Bioessence SM San Pablo!

Overall, I truly enjoyed my first Bioessence experience. Their services might be priced a bit higher compared to other spas here in San Pablo, but the quality, comfort, and results that you get is truly worth it. No more aching back and stiff joints! Definitely coming back for another massage!

2F SM City San Pablo
Brgy. San Rafael, San Pablo City, Laguna
(0910) 686 5920 / (049) 521 0119


Rizal Park Hotel's Good Fortune Menu awaits you on Lunar New Year.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!
The Lunar New Year is upon us, and with the Rabbit as the luckiest animal in the Chinese Zodiac, 2023 promises a year of prosperity, hope, and calm.

To celebrate the Year of the Water Rabbit and to usher in abundance and success, the historic Rizal Park Hotel in Ermita, Manila is treating its guests to a sumptuous, curated menu of authentic Chinese cuisine, available across the property’s dining outlets from Imperial Court to Cafe Rizal.

At the signature Chinese outlet Imperial Court, families and friends may celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with menu options designed specifically for the occasion. Start with the Good Fortune Menu at P28,888/table (10 persons) featuring 9 curated dishes such as Grilled Wagyu Beef w/ Honey Mustard Salad, Shrimp Baby Abalone Truffle Sauce, Fried Pigeon, and Steamed Garlic Crab. The menu comes with two complimentary bottles of white wine.

Guests craving for Peking Duck, Stir-Fry Scallop Szechuan Style, and Steamed Lapu-Lapu may choose the Prosperity Menu, which features these along with six more dishes. The Prosperity Menu is available for only P29,888/table of 10 persons, inclusive of two bottles of white wine or rose.

Imperial Court’s Lunar New Year menus are available from January 21 to February 5, 2023.

On Lunar New Year’s Day, enjoy a dimsum buffet of Siomai, Tikoy, Dumplings, Buchi and other delicacies at the hotel for only P600 – an irresistible offer that comes with celebrating over a glass of wine and a festivity of lion dance and firecrackers. In addition, guests can also dine at Cafe Rizal for its buffet of Chinese congee and side dishes.

For more information about Rizal Park Hotel’s dining offers for the Lunar New Year, call (02) 8804-8700. Follow their Facebook page and Instagram account

About Rizal Park Hotel
Opened in 2017, Rizal Park Hotel welcomes travelers to the exclusive property that was once Manila’s social hall, the Army and Navy Club (ANC). Designed by the renowned architect William Parsons and unveiled in 1911, the ANC played host to Filipinos and Americans who relaxed, played sports, and enjoyed the high life within its grounds. Meticulously conserved and restored into a boutique hotel by Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corporation, Rizal Park Hotel features 107 rooms and an array of sumptuous dining options, such as authentic Chinese restaurant Imperial Court and all-day dining Rizal Cafe. The hotel also offers relaxing fitness and spa amenities and indoor and alfresco event spaces. Its proximity to Luneta, Intramuros, and Manila Ocean Park makes it the ideal place to stay and enjoy the city.


My Aspirations for the New Year 2023.

Happy New Year!

We're almost halfway through the first month of 2023, yay! Although this may seem like too late for a new year blog post (I was out of town with the family last week, more about this in a separate blog post), I wanted to write one anyway, just so my friends and readers know that I'm still writing, my neurons are still working, and I'm still alive (and kicking) in the blogosphere.

In the past, I would usually write a yearend recap slash appreciation post; this time, I'd like to share my aspirations for the new year. I wouldn't want to call them as resolutions, since resolutions tend to be broken anyway. The word 'aspiration' has a kinder, brighter ring to it, which makes the process of turning them into reality more fun, more inspiring, and definitely more positive.

Here's what I aspire to do this year:

Blog more often, with passion.
I had been in a writing slump the past two years, and I won't deny it. This pandemic affected me so much - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being cooped up at home for months, losing my grandmother to COVID, being away from my husband because of travel restrictions, having to undergo quarantine twice because of a COVID scare in our neighborhood... these were just some of the dispiriting things that I had to deal with, and eventually contributed to my writing slump. I was uninspired and unmotivated for the most part, and even if I did manage to produce a few blog posts here and there, my writing felt and sounded very contrived and strained.

Dining out with my siblings and cousins.

Now that things are starting to go back to normal, I'm slowly easing back to life by going out in public more often and attending small gatherings with friends and family. By starting to reclaim my social life, I feel that my writing spark has been reignited, and hopefully, I will be able to write as often and as naturally as I did pre-pandemic.

Fix my sleep schedule.
My body clock has been out of whack for years now. This unhealthy habit is something that I urgently need to work on, more so now that Yue has resumed in person classes and I have to be up before 6am to make him breakfast and prepare his packed lunch. 

Photo credit: Pexels.

For starters, I have cut back on my caffeine intake, limiting myself to one cup in the morning and another in the early afternoon (no more coffee at night). Naps are now also a no-no, and whenever the urge to nap comes, I would keep myself preoccupied by taking a walk outside or playing Just Dance.

Save more money.
This resolution is almost always on top of everybody's list, each and every year. However, saving money can be a bit of a challenge for must of us this time around, with the rising inflation and skyrocketing cost of living. 

Photo credit: Pexels.

That being said, my husband and I have been looking into other ways to save money, aside from the usual budgeting and setting aside a fraction of our household income. We're leaning towards investments, and after much consideration and computation, mutual funds is the best choice. To give us an idea of how much we can possibly save and earn, we used this Investment Return Calculator

Make healthier food choices.
Instead of just saying that I will go on a diet to lose weight (and end up gaining all that weight back after a few cheat days or so), I will start with something more doable and realistic, like eating more "whole" food and cutting back on sugar intake.

Photo credit: Vanessa Loring on Pexels.

Losing weight has been a struggle for me since 2017 when I started taking corticosteroids for my asthma (doctor's orders, of course), and crash diets no longer work on me the way they did when I was in my 20s (I feel so old, haha). Perhaps by changing my perspective and mindset on dieting, like having better eating habits instead of not eating at all, will be more beneficial for me in the long run.

Be a coach, and no longer a controller.
So many things have changed since the pandemic, and that includes my son growing up. Now that Yue is fourteen years old, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that he's no longer the little boy that needs to be taught everything and given instructions every single time. He is now a teenager with a mind of his own, and should be given wings so that later on, he'll be able to take flight with confidence and follow his own path to success. 

Yes, Yue is now this tall.

If you've been following this blog over the years, then you probably have an idea of how involved I am in Yue's life, particularly in his academics. Now that he's older, it's time for him to spread his wings a little bit and start figuring things out on his own. I'll still be in the sidelines, of course, coaching and cheering him on, but no longer nitpicking at every single detail. Well, I'll probably nag him from time to time, especially in the mornings when he refuses to get up even if he's about to be late for school. 


Start the year right with New-tritious Pasta Recipes!

The new year is a good time to reflect on the year that was and the year that lies ahead. It's a great opportunity to try new things - a new sport, for instance. Or perhaps start reading a new book. Or better yet, adopt new, healthier habits like foregoing fast food deliveries for dinner, and eating homecooked meals instead.

One great way to do this is to try out new recipes that are easy to prepare, budget-friendly, and have high nutritional value. Pasta, for instance, is a quick and easy ingredient you can turn into a healthy and filling meal. There are also endless possibilities with pasta or “pastabilities” that you can whip up every day.

Kick off 2023 right with masarap, masustansya, and sulit dishes using a good quality ingredient like El Real Pasta. Here are some recipes that the whole family will enjoy:

Pinakbet Pasta.

Bet na bet na Pinakbet Pasta
Pinakbet is a Filipino ulam with pork and vegetables like squash, ampalaya, and tomatoes, which are all good sources of vitamins and minerals. You can change it up and make Pinakbet Pasta with El Real Healthy Pasta. The combination of crispy pork belly, hearty vegetables, and flavorful bagoong will give you a burst of flavors.

See the full Pinakbet Pasta recipe here.

Healthy Laing Pasta.

Spicy and creamy Healthy Laing Pasta
Add a spicy kick to your El Real Healthy Spaghetti by adding laing and chilis to it. The taro leaves used to make laing are known to be rich in vitamins A and C. For the sauce, it’s made with coconut cream to make it thicker and creamier.

See the full Healthy Laing Pasta recipe here.

Pesto and Parmesan Macaroni.

Go green with Pesto and Parmesan Macaroni
For a nutritious and filling macaroni dish, you can try making Pesto and Parmesan Macaroni. Made from basil, pesto is said to be a good source of vitamins, calcium, and iron, which makes it a great pasta sauce. Give your dish more flavor with some lemon juice and sour cream in the sauce, and top off your El Real Elbow Macaroni with chili flakes and parmesan cheese.

See the full Pesto and Parmesan Macaroni recipe here.

Healthy Sardine Spaghetti.

Healthy Sardine Spaghetti for your dose of seafood
Fish like sardines are an excellent source of vitamins B-12 and D, and other nutrients. Sardines can make a great pasta dish when mixed with oil, garlic, and a little lemon juice on top of El Real Healthy Pasta. See the full Healthy Sardine Spaghetti recipe here.

Creamy Spinach Pasta.

Creamy Spinach Pasta for all ages
If you want a dose of iron and vitamins, you can try adding spinach to your meals. A delicious way of incorporating this into a pasta dish is by mixing it with cream and ricotta cheese. You’ll get a nice creamy sauce with hints of spinach with every bite of El Real Healthy Spaghetti or any type of El Real pasta.

See the full Creamy Spinach Pasta recipe here.

Start the year right with sarap, sulit, at sustansya meals courtesy of El Real Pasta. You can now share nutritious pasta dishes that are also delicious with your loved ones, be it daily or on special occasions.

For more recipes, visit the For more information, follow


4 Things that will Uphold Homeownership.

Homeownership is an exciting and rewarding experience with a lot of responsibility. Whether you are a first-time homeowner or a long-time owner, it is important to make sure you are taking the necessary steps to maintain your home and remain a place of comfort and safety.

Photo credit: Mart Production.

This post will explore tips and guidelines to help you uphold home ownership and make owning a home as easy and enjoyable as possible. Read on to learn more!

1) Schedule Regular Maintenance Appointments
Homeownership can be overwhelming, but having a regular maintenance schedule will make it easier to manage. Regular maintenance appointments are essential for keeping your home running smoothly and avoiding costly repairs down the line. You can schedule maintenance appointments regularly to ensure your home is safe and functioning properly.

Photo credit: Ksenia Chernaya.

The most important maintenance appointment to keep up with is your HVAC system. Ensuring that your air conditioning and heating systems are working properly will save you money in the long run. Make sure to replace filters regularly and schedule yearly inspections to catch any potential problems before they become serious. Additionally, scheduling regular appliance maintenance appointments will keep them running optimally for longer.

Having a reliable handyman or contractor can be beneficial for taking care of basic maintenance tasks around the house. It’s important to stay on top of things like roof repair, gutter cleaning,, countertops upgrades (you’ll have a better choice with OPPEIN calacatta quartz), gas and water pipes upgrades, and other small repairs.

Overall, home ownership requires dedication and vigilance to maintain its value and protect its integrity.

Ahn Hyo Seop behind the scenes in Abyss (2019).

2) Do Your Research
It is important to do your research when it comes to home ownership. Knowing what you can and cannot do, understanding your local ordinances, and understanding the details of your homeowner’s insurance are all important components of being a successful homeowner.

You should understand all the rules and regulations of owning a home and the responsibilities of such a large investment. Take the time to read up on local zoning regulations, homeowner’s insurance policies, and other areas of home ownership that might be confusing or unclear.

Doing your research will help you stay informed and make more educated decisions about owning and maintaining a home. Additionally, it can give you peace of mind knowing that you are doing everything within your power to ensure a successful homeownership experience.

Photo credit: Pixabay.

3) Have an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is one of the most important steps to take regarding home ownership. When owning a home, unexpected repairs and maintenance costs can arise quickly. Without an emergency fund, homeowners can find themselves in a difficult situation. It is important to set aside an emergency fund to cover any unexpected costs to prevent this from happening.

It is recommended that homeowners set aside at least 3-6 months worth of living expenses in their emergency fund. This will ensure that you are covered in case of any unexpected costs. It is also important to make sure that your emergency fund is easily accessible in case of an emergency. Many financial institutions offer accounts that allow quick cash access when needed.

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio.

4) Invest in Good Insurance
Homeownership comes with many responsibilities, and one of the most important is making sure you have good insurance. Not only does this protect you from any damage to your property, but it also protects you from financial burdens. By investing in good insurance, you can rest assured that you’ll be protected in a natural disaster, accident, or other unexpected event.

When selecting an insurance policy, it’s important to research and choose a plan that will adequately cover your home. Consider how much coverage you need and what type of insurance best fits your needs and budget. You should also look into any discounts or incentives that may be available in your area.

It’s also important to regularly review your policy to ensure that it is up-to-date and covers the most recent changes in your home’s value. Additionally, if you make any improvements or upgrades to your home, you’ll want to make sure that they are reflected in the coverage provided by your insurance policy.

As seen on Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter (2019).

Owning a home is a great investment and a lot of hard work. Proper planning and preparation can make the process easier and more enjoyable. Following the tips outlined in this article, you can maintain your home ownership for years. Remember to schedule regular maintenance appointments, do your research, have an emergency fund, and invest in good insurance. These simple steps ensure that your home ownership experience is as easy and enjoyable as possible.