Archive for the 'HEADLINES' Category



Traveling and eating.

Food and places.

These are indubitably inseparable.

Each time I set foot in a country that’s absolutely new to my senses, I try my best not to leave without sampling any dish that at least represents that place, or any plateful delight that could make my days more memorable. Frequently, I crave not only for the food itself, but there’s so much longing for vivid moments inked in my memory to be re-experienced, to be replayed.

Imagine my joy when I read the below email sent to me by, asking my humble recommendation of the best restaurants from various cities I’ve been to.


email thebetsy

Admittedly, it’s flattering (and overwhelming). I’m honored actually. No word is enough to express my gratitude.

So without further ado, here’s my random list of remarkable tastes from memorable cities…


Char Koay Teow, from Kafe Heng Huat, Lorong Selamat, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Dubbed as Malaysia’s gastronomic paradise, Penang boasts of diverse flavors, textures and tastes. Of all the countless dishes from local ethnic groups of Malays, Chinese and Indians, I consider Char Koay Teow as my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish. My taste buds fell in love with every plate of fried flat noodles, mixed with chili sauce, egg, fresh sprouts, cockles, Chinese chorizo or pork sausage and large prawns!

During the years of 2010 to 2013, when I had Butterworth, Penang as my second home, I usually satisfy my craving for CKT by going to the island via buses and ferry, just to indulge myself with such noodle dish, cooked on the spot in a hawker stall in Gurney Drive or in Kafe Heng Huat at Lorong Selamat, Georgetown. Full blog post here :



Hainanese Chicken Rice, from Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House, Chinatown, Singapore.

Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House became a word of mouth after Anthony Bourdain gave it a thumbs up.  So famous, that what made it popular became one of my favorite chicken dishes too –Hainanese Chicken Rice…(believe me, this plate tasted so much better than it looks on photo). The rice was boiled with seasoned chicken stock; it’s already tasteful sans the tender chicken itself. Full blog post here :


buttermilk kettle
Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Kettle, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines.

Kettle’s brilliant expression of the usual comfort food, fried chicken left all of us in awe and wonder. From its crispy and lightly battered skin (Sinful. Spells HYPERLIPIDEMIA, I know!), the tender chicken fillets in huge fractions were gloriously seasoned to perfection! They’re beautiful and ultimately delicious even without condiments! However, for complete Kettle experience, you need to dip a chunk of that happiness to its country gravy and drizzle it with cajun honey, toy it in your mouth, swallow smoothly then dunk your fork to those equally tasteful honey glazed cornbread muffins. Bliss! Full blog post here :




Exotic Chicken Salad, 1001 Nights Tea, Arabian Tea House, Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE.

My so-called comfort place in Dubai at present is Arabian Tea House in Bastakiya, Old Dubai. I love their 1001 Nights Tea from Sri Lanka. Fruity. Sublime. Soothing. They also have Green Tea and Jasmine, White Tea Jasmine and Marigold, English Breakfast, Early Grey, Fairytale, Turkish Delight, Ceylon Sencha, Exotic Paradise, Milk Oolong, Raspberry and Mint, Mysterious Passion and a whole lot more teas!

From their menu, I usually opt to have Exotic Chicken Salad.  Heavenly!

Served with complimentary Arabic bread, the Exotic Chicken Salad is the most delicious and freshest I’ve had! The fusion of textures and flavors of ripe mango and avocado, cucumber and lettuce was simply divine! The BBQ-flavored chicken also doesn’t disappoint. I can have this simple all-in-one-meal plus that 1001 Nights tea as my last meal when I die. I kid you not. Full blog post here :



yakiniku tokyo
Yakiniku Lunch Buffet, Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan.

Price for lunch buffet inclusive of drinks (sodas, juices, coffee) back in 2010 was Y1,000 and for dinner -it’s a whopping Y3,000/pax!  I don’t have idea what Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten serves for dinner but obviously, it must be something better as it’s thrice expensive compared to their lunch. Nonetheless, the marbling of the beef slices to grill, the tenderness of the pork and freshness of the fish cuts, and the pure excitement of grilling your own food made the entire dining experience memorable. Full blog post here :



Special Halo-halo, Iceberg, Timog Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines.

If there’s one dessert that could best describe our being Filipino, it’s our very own, Halo-Halo in my own opinion. Troop to Iceberg restaurant in any of its branches in Metro Manila or to any street vendors of Halo-Halo in any parts of our country and you’ll know what I mean. Full blog post here :



Assa Mosa restaurant near Mount Nebo – Middle Eastern Buffet, Jordan.

I was never fond of eating lamb dishes unless it’s cooked well without leaving an after-taste. Luckily, my taste buds were treated to a few delicious lamb dishes I’ve ever sampled! I never found a single fault on everything we’ve feasted! Jordanian-Arabic food was that good!

I loved the Shish Kebab, the Oozie rice dish that was nicely seasoned,  the hummus dip, the local salads and everything that I paired with a small bottle of that smooth-tasting local red wine, appropriately called Mount Nebo. Full blog post here :



Our lunch at one of the rooftop restaurants in Kathmandu, Nepal.

We had vegetable momo (Newar dumplings) instead of chicken momo (others offer buffalo momo) simply because there’s bird flu in Nepal during the time of our visit. How exciting, isn’t it? Going back to momo; We had it two ways – fried and steamed and found it just okay, nothing to rave about. What made it unusual or special perhaps, was its dip compared to the soy and chilies of Chinese. Full blog post here :



Salmon Sashimi, Duo of Gravlax, Seafood Extravaganza Dinner Buffet, Sarkies, E&O Hotel, Penang, Malaysia.

Two words. Favorite and fresh! Full blog post here :


Best Pad Thai on my list. From a hawker stall in Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand.

Flavorful, mouthwatering, fragrant and inexpensive dishes pleased us all on our very first meal in Bangkok. From an eatery in the heart of Chatuchak Weekend Market, we had Shrimp Fried Rice, Pad Thai, Pork Barbecue that we’re missing in Penang, and a few fried goodies for our son, Gabby. Full blog post here :

I could continue to enumerate more however, these are the top 10 on my list as of present. Each taste reminds me of a moment. Every texture and spoonful of goodness relay something to cherish.




18 July 2013, Thursday.  Some days are really better than the others. After a long and tiring day at work (I conducted two-hour-lecture in Medical Parasitology, then facilitated an-hour-written-exam and another 2-hour-laboratory-exam in 3 different blocks of our work place), I cannot complain but rather overwhelmed and grateful! I receieved a priceless reward, enough for me to celebrate with a tachycardic heart and a smile stretching from ear to ear. Today, I found this inside our mail box : 

July-August 2013 issue of Lonely Planet Magazine Asia by Regent Media in Singapore. Get your copy now!

For the second time around, one of my amateurish and very raw photos was published in this esteemed travel magazine’s Postcards section. How could you not be so happy and very proud with that? :D  If you must know, my very first photo on Lonely Planet Magazine Asia was printed last year, blogged HERE!

LP ANS_5280 - Copy

I was silently euphoric.

My Ringed Beauty. Published on glossy-double-page-goodness! Happiness took over, baby! :)

When I went to Chiang Mai,Thailand, the so called, “Rose of  the North” from our current home base in Penang on the last days of December 2012, I was prepared to experience something extraordinary, or probably something new to me.  Alone and on a tight budget, I braved to experience traveling with just a backpack (OK, so plus the laptop bag!), without the usual comfort when I slept for 3 days in a 6-pax-per-room-backpackers’ guesthouse for the very first time. One of my remarkable moments in Chiang Mai was when I met a few Burmese refugees who fled from Myanmar to Northern Thailand years ago because of their personal and political reasons. The rest of the story and my photos of the Padaung Karen Hill Tribe, or more commonly known as, the Long Neck Women on my blog post, HERE!

Fast forward to few months after, I submitted some of my captures taken from the said short trip to Chiang Mai with few of my photos taken in Penang to the Editor of Lonely Planet Magazine Asia. Frankly, I was surprised when the editor replied back to my email and noted that she liked and very much interested with my photo of a Padaung girl with a clasped smart phone on her hands while wearing her culture and tradition around her neck. Perhaps, the photo has more stories to tell.

So while I was ecstatic to see that glossy double-page-spread on LP Magazine-Asia, it almost felt I reached Nirvana when I flipped pages 5 and 6 (other than pages 10 & 11) and saw them containing the same photo of mine! If my Mathematics is correct, my photo appeared in four beautiful pages of the magazine. That’s too sweet!

Thank you very much, Lonely Planet Magazine Asia! Maraming salamat! Mabuhay! :)




Like a surgeon with his list of procedures done on the operating table. Like an architect with his volume of blueprints drawn for the structures he built. Like a lawyer with his number of  legal cases won for his clients. I’m very proud that blogging has been my passion for the past 6 years and counting. Apparently, it has been occupying the biggest fraction on the pie graph of my limited social life.

Documenting our family’s fun adventures from our dining table to wherever our feet lead us, so that I (and hopefully Gabby) will have something online to look back, particularly when we’re all old and gray, has been surprisingly beneficial! But over and beyond freebies and loot bags, sponsorships, invites, and yes, some recognition, the most engaging part of being a blogger, in my opinion is having the opportunity to meet people who share the same passion. Certainly a big plus when bloggers go to events, travel here and there, eat and do things they love to do together, then eventually share the experiences to their readers. Engaging. Informative. Entertaining. Interesting. Fascinating. Never boring.

Within the past 3 years of living in Penang as an Overseas Filipino Worker, it’s been a pleasure to meet fellow Filipino Bloggers beyond Philippine shores.  This post randomly enumerates our casual meetings with them in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Before we checked out from our 3D2N sponsored accomodation at Quayside Hotel and Halia Inc. Restaurant & Coffee Bar on our second visit to Melaka last June 2013, Jun Baris of GalangPusa.Wordpress.Com with his charming wife, Cynthia came over to meet us for few minutes before we head back to Penang.  They were even thoughtful in bringing Gabby two packs of ChocNut as pasalubong! Thank you Jun & Cynthia!

Read Jun’s blog posts on his Malaysian adventures and more HERE!


The youngest and the very first bloggers from the Philippines that we met in George Town, Penang were Lloyd of  TheLostBoyLloyd.Com and Dan of HappyWanderer.Com. I toured them for more than 6 hours within George Town to Gurney Drive during the 2012 George Town Festival. We went to Pinang Peranakan Mansion where we even witnessed a prenuptial photoshoot, strolled to Muslim’s Mosques, Taoist, Buddhist and Hindu Temples which are all harmoniously existing within a few meters away. Diversity in this side of Asia isn’t only observed in religions but gastronomic delights as well. With all the rich cultures intertwined in Malaysia, it’s always a feast in almost all corners of Penang being the country’s food capital! We savored local restaurant and hawker foods to our delight! My only regret was not photographing the two for this blog. Nonetheless, I’m happy to be their half-day-tour guide in the island!

Glad to introduce my ultimate favorite Malaysian dish to them : Char Koay Teow!
Lloyd, Dan and I also sampled Penang’s famous desserts…
Ais Kachang, Cendol and Bubur Chacha! Sarap! Sedap!

They also spotted Lithuanian Artist, Ernest Zacharevic while working on his commissioned murals for George Town!

Dan and Lloyd, Maraming salamat sa pasalubong! Our favorite!!!
The visit of Lloyd and Dan to George Town blog post HERE! Read also Lloyd’s own take on their Penang experience HERE! I also suggest you visit Dan’s Happy Wanderer Blog HERE! 

Few months after, the blogger from Angono, Rizal, Anton Carranza Jr. revisited Malaysia and conquered Penang on foot in few days with his lovely wife, Teresa. They literally roamed around George Town on their own the day after I met them for dinner. I brought them to hawkers in Gurney Drive too but I thought, since they already tasted offerings from hawker stalls in Jalan Alor in Kuala Lumpur, it would be better if they try steamboat buffet in Seoul Garden inside Plaza Gurney Mall.

*Photo courtesy of Anton from his blog, PusangKalye.Net. Read his blog series on their Penang trip via his blog HERE!

Ivan Man Dy, the well-traveled Filipino Heritage Expert cum Tour Guide Extraordinaire and many other hats to his name has been to Penang several times even before I came to this Malaysian state to work in 2010.  We met Ivan several times in Manila but our first meeting with him in Penang was over Chicken Tandoori and Garlic Cheese Naan savored with barehands at Restoran Kapitan in Little India, George Town; blogged  HERE!

We met Ivan initially in Penang when I was a few pounds lighter and Tina hasn’t started her diet and physical regimen yet. She’ll kill me for this, hehehe!

Ivan decided to pay George Town, Penang another visit but this year, his trip was so timely on the city’s anniversary of incription as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. From our favorite local Indian-Malaysian restaurant last year, we brought Ivan to a sponsored and sumptuous Wine and Dine Dinner Buffet at no less than Sarkies at E&O Hotel; blog post HERE! 


After that Sarkies dinner, Ivan, Tina, Gabby and I went to Khoo Kongsi to watch the few moments of GTF2013. We were amazed and amused at the Taiwanese Puppet Show at the courtyard of one of the grandest clan houses in the island. We also got a chance to meet some local performers, who were all in their traditional attires.


Here are Ivan Man Dy’s pasalubong to us. Maraming salamat!

Visit Ivan Man Dy’s OldManilaWalks.Com and reserved a walking tour with him HERE!

Joey and Krissy of BoundForTwo.Com are Filipino bloggers currently based in Kuala Lumpur. We first met late last year when I visited Malaysia’s capital to renew my passport at the Philippine Embassy. We had some sushi and sashimi at a Japanese restaurant in Pavilion Mall.  Their blog post HERE!

This year, they also decided to explore Penang during George Town Festival. They stayed in the island over the weekend and Gabby and I (because Tina chose to do a ton of household chores) accompanied them to Kafe Heng Huat in Lorong Selamat where the most delicious Char Koay Teow that I’ve tasted with the most plump prawns and bowls of Ais Kachang among others are served. We also went to Thai and Burmese Buddhist Temples in Pulau Tikus, G Hotel and the famous hawkers and Plaza Gurney Mall in Gurney Drive. Like Anton and Teresa, they also toured the island by themselves before and after we met them. Thanks for the visit, Joey and Krissy!



During the 2013 Blog Awards held by Ministry of Tourism where this site was awarded for two consecutive years as Best Expat Blog Award Winner, three topnotch Filipino Bloggers were flown in from the Philippines to participate as speakers in the conference held for the event. We met Tonyo Cruz, Vince Golangco and Blogie Robillo during the awarding ceremony that same night. Blog post HERE! 

On this photo with the Honorable Tourism Malaysia Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen (center wearing yellow gown) are Filipino bloggers Vince Golangco (standing second from right) of  , Blogie Robillo (standing second from left) of and Tonyo Cruz (standing third from right) of


Tina, Gabby and I were invited by Hong Kong Disneyland for 3D2N sponsored trip and accomodation with full meals, together with Filipino celebrity bloggers.

Lesley (third from left on the photo above) of ShootFirstEatLater.Com, Gael Hilotin (eighth from left) of ThePinaySoloBackpacker.Com, Pastor Dennis Sy (next to Gael) of ActLikeAMan.Org, (next to Pastor Dennis on the photo above is his lovely wife, Thammie Sy of ThammieSy.Com and celebrity-fashion bloggers, Kryz Uy (third from right) of ThirstyThoughtByKryzUy , Robbie Becroft (behind Kryz) of RobbieOffDuty.Com and Laureen Uy (second from right) of BreakMyStyle.Com.


While in Singapore and over Sufi Restaurant’s Babaganoush, Kebab on a Sword and other Mediterranean goodies, I’ve met the Nuffnang’s Asia-Pacific Award Winning Travel Blogger, Nina Fuentes of JustWandering.Org  on July 19, 2012 in Arab Street. I first met Nina on an invitational blogger’s event for Singapore Tourism Board few months prior my work in Penang started. Our Singapore casual yet tasteful dinner, blogged HERE!

And just a day after the dinner with Nina, I met a few more Filipino Bloggers in the Lion City as we were all invited to grace the 2012 Singapore Blog Awards; blog post HERE!

We were hosted by and designated to various hotels of Far East Hospitality. I was luckily assigned to Oasia. It was fun when we attended the welcome dinner, the awarding ceremonies the following day where Noks wore that Joker costume and won over other contestatnts in superhero attires; we rode the Singapore Flyer together, and eat, laugh, eat, laugh in that happy cycle! Of  course, it was fun to meet fellow bloggers from other Southeast Asian countries; we gained friends after the event! :)

If this was the Blogging Olympics, here’s the contingent from the Philippines! (From left to right on the photo above) Brenna Bustamante of PhilippineTravelogue.Com, KC Canlas of SpreadSomeAwesome.Com, the Joker who won the Best Costume Award in SBA2012 -Noks Sosa of SiningFactory.Com (and his other blogs), and certainly not the least, Aleah of SolitaryWanderer.Com

June 2013, we met Paul Ang of the blog, MadDawgWorld.Wordpress.Com  and his cheerful and loving wife, Fran of the blog, FrannyWanny.Com who both are currently Singapore-based.

Paul Ang (in acid blue shirt) and his better half, Fran (in pink shirt). We were invited by an inspiring Filipino achiever in Singapore and across Northeast and Southeast Asia, Dennis to a delightful Japanese Dinner in Hakumai Sushi and Omakase and French Desserts at Antoinette; blog post HERE! Dennis will kill me for posting this! Sorry, Dennis but again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for that wonderful dinner!


Why did I painstakingly blog this?  

To tell the entire Universe that we, Filipino Bloggers are conquering the world and we chose to begin with our own continent. Kidding!

If you’re visiting us while we’re still here in Penang, we charge for MEET & GREET SESSION and we highly welcome pasalubong from the Philippines, JOKE!!! :P

Seriously, to all those mentioned in this long but humble post, thank you so much for taking the efforts and spending your precious time with us! Hope to see you again soon!

PS : If in any case I missed someone, kindly identify yourself, state where and when we met outside the Philippines and I’ll gladly edit this post.  Maraming salamat po!  :)



Looking back could strain the neck literally, but not when you realize that you have so much pleasant memories to be grateful for! When I painstakingly bent backward over my blog posts in the past 6 months, everything gradually flash back. The places we visited. The food we enjoyed. The people we met. The moments we experienced. 

It has been an overwhelming six months and I am so looking forward to greater things to come! 



Chiang Mai Blog Series :


Celebrations :  


pinang peranakan mansion
jalan penang cendol


Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via


malacca @
sunrise, chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
Sambal Goreng by  Pearly Kee
My Nyonya dinner plate at  Pearly Kee's home


may 9 2013 743pm thursday



Stay tuned as God willing, the next months will be more awesome! :)



expat go 2expat go 3

This blog is featured on an article written by Samuel Medley with title, “5 Expat Blogs About Malaysia You Should Read” on Expat Go Malaysia. Thank you very much! The entire article is found here :



From Manila to Malaysia!

Culture, architecture and traditional multi-ethnic dining in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

July 4-8, 2013

We’re in love with this northern city in Penang Island, Malaysia and we like it so much that we are sharing what we love about this place to you.

Old Manila Walks together with our travel partner Global Holidays and travel guru IvanHenares brings to you our favorites in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Georgetown and of course food! Best of all, our visit is timed on the weekend of the Georgetown Festival when the city’s multi-ethnic communities- Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and more come out in full force to celebrate Penang’s multicultural mix through the arts and performances. It’s one big cultural fiesta! Join us as we immerse ourselves and eat our way to Malaysia’s Pearl of the Orient!

Char Koay Teow, Penang

Rate: USD$435.00/head (based on twin-sharing). Single supplement available (extra)

Inclusions: Transport within Geogetown, Guided Tour, Site Entrances , (select) Meals,

Others/Extra : Book your own flight

July 4, 2013 (Thursday)  06:25-09:50 MNL to SIN via Cebu Pacific 5J801 (optional)

                                     15:05-16:35 SIN to PEN via Jetstar 3K675 (required)

July 7, 2013 (Sunday) 17:15 – 18:40 SIN to PEN via Jetstar 3K676

July 8, 2013 (Monday) 00:40-04:05 SIN – MNL via Cebu Pacific 5J804

Detailed IT upon request

Step by step,

Ivan Man Dy
Old Manila Walks | email : | 

“Your First Step to Knowing Manila!” Join Old Manila Walks’ community at Facebook, be a fan!

(Read: I’m one of their biggest fans!)



eastern & oriental hotel penang at
*The gorgeous living room

eastern & oriental hotel penang at
*The toilet & bath that looks divine and almost sterile

eastern & oriental hotel penang at
*My wife & son : my love, my life.

eastern & oriental hotel penang at
*We’re grateful for the experience; we’ll cherish the memories!

The theme of this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is so apt for what we’re having now. For 3 days and 2 nights, my family and I are spending the lovely weekend over a SPONSORED luxurious staycation at EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL PENANG’s  123-square meter-CORNER SUITE. They invited me to review the newly built Victory Annexe Wing of this incredibly beautiful only-seafront view-hotel in George Town, Penang, Malaysia that boasts of heritage and timeless elegance; best, I’m experiencing everything with my family. It’s a sweet ESCAPE from our usual daily routine. It’s totally different experience that deviates us, even for a bit, from all hassles, stress and challenges of daily living in abroad. We cannot be grateful enough!

These photos are just teasers of the upcoming blog series about E&O Hotel Penang. Stay tuned! :)




2013 March 6th, Wednesday.

2013 Malaysia International Tourism Conference & Blog Awards | MITBCA

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Beyond Toxicity @ is named

2013 Best Expat-Malaysia-My-Second-Home-Blog Award Winner!

Awarding the trophy was the honorable Tourism Malaysia Minister Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen

The scene was surreal. Almost deja vu of what happened last year…

May 2012 BlogAwards
2012 MITBCA blog post HERE!!!

It’s truly an honor to receive another recognition for this personal passion, particularly of which 80% came from public voting. I cannot be grateful enough to all those who follow and read this site since I started this virtual home back in 2007 in the Philippines, to those who remain loyal readers and commenters after we have moved to Penang, Malaysia to work and of course, thank you to those who voted for my blog to win last year and this year’s MITBCA! Your support is absolutely priceless!

Terima Kasih to Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and all the people behind MITBCA for appreciating and lifting the spirits of movers of Tourism and bloggers in Malaysia in general. Awards like this is certainly inspiring and motivating!  Maraming Salamat po at Mabuhay po kayo!   

Similar to last year’s event, MITBCA offered two-day-bloggers conference for free, but because I chose to limit my absences from work in Penang, I decided to attend the awards night and skipped the meeting of the like-minds and international movers in social media including a bunch of fellow Filipino bloggers. That was a wrong move from me. I could’ve learned so much from them but to regret is futile. Nonetheless, I met them in the Gala Dinner & Awards Night that was far better than last year’s. Proof that collective efforts have been put just to nail this year’s success of MITBCA! Kudos to everyone involved! The ceremony was nothing short of fantastic! :)


The venue was bigger and more sophisticated. The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, no less!

I arrived of course, with TEAM DOCGELO; who else but my loving wife, Tina & our bundle of joy and pride, Gabby!


We’re so happy to meet again Ms. Emila Yusof of, two-time-winner of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award from MITBCA and who happens to be the Malaysian Illustrator and Children’s Book Author who custom-made my very own blog header! I am one of his huge fans and she remains an inspiration!


After the cocktail, came the Gala Dinner & Awards Night proper. The mood inside the venue was festive!
The view from where we sat.


Drum roll, please! Let the show begin! :)

The honorable people behind the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Malaysia Social Media Chamber and MITBCA shared engaging and powerful words about the reasons of our gathering.

Beautiful and talented Malaysian performers lorded the stage!

While local entertainers were doing their great parts on stage, we were busy dunking our forks and scooping our spoons to the delightful dinner they prepared. There were visual and gastronomic treats! It was a complete sensory feast!


Speakers in the Bloggers’ Conference were awarded by plaques; I wished I captured them all.
Here’s Malaysian Celebrity Chef (second from left of the photo below), Nik Michael Imran…

And the speakers from where I came from, the Philippines! Here’s Vince Golangco (second from left on the photo below) of


Blogie Robillo (second from left of the photo below) of


Tonyo Cruz (second from left of the photo below)  of


It was flattering when one of my fellow Filipino Bloggers shouted, MABUHAY! when my name was called as one of the winners, even overwhelming when Tonyo Cruz himself, told me, “kinikilabutan kami to see someone in Barong on stage” (kindly seek Google Translate, thank you!)


Blogger-winners included Best Tourism Travel Blogger, Squall Chin of whom I first met in Singapore Blog Awards last 2012.


And again, Ms. Emila Yusof of, winner once more of Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog Award. Bravo!

For complete list of winners, visit


More than the awards and recognition, I thank the Lord for my loving and supportive family!

They’re my LIFE!  I love you, honey! I love you, Gabby!


After the wonderful awards night, we walked a few steps to pay homage again to Malaysia’s magnificence, what else but the Petronas Twin Towers. En route, we dropped by Aquaria…


And just before midnight, our eyes set on those incredibly stunning twins again!


Malaysia, Thank you very much for everything!

To God be the Glory!




For the second year in a row,

it is my honor that this blog is nominated

in the 2013 Ministry of Tourism Malaysia’s MITBCA Best Expat Blog Award category.

mitbca 2013

“Since the debut of the Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards in 2012 which rewarded some of the world’s most accomplished Travel-Social Media Bloggers, MITBCA 2013 is set to spin this year’s event with a more exciting approach, leaving others to admire and emulate upon. Malaysia has set its pace to be on the forefront of reach into social media. Undeniably, there is a definitive difference between monitoring our brand in social media and using traditional methodologies in reaching out to build on tourism numbers. Travel is certainly a very hot topic across all social media channels and is one of the Top Three online topics of discussion and engagement. It surely encourages new network build up, new clientele bases and new innovative ideas being put across.” ~Sourced from

Last year’s moments were surreal (blog post HERE!), and to be honest about it, I do not mind experiencing it again! :D But that’s impossible to happen without your generous support.

May 2012 BlogAwards

And why does this humble site deserve YOUR VOTE?

Let these photos that were previously featured in last year’s blog posts

remind you how my family and I create our own adventure here in Malaysia. :)


So if you believe this blog is worthy of your generosity,

Here’s how to VOTE

Go to this link :

then click the log in fb button,
once logged in to fb,
click the list of category and choose EXPAT,
then hit the VOTE button for

Maraming salamat po!

Terima Kasih!

Thank you very much!





Christmas 2012 Blog Series includes :



Celebrated Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner inside our room in JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur (and before eyebrows reach the penthouse and rooftops, we got the promo-rate for this deluxe room with free buffet breakfast months prior the Yuletide season).


Tina phoned the concierge and asked for goblets, cake cutter, some saucers and forks. Luck was indeed with us because everything was provided free of charge.

From Mercato grocery at the basement of Pavilion Mall, we bought an affordable chilled white wine from Australia and a chocolate-flavored milk for Gabby and one of the most decadent chocolate cakes we had was purchased from a bakeshop called, Lavander. Et voila! Our family’s Noche Buena! :D

Back in our current home in Butterworth, Penang,  Media Noche or New Year’s Eve dinner was simply savored.  Although without conscious efforts, it was apparent that we did not deviate from the usual Filipino tradition to prepare round and circle things on the dining table to symbolize good fortune, joy and prosperity in welcoming the New Year. We trooped to the grocery on the late morning of December 31st and joined the shopping rush. We had some fruits (although it’s customary, we didn’t have the complete 13 round fruits to represent 12 prosperous months and an extra), and on the last minute, Tina decided to prepare sushi all from scratch.
A few round fresh fruits, the classic fruit salad, some round cheese pita and some round and homecooked sushi sans the use of a sushi mat (we didn’t find any in the grocery!) all washed  down by Orange drink and our New Year’s Eve dinner was done. Odd combination, I know but it worked for the three of us! :)


Believe it or not, we already spent a Holiday feast for only fifty pesos back in 2009 (blog post HERE!).


Fastforward to 2013 again, we welcomed the New Year with high hopes and spirits at the comfort of our 11th floor apartment in Penang. Although we spent a little more than 50 pesos this time, what matters most isn’t the cost of anything but the happiness of being together as a family. Moments were priceless!

From our tiny porch, we enjoyed few minutes of fireworks from George Town across the bay and the highway right in front of our apartment.


We’re grateful to the Lord for all the blessings- big & small that He has been showering us! We don’t have everything but there are a ton of reasons to be thankful for! We remain appreciative of the fact that Tina, Gabby and I are together in our work place here in Penang and we know it’s already a huge blessing that not all Overseas Filipino Worker could enjoy. :D

Happy New Year, everyone!




THANK YOU, 2012!

It’s only mid-December and the BEST SEASON, the BEST CELEBRATIONS are yet to come.

Despite all problems, challenges and daily hassles, counting blessings makes life more meaningful.

Words are not enough to express my gratitude for everything that happened to this personal passion called blogging.

Allow me to press the replay button, and sentimentally share with you once more

the vibrant and happy colors that made our family’s 2012 a kaleidoscope!



May 2012 BlogAwardsMay 2012 MITBCA

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January 2012 Batu Caves

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January 2012 Petronas Twin Towers

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Feb 2012 HKDisney
February 2012 HK Disneyland
February 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland
February 2012 HKDL

blog posts :


blog header

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May 2012 Sakae Sushi
May 2012 SS

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May 2012 Penang Spice Trail

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June 2012 Penang Street Art

June 2012 Street arts Penang
June 2012 GT
June 2012 Intro to George Town
June 2012 GT Penang

blog post :


July 2012 LP
July 2012 Lonely Planet

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jULY 2012 MBS Sg a1 bar
July 2012 Sg MBS
July 2012 Sg Harry Potter
July 2012 Oasia
July 2012 Sg Blog Awards
cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
marina bay sands, gardens by the bay

blog posts :


July 2012 HRHP
July 2012 HRHOTEL
July 2012 Hard Rock
July 2012 HRHP 2
July 2012 HRHP room
July 2012 HRHP 3

blog posts :

 August 2012 : BANGKOK, THAILAND

photography inside tuk tukgrand palace 7
grand palace 10
grand palace 20
grand palace 21reclining buddha
reclining buddha
buddha's face in wat pho
mystic place bangkok 16
mystic place bangkok 4tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok

blog posts :


1 legoland malaysia
137 legoland malaysia
60 legoland malaysia

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july 2012 singapore

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chinahouse george town penang

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10starhill tea salonpetronas twin towersANS_13927atenine

blog posts :


November 2012 Airline Food Review

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blog post :

We commissioned one of the brilliant Malaysian photographers from Penang to do our family photos on the first day of December for an hour of unlimited shots at a very reasonable cost and a week after, he posted these two teaser-proofs on his facebook account. The rest of the photos will be delivered in weeks time.

family portrait december 1 2012
family portrait

As of this blogging, I’m also waiting for the result of ExpatBlogs.Com Best Expat Blog Awards

of which my site is nominated and currently 3rd among 13 expat blogs in Malaysia

(blog post :

I’m also excited to share my interview and blog feature on InterNations.Org based in Germany soon!

On a more serious note,

Thank you to those people who lifted our spirits during our lowest moments this year.

Thank you to those generous souls who helped us in so many ways during those trying times.

Thank you to my blog readers, followers and fellow bloggers who have been a constant inspiration.

Advance Happy Holidays! A Blessed Christmas And A More Prosperous New Year to all of us!


All Glory and Honor is Yours, Now and Forever!


This is also my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : My 2012 In Pictures




My family and I welcomed the first day of the last month of the year with smiles from ear to ear as we spent a lovely weekend afternoon in one of the most charming boutique hotels in George Town, Penang, the Macalister Mansion.


It was Tina who initially thought of having a family portrait this year as our last was taken more than couple of years ago in a small commercial photo studio back home. Immediately after my wife professed that she wanted for us to have a decent family photoshoot, I googled the web and the first name that popped out of the screen impressed both of us with his work. Serendipitously, we commissioned Sunny Tan for an hour of photo session and we’re glad to choose him as our photographer! He’s so easy to work with; days prior to our schedule, he’s so pleasant to communicate with. We asked for his suggested venues for the photoshoot and everything seemed fine but Macalister Mansion was on the top of my list. I was so happy we all agreed! Even happier that for a change, I got to be on the frames of the photos again as I was photographed with my family unlike my usual role of being behind the lens all the time taking the shots. :)


As a courtesy, I just had to notify Macalister Mansion about our plan to do the photo session at their lawn and in one of their restaurants. Tina and I were glad to received a positive response from them. The staff was really accomodating and friendly. We appreciated the fact that even their Events Manager gave me a call, hours before our schedule. Too bad their Dining Room restaurant was still closed at our chosen time and they had to prepare for a reserved function so we settled for Macalister Mansion’s Living Room restaurant and their lawn that are equally sleek, splendid and pretty.

We’re all excited to do the shoot however, despite the fact that it was sunshiny all Saturday morning, it started to drizzle at early evening. Nonetheless, our photographer’s brilliant skills shone brighter when he worked with whatever we’re left with. We cannot wait to share it on this blog and on our facebook sites as soon as Sunny’s done with everything in few weeks or so. We told him it’s not only for our family’s keepsake but will be part of our Christmas memories this year and our upcoming 9th Wedding Anniversary by first week of January 2013.  He promised to deliver the photos soon!


As we wanted to maximize the afternoon, unwind and free our minds from daily hassles, we went to the Living Room restaurant in Macalister Mansion around 3 hours prior to our photo session. My family and I sampled a few from their tea time menu.


TWG English Breakfast Tea pot for me, uniquely paired it with Mango Sticky Rice topped with Ice Cream. Tina enjoyed her Cappuccino and Strawberry Tart while Gabby had a tasty slice of Chocolate Cake and Berry-Smoothies. Several minutes after, the kiddo requested another plate; he downed Spaghetti with Beef Ragout. What a wonderful light meal we had! Everything’s deliciously divine!


When Gabby and I went to the tandas (toilet) for the necessary bladder break, we saw more fascinating things that pleased our eyes.


Look, the white bear found his match… :P


So here are my loving and beautiful dates at the Living Room of Macalister Mansion…


Despite and in spite of everything, there are a lot of things to be thankful for! And as for December, it’s indeed the most wonderful time of the year; it’s the happiest season of all!

*This is NOT a sponsored post. However, my family and I would like to thank the following :

Sunny San | | Sunny San on facebook | Happy Family by Sunny San on fb

Macalister Mansion | 228 Macalister Road 10400 GeorgeTown, Penang |




I don’t usually eat on board particularly if it’s only a short flight as I usually ingest something either at home or in a coffee shop at the terminal few hours prior boarding. Thus, I rarely have history of reviewing inflight meals. And the few times I’ve eaten during flights can be easily counted with fingers on one hand. Those were during our direct flight via Philippine Airlines from Manila to LAX back in 2000; then if my memory serves me right, my wife and I also munched on something on board Lufthansa Airlines from Manila to Bangkok for our honeymoon in 2004; it was followed by our trip from Manila-Bendar Seri Begawan-Brisbane-Auckland in New Zealand for our 7 week break in 2005 via Royal Brunei Airlines and during my solo-trip to Tokyo from Manila via Philippine Airlines in 2010. Limited history, easy to recall. ;)

When an opportunity to review airline food for SKYSCANNER as I was generously recommended by a fellow blogger and friend, Gael of (THANK YOU!), I became thrilled! All the stars in the universe were aligned as chance paved the way for me to particpate as one of the 1,500 travellers from 53 countries who joined this airline food review. Destiny it was as it coincided with my planned trip from Penang to Kuala Lumpur to apply for a renewal of my passport at the Philippine Embassy. I took a 4-hour-bus-ride en route to Malaysia’s capital, stayed there for 3D2N and boarded the morning flight of Air Asia from KL-LCCT to Penang a couple of weekends ago.


It was the very first time for me to eat on board Air Asia. It was my first time to enjoy local Malaysian dishes at 24,000 feet!

What did I choose? Despite the volume of choices Air Asia has, it’s easy to spot what to order online because their menu has my favorites! Well, except for Char Koay Teow! LOL! :D

air asia airline food

Chicken Satay Combo


My review with ratings based on scale 1-10; 10 being the highest :

Value for money :  9.

With 5 sticks well-seasoned, skewered and grilled chicken meat completely served with ketupat or rice cakes, slivers of onions and delicious peanut sauce, Air Asia’s Chicken Satay Combo is reasonably priced at RM12 or USD 3.90. The price and quality are incomparable to those sold in ordinary hawker stalls. Its cost is really affordable, even the most keen on budget will agree! Satisfying the craving of this favorite Malaysian dish because of its availability at 24,000 feet makes everything worth it!

Taste : 10

What can I say but I love its taste! I have sampled this dish a multiple times from hawker stalls to five-star hotels in Penang & Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and in Singapore too, but Air Asia’s version is a sure delight to the palate; it became one of my favorite versions officially! The grilled chicken meat’s so tender with no overpowering taste,  its peanut sauce isn’t irritatingly spicy and compliments the chicken meat and ketupat best. This combo is satisfyingly good! I will definitely order it again next time!

Presentation : 8

The packaging is neat and clean but could have been better if the entire set is in microwavable and the peanut sauce is tightly capped in plastic container rather than sealed with foil and thick paper. As Chicken Satay Combo came with plastic spoon and fork in vibrant red Air Asia color and tissue all packed inside transparent plastic, it certainly provides an easy and no-mess-eating!

Menu Choices : 10

Impressive variety and volume of choices –both the must-try-local-dishes and some of the favorite Western eats. The downside is difficulty in choosing. Need I say more?

Overall Rating : 9.25 out of 10, with 10 being the highest. I’m a happy diner on sky! (Oops, but I had everything as takeaway!)

Then I thought, I would be happier if I’ll have two to sample. The more the merrier, right? *snickers*

Chicken Tandoori Wrap


Ratings based on scale 1-10; 10 being the highest :

Value for money :  9.

With only RM 9 or USD 2.93, this impressive inflight meal offers a lot than one could imagine. It reinvented our family’s favorite, Chicken Tandoori (that we usually eat with Cheese Garlic Naan) as a Chicken Tandoori Wrap. I will pay 9 ringgit any time to this snack that’s not commonly found in our kitchen. Innovative and creative bites on air!


Taste : 9

The classic taste of Tandoori is there which I really like. The deliciously seasoned and shredded Chicken Tandoori meat complimented the tortilla and the thinly sliced cucumber and greens. I wished they also served Mango Lassi that will make the Indian-Malaysian dining experience complete!

Presentation : 10


The two piece-Chicken Tandoori Wrap is properly packed in recyclable carton complete with labels, list of ingredients, nutritional facts, storage instruction and allergy information that aren’t commonly found.

Menu Choices : 10

Same reasons as mentioned above.

Overall Ratings : 9.5 out of 10 with 10 being the highest.

I asked the flight crew to provide me something to pack the meals I ordered as I had them as takeaway. I brought it home to Tina and Gabby but they’re stuffed during the time of my arrival at home, so I ended up really wolfing down those two Malaysian favorite dishes alone. Delicious!!!

*This is a sponsored post. THANK YOU very much to SkyScanner  |




Literally BIG lotus bloom I captured from ArtScience Museum in Singapore.
Figuratively BIG for me…
best expat blog 2012 ministry of tourism malaysia

Unexpected. Larger than life. One of the BIGgest things that happened to this blog last May 2012. I remain humble and grateful to the readers, commenters & followers.

This photo is my entry to  Weekly Photo Challenge : Big



August 10-12, 2012. Our weekend officially kicked off at home last Friday night with a mug of coklat (pronounced as choklat, “chocolate” in Bahasa Melayu)-flavored ice cream. Look how Gabby spruced up his own mug. :)
gabby and his chocolate ice cream, august 10, 2012

The morning after, Tina, Gabby and I took 2 bus rides and trooped to Sunway Carnival Mall, one of the few malls in mainland Penang (the others are in the island).  We were supposed to watch the movie, The Bourne Legacy. We first went to the cinema counter and found out that the said movie was rated R18; Gabby’s not allowed obviously.  The next best thing was the Dark Knight Rises (which was rated PG13 but with violence too! Good thing that Gabby understands never to pick up bad elements from anything he watches and most importantly, he listens whenever advised); we purchased tickets and pyched up ourselves to be in Gotham City. :)

Before Batman movie, we needed to chow down. The decision was unamimous. Burger King topped the list.
burger king, sunway carnival mall, penang, august 11, 2012
burger king, sunway carnival mall, august 11, 2012
Yes, those two large onion rings were my order! The kid-in-me longing for onion rings was satisfied happily! While I am a self-confessed onion-ring-monster, Gabby enjoyed his Grilled Chicken burger meal and Tina savored her Double Mushroom Melt burger combo. I also surrendered to Double Whopper large combo which I didn’t finish and had to take home or as they say here, takeaway! :)
double whopper burger, onion rings

We liked The Dark Knight Rises. We liked the twists and turns of the plot. Unpredictable! There was no scene that left us yawning. Bane was a very powerful and compelling villain! With Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, the movie’s more than enough to keep me awake. And with those last parts of the movie, we could only anticipate for a sequel.  Despite we’re all entertained, I was still yearning to watch The Bourne Legacy and I know Tina wants it too.

We went to the grocery to shop our supplies for the coming weeks. Soon after, we’re hungry again. We kept it low and simpler this time by choosing the affordable restaurant, IloveYoo. We had the fried bread, yoo tiao that’s too perfect to be dipped in warm and fine bowl of congee, so we had dry scallop-flavored congee, some taho or what they call here, too foo far (did I spell it correctly?), chilled soya drink and a piece of lotus ball. Solb! :)
yoo tiao, dry scallop congee, i love yoo, sunway carnival mall
taho or too foo far and lotus ball

Last Sunday was even more memorable for the three of us, specially for Gabby. It was his very first dental check up. We know it should have been done at his younger age, but as they say, better late than never. It was Tina who made all the arrangements with the dentist whose clinic is located accessible to our place. The appointment was set at 10:30AM but since punctuality runs in our blood, we’re all there few minutes past 9AM. Excited lang perhaps! ;)
gabby and dentist # 1, maxcare, raja uda
gabby & dentist # 2, august 12
gabby & dentist # 3, august 13, 2012, maxcare, raja uda, penang
gabby & dentist # 4, august 12, 2012, sunday, maxcare, raja uda

Probably like children of his age, Gabby was a bit anxious to go to the dentist. Because it was his first time, he was not  afraid nor hesitant but very curious with many queries! Tina and I brought him there for consult and we decided, if and when the dentist would find a tooth for extraction or filling, we would just bring Gabby back to her clinic.  After a quick but thorough dental exam, the dentist cleared Gabby as he doesn’t need even dental cleaning; his set of teeth is clean and fine!

Gabby to us : “Mommy, Daddy, nagulat ba kayo, clean ang teeth ko?” (“Were you surprised to know my teeth are clean?”)

Tina and I were laughing our hearts out! :D

And because his teeth are in good condition, we celebrated our late breakfast at the hawker-restaurant several steps from the dental office.

sunrise restaurant, raja uda, penang
koay teow soup
gabby enjoying his koay teow soup, raja uda, august 12, 2012
gabby's ice cream soda
pork pau and koay teow soup
lychee drink
gabby's drink
cheers, gabby!
sarap na sarap sa siopao!
It really looked like his teeth are in good condition, don’t you think so? :)

After that hearty meal of Koay Teow Soup and Pork (Sio)Pao, we all walked towards our apartment. Because Gabby can’t be admitted to The Bourned Legacy and Tina had to watch him over at home plus she had to do some chores and acquire much needed weekend rest, I got an approval from them for me to watch The Bourne Legacy alone in the island. Tina and Gabby bid me goodbye then I hopped on the bus and went my way to the cinema.

I am certainly not a movie critic but just like the food I eat, I know my taste so well.

As I posted on facebook and twitter, it’s incredibly amazing to watch Manila portrayed as Manila in a larger than life Hollywood film! It’s high time the Philippines gets the spotlight. Gone are the days when the Philippines is shown as Vietnam or Thailand on the big screen. I’m not sure if you remember that 1999 movie, Brokedown Palace which starred Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale and Bill Pullman. It was also shot in Manila but depicted as Thailand. Although to some, it may be versatility, I found it weird and unacceptable to watch my country’s capital city back then, shown as other place. At least now, Manila is Manila in The Bourne Legacy. I agree with one of The Bourne Legacy’s bit players, John Arcilla, who’s a Filipino stage and character actor, when he commented on one of his interviews about the movie that “it’s surreal!”  According to him, it’s unbelievable to see himself as a part of a Hollywood movie with jeepneys and all, filmed in the streets of Manila.

I swear the movie almost made me lost my blinking reflex! From that airport scene where the characters of Rachel Weisz and Jeremy Renner had to enter NAIA’s Immigration counters, to those breathtaking motorcycle chase scenes shot in the cities of Pasay, Manila and a public market in Marikina, until the movie ended in one of the Philippines’ paradise islands, Palawan, I was absolutely stunned! It was an awesome movie that I will repeat over and over again. I hope Tina and I get a chance to watch The Bourne Legacy together next time!

Have you seen it already? What’s your take on the movie?

How’s your last weekend?

The next weekend will be more exciting as our family will engage on a much needed loooooong holiday! It’ll be Hari Raya here in Malaysia or the end of Ramadhan on 18th August and the vacation from work extends until August 26th! We’ll be crossing borders of two countries once more! We cannot be grateful enough. It’ll be another weekend of family, food and fun! ;)



Supertrees, Gardens by the bay, Singapore

With their height of 25 to 50 meters, comparable to 16 storeys high and almost trying to reach the sky, no explanation is needed why these amazing installations are called, Supertrees. They’re one of the spectacular attractions in Gardens by the bay; one of the reasons why Singapore’s literally blooming these days.

I was fortunate to pay it a visit on the last day of my 4D3N trip to Singapore last July 2012, barely few weeks after Gardens by the bay officially opened to the public. I was even luckier because my Singapore-based Filipina friend, Gina, who’s a former colleague back in Manila, accompanied me and offered to treat me to Gardens by the bay, Marina Bay Sands and all the way to Sentosa. It was Gina’s suggestion for us to see Gardens by the bay first thing in the morning so we could maximize my last hours in the Lion City.

Accessibility’s definitely not a problem even to a first-time-visitor-commuter like me; locating it was such a breeze. Coming from Oasia Hotel  in Sinaran Drive, Novena area, I walked my way to the MRT station right across it and took the train going to Marina Bay Sands. I alighted at Bayfront Station and strolled my way to Gardens by the bay.

My good friend, Gina and I agreed to meet up at the ticket counter.  We individually walked through the path from Bayfront MRT at Marina Bay Sands and thankfully, the weather was at its finest, the sun shone its brightest. I only regret 2 things in this visit, one of them was forgetting to bring the 3-fold-umbrella that my wife prepared inside my luggage which I left in the hotel’s concierge and the second one was failing to capture the grandeur of Gardens by the bay at dusk. Anyway, at least we didn’t have a downpour and there’s always a next time to further explore this unique botanical park on our future visits.

Marina Bay Sands from Gardens by the bay, Singaporesupertrees, gardens by the baymarina bay sands, gardens by the bay

Few days prior to our visit, I personally saw and captured the vast stretch of this garden in the city as I first appreciated Gardens by the Bay’s Conservatories and Supertrees from the Sands Skypark at Marina Bay Sands…

cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
supertrees from sands skypark, mbs

Gardens by the bay is attractive from a bird’s eye view, even more impressive up close. It’s a showcase of Mother Nature’s most colorful blooms and lush greens amidst progressive city. However, due to limited time, Gina and I only opted to visit the two conservatories, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. What I love the most about these two conservatories is the fact that they’re airconditioned; they’re kept cool to maintain the required temperature for the flowering plants to thrive. Most on the display are imported species from *Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world.

Flower Dome is the cool-dry conservatory while the Cloud Forest is the cool-moist conservatory.

This blog has never published a volume of photos of flowers after my blog post about Shibuya in Tokyo back in 2010 (blog post HERE!). Be ready to be overwhelmed! ;)


*Facts from their website :  “The world’s largest columnless greenhouse, the Conservatories’ glass sits on a steel grid that acts like an eggshell. With 3,332 panels of 42 varying shapes and sizes of spectrally selective glass, the Flower Dome is like a giant puzzle!  Air is cooled at the lower occupied zones through chilled water pipes in ground slabs, while warm air is vented out at the top.”

roof of flower dome, gardens by the bay
floral bed, gardens by the bay

Now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

meet my beautiful and intelligent Singapore-based-friend,

Gina! (applause!).

Of course, everyone agrees that she best complements those bed of flowers, doesn’t she? 

(note: she’s presently available and unattached *just trying to play cupid here!*).

gina at gardens by the bay, singaporerare bloom

It has been two years since Tina and I last met Gina in Manila. We’ve been keeping our lines open via where else but facebook. She remains to be the same old charming and thoughtful friend we used to know. One thing’s sure, I  noticed that she gained extra skills and talents in being host to tourist-guest like me. She wanted to update Tina so using her iphone, Gina immediately checked in our location via facebook and began taking our photos and tagging my wife who was left in Penang with Gabby. I even lost count of the times she asked me if I wanted to be photographed the whole time we’re inside the conservatories. I burst into laughter a few times and told her that I am used to clicking my cam to shoot photos and not otherwise. In the end, I gave in; she won in capturing this… ;)

docgelo @ gardens by the bay

I know. It’s neither I nor Gina who’s the star of this post. We’re not worthy! :P Indubitably, the spotlight for this blog post is directed onto those vibrant petals. Here are some of my shots that I hope could make you smile or at least, lighten up your mood even a bit. Enjoy! :D

orange & pink flowers, gardens by the baygorgeous blooms!roses are red :)more pink blooms, gardens by the bay, sinagpore
orange bloom, gardens by the bay
sea of flowers, gardens by the bay
bed of flowers # 2, gardens by the bay, singapore
bed of flowers # 4, gardens by the bay, singapore
bed of flowers # 3, gardens by the bay, singapore
a pop of yellow

Those yellow creeping beauty made me remember Gabby while inside the Flower Dome. Spongebob’s color is Gabby’s ultimate favorite. And he’s correct; yellow brightens up any mood. I smiled instantly when I saw it. :)

Then, God created pink…

pink petals # 1
pink rose, gardens by the bay, sinagpore

I am recommending Flower Dome to people who wish to pause and smell the flowers, literally! Time, inside the Flower Dome could stand still effortlessly. It’s a perfect venue for those worry-free-forget-about-all-hassles-moments!

After we felt we’ve savored enough, we exited the turnstiles and headed to the second cooled conservatory located right across. It’s the Cloud Forest!


Gina liked it better than Flower Dome. I thought so too. Whoever made the blueprint and constructed Cloud Forest must have been so inspired by the fantasy world in the movie, Avatar! To me, there’s that avatar-ish mood inside! I felt like I stepped into a new foresty world of another dimension! Or perhaps, it’s just my imagination. :) I must have over imagined it because there’s that lovely mist when we entered Cloud Forest and it made the entire atmosphere inside cooler and fresher! The moist-loving plants are anchored to a mountain-like installation. There’s that tall waterfalls that greets every visitors at the entrance. There are lifts and escalators that bring visitors to various levels of the Cloud Forest; there’s even one level devoted to crystals and crystal-mountains! And walking through different levels, admiring the many species of orchids, bromeliads and other exotic and vibrant flowering plants made our visit to Gardens by the bay really worth it! If visitors have to choose only one from the two conservatories to visit, Gina and I are both recommending, Cloud Forest!

cloud forest, gardens by the bay
cloud forest
yellow little orchids
tiny beautiful purple
anito in cloud forest, gardens by the bay
more orange blooms
delicate blooms at cloud forest

It was almost noon time when we left Gardens by the bay. We left the appreciation for those Supertree groves to our future visit. We felt our stomachs growling and the urgent need to fill them up. We strolled our way back to Marina Bay Sands and trooped to its food court.

supertrees and gina :)

I offered to pay the bill for our lunch, but Gina was so generous and didn’t allow me to pull out my wallet. :) She treated me to one of the restaurants at Marina Bay Sands that has the mood of TGI.F but was noted to have originated in Korea. The food place’s called, Kraze Burgers. We thought we need to sample the KB Original Burgers so we ordered two, plus a plateful of french fries generously topped by chili-con-carne and 2 glasses of iced tea to wash everything down. Everything in that burger tasted fresh! Our lunch was satiatingly good! :D

kraze burgers, marina bay sands
french fries with chili con carne, kraze burgers singapore
gina in kraze burgers, marina bay sands
original burger, kraze burgers, marina bay sands

From Gardens by the bay to Kraze Burgers at Marina Bay Sands, we rode the MRT and cable car all the way to Sentosa. And since I have another Singapore-based friend to meet for early dinner, Gina was even thoughtful and more than willing to accompany me to my next meeting place before she took her own way to hear mass that Sunday.

I hope I could bring Tina and Gabby back to Singapore and visit our friend, Gina once more. :)


Happy 47th Birthday, Singapore! Happy National Day!!! :)  | 09 August 2012


Gardens by the bay |   18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 | Outdoor : 5AM – 2AM daily, Free | Conservatories : 9AM-9PM, daily, S$ 8 to S$ 28 | OCBC Skyway : 9AM-9PM |For more details, click THIS!

Kraze Burgers | Kraze Burgers @ Marina Bay Sands is located at 2 Bayfront Ave, #B2-54/55, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore 018956 | For more details, click THIS!

*sourced via



It started with a simple tweet. It ended with grand quality time with the family. I posted on twitter that I was craving for Restoran Kapitan’s Chicken Tandoori and Cheese Naan. I was really wishing to grab a bite of that favorite Indian dish and unexpectedly, I received a wonderful response from Hard Rock Hotel Penang. My  casual tweet received an extraordinary invite. Hard Rock Hotel Penang replied that my craving’s a good one and they invited me and my family to experience their lavishly unconventional beach front hotel and resort located at the heart of the famous Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia. How could you say no to such offer, when in fact, its location in Batu Ferringhi is so accessible by car or via Rapid Penang Bus # 101 from Weld Quay or jetty in George Town.

Admittedly, I am happy that I gave my nod to the invitation. The entire experience redefined what Penang means to me and my family. The 3D2N staycation in Hard Rock Hotel Penang made us realized that Penang is bigger than being one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, more than being our current work place, larger than having diversities and multicultured communities; it’s actually greater than meets the eye! Penang truly deserves the vast attention it gets from local and foreign tourists. Our short but sweet weekend escapade at Hard Rock Hotel Penang proved that the island is made extra special by having a FAMILY FRIENDLY premiere hotel, a great advantage above the rest.

Let me begin the sharing of our family’s experience and my personal review of Hard Rock Hotel facilities, services and its food and beverages by showcasing one of my favorite shots I took from the balcony of our seaview deluxe room…

Enticing, is it not? :)

Simple but lovely touches like this personal note made our stay so special…

My recall of Hard Rock dates back to the Philippines’ HRC in Makati City and our short visit to Las Vegas ages ago. Hard Rock Hotel Penang and its Hard Rock Cafe located at its facade reminded me of those stupendous memories.

We liked how they enshrined the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson ala-Abraham Lincoln right in front of HRC, so cool! :)

The iconic Hard Rock logo recreated in this fine drop-light chandelier dominates the entrance to the lobby.

Tina and I love Beatles, who doesn’t? We grew up hearing their songs on air and from my parents’ turntable. Thus, it’s amazing to see Beatles-inspired artworks, sculptures and mosaic-tiled-paintings all over Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s lobby and Hard Rock Cafe.

The sight of the check-in counter with a reception bar concept might be intimidating and discouraging for some guests with families and children, or perhaps to non-alcoholics, but I, myself marveled on the fact that Hard Rock Hotel Penang is absolutely, FAMILY-FRIENDLY bar none. Read and view this entire 2-part-blog-series and I need not convince you.

Few steps from the reception area at the lobby are fascinating memorabilia from music icons of rock and roll and other genres. From a 500-collection of costumes, to musical instruments, awards and whatnot,  guests and visitors would surely feel being in one of the most relaxing hotel and resort and at the same time, a funky museum that houses an unparalleled treasure that highlights the wide span of rock and roll era.

Immediately after the staff at the reception handed me the magnetic keys to our room, we went up to 5th floor.

No, we’re not booked at the Rock Star Suite, but there’s always a next time, isn’t it? hahahaha! :P

We were provided a seaview deluxe room that opens to a private balcony that’s too perfect for watching sunset, reflecting on life’s simple pleasures, meditation, savoring cups of coffee or even to while away time and think of nothing. The room and the view are definitely glorious!

This is one of my favorite corners of the room as it kept me relaxed and at the same time a bit busy in keeping in touch with my virtual world. I don’t think I’ll be at ease when I’m not hooked online. Thankfully, Hard Rock Hotel Penang provides FREE wifi/wireless and wired/broadband with rapid accessibility. The connection’s fast, it made me and my family happier! :)

“Rockin’ Rooms : Hard Rock Hotel Penang has 250 tastefully designed rooms including 17 suites. Most rooms are with sea views and private balconies. Lagoon view rooms come with direct pool access. All rooms and suites are well-equipped with DVD/CD players, interactive LCD, TVs, iPod docking stations…”

The size of the seaview deluxe room and the height of the ceiling spell the difference…

While pillows are available in various softness, the bed isn’t too firm nor too soft; it has the right feel to provide utmost comfort.  I like the immaculate white sheets too. All in all, my family had restful sleeps for 2 nights in this bedroom.

Flat iron and iron stand, a safety deposit box (not in photo), 2 pairs of slippers, bathrobes are all made available inside the wardrobe.  Coffee and tea making facilities, bottles of distilled water are replenished 2x daily.

The toilet and shower also compliments everything in the room. Despite the lack of bath tub (Who needs a bath tub if there’s so much to explore in this resort hotel?), cleanliness, frequent replenishment of toiletries, hand-held and rainfall shower with hot and cold water make every bathroom visits worry-free.

There’s a peek-a-boo-sliding divider from the toilet that to me, appears as a necessity in times of emergency. Oh well, others would consider it sexy; I don’t have problem with that too. ;)

As I first saw the huge mirror inside the toilet, I didn’t notice the framed black and white painting…

The rock and roll theme’s spontaneous! Hail to the King! There’s Elvis!!! :D

I think it’s the first photo that I posted on my facebook as a teaser to this blog series on Hard Rock Hotel Penang. I even captioned it as “I wanted it as a takeaway freebie, LOL!” :P

We left our room to meet few people from Hard Rock Hotel Penang and the other Malaysian bloggers invited. Tina, Gabby and I also checked out the hotel and resort’s facilities and amenities. Man, we were blown away! My personal expectations were met, even exceeded. I never imagined Hard Rock Hotel to have the most kid-friendly swimming pool that we’ve seen to date! It has the largest free-form swimming pool in Penang at 26,000 sqft.  The kiddie swimming pool is a playplace cum swimming pool with both sand and tiled floors for children’s preference! Tina and Gabby were greatly satisfied and happy too! We felt so blessed to have experienced and enjoyed Hard Rock Hotel Penang! I am overwhelemed by the fact that my family and I got to spend quality time in this beautiful resort. At this point, let my photos do the talking…

Spot the rainbow. Hard Rock Hotel Penang must have a pot of gold! The happiness that it brings its guests and visitors across all ages is as precious as gold.

The joy that Tina and I felt when we’re watching Gabby savoring his time in the pool and its playplace was priceless!

I also had a fair share of my own me-time. :) I think it’s healthy and far from being greedy to observe quality time too for ourselves, don’t you think?

I wish moments like this could be infinite. ;)

The premises of Hard Rock Hotel Penang ends just before the public beach nonetheless, its guests and visitors can delight themselves in the sand, sun and waters. To some, particularly foreigners who haven’t seen our country yet, the public beach of Batu Ferringhi, Penang is already a paradise and I cannot contest on that. But  for Filipinos like us, who have high standards when it comes to beaches (read: the Philippines, if you must know, is an archipelago of 7,107 islands), I must be honest enough that we’ve seen far better shorelines in our country (Boracay alone is Nirvana to sun beach and sun worshippers). At least the location of Hard Rock Hotel is a beach front one, it gives its clients options to dive into the pool or bask under the Malaysian sun. Watersports like jetskiing, parasailing, banana boat ride, boat rides to nearby islands and other fun outdoor activities are also available from operators stationed in the public beach.

Gabby also enjoyed his time in the sand… and I mean literally in the sand! :D

My family also availed of the Rock Spa’s foot and leg massage for half an hour (the other option included in the package’s neck massage).  After strolling in the beach, dipping in the pool and taking aimless walks around the hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Penang really knows how to retune and pamper their guests like rockstars! :)

Filipina receptionist at Rock Spa, Niniya with my wife, Tina. :)

Special thanks to the very warm and friendly staff of Rock Spa, Amy, Fifi and Niniya. It’s a pleasure meeting you! :)

HRHP also has Body Rock gym that offers a soothing sight of the pool and lush greens for those health buff hotel guests.

Family friendliness doesn’t stop at the kiddie swimming pool and playplace. Little ones can have their own fun time at Li’l Rock…

While our almost 8-year-old-kiddo who’s in his awkward age (not a kid anymore but not yet a teenages) fits the Teen’s Club to tee!

Tina and I loved the Beatles mania all around Hard Rock Hotel Penang! Even the Teens Club has these iconic figurines. Amazing!

When dusk falls upon us…

Rockin’ and rollin’ of the live band perks up the night and puts everyone at the lobby to the beat!

Live band music, ultimately relaxing and chill out ambiance, what more can you ask  for? :P

We cannot let the day pass without buying a memento. Luckily, Rock Shops, the souvenir stores of Hard Rock Hotel Penang had their Tshirts and other merchandise at 50% off during that weekend!

We bought 2 identical dad-and-son T-shirts in blue. :)

Stay tuned on the next post : GLORIOUS FOOD & BEVERAGE PORN at Hard Rock Cafe, Starz Diner, Sand Bar and Pizzeria of Hard Rock Hotel Penang!

I’d like to echo the words from one of the brochures of Hard Rock Hotel Penang,“It’s all about first class entertainment, impeccable service and center stage attention. It’s an ultimate rock retreat!”

My family and I cannot agree more. Everything in Hard Rock Hotel Penang is an epitome of colossal excellence! :D

Hard Rock Hotel Penang | Batu Ferringhi Beach | 111oo Penang, Malaysia

Take the Hard Rock Hotel Penang VIRTUAL TOUR HERE! :)


Up Next : Food & Beverages at Hard Rock Hotel Penang!

Hard Rock Hotel Penang offers Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Buffets

Buka Puasa at Starz | Starz Diner | Mondat to Thursday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM 60++

Great American Buffet With A Twist | Starz Diner | Friday & Saturday | 6:30PM till 10:30PM | RM108++

Buka Puasa & Hari Raya Barefoot BBQ | Pizzeria | Sunday | 6:30PM to 10PM | RM60++

For reservations call +604 8811 711 ext 8703 or email


*Thank you to Ms. Danielle Fung of Hard Rock Hotel Penang for making this grand family weekend experience possible.



Where is this galaxy?” -asked by one of my distant relatives whose humor never fails immediately after I posted this photo on facebook as one of my teasers for my blog series on Singapore, that includes the majestic, Marina Bay Sands. Its laser lights and fireworks show was watched in awe and candidly captured from the 63rd floor of the newest bar in Singapore called, 1-Altitude. I must say, the efforts were worth it!!! More photos on succeeding blog posts! :)

No, I have not experienced yet the luxurious accomodation at Marina Bay Sands nonetheless, I had an incredibly awesome time at its foot and on its crown. :)

When I learned that I was one of those International bloggers from Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines who was fortunately invited to attend the Singapore Blog Awards on a sponsored 3D2N accomodation on the 3rd week of July, 2012, I told myself I had to maximize my second visit to the Lion City.  I did some planning, conversed online with few of my Singapore-based friends and decided to see Harry Potter : The Exhibition at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands.

I purchased my ticket online and opted to collect it via the counter an hour prior to schedule. Since I’m going to Marina Bay Sands, I thought of going up the Sands Skypark Public Observation Deck on the 57th storey as well. I emailed MBS if I could bring my camera to the HP Exhibit and to the Skypark but I had to observe the strict rules of the ArtScience Museum where HP Exhibit is ongoing. Thankfully, luck was on my side when Ms. Philicia, the Social Media Officer of MBS replied to me in a blink via email and offered an escorted tour to the Skypark Public Observation Deck for FREE and to provide me of official photos of Harry Potter the Exhibition from Warner Brothers given to media when it was launched sometime in May. They granted me Property License too to take photos at the Sands Skypark thus, I cannot be grateful enough. Excitement heightened as day went by. :D

As I became so thrilled like a kid and feared being late, I left my hotel at 7AM on that Friday morning, 20 July 2012 and reached Marina Bay Sands less than an hour later via the ever reliable, fast and efficient Singapore MRT. Marina Bay Sands is practically accessible by hopping off Bayfront MRT Station. ;) With only limited budget at hand, I chose to eat my first meal of the day at Rasapura Masters at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, one of the excellent food finds at the food court in Marina Bay Sands. I had the most beautiful and tasteful dim sums for breakfast! Yum!!! :D

Since I arrived early at MBS and my schedule for Harry Potter : The Exhibition was 11AM-11:59AM, and the time set for me to go up at MBS Skypark Public Observation Deck was 12:15PM-1PM, I killed time productively by cam-whoring  in and out of Marina Bay Sands. I had so much FUN!!! :P

Singapore Skyline taken from the ground near ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands

Apparently on my smile, I am a huge fan myself of the Harry Potter movie series. I watched all films with Tina and Gabby.

For a complete experience, I also pre-purchased an audio guide online making my Harry Potter : The Exhibition ticket amounting to Sg$30 nett. The non-tech-savvy in me was expecting a headset or at least a pair of earphones but to my amazement, I was only provided by something that looks like a TV-remote control. I was instructed to look at the number that appears per exhibit display, then to press the audio set and put it on my ear; it’s so cool for it to have strings attached to my neck; very handy whenever I want to listen to the details and trivia regarding the costumes, artifacts and props used in the Harry Potter movie series.

Because photography and video recording are not allowed inside the museum, I’m still thankful Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum via Ms. Philicia Tan, provided me some pieces of official photos of the exhibit from Warner Brothers. If you really dig Harry Potter movies and/or novels, seeing their costumes and props used in the movies is indeed terribly wonderful! It felt like stepping into the exact scenes and being with the characters and absorbing the story. Every detail of the clothes they wore and all the artifacts tell a story, a symbolism that’s fascinating.

My most favorite section of the exhibit is the room where Quidditch uniforms are featured. It took me several minutes staring at the costumes as I was imagining Gabby and I wearing those knee and elbow pads and those ultra cool gears! Incredibly awesome!!! :D

Costumes worn during a Quidditch™ match

Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff as seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™

The school uniform worn by Harry Potter as seen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™.

Recreation of Hagrid’s hut

Harry Potter’s eyeglasses, Hogwarts™ acceptance letter, the Marauder’s Map and his wand.

Pull your own Mandrake in the Herbology vignette

Harry Potter™ and Ron Weasley™ costumes and artifacts that appeared throughout the Harry Potter films

Tri-Wizard Cup as seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™

I felt I must not leave the Harry Potter Exhibition without a single souvenir other than my photos just to remember that remarkable experience. And because I cannot afford the wands that cost Sg$ 75 and up, I happily settled with this movie poster taken from Prisoner of Azkaban that says, Undesirable # 1. Symbolic to me; like Harry Potter became what the poster described him to be, I believe we do not exist to please anybody. So it doesn’t matter to me whether people like me or not. It’s their problem, not mine. Oops, I digress. *wink*

Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore runs from June 2, 2012 to September 30, 2012. Visit Marina Bay Sands website for details and ticket purchases @

Blessings and opportunities were pouring in that moment as Ms. Philicia invited me to experience the other exhibit at ArtScience Museum, MBS; Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal… Who am I to say no when a media pass was generously given? Thank you so much!!! I enjoyed it too! :D

Andy Warhol : 15 Minutes Eternal, Exhibition Entrance

Early years, Folding Screen

The Factory Years, Campbell Soup Series

Exposures, Sunset and Flowers

Early Years, Gold Leaf Shoe

The Factory Years, Death and Disaster series with Jackie Kennedy

The Factory Years, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe

The Factory Years, Silver Clouds

Andy Warhol:  15 Minutes Eternal at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore runs from March 17, 2012 to October 21, 2012 (Extended). Visit Marina Bay Sands website for details and ticket purchases @

For the list of Andy Warhol programs/workshops visit

Right after I saw Harry Potter the Exhibition and before I was immersed in the creativity of Andy Warhol, I met Ms. Philicia at Tower 3 of MBS Hotel and she escorted me to the SkyPark Public Observation Deck for FREE! Words are not enough to thank Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum and Ms. Philicia Tan for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! :D

Some interesting and fascinating facts about Marina Bay Sands and The Sands SkyPark :

  • “The hotel has sloping towers and straight legs connected at Level 23 to form a single building. In hotel Tower 1, the slope is as steep as 26 degrees, making it one of the most complex hotels ever built.
  • During its construction phase, Marina Bay Sands built one new hotel floor every four days, the fastest pace ever for a development of this scale in Singapore.
  • The Sands SkyPark  :
  • It’s an architectural masterpiece sitting on top of the three hotel towers at Marina Bay Sands. This 1.2 hectare tropical oasis is longer than Eiffel Tower is tall and large enough to park four-and-a-half-A380 jumbo jets.
  • It’s built at the height of 200 meters.
  • Its lush landscaped gardens are home to 250 trees and 650 plants.
  • It offers  a total of 12,400 square meters of space – big enough to fit three football fields.
  • It houses MBS’ acclaimed restaurants that include Sky on 57, KU DE TA, The Club at Marina Bay Sands that offers and indulgen Chocolate Bar concept that is opened to the public.
  • Hotel guests have the exclusive use of a 150-meter infinity swimming pool, the world’s largest outdoor pool at that height.” -Sourced from MBS Fact Sheet provided to media.

Here are my humble captures of the Singapore Skyline viewed from Marina Bay Sands Skypark Public Observation Deck. My photos don’t do justice to the spectacular views of the Lion City, nevertheless, enjoy!!! :D

*Special thanks goes to Ms. Philicia Tan, Social Media Officer | Communications, Marina Bay Sands. Thank you to Marina Bay Sands, Sands SkyPark Public Observation Deck and ArtScience Museum. MBS is totally one of the reasons to visit & revisit Singapore! :D



Minimalist. Contemporary. Edgy. Relaxing.  The zen-like interiors of OASIA made up of mostly wood with detailed grain, interesting textures and nice lines, that very pleasant cedar wood scent of the lobby wafting through the lifts, make any client  feel so at ease in a heart beat. Located right across Novena Square mall in Sinaran Drive where Novena MRT Station is, Oasia offers accessibility to Changi airport to any point in the Lion City. As impressive as  QUINCY HOTEL which served as my family’s urban sanctuary in Singapore back in 2011, I believe OASIA’s  FRIENDLY & VERY WARM CUSTOMER SERVICE puts Far East Hospitality hotels over and beyond the others.

I’m blessed to have been invited to

2012 Singapore Blog Awards by OMY.Sg

and was even luckier to have


as my home away from home. :)

When I arrived at the lobby around half hour past 2PM of July 20th 2012, Friday, I was greeted by a friendly smile from a Filipina staff named, Janice (not in photo) who’s stationed at the front desk of OASIA Hotel in Sinaran Drive within Novena area, Singapore. She warmly received my reservation voucher and immediately endorsed to Malaysian staff, Guru to bring me to THE LIVING ROOM, Oasia’s exclusive lounge for Club Room guests located at the 22nd floor. There I met Randy, another Filipino staff who checked me in one of the Club Rooms at 23rd floor.

My wonderful days in Oasia officially started with this welcome drink called, Singapore Bliss. Refreshingly good! :D

Beyond Toxicity @ X Oasia Hotel, Singapore…

How do I love OASIA?  Let us count the ways…

Showcasing my bedroom at Oasia’s Club Room :  It’s sooooo inviting! For that 3D2N Club Room accomodation in this firm bed with varied pillows, you can’t  blame me if I wish it could have been longer! :)

I love the bed and I adore their toilet and bath too. Clean lines, fuss free and always spotless.

In Oasia, I can stay in the bathroom all day; it’s that good!!! The shower comes into two types- the classic rainfall effect and the not-so-common among hotels (but we have the same in our apartment), the hand-held. I prefer the former with lukewarm water! While Oasia went beyond the basic of toiltries – they’ve got loofah which is another rare find in most hotels and of course, THANN aromatherapy body milk, bath gel, shampoo, hair conditioner. And yes, I soaked myself onto the bath tub, I almost fall asleep.

Coffee making facility is as special as a Nespresso machine! If one don’t dig coffee, there are a lot of Twinings of London tea bags included.

Did I tell you already that the mini-bar is complimentary too and best, replenished daily ?

I remember my son, Gabby when I saw the huge Samsung flat screen…

How many hotels that offer so called-STAYCATION provides flashlight for emergency purposes, various electrical plugs and sockets, a safe that beautifully opens upwards, giving you less chances to overlooked things that might be forgotten, flat iron and stand, slippers and bathrobes with more threadcount than you can expect? OASIA doesn’t offer an ultimate staycation but rejuvenation, convenience and maximum comfort.

The health buff in most clients will be delighted because of the topnotch amenities at the 8th floor…

The same floor houses the pool and jacuzzi that are open to all guests checked in the hotel.

While at 22nd floor, there’s an infinity pool and a kiddie one for exclusive use of Club Room guests. Believe me, it’s more inviting as my photos don’t give justice.

Inspiring corners at The Living Room : It’s incredibly creative how they made use of wine glasses as chandeliers…

The view from 22nd floor beside the infinity pool…

The pampering in Oasia doesn’t end at having excellent amenities, outstanding services, relaxing atmosphere, priceless view; the stomach too, is satisfied…


Here’s a rundown of Oasia’s breakfast spread and my first meal and lunch plates during my 3D2N stay at The Living Room…

21 July 2012. Before heading to Singapore Blog Awards at Singapore Flyer,  OASIA hosted the bloggers’ buffet lunch at the ZAFFRON, the in house restaurant at the lobby.  It was sumptuous!!!

This is Mag, our warmest Singaporean blogger host. She’s like my long lost Singaporean sister, seriously! :P

COLD ROCK is the house ice cream of OASIA. Can someone top that? :)  …I mixed  Coffee and Mint with chocolate chips and M&M. It’s a perfect match made for my palates! Delicious! :D

Can you blame me if I am terribly missing OASIA now? :D

OASIA HOTEL. SINGAPORE | 8 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307470 | Tel +65 6664 0333 | Fax +65 6664 0300 | Email : |

Do check out PROMOTIONS from OASIA and the other premiere hotels of Far East Hospitality Group


*Thank you OASIA Hotel Singapore, Far East Hospitality Hotels, Singapore Blog Awards 2012 and OMY.Sg for making this wonderful experience possible!



I was shaking like a leaf when I saw this envelope almost folded inside our apartment’s mail box today.

It was sent by Ms. Natalie Joy Lee, the Associate Editor of Lonely Planet Asia magazine. The esteemed travel magazine is printed and distributed by Regent Media in Singapore.

You cannot blame the amateur in me if I’m ecstatic to see one of my photos published in Lonely Planet Asia magazine July-August issue under its readers’ contributions section called, Postcards.

Now that I’m more relaxed after that short and sweet euphoric state, allow me to take you down a recent memory lane…

This photo which I named, “Floating Duo” was taken August 2011 in Klonghae Floating Market, Hat Yai, Southern Thailand when my family and I engaged on a short 3D2N stay after experiencing crossing Malaysian-Thai borders via public bus for the very first time.

Who would have thought that this shot taken on a whim without a tripod, with only my Nikon D7000’s kit lens and unarmed with technical knowledge and skills in this hobby called photography, would figuratively float and literally land on the surfaces of a couple of famous online and print spaces?

Initially, I took a chance in one of the world’s most  famous travel magazines’ online photography contest on the last quarter of 2011. Obviously, it didn’t win the almost US$10,000 prize but it actually gained 1,000 likes and 80 tweets from generous and supportive followers. And for that, I am very grateful. I felt more than a winner!

I never imagined that a day would come to see the same photo published in LONELY PLANET ASIA magazine.

Lonely Planet Asia, Thank you for printing my blog’s URL! I so appreciate the plugging! :D

It’s thrilling to see your own work posted on blogs and websites with proper credits, more so, published on a book (I got one photo on a book, read post HERE) or  best, printed on a widely read travel magazine like Lonely Planet Asia with circulation of 80,000 copies!

For a non-professional photographer like me who only shoot pictures for family, personal use, for this blog and for posterity, this is overwhelming! Thank you to Lonely Planet Asia and to its Associate Editor, Ms. Natalie!

This simply ignited a personal spark of inspiration and stimulated an impulse to revel in.

The moment’s surreal! :D




Can I just shout out that this email made me so thrilled to look forward to the next issue of Lonely Planet ASIA magazine July/August issue? (click screen capture to enlarge)

I am one of the avid readers of Lonely Planet Asia magazine; in fact, I was just reading their May/June issue that features London, NYC and other best spots in the globe yesterday when I received this email and it certainly put an ear-to-ear smile on my face!  And to have one of my non-professional photos to be published soon and to be invited to contribute something to this esteemed travel magazine is such overwhelming!

*My photo that I called, The Floating Duo taken from Hat Yai, Southern Thailand was first posted in this blog entry :



En route to one part of the island, I captured this advertisement mounted on grab handles in a commuter bus that Tina and I ride daily, the Rapid Penang Bus. It says EAT. PLAY. LOVE. For a moment, it made me wonder whatever happend to PRAY? I answered my own query in thinking that Straits Quay is one of those premiere residences in Penang with luxurious restaurants fronting the sea and not a place of worship. Although, for most of us, we can pray regardless where we are, still it’s a mall and hangout place. We’ve been there once; savored coffee and pastries at Charlie Brown Cafe and we wish to go back whenever we find a chance. I digress.  The tagline of the ad (as well as the title of the movie-novel where it was inspired) made me think if anyone could still complain of a routinary life when all you do is EAT PLAY PRAY LOVE?  One must be so content with life with such limited verbs to do and must be so happy to forget about WORK, PAY BILLS, WORK.

As a young family man in the middle of his 30s, I want to devote more quality time with my family, I still need to do more things, I aspire to go to places I’ve never been to, I need to find a more fertile ground where I and my family could grow best and where better opportunity awaits.

When I’m not satisfied with how things are, it doesn’t follow that I am ungrateful to whatever blessings I receive. It only means I yearn for better things.

When I don’t want to settle for something mediocre, it doesn’t follow that I am arrogant and hard to please. It only means I understand that quality should never be compromised at all times.

Whenever I am anticipating something that’s life-changing and the opposite happens, I remind myself not to dwell in despair.

Now that there are chances to improve life again, I’m constantly keeping my spirit up and hopes high.

My family and I lift everything to the Lord! He knows best for all of us.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:5.

I deserve need something greater.

And I know best things happen in His time.

“For I know the plans   I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper   you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.



Looking back, the first 5 months of 2012 have been more exciting and fun filled for me & my blogging. To others, these things may be ordinary but of course to me, the following events that transpired mean the moon and the stars already! :P

Let’s have a trip down recent memory lane, once more!

February 2012 was about docgelo x Mickey Mouse! The family and I were invited to a 3D2N sponsored adventure in Hong Kong Disneyland. We’re thankful for the opportunity to revisit the wonderful island and theme park for free.  It was glorious!

Two months after, I was almost blown away with the hits this blog generated in one day. Considering I am not a celebrity, neither I blog sensational stories, nor national-level events or global issues, an almost 7,000 hits in a single day was beyond surprising!

On the same month of April, I stumbled upon an info on twitter that THE Ministry of Tourism Malaysia is holding its very first Malaysia International Tourism Blog Conference and Awards. I took a chance to nominate my blog and eventually it won under the Best Expat Blog 2012 category. And meeting the gracious and honorable Minister of Tourism Malaysia on stage was really one for the books! Accepting an award because your blog was voted by the people and was approved and confirmed by professional judges was indeed surreal! And FYI, the trophy was literally solid-heavy!

The event was featured in some newspaper within Malaysia and God knows if it also got to foreign shores. Obviously, it felt like weird and unusual to be on paper and to make matters more amusing, I can’t read a character because I don’t know Mandarin! I had to source out to instant friendly translators from my facebook list – a friend in Hong Kong and a Penangite blogger translated that it’s all good so I need not worry. It still felt weird, nonetheless I take pride as the only one wearing Barong Tagalog on that stage. My nose that night became an inch taller! hehehe! :D

The award was too perfect to celebrate my FIVE YEARS OF BLOGGING; the date of the awards night, May 8, 2012 coincided with the exact anniversary of my blog. Sweet victory, is it not?

Then came last week when I got my blog a dotcom, finally!

A week after I got my own domain, my new blog header banner was delivered.

How could you not be happier? :)

Presenting, my newest blog header banner….taaaaadaaaah! :)

Do you like my new blog header?

Does it shout out what I blog about- family, food and fun? :D

Thank you to my sponsor for this blog header banner, no other than my lovely wife, Tina! *applause!*

Tina and I like it a lot. I love it to bits actually! I even appreciate how my receding hairline was immortalized in this digital masterpiece, hehehe! It’s unbelievable that I have collaborated with an amazing Malaysian artist who generously agreed to do it for my site! Her name is Ms. Emila Yusof, a mother, a wife, a seasoned traveler, an Illustrator, a Children’s Book Writer and an Award-Winning-Blogger! Her blog was named as 2012 Best Tourism Lifestyle Blog at the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Award. It was literally on stage where we casually and briefly met! And the rest as they say, is history or in our case, an online collaboration. I emailed Ms. Emila heavily about my design in mind and it looks like she effortlessly illustrated everything I want.  All my request and suggestions, even my last-minute-revisions were granted and delivered professionally!

Terima Kasih, Ms. Emila! Thank you for being so kind and patient on all my request. It’s my pleasure to own a piece of your awesome talent! :)

Know more about Ms. Emila Yusof, her art works, books, worldwide exhibits and her portfolio via her award winning blog :

There are certainly a lot of things to celebrate and to be grateful for!

Thank You, Lord! :)



When I arrived in George Town, it took me about five minutes to figure out the location of the office of Ministry of Tourism Malaysia-Penang branch in Beach Street.  I asked a traffic officer and a man guarding a building across the street about its location but I didn’t get a positive response. I found out later the office was newly transferred in the area. It came to mind that my adventure for that day had started early. Luckily, taking few more steps, a warm smile and a friendly welcome greeted me at the office’s lobby. I felt so home and was surprised that Ms. Jaime Yeoh  knew my name and my recent win for blogging from their office’s Head Quarters in Kuala Lumpur.  I randomly exchanged thoughts with her about being a traveler and being a tourist, and the so many possibilities that Penang can offer.  Little did I know that I was already speaking  casually to the Director of the Penang branch of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia herself.

Exclusively invited participants arrived in the office few minutes past 8AM. I was introduced to a variety of people who are directly involved in the Tourism industry in this part of Malaysia. Our group of around 40 were composed of hotel managers, travel agency representatives, people from Tourist Guide Association of Penang (I hope I got their group’s name right), some journalists and photographers from the media and of course, a bunch of Penangite bloggers.  We were all invited to be introduced and to experience the new tourists’ package called the “Hot and Spicy Penang – The Spice Trail”.

Here are my insights, suggestions and a few tips about the program…

As a tourist, I want to see, taste, smell, hear and feel the place that I am visiting. As a traveler, I want to discover,  experience and immerse myself with the culture, traditions, history and lifestyle of the people and place I am exploring. The Penang Spice Trail offers all that with fascinating diversities from Malay, Indian and Peranakan or Straits Chinese all represented in the package.

From the brief orientation at the office’s AVR, we were immediately led to the streets of Penang on foot.

*Suggestions :  It would be better if you include an audio-video presentation of somewhat like a synopsis-introduction of the Penang Spice Trail to the participants during the orientation. Also, weather forecast for the day of the tour should be noted.

*Tips :  Bring umbrella and fans, wear your sunnies and sun visors and apply that much needed SPF lotion because the tour would involve some walking and strolling in and out of George Town other than riding the very comfy Bas Persiaran or tourist bus.

The tour was professionally guided by the amusing and spontaneous, Ms. Joann Khaw.  She kept the participants engaged and well-informed with everything about spices, its history relating to the island and the rest of Asia and lots of pertinent facts.  She was never boring and was so candid to burst into laughter and shared smiles with us. She really caught my attention when she mentioned that the Spice expedition to the Southeast Asia was halted when the Portugese, Ferdinand Magellan was killed in an island in The Philippines.

Our first pit stop : An old building with history that dates back to the Spice trade and industry in Penang. I so appreciate the fact that it’s preserved with its structure built with mixed concrete, steel and wood.

After brief discussion on the Spice trade and history in Penang, we strolled back to Jalan Pantai or Beach Street. What’s interesting with this tour package, it’s informative not only of spices and herbs but with almost everything in George Town. Case in point, I learned that when a building has inscription of a year, like that 1886 in the building shown on the next photo, the year indicates the year the building was completed.

From Beach Street, we went to Little India via this quaint alley called Lorong Che Em or Che Em Lane…

Et voila, Welcome to Little India…

Having been to Little India in George Town for a countless times, it still never fails to amaze me. The structures, the aroma of spices and herbs either being sold as raw ingredients or that distinct olfactory stimuli from Indian restaurants will surely draw and entice your noses to try and sample them. Not to forget the loud and lively Bollywood music that lords the parallels of Little India.

That day, I also developed my appreciation for wooden shutters! We were told that this building with gorgeous wooden shutters (on the next photo) is currently undergoing restoration.

It was only a few steps across the Indian restaurant we sampled for breakfast.

I have professed on this blog my family’s love affair with few Indian dishes, as well as this blog has documented some of our gastronomic adventures in Restoran Kapitan located at the junction of Pitt Street and Chulia Street in Little India. That morning, my taste buds were exposed to another Indian restaurant, the Sri Ananda Bahwan.

My Sunday breakfast : Teh tarik or Milk Tea, hot and Cheese Roti which I enjoyed with 3 Indian dips.  Flavorful and made me crave for more

I was looking at a young family (who brought their grandparents with them) devouring an interesting Indian food. The Tourism officers noted my fascination and they ordered one for me. I told them I surely cannot finish one with its humongous serving but I really wanted to put my fingers on that Roti Tissue.

It was my first time to see such towering delight! I was like a kid silently jumping for joy! The moment could have been happier if I was with Tina and Gabby; I’m sure my little kiddo would also love this! Roti  Tissue is a crunchy and crispy, hand-tossed larger and thinner version of  the traditional, Roti Canai. It’s also called Roti Helikopter or Helicopter bread apparently because of its incredibly creative presentation. It can be eaten with jam, sugar, or ice cream or in our case, it was served with condensed milk. A perfect ending to a simple but flavorful breakfast! A must-try in Little India!

*Suggestions : It would be better if the Ministry of Tourism-Penang Office would constantly check or delegate another office to keep an eye on the hygiene and cleanliness of restaurants, not only in Little India but the rest of the island. Delicious foods would appeal more tasteful to travelers, tourists and even local and expats if dishes and beverages are prepared and served with utmost cleanliness. Some restaurants barely offer table napkins or at least tissue to diners.

From Sri Ananda Bahwan restaurant, we walked to another alley in Little India. There were more wooden shutters for me to appreciate, and more wonderful sights to see. I particularly liked this amazing tree whose leaves and branches are not common to me. Pretty, is it not?

One of the parallels of Little India is China Street (Okay, it sounded like we toured around Asia with just few steps. Unless you’re from other planet or somewhere in the outer space, you must have heard of MOTOUR’s tagline, Malaysia Truly Asia! It’s Truly Asia in this part of Southeast Asia!) In China Street, we found ourselves inside the V. Kaleespari Grinding Mill which they had it open only for the tour (read : remember, it was Sunday?).

For me, this is one of the highlights of the Penang Spice Trail. Tourists and travelers would definitely be interested in something they never see and experience on a daily basis. And of those things is being inside a Milling factory.

Spices, spices, and more spices!

I salute this man who was grinding chili on a Sunday morning. He could have enjoyed the day off with his family but he gladly reported to work just to accomodate us in the tour.

Chili grinder, baby!

We only stayed for few minutes inside the Milling factory, enough for us to practically see how some spices are processed. Then we walked along China Street again. There were more wooden shutters and century-old structures to love. :D The day was even lovelier because the sky was intensely blue and the sun was in its mightiest; at least we didn’t have downpour!

An inspiring day, is it not?

One more shot with those beautiful wooden shutters and that handsome tree…

At the heart of Little India, we were ushered to this store that sells, what else but spices!

*Tips : Take note tourists and travelers, we were told that this spice shop is the friendliest among the many spice stores in Little India. They allow you to ask queries about their commodity even without you buying. Photo-ops are also free! :)

After that Spice Milling factory and Spice store visits, we needed to go inside this art exhibit gallery while waiting for our tourist bus. It was an extra treat for us!

Inside this art gallery are tons of inspiring objects. I instantly found this corner with art and photography books, a guitar and piles of colored masterpieces very inspiring! Is it not too cozy?

While our tourist guide, Joann further explained things about spices, I found more fascinating things like this wooden staircase.


Here we were on this central spot of the art gallery having an engaging talk about spices, spices and spices…

Joann came so prepared like a girl scout and brought several samples… The most interesting spice to me at this point of discussion was the Betelnut which of course, can cause Nasopharyngeal cancer. It’s commonly chewed by Southeasian people including native Filipinos in the Northern Philippines.

On our way to our tourist bus, I saw this Kedai Kopi or Coffee Shop… Do they serve peace and joy with their drinks? I must sample!!! :D

A stone’s throw away and we reached the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Kapitan Keling Street. The shrine is located beside this pastel colored structure. It caught my attention because it blended well with the hues of the clouds and the sky!

The roof of Guan Yin Temple…

From George Town, our Bas Persiaran took us to Penang Botanical Garden…

It’s my second time in this place; the first time was with Gabby almost a year ago, while Tina was taking her “me-time” at a salon in the mall. I love how lush and textured the trees here.

Mr. Michael Langdon (center) spoke to us about the history of spice trade in Penang and how it evolved through the years. He also pointed out how several species of spices and herbs have grown and were kept in Penang Botanical Garden.

Other than the spices and herbs and century-old trees that may lure tourists, there are a lot more this flora-and-fauna-theme park has to offer…

I found this tree with uniquely charming bloom too interesting that I decided to make a separate blog entry about it soon. For now, enjoy this solitary shot…

Time flew so fast that I didn’t feel hungry until we were brought back to George Town in a restaurant called, D’ Dapur located in Union Street near Beach Street. They specialized in Malay cuisine.

*Suggestion : It would be better if the proximity of location in the itinerary will be well thought of, so traffic jam particularly during rush hour can be avoided, thus time could be stretched.

We had Indian food for breakfast, Malay for lunch! :D

This bright yellow wall was the view from where I sat. Eye-catching, isn’t it?

Here’s the table where I had my lunch with newly met fellows. Wait till you see the photo below when it was filled with Malay dishes…

A detail shot of the view of the corner from where I sat…It appears to me a father-and-son-bike. And you?

Now, these were the HOT & SPICY MALAY CUISINE we sampled…

Can anyone identify those dishes ?

My Filipino taste buds were intensely stimulated by these Malay dishes! I was sweating profusely on my nape as I taste everything on the table. To my surprise, one of the Chinese-Malaysian bloggers in our table commented to the manager of the restaurant that overall, she found the dishes not that hot but rather SWEET! It was a statement to reckon with; a comment to ponder!!! Kidding aside, I understood her point. For someone whose palates have been accustomed to HOT & SPICY dishes, any local Malaysian can easily tell which is authentic from which is not. The manager of D’ Dapur reasoned out that the dishes they serve were already tailored to the tastes of foreingers.

In all fairness, the set meal that was served per table had veggies, seafoods, rice of course, chicken, tofu, and teh tarik or milk tea to complete. The proportions were huge for sharing and spices and herbs made everything tasteful and… spicy! :D

God is alive because they followed the hot and spicy meal with a heavenly dessert. A truly Malaysian sweet treat, Cendol! This reminds me of Halo-Halo from the Philippines, although ours have more ingredients while Cendol, in my opinion is a simpler version. It was a glorious ending to a hot and spicy meal! A perfect one to sample even from hawker food stalls in Penang…

My personal serving of Cendol… Refreshingly sweet! :D

*Suggestions : It would have been better if the chef himself came out from the kitchen (D’ Dapur in English means “Inside the Kitchen” according to my Malaysian students) to explain every dishes and feature the spices he used in cooking. There was no set menu found on the table to introduce the name of the dish to a foreigner like me. The dishes were nicely presented and the facilities of this restaurant including the toilet and a peek into the kitchen proved that they give importance to cleanliness and hygiene.

I also suggest for the restaurant to prepare the set menu with names of dishes, description and include the ingredients highlighting the spices used in preparartion. That way, the diners particularly non-Malaysians would have better appreciation of the Penang Spice Trail.

After that spicy and hearty lunch, we hopped on the tourist bus again and few minutes after, I saw this by my bus window…

We were brought to the Tropical Spice Garden which is not to be missed if you’re into this Penang Spice Trail! It’s my second time there after I brought my family there last year.

*Tip : It’s better for visitors and tourists to go with the guided tour inside Tropical Spice Garden, this would maximize their visit.

I learned a lot from the tourist guide unlike when we had D.I.Y.-tour I had with Tina and Gabby last year. Do sample their in-house restaurant, Tree Monkey and if you have extra time, enroll in their cooking class which highlight herbs and spices of course.

*Suggestion : Remind tourists to wear something casual and easy, comfortable enough to cover the arms and legs and the feet so as to avoid the pesky mosquito bites. Although the free citronella oil spray at the entrace of this tropical paradise was offered, I still had another memorable mosquito bite at my antecubital fossa from Tropica Spice Garden.

I appreciated that almost all species in Tropical Spice Garden has its label complete with Scientific Name and common name, plus its use as a plant, as a herb or medicinal plant or just plain cooking spice and its sources.

It was only during that Penang Spice Trail that I learned about the Pinang Tree (the palm tree on the next photo). I know that Pulau Pinang or the island of Penang’s flag has a palm as a symbol but I had no idea what species of palm tree this state was named after until I joined this tour. Informative, I tell you!

Behold, a tropical beauty at its finest…

This tree that exfoliates spontaneously exposing its nearly scarlet bark is used as an ink to design Malaysian batik.

While that ordinary looking plant beside our knowledgeable and cool tourist guide is poisonous! I think most domestic houses, private and government offices have that as their indoor plant but it was only last Sunday that I learned that it has toxins and is very lethal. Do you such info? I was totally out of the loop! :D

*Suggestion : Be cautious to observe timetable. Some tourists and travelers want an on-the-dot-schedules. Others may also prefer to have the tour guiding in their native tongue. I remember touring California ages ago, from LA-San Francisco-Fresno-LA, our tour guide then spoke and explained everything in 4 languages – English, Italian, Spanish and French. He did that impressively! However it may add up to the cost of the tour.

The last part of this Penang Spice Trail was way beyond my expectations. We were all assigned to different spa in various hotels in the island. This part of the tour package aims to highlight the Peranakan-Inspired Spa treatment. To me, it completed the package because all the 3 large communities in Malaysia are well represented–We had breakfast and toured Little India. Lunch was at a Malay restaurant that featured Malay cuisine where spices were used and the day ended at a very relaxing note in a Peranakan-Inspired Spa (representing Chinese community).

I, together with 7 other fellows were brought to Rainbow Paradise Inn Beach Resort in Tajung Bungah to experience Samporna Spa…

*Suggestion : Remind tourists who would avail of this package to bring extra clothes.

The massage with aromathic oil followed by application of mud really put me to sleep for few minutes. It was indeed relaxing!

Samporna Spa also has jacuzzi…

A group of four to maximum of six can unwind in the jacuzzi and enjoy a sip of their favorite red or white wine… I only had the massage then hit the shower after an hour. It was so invigorating after all the walking and a whole day of tour in the island… Thank you, Saporna Spa! Thank you, Rainbow Paradise Inn Beach Resort! Thank you, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia-Penang Branch for the invite!

Penang has its unique charm with its rich culture, heritage and diversities in food, people and places. This Penang Spice Trail offers a variety of options on how to enjoy and maximize one’s stay in the island. Avail of the tour packages via your chosen hotel in Penang, ask your designated tourist guides or personally visit/email/call the office of Ministry of Tourism Malaysia-Penang branch for more details about these.

Are you enticed to take the Penang Spice Trail? You’ll definitely savor every step!  ;)

Visit their facebook website via Special thanks to Ms. Jaime Yeoh and her staff and to fellow blogger, Willy Wah for the invite.

*My blog post last year about Tropical Spice Garden via



It’s the same blog you LOVE with few changes and more interesting posts coming very soon! :D

*To all my blog buddies, you may now change the link of this site in your blog roll to

Thank you! :D



It took me few days to bring my Barong Tagalog for its much needed dry cleaning to the laundry shop located just in front of the building of our appartment. I wore it proudly when I and my family graced the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Awards in Saloma Theater, Kuala Lumpur last May 8th. You all know by now what happened in the awards night; now here’s what happened inside the laundry shop :

  • Me : Hello! Good afternoon! Do you do dry clean here, Sir?
  • Old Malaysian man about age of 60s, perhaps : “Yes! What do you call that? ….Philippine!”
  • Me : It’s called Barong. Our national costume in The Philippines.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ahhhhh…. Barong!”
  • Me : “How much do you charge for dry cleaning a Barong, Sir? And when can I collect it?”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Today is Saturday, so tomorrow Sunday -store is closed. You can collect it on Tuesday. You pay 6 ringgit.”
  • Me : “OK, Sir, I’ll pay now and I shall collect it around 6:30PM, Tuesday.”
  • Old Malaysian man putting my Barong closer to his chest : “Can you wear Barong without a shirt inside?”
  • Me : “Oh no, Sir. We wear it with plain white undershirt underneath. Barong is worn in formal occasions.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhhhh… Can you wear it with jogging pants, like this?” –pointing to what he was wearing.”
  • Me : “No, Sir. We wear it with slacks or formal dark pants.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “So if I want Barong, I go Philippine and buy. Where can I buy and how much?”
  • Me : “You can buy Barong Tagalog from Department stores or even in huge public markets.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhhh… I see. How much?”
  • Me : “The price usually varies with the material or the cloth that was used. This Barong, I only got cheap for around hundred ringgit (FYI, I bought that particular Barong in Tutuban Mall in Divisoria, where else?) But as I have said, prices go up depending on the material. It can go as high as one thousand ringgit (Php 14,000) or even more expensive specially if it’s a designer’s label and/or the cloth is made of pineapple fiber.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhh….the one worn by Marcos.


This blog is celebrating its 5th birthday on May 8th, 2012. Yes, it has been 5 years of blogging about life’s simple plesaures -family, food and fun. I honestly think that it has gradually evolved from what it has been before to what it is now. My blog has been growing with my documentation of my family’s, particularly my son’s memorable activities. Since 2007, I have been considering blogging more than a part of my limited social life but one of my passions that makes me happy and whole. In as much as I wanted to throw another blog anniversary online contest which has been well-received annually, or support or conduct a charity work, or at least buy a delicious cupcake-with-candle-for this site; time, chance and finances restricted me in doing so.  Nevertheless, there are so much reasons to rejoice and be grateful for.


Back in December of 2011, this blog received an invitation to partake in an all-sponsored Hong Kong Disneyland tour after it was selected from hundreds of blog sites from the Philippines. And by the middle of February of this year, my family and I flew from Malaysia to HKDL and joined 5 other esteemed Filipino bloggers from various fields of interests with their friends and families for that incredibly fantastic 3D2N family-food-fun-adventure.

Then came last month, April, my blog received its highest pageview per day – it garnered 6,776 views all in ONE DAY! These figures to most people may not be impressive but I so appreciate this considering that I am not a celebrity, neither I post sensational stories. My overall stat may have not reached half a million yet, but I am always overwhelemd with support from friends, readers and blog followers.

Also last April, I chanced upon a tweet on twitter that Ministry of Tourism Malaysia will be holding its very first Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards. I immediately clicked the link and found out that one of its 16 categories is to honor expatriates blogging about anything that has to do with tourism in Malaysia. I read the criteria, process and mechanics of joining, and nominated my blog (Oh yes, I nominated my own blog because I believe that recognition and appreciation should initially come from within) and began campaigning for it.

With guerrilla marketing strategy, I sent individual and bulk messages in facebook and twitter to my friends, relatives, present and former students and blog readers. “Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)”.  With such mechanics, I believe the feat is so much sweeter not only because the trophy will be coming from the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia itself but the VOTES of THOSE GENEROUS & SELFLESS PEOPLE will all be counted.

I took a chance and professional judging and people’s votes made me win! I AM HUMBLED.

With 5 other blogs as finalists, Beyond Toxicity won the Best Expat Malaysia My Second Home Blog Category. And as I ran down the list of 376 blogs from the 16 categories, this blog ranked 6th in overall standing.


So on the evening of May 8, Tuesday, my family and I will grace the MITBCA 2012 Awards Night in Saloma Theater in Kuala Lumpur.

And with utmost sincerity, I am thankful to the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia for empowering the international bloggers as part of social media and for recognizing the humble contribtions of expatriates in this side of Southeast Asia.

I am also forever grateful to those people who took few minutes of their valued time to entrust their votes to this blog.

Maraming Salamat po!

Terima Kasih!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinong bloggers! :)



I’m sure you have already experienced a weekend made extra-special by unexpected little happy moments. My family and I spent another Saturday that’s totally different from the ones we already had here in Penang. It was a delicious, action-packed, gripping and charming weekend we all enjoyed.

28 April 2012, Saturday.  I was fully motivated to wake up early (despite the fact that I am such a morning person even on weekends!) because we planned to watch the Marvel-comic-superhero-movie that’s everyone was raving about. The Avengers!  After I’ve read countless superlatives to describe that film on facebook and twitter, and even heard 2 Filipino hilarious-radio DJs via online live streaming of their program from the Philippines, talking of wrong spoilers about it, I personally built an excitement to watch The Avengers with Tina, Gabby and my mom on a wide screen.

So we left our place again in Butterworth, traveled the road via Rapid Penang bus, crossed the bay and reached George Town via ferry (where Gabby met a bunch of my Bridging Course-Ireland-PreMed students en route to see the same movie too!) and rode another bus to Komtar. *whew!* :)

Why, hello there again, George Town! It’s weekend once more!

As Penang Rapid Bus commuters, my family and I have been accustomed to these road signs in Komtar Tower. The sight is an almost weekly breather from our usual daily routine.

We arrived in First Avenue Mall around eleven in the morning with almost nothing in the tummies. We only drank coffee and hot Milo for Gabby before we left home.

Then just at the entrance of First Avenue Mall, our almost growling stomachs were satisfied in a heart beat by one word –BRUNCH! :)

With his Lola (my mom) during our brunch before the movie.

Of course, Gabby must have a photo with my lovely wife. ;)

kulitan! (*insert english translation here*) :P

I thought that the last time I had a bite from Subway was ages ago when I was on a date with Tina who was my, ehem, girlfriend then in Powerplant Mall cinema in Rockwell, Makati City. Or was it the only remarkable Subway experience I can recall? I digress. Anyway, important thing is, Subway opened an additional branch in Penang in this First Avenue Mall and our hunger was remedied.

My mom had her default choice for sandwiches -what else but Tuna, Gabby selected his own, while Tina and I had the same option to have 6-inch-Roast-Beef each.

We had two orders of 6-inch-Roast Beef sandwich; one for me, the other one for Tina. She had Parmesan bread while I chose Honey-something-bread. But we both agreed to have everything with Roast Beef except two things –black olives and jalapenos.

My 6-inch-Roast-Beef-sandwich came with 2 options -either potato chips or 2 cookies. Apparently, I had the cookies and loved these double chocolate and white chocolate macadamia cookies. Sarap!!! Sedap! My family ordered more for takeaway. :)

Mas Mura Sine Dito Sa Penang!

If you must know, movie admission rates in this Malaysian state (I don’t know with the others) are cheaper than in the Philippines. I only paid 43 ringgit (PhP 14= 1 rinngit, USD 0.32 = 1 ringgit) for the four of us; that’s RM12 per adult x 3 (Tina, Mommy and I), plus only RM7 for Gabby. You don’t pay almost half the price for a 7-year-old-movie-goer like Gabby back home but in full adult price as well. And according to Mamy who lived and worked in UAE and Qatar in the past few years, movie tickets there are more expensive compared to rates here in Penang. That’s another simple reason why we should be grateful in this side of Malaysia. :)

The Avengers movie was incredibly awesome! The super hero characters were expectedly intersting but gripping action scenes, sophisticated computer graphics and hilarious storylines made it more amazing! What an unforgettable movie! We wish a sequel would be filmed soon.

I liked all the characters but that of Hulk and Iron Man were hilariously funny!  Have you watched The Avengers? I’m definite you’ve enjoyed it too! If you have not, c’mmon, give yourself a fun treat! :)

And look who we saw at the first level of First Avenue Mall few minutes after we exited the cinema…

This little boy was too cute for words, he made me feel envious that Gabby should have worn such fantastic costume too. See his smile? I’m sure even the monstrous Loki’s army will easily melt by this boy’s charm!

Who would have thought that the characters would come alive immediately after you watched them on the big screen?  What an amazing surprise! A cool unexpected treat to me. :)

People of the world, here’s a proof that Malaysians know how to do it too! Here’s Thor and Loki -Malaysian versions!

The Marvel Superheroes came in full force! How fierce! In characters! hahaha!

My mom and his uber-gwapito grandson had that photo-op with Storm and Captain America. Then Gabby became a bit moody; perhaps he was shy too be photographed with the company of Marvel Superheroes. Well his father was otherwise! hehehehe (view next photo…)

I don’t know about you but to me, the chance of being in the company of Marvel Superheroes does not come on a daily basis, does it? Wait, where’s Hawkeye? Had I know that Jeremy Renner’s character can’t make it, I could have brought bow and arrows to complete the casting! hahahaha! :D

That Captain America little boy was really charming! He’s a stand out in his group!  I’m sure Tina would agree that Gabby would look more handsome in that same blue-red-white-superhero suit!

So much fun for that unexpected mall visitors! We left First Avenue Mall and went to Prangin Mall just across the street where Tina and Gabby bought some stuffs. We ended our very special-superhero weekend by savoring one of our favorites…

One cone of Mcdonald’s CHOCOTOP is perfect enough to end a weekend!

Another weekend of in Pulau Pinang was wonderfully spent.

It’s MARVELous!

Happiness continues tomorrow. :)



Beyond Toxicity  X  Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards 2012

Here we go!  This personal blog that gives reverence to life’s simple pleasures – family, food and fun,  is one of the official entries to 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards 2012 under the Expat Malaysia My Second Home Category. You know how I love my country, the Philippines but living and working in Penang for almost 2 years has made Malaysia my second home now. 

There will be a 2-day conference set on May 8th and May 9th, 2012 at Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur that will highlight and feature talks, workshops and panel discussions on tourism and social media to be conducted by a list of esteemed speakers. Registration is FREE! To know more of the details and schedules of the event, visit MITBCA website at

I’d like to thank MITBCA 2012 and Malaysia Ministry of Tourism for having this event to honor the people behind social media and their humble contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia. I take pride in being one of the MITBCA 2012 nominees under EXPAT Malaysia My Second Home Category!

“Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)” sourced via MITBCA 2012

The awards shall be given on 8th May 2012 in Saloma, Kuala Lumpur (the date incidentally coincides with this site’s 5th birthday! Yes, Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 5th anniversary soon!). As mentioned, voting accounts for 80%  so if you think this blog deserves to win, show some love, support and care -tons of them by CLICKING THE VOTE BUTTON on this LINK :


Maraming Salamat po!  Terima Kasih!  Thank you so much!

*to browse or review my blog posts about our Malaysian adventures, click the links on my sidebar under Another Day In Malaysia category. :)

*EDITED : Voting ended before midnight of May 1, 2012. Thank you so much to those generous people who expressed support! :)



What could be a perfect welcome to a revisiting tourist in George Town, Penang but a RAINBOW! Can you spot it? ;)

My family and I wolf down plates of Restoran Kapitan's Chicken Cheese Kebab + Cheese Naan served with coleslaw, tamarind sauce infused with green mango+chili chutney. The fambam loved it! We usually order Chicken Tandoori and it's only my second time to savor this kebab dish and I personally liked the tenderness of the chicken specially when perfectly dipped in the tamarind sauce+spicy chutney; flavors just burst into mouth! :P

Roti Prata Telur or Egg Prata + Manggo Lassi.

Chicken Tandoori + Cheese Naan for Ivan

Beyond Toxicity X Old Manila Walks in the heart of George Town, Penang 04/17/2012

When I learned several weeks back that Manila’s tour-guide-extraordinaire, The Main Man from Old Manila Walks, IVAN MAN DY is revisiting George Town, Penang  after he graciously informed me via facebook, Tina and I had to think where we should treat him even just over dinner.

Tina first thought of bringing Ivan to Nando’s that specializes in Portugese Peri-Peri Chicken in either Gurney Mall or Queensbay Mall however, both of these malls are located in the tail ends of the island-one in the north, the other southbound; it means travel-commuting would definitely kill our time. I considered something authentic to Penang –the hawkers of course! But we personally prefer hawkers outside Gurney Mall for a wide range of choices but then again, location doesn’t fit the schedule. Then we narrowed the list down to  3 other family favorites –Old Town Restaurant (Malaysian cuisine), Towne’s Steamboat (Chinese) and Restoran Kapitan (Indian).  I told Tina that since Old Town Restaurant is a chain present in almost all parts of Malaysia, Ivan might have already tasted it in the airport or somewhere. While we also considered getting a table after 5PM would be close to impossible at the frequently-packed Towne’s Steamboat in Jalan Macalister, thus we agreed to take Ivan to our favorite Indian food place, Restoran Kapaitan in Little India. I think it was a good choice beacause it’s only a few meters away from the hotel where Ivan stayed.

Because his arrival fell on a weekday, we could only meet him after work hours. Too bad we failed to tour him around in some of the heritage sites in this side of Malaysia. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the limited time we spent with him. The moment was like we’re only talking, walking and commuting in the streets of Binondo, Manila, hahaha! :)

Ivan Man Dy of  Old Manila Walks :

“Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist.  Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila.  Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city’s most historic quarters.  Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.”  -Sourced via

If you’re a Filipino-balikbayan or foreigner who would like to explore Manila in a nutshell, joining his walking tours back home is always informative, engaging, entertaining and educational. It’s history and gastronomic treats beyond books. We have joined 2 of his amazing walking tours around Manila -

*For more of his walking tours and its details, check out their website at

After our simple dinner at Restoran Kapitan, we hopped on the bus to accompanied Ivan to one of the malls in George Town where he treated Gabby who didn’t say no, to a delightful scoop of Baskin n Robbins chocholate chip ice cream! Thanks, Ivan! And here’s wishing you enjoyed your days in Malaysia!



The “morning after” edition of the New Straits Times newspaper was distributed to all hotel rooms at around 4:30AM, Thursday 4/12/2012 and my mom was the only one awake among us to pick it up.

4/11/2012, Wednesday was a public holiday for the entire Malaysia because their new King was crowned or in their words, was installed (Sultans of Malaysian states rotate on being a King, as explained by one of my Malaysian students). In spite of the holiday when one has the luxury to enjoy the malls and whatnot in the island, my family and I simply chose to stay at home together. Then at around 5PM, I thought of sitting on our rattan chair in the living room instead in the sofa, and felt the seat was rocking and sliding. In a blink, Tina and my mom came out of separate rooms telling me it’s an earthquake! I knew it’s an earthquake but my mind was in denial for a few sec because for 20 months of stay here in Malaysia, I haven’t experienced any natural calamities, not a single typhoon nor floods, neither anything alarming.

Our very first earthquake felt in Malaysia.

As the four of us walked hurriedly to exit our unit, we saw next door neighbors about to go down too. We didn’t panic except for Gabby who knew nothing of earthquakes before this incident! You cannot blame our 7-year-old boy for it was his first time to experience such. The boy was almost in tears, yelling for us to take the lift. I, who was still plugging out and turning off electrical appliances in our rooms, told Gabby, “We never take lifts during earthquakes, anak, we take the stairs!”  (Good thing is, our unit is located adjacent to the concrete stairs, almost across the elevators and our block has 2 more exits other than what’s beside our unit and the 2 lifts.) Tina held Gabby’s hand and guided him and my mom towards the stairs –11th floor to the ground. I locked our unit, went down with only 7-year-old mobile and keys at hand. Yes, we didn’t panic but admittedly, we’re NOT ready with such EMERGENCY! (Lesson learned : Pack important stuffs such as passports, credit cards, money, keys, things that matter to you the most and those you cannnot live without in an “E” bag with a couple of clothes and toiletries for survival. I know this, actually but honestly was too lazy to prepare.) We went down the emergency-exit-concrete stairs with one of our Filipino colleagues and stayed for about 20 minutes in one of gazebos in the playground.

The aftershock and the tsunami alert.

Twenty minutes after, we returned to our unit. I heard my mom reminding us to pack important things to be ready enough in times as such. I turned on my laptop and browsed online news about the quake; I even managed to chat to my friends in Pinas and Saudi about the earthquake and inviting a few of them over to Penang on one of its holidays. While Tina called her older sister, relayed our situation over the phone. Then, the inevitable happened. An aftershock! This time, Tina brought money  with her in a sling bag and I got my backpack with passports and credit cards, and camera  but still left and forgot my laptop, chargers and other things. We saw more people coming down. A siren was heard all over. Security guards seen actively roaming and advising the tenants to evacuate and leave our units.

Tina, Gabby, my mom and I walked our way to a restaurant-cafe in front of our condo unit. We saw some colleagues and talked to one of them who pleasantly, despite of the stress about the quake and all, kept her composure for her own family. We saw them carrying a few of their clothes and other essentials to their cars. We stayed in the restaurant, watched news on TV even if it’s on Bahasa Melayu and stay tuned for updates. We sat in the resto so naturally, we had to order food. It was a blessing in disguise for we had to fill in as it’s almost dinner. Trying to struggle with panic and anxiety, we heeded to the advice of one of our co-workers to get clothes, bottles of water, toiletries and things we need for the night and leave too. So while my mom and Gabby were waiting for our food, Tina and I went up again our unit and finally got our things. Leaving our unit was an understatement -we evacuated! Tina even joked as she tried to fight her stress, “We’re like refugees now!”  As we rejoined my mom and our son in the restaurant, I saw my mom flipping pages of the telephone book so I began calling our suking (*insert english translation here*) taxi cab driver. Luckily, the cab driver’s available to pick us up and transport us to a hotel near our work and far from the sea.

Tina, Gabby, my mom and I had to evacuate our 10th floor (actually, we’re on the 11th level as Malaysians consider Ground floor as their 1st) seaview unit in Butterworth, Penang because a Tsunami alert was issued.

‘We have issued a tsunami alert. We urge people to keep away from the beach in (the states of) Kedah, Perlis, Langkawi, PENANG and Perak,’ Che Gayah Ismail, Deputy Director-General of the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

‘People are advised to keep away from the beaches. It is not an evacuation order.’ She said she wanted to clarify an earlier statement by a department official who had mistakenly said an evacuation order was issued.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, triggering an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert.  Sourced via

Despite the news which I firstly read on facebook, stated it was only a warning and NOT AN EVACUATION ORDER, the sound of sirens screaming long and twice, the sight of our colleagues who also live in the same condo units packing and about to leave, the countless feet that looked like EXODUS of people of various ethnicities whose ages range across the lifespan –literally, there were a lot of babies and grandmothers, all going down the stairs -but some took the risk of taking the lifts, those series of text messages and (missed)calls and brief talks with Filipino concerned co-workers, and worse, the cry and plea of our 7-year-old son who practically learned about the meaning of earthquake first time led Tina and I to immediately decide to go somewhere else too far from the sea.

We left this seaview for a night…

and woke up in Hotel Seri Malaysia with this view on our window…

Renting our 11th  floor fully furnished appartment for 950 ringgit monthly (PhP 13,300 or USD 310) exclusive of utilities and other domestic bills to a very generous and nice Chinese-Malaysian lessor for almost a year now has been a good deal, or at least for us. We know that with such priceless and remarkably beautiful view of the bay before George Town and gorgeous sunsets by the porch, it’d be difficult to find similar cost and perks in Manila or possibly anywhere else. However, it dawned on us that living in a condo unit by the sea has its own downside too. Tsunami risk and earthquakes are difficult to battle. We’re not complaining, just contemplating. In fact, we’re very grateful despite and in spite of everything. Adversities make us stronger and wiser.

On a lighter note, we safely arrived via our reliable taxi cab driver in Hotel Seri Malaysia in Kompleks Dato Kailan, Kepala Batas at around past 9PM, Wednesday. It’s a few meters away from our place of work (and around 40-45 minute-away from our appartment when we take the bus).

Can you spot my mom who's only in her duster seated beside her apo, Gabby? We became evacuees for a night.

If it’s only Tina and I, we could have stayed the night anywhere and waited until the tsunami alert’s lifted, but we’re with our son and my mom.

So I got a Family Room for only 160 ringgit nett (PhP 2,240 or USD 52.13–probinsya po kasi ang Kepala Batas kaya mura kumpara sa iba) inclusive of  buffet breakfast for 3, a spacious room with a Queen-sized and a double beds, cable TV, internet use, hot and cold shower and a clean toilet. It was another steal! God knows that we’re financially burdened and unprepared for these things so He led us where comfort is affordable and reasonable (with its inclusives, it’s even cheaper compared to one of our favorite budget hotels, Tune Hotel!). God is great, all the time!

Facebook buddies kept me posted through the night. Notably, just so timely that the concierge gave me a negative reply when I asked her about English news on cable TV, one of my students informed me via fb that there’s an English news on TV3 at 12MN. Thankfully, we learned that tsunami alert was lifted around 10PM.

My family were all knockout at few minutes after midnight while I managed to stay up until half hour past 2AM.

Morning came with a new promise. We headed down to the Delima Restaurant of the said 4-star-hotel. Delima in English means Ruby or the red gem as told to me by the hotel manager.  Tina and I actually have been seeing Hotel Seri Malaysia almost every week as it’s located right in the spot where Rapid Penang Bus Station in Kepala Batas is, however we never set foot to it before our so called evacuation.

And with no expectations from an unexpected (excuse the term) staycation, we were delighted with the buffet morning spread…

DIY-congee. I stuffed it with dilis, chopped salted egg, roasted peanuts, spring onions, fish sauce and sesame oil to taste. Sarap!

We arrived home at around past 12 noon, Thursday 4/12/2012 and were absent at work and school. Despite the nice stay in the hotel that night and everything seemed going back to ‘normal’, we felt extreme fatigue as soon as we got back.

We kept on telling Gabby to trust and believe in the Lord and that He shall never abandon nor forsake us, not now, not ever.

DEUTERONOMY 31:6 –“Be strong and of a good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, He it is  who goes with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you.”

*”We’re so thankful to those people who were concerned and professed that they prayed for my family’s safety on facebook, twitter and personal calls. Their messages were overwhelming! Maraming Salamat po!”  :D 



It goes without saying that every educator should provide proper motivation, frequently try his very best to spark inspiration and constantly encourage and fuel his students’ aspirations. As someone who delivers the lectures inside the classroom for almost eight years now, I consider it as a priceless blessing whenever tables are turned. Moments are incredibly remarkable when students become the teacher’s motivation, inspiration and encouragement.

Early last month, after I conducted a lecture with our students in the Bridging Course-Ireland (they’re all  SCHOLARS of Malaysian government who will continue studying Medicine in either Cork or Galway in Ireland starting this SEPTEMBER 2012. They’ll be the second batch whom I handled in classes to be in Europe soon. The other batch have been enjoying Ireland and Spring break in Paris already!), I asked them if they want to be photographed and if it’s OK for them if their photos shall be posted on this blog. Surprisingly, I heard a loud cheer, I saw smiling eyes and a look of excitement on their faces. I asked the same query to my 3 students of Basic Molecular and Cellular Biology-class who are equally intelligent and diligent on their studies, Diploma of Medical Sciences (yes, they’re only 3 but they’re a class), they also positively replied. If you must know, at present, I also teach Basic Pathology (6 students in a class) and Physiology (27 students) to different intakes/batches of students of DMS (who are not in photos; we’ll probably have unofficial class picture taking at the middle or end of their semester if and when they want to). 

Enjoy the photos and let their smiles and happy faces remind all of us to always dream and dream big!

“No dreamer is ever is too small, no dream is ever too big.”  -anonymous


*For readers out there who want to study or knows someone who wants to pursue Medicine (AUCMS runs 5 Medicine Curricula with twinning programs abroad!), Allied Health Courses like Pharmacy, Medical Sciences, Medical Laboratory Technology, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Environmental Health, Foundation in PreMedical Studies, Healthcare Management, kindly check out the website of AUCMS (Allianze University-College of Medical Sciences) HERE! and read my former blog post HERE! Thank you! Maraming Salamat po or as they say here in Malaysia, Terima Kasih! ;)



19 February 2012. Sunday. It was the last day of our 3D2N grand family vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resort. And although we’re ecstatic with everything we had experienced in the Happiest Place On Earth, we tried to struggle a bit with fact that we’re leaving Hong Kong for our work place in Penang, Malaysia before dusk. It’s always hard to leave something so special that gave you many wonderful memories. Nontheless, we still had a day to enjoy so Tina, Gabby and I started our last morning in Hong Kong with ear-to-ear smiles.

Good Morning, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel !!! :)

From our room down to the lobby, we headed directly to Chef Mickey to have our buffet breakfast!

“Chef Mickey recalls the lavish Art Deco-styled studio commissaries of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Mickey decorations and various Disney characters in sketch form are found throughout the restaurant.” (via

Here’s the nice corner reserved for my family and me…

From the ceiling, fixtures, tiled walls and the spread, there’s a piece of Mickey Mouse to delight your senses!

It was Gabby who first noticed and told me, “Daddy, look at the plate, it looks like Mickey Mouse’s pants!”

Much ado about carbo-loading : My first plate had a crusty cheese bread, a delicate egg tart, sample of fruity and fluffy pastries and a piece of Winnie the Pooh banana cake. Of course, my morning would not be complete without a dose of coffee.

Who says pizza ain’t a morning meal? Gabby was wide-eyed when he spotted an all-cheese-thin-crust-pizza on the spread; he’s a purist when it comes to pizza thus, it’s his favorite!  I asked him, “Anak, do you want some?” Of course, I received an excited positive response! I got a few slices for him, added some hash browns molded into smileys; how cute! And the basic scrambled eggs and bacon with Mickey Mouse waffles spruced up with maple syrup, while our boy favored chocolate syrup!

One of my favorites that I found so good from Chef Mickey’s various offerings was those thin slices of smoked salmon! I paired it with fresh green salad which I topped with different kinds of cheeses, some bits of cold cuts and vinaigrette and my morning instantly became perfect!

Tina and Gabby were satisfied with the breakfast too. Why, there were cereals which is a staple for my wife and son; yoghurt and fresh tropical fruits too! There were also some Chinese favorites –choices of dim sum, noodles, congee and a lot more that we wished our stomachs can accomodate. :)

After filling our tummies from Chef Mickey, we got our luggage and bags, had an early check out at 10:30AM, deposited our bags (for free!) at the Left Luggage Service of the hotel and trooped to the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden.

For the nth time, I owe some brilliant observations from our 7-year-old-kid. After first noticing those Chef Mickey’s plates patterned after Mickey Mouse’s pants, he commented about the aisle at the garden has film strips! And so I took a snap…

Bright and beautiful foliage at the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel garden…

The colors of the blooms – both big and small were awe-inspiring!

Pretty, isn’t it? My mother would agree (read : she loves flowers while my wife prefers food!).

It must be the great climate. It must be…

Happy moments in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel were made of these…

So happy he became buoyant on cool air!

Then, at the back of those “Hollywood Hotel” signage is somewhat discreet walkway where vintage cars are parked, excellent for photo-ops. What is Hollywood without them anyway?

Now, here are the exhibits of our “not-our-car-photos”….

Gorgeous cadillac coupled with those lovely smiles…

We’re almost ready to leave the garden when Gabby was fascinated with this movie ticket booth…

Gabby was inspired to do role-playing with his mom. Tina as the movie-goer and Gabby sells the tickets. Guess who’s their director? Definitely, not me! I played the usual camera man; Gabby himself called the shots! And all the while we thought his mind’s already fixed in becoming a chef, hotelier and restaurateur in the future. He got other talents, baby! ;)

The moment came when he thought of dancing in the middle of a turntable-designed ground near the poolside. Elvis Presley songs were on air. He was then more of an entertainer with the grooves more than just an actor-director! haha! :D  (I captured all of his moves in photos which I will probably post on a separate entry soon).

Time to bid goodbye to Disney’s Hollywood Hotel. Thank you for that warm and family-friendly accomodation! :)

As we planned to collect our luggage from Disney’s Hollywood Hotel at around 3PM before heading to Hong Kong International Airport to catch our 5:45PM HK-KUL flight via Air Asia, we rode the resort’s free shuttle bus and went to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort Public Transport Interchange (PTI). 


Here are some info and tips on how to go about the MTR Disneyland Resort Line

Getting to and out the park is as easy as counting 1, 2 and 3. :) From Hong Kong International Airport, one can opt to ride a bus, a car, a taxi cab or a train to reach Hong Kong Disneyland and vise-versa if you’re leaving the Happiest Place On Earth.

We’ve been to Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland quite a few times already but we were always on a package tour (read : there’s a tourist bus that pick us up to and from the park) and we have not experienced riding that Mickey-Mouse-windowed train running on the MTR Disneyland Resort Line. And so we did not let the chance pass last month to enjoy such experience.

It’s always great to ask whenever you’re in doubt. So I went to the counter of the MTR Disneyland Resort Line to inquire how to go to Ting Chung via Sunny Bay. He instructed me to buy tickets from the machines located at the laterals of the station just before the turnstiles. He generously broke my bills into coins for the train ticket machines; very HKDL-friendly! :)

The ticket machines are touch screens; you need to identify and press the point of your origin before you touch the point of your final destination. Say for example, touch first Hong Kong Disneyland Resort then Tung Chung. The ticket price for adult and kids are different but the machine monitor will show the amount per person and you just need to press the total pax (e.g. 3 adults, 1 kid).  Et voila, you collect the tickets to be inserted (or swipe if it’s loadable) on the turnstiles!

Convenience meets Fantasy.

That’s my first impression on Disneyland Resort Train Station.

It made me wish that all train stations around the globe would be as neat and pretty as this.

“Travel on the railway network of MTR and interchange for the Disneyland Resort Line at Sunny Bay Station.

  • Only 23 minutes from the Hong Kong International Airport, MTR Airport station,
  • 30 minutes from MTR Kowloons tation and
  • 33 minutes from MTR Hong Kong station where Guests can pick up  Park Tickets too!
Operating Hours between Sunny Bay and Disneyland Resort Station
From Sunny Bay: from 6:15am – 12:45am the following day From Disneyland Resort Station: from 6:20am – 12:40am the following day
Frequency 4 – 10 minutes.” (-via

Just wonderful. :)

And at an instant, we fell in love with the train! Those train handles are one of the many reasons why one should visit and experience Hong Kong Disneyland! :)

Among the many train couches, we were lucky to randomly seated near that Mickey Mouse bronze statue.

There’s Tink’s and many other Disney characters immortalized in bronze enclosed in capsules.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort line runs until Sunny Bay. From here, you wait and take other trains that will take you to your destination.

Doing the “tourist thing” at Sunny Bay Station….

Now, where did we go and what did we do after Sunny Bay would have to be posted next!

With that, I’d like to thank the people who made our Hong Kong Disneyland trip very memorable and fun-filled!  Thank you to Jaclyn, Nicole, Catherine and Purple –you guys are the BEST!

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers and their families and friends who were nice companions on this trip -Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker, Thammie of, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, Laureen Uy of Break My Style, and Kyrz of

Thank you to my fellow Filipino bloggers with their families and friends! Thank you to Gael of The Pinay Solo BackPacker and her sister, Juvy, Thank you to Thammie of who came with her entire family, Pastor Dennis of Act Like A Man and their two adorable daughters, Alyanna and Mika. Thank you to Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later who came with her friend, Ms. Elizabeth (not in photo but Thank you, Maam for giving Gabby a lego-Buzz Lightyear watch!), Thank you fashion bloggers and celebrities, Laureen Uy of Break My Style  who came with her special one, Robbie, and Kryz Uy of who went with her sister, Jack.  Maraming Salamat! Don’t you wish we meet again in some similar trip like this? Better yet, let’s go to HKDL again someday! :)

Last but not certainly not the least, THANK YOU SO MUCH to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND for being the venue of our FAMILY bonding, offering more than expected delicious FOOD and providing us never-ending FUN!

In so many ways, this Hong Kong Disneyland vacation was truly an exceptional one! 

Whether it was our first time or we’ve been to the park and hotels several times over, reasons are beyond words to go back and revisit the Happiest Place on Earth!

Let this last set of my photos speak of those remarkable reasons why WE SO LOVE HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

As Shakespeare had put it, “Parting is such a sweet sorrow.”

It was an enormous blessing that we got a chance to revisit Hong Kong Disneyland and experienced family bonding, food and fun beyond our great expectations!

Thank you so much, our dear God!

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

Till we meet again, Mickey Mouse! ;)


This Blog Series Includes :



18 February 2012, Saturday.  Tina, Gabby and I woke up early from one of our restful sleeps in Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and excitedly prepared for our Day 2 in the Happiest Place on Earth! 

It turned out to be  glorious! :)

From Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we hopped on the resort’s shuttle bus and headed to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. We had a table reserved under our names at Enchanted Garden Restaurant for our breakfast buffet and Meet and Greet with the Disney characters! Everything seemed so thrilling particularly for Gabby!

As we went down directly to the  basement of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel where the Enchanted Garden Restaurant is housed, this beautiful space greeted us…

Enchanting, indeed!

We came in too early at 8AM (read : apparently excited!) and found from the Cast Member at the door of the restaurant that our table would be ready at around 9:30AM (so that’s the time that was reserved to us!). Without a hint of worry, we went out the door from the restaurant and spent time almost unnoticed in this perfectly manicured garden at the back of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

The gazebo looks inviting as a perfect venue for couples to exchange “I dos”.  Imagine a wedding with all your favorite Disney characters led by no less than Mickey Mouse! Amazing!

A more interesting part of the garden is the hedge maze that Gabby, Tina and I tried finishing…

This is called, “Mickey Maze!” :)

Our kid totally enjoyed every second inside the maze…

Spot us in the Mickey Maze…

Let’s play “Hide and Seek!”

More cheesy but priceless bonding moments in Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel…

Must be so happy? You bet!

After almost an hour at the garden, it’s time to freshen up and hit the tables and the spread. On way to Enchanted Garden Restaurant, we spotted super cool and nice things.

Exhibit #1 : Wooden high chairs for kiddos. They made me smile.

Exhibit # 2 : A room near the Enchanted Garden Restaurant will surely entice parents and their little daughters…

In “My Little Princess”, little ladies may be transformed into a Disney Princess of their choice.

This was just a “one proud daddy scene.”  The moment reminded me of our wish (I and Tina’s) to give Gabby a little sister. (read :If it will come, it will in His time.) :)

Exhibit # 3 : Spotted Cinderella at the lobby of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with Alyanna and Mika (the beautiful daughters of Dennis and Thammie who were with our group in this HKDL trip).

Finally, a walk under those trellis! Splendid!

Being ushered to our reserved tables and seats felt surreal! Not that we’re excited to binge eat, hehe! but the ambiance exceeded our expectations!

The spread had Asian and Continental breakfast favorites. Everything looked tasteful and a must-try. There was more than enough for us to savor and be energized for another whole day at the park!

And then a thought popped out…

You don’t go to Hong Kong without sampling good bowl of noodles

and some tasteful dim sum and dumplings.

You just dont.

I just wished they had toyomansi (soy sauce + lime/calamansi) for the dim sums.

And because it’s Disneyland, Enchanted Garden boasts of Mickey Mouse figures in their waffles and pancakes! These made me stare at my plate for several minutes before I dunk my fork and knife at them. :)  I had some of the goodies in pair, yum, yum!!! :D  One of my plates had waffles, pancakes, hash browns and french toasts. Appreciate if you won’t calculate the calories! This is when my weakness in Math comes to be most useful! hehe!

The next set was mostly Tina’s and my plates. I had no chance to take photos of Gabby’s because he’s preoccuppied with excitement and huge appetite. ;)

Known in local Filipino TV series, “My Binondo Girl as”Amethyst” that Tina religiously followed online (Malaysia has no TFC!) and more popular as a fashion blogger-celebrity and sister to Liz Uy, we met the charming and beautiful, Laureen Uy.

One Stellar Moment

More stunning episodes happened as some of the best loved Disney characters went to our table for us to take photo-ops! Diners of Enchanted Garden need not to queue to have memorable pictures with Mickey, Pluto and Goofy (and other characters). It’s another VIP treatment that we enjoyed in Hong Kong Disneyland!

Widest and sweetest smiles from my family as we posed with Pluto and Mickey…

Must have one more shot with Pluto…

After that one-of-a-kind-breakfast experience at Disneyland Hotel’s Enchanted Garden, it was time to explore and enjoy Hong Kong Disneyland Park again!

To those who are planning to experience HKDL for the very first time and have doubts if you can enjoy it in one whole day, actually, you can! But would you not wish to double the fun if you can be there on 2 consecutive days?

Weather forecast checked : 14 to 16 degree Celcius. We loved the climate; we didn’t have a downpour! God is truly great!

We wore various hats : A Cast Member volunteered to take our family pic just before a quaint door in one of the pastel-colored structures at Main Street, U.S.A..

Hot. Fresh. Delicious!

Then our feet brought us to Tomorrowland!

As Tomorrowland intends to give park goers a creative experience of being in the future, the moments became nostalgic to us. :)

Here’s how we looked five years ago…I guess only pounds and kilos of happiness were added! ;)

Inside the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, we have been warned. :)

We had FAST PASSES to this awesome ride!  It was so cool when Buzz Lightyear himself introduced us to Astro Blasters!

Emperor Zurg! :P

Shooting robots. robots and more robots! We liked it here!

After that exhilarating Astro Blaster ride, we trooped to the largest restaurant in the theme park with over 800 seats, the Starliner Diner and grabbed a lip-smackingly good fried chicken and fries for lunch!

Over and beyond the food, what Tina and I liked was the fact that Hong Kong Disneyland’s Starliner Diner prioritizes sanitation and cleanliness by providing plastic gloves given inclusive of the food tray. You’ll find them folded and pack neatly with your tray. So eating chicken with hands was no-worries at all!

One more time on this car, Gabby! :D

2007 on the left ; 2012 on the right –Take a look at Gabby’s Then and Now photos and appreciate what 5 years have done!

Another ride within Tomorrowland available with Fast Passes is Space Mountain. We gave our Fast Passes to Laureen and her friends as we’re not fond of rollercoaster rides (read : Tina has Vertigo, Gabby’s still uncomfortable and cannot ride alone and I might throw up!). But if you’re adventurous and somewhat fearless, by all means, Space Mountain will surely give you the thrill!

We bid goodbye to Tomorrowland and strolled our way in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to watch the Flights of Fantasy Parade for the second time! That 30 minute Hong Kong Disneyland parade really left us in awe!

Just before the parade started, Tina thought of a clever strategy. Since we didn’t have priority pass to the musical, The Festival of the Lion King, she suggested that together with Gabby while I am still drowned capturing the parade on photos, they will head to Adventureland just before the parade ends. In that way, while people are still busy watching the parade, they’ll be the first on the queue to that another must-see-musical..And true enough, it was a wise move.

The Festival of The Lion King at Adventureland

The scene became more fascinating after the stage lights were turned off. Let the show begin!

“It’s the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our place

On the path unwinding

In the Circle,

The Circle of Life….”

It’s visually stunning! The songs and their voices are overwhelming too. We have seen this musical at HKDL more than a couple of times already and performance gets better and better! My particular favorite was the gorgeous air stunt of this lady-bird character; the act was so graceful; almost breathtaking!

These live musical shows (The Golden Mickeys and The Festival of the Lion King) make Hong Kong Disneyland specially different from the other Disney Theme Parks!

Then, it’s Gabby’s time for some Mickey Mouse ice cream! Sarap!

Few more steps, we found oursleves in Liki Tiki…
These “leaky” tiki jungle poles squirts water like fountains; look how our little one enjoys the drizzling effects…

Playing with tribal percussion instruments entertained Gabby to the fullest!

Tina and I are the happiest when he’s happy.

OK, so we left Adventureland with a smile and moved on to Fantasyland with even wider smiles!

This Pixie Dust area where Tinker Bell usually drop by for photo-ops wasn’t existing yet way back in 2007 (Gabby’s first trip to HKDL).

Time for some Mickey’s PhilharMagic! This colorful 3D movie adventure about how Mickey Mouse lost his wizard hat and what Donald Duck has to do with it never fails to amuse us. You never get tired of great attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland!

3D glasses on!

Our last Fast Passes on our hands were for the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh...Gabby was only 2 years old when he first rode the track to the story of Winnie.

Cinderella’s Carousel has 60 graceful, prancing horses!

I learned that last year’s celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland, Tink had showered Sleeping Beauty Castle with her pixie dust… The effect is even more magical at dusk!

After Winter Must Come Spring… Is it Spring yet? :)

Smiles and blooms perfectly blend…

Ahhhhh… another stupendous day at Hong Kong Disneyland is about to end…

Thank You, Lord for another magical day!

We made sure we remember this trip not only through photos and video but mementos and souvenirs from HKDL shops itself. Other than the Disney character-hats that we bought, Gabby got himself a rubber Mickey Mouse wrist watch (When we got into the hotel room, he received a gift from one of our new friends in our group–a lego writs watch with Buzz Lightyear design! Thank You, Ms. Elizabeth for such generous gift!).

Before exiting the shop, Gabby called my attention, “Daddy, picture!” hence, this…

Before 7PM, we left Hong Kong Disneyland Park with almost a heavy heart. It’s our last day in the park and surely we’ll miss all the fun!

Thank you for the memories, HKDL!

We had our last dinner in Hong Kong at Disneyland Hotel’s WALT’S CAFE. I’m almost lost for superlatives to describe how great the overall gastronomic experience we had. First thing came to mind : The dinner was EXCELLENT!

I think diners of Walt’s Cafe can opt to enjoy their meals at the lobby…

I checked the reservation and we’re instantly led toward the end of the restaurant where everything seemed perfect.

This is the beautiful corner reserved to our group. Isn’t it divine?

Looking at my photos after the trip made me wish I have sampled a bottle of their wine…

The view from our table… The ambiance and the look of that by-gone era was almost ethereal!

The smiles to live for….

Now, let’s get down to business. We loved everything we chowed down; starting with this crusty bread that looked like a hot air balloon when you work your imagination; it’s baked to perfection and can be enjoyed sans butter.

Gabby favored one of Mickey’s Kid’s Meal -Oven Baked Ham and Cheese Macaroni with carrots and green peas, fresh fruit salad and a choice of drink; our kiddo got himself a hot chocolate.

For Tina, she savored, Grilled US Beef Tenderloin and Simmered Beef Short Ribs with Mushroom and Pinot Noir Sauce, HK$ 268.

Let me tell you, I had a great time from browsing the menu to having a taste of everything my family had. Here’s my preferences and recommendations from Walt’s Cafe..

Chicken Breast Fillet with Poached Crab Meat with Papaya and Mango Salad served with Honey Lime Scented Dressing, HK$ 128.

My palate was satisfied with its texture and flavors. The fusion of  freshest and sweetest fruits complemented well the crunchiness of the greens. And the Chicken Breast Fillet? Heavenly!

I requested the wait staff to provide extra small plates so I can share my order with Tina and Gabby. I also sampled one Walt’s Cafe’s soups -

Double Boiled Black Mushroom with Kam Ha Wam Soup, HK$ 78.

The soup’s tasteful. I like the flavor of the Chinese ham and the black mushroom. Beautiful combo! The mushroom was shaped into Mickey Mouse’s head too! Amazing!

Then for my main entree, a huge plate was served first with one of the prettiest veggie side dishes I ever had…

To people who think amusement parks and their resorts only offer fast food junkies, think again!  Hong Kong Disneyland’s Corner Cafe and Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Walt’s Cafe proved it otherwise. Their menus are beyond sumptuous! The ambience, sublime!

Seafood Platter for Two. (Grilled or Poached. I wanted it grilled). Lobster, Scallops, King Crab Legs, Squid, Salmon, and Cod Fish with Lemon Dill “Beurreblanc” and Crustacean Sauce, Assorted Garden Vegetables, and Boiled Potatoes. HK$ 538.

One word : Outstanding!

Just take a look at that lime gorgeously wrapped with golden tulle and ribbon; wonderful!

The entree, Tina, Gabby and I shared….

We cannot be grateful enough! :)

Moving on to desserts…

My choice : Penny’s Bay Mango Pudding with Mango Puree.

Tina’s sweet preference : White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Gabby’s dessert plate was the most divine!

Oreo Cheesecake never tasted this great! :D

It’s one FUNtastic dinner to end one glorious day of everything that this blog gives reverence for :



I cannot help but marvel at the immense scale of blissful experiences we had in Hong Kong Disneyland! That 3-day-2-night vacation extremely gave us unforgettable memories that Tina, Gabby and I will cherish forever.

Hong Kong Disneyland spells H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S! :D

Thank you so much, Hong Kong Disneyland!

*Up Next : The concluding post of this Hong Kong Disneyland Series! Stay Tuned!


This Blog Series Includes :





FAMILY.FOOD.FUN @ the Happiest Place on Earth!

Similar to a shot of  adrenaline, the thought of revisiting Hong Kong Disneyland increases the heart beat and quickens the pulse, at least for Tina, Gabby and me. :D It’s incredibly different and NOT physiologically tiring but a special feeling of excitement that my family and I would love to go through over and over again, despite and inspite of everything!  Hong Kong Disneyland has that positively addicting charm that effortlessly draws the young and equally attracts the young-at-hearts! It’s a Nirvana for family bonding, food indulgence and lots of fun! :D


Before Tina, Gabby and I immersed ourselves in a worry-free-three-day-and-two-night-fun-filled-vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland, we had to travel a day before from our current place in Butterworth, Penang to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flight earliest in the morning. We all thought it’s wise to travel via KL if you’re coming from Malaysia because the trip from Penang would take us to Hong Kong International Airport at around half hour past 8 in the evening hence, we’ll lose a day. :( Either we go a day earlier  to Hong Kong which will be more expensive or take the alternative route of via Kuala Lumpur.  We opted the latter. However, since we didn’t reserve a flight from Penang to Malaysia’s capital city  because of  steeper cost (read: we are 3), we chose to take the 5-hour-road trip via the public tourist bus from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya, Kuala Lumpur, then with our luggage and bags in tow, we hailed a taxi cab from Puduraya Bus Station to KL Sentral where buses that take passengers to KL-LCCT airport are parked.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal at around 8 in the evening of Thursday via Aerobus after an hour trip from KL Sentral.  My family and I had to spend the night inside food and coffee shops. After our quick family dinner and some coffee for Tina and me, chocolate frap for Gabby, we found a corner inside LCCT and called it a night (Actually, it was only Gabby who slept for few hours; Tina and I rarely shut our eyes).  And few hours after midnight, we took turns in taking showers, changed into new clothes and queued to check in at 4 in the morning.

Some may find our travel very stressful but believe me, we’ve experienced more difficult instances than you could imagine.  So this Hong Kong Disneyland trip is definitely a stress antidote for me and my family. We cannot thank the good Lord enough for such opportunity! :D

We took the flight from KUL to HK at 6:45AM, Friday, February 17, 2012 and arrived at HKIA 4 hours after. Before I slept in my seat, I accomplished the Immigration Arrival forms for Tina, Gabby and myself as what I used to do on our few travels.

That long travel to Kuala Lumpur from Penang and finally to Hong Kong, those frequent air pockets and lack of sleep were absolutely NOT enough to kill our excitement and enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Finally, we set foot again at one of the biggest and most impressive terminals in the world! Sweet! :D

Hong Kong Disneyland, here we come! :D

Passing through HK Immigration was a breeze, so did the luggage pick up from the conveyor belt. I wish all terminals particularly that of the Philippines would have such remarkable efficiency. Upon arrival at the HKIA lobby, we trooped immediately to the Train Information Counter. Our initial game plan was to take the MTR from the airport to our hotel but after learning that the waiting and transfer period from one train to the other will take us around an hour, we decided to take a cab.

After paying the metered taxi HKD 150, we arrived at the hotel lobby all in one piece. Yahoooo!!!


From its exteriors that reflects similarities with Pan Pacific Auditorium, the art-deco theme reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood echoes to the interiors of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel to every detail in the lobby and in its rooms.

And since it’s Disneyland Resorts, the head of Mickey Mouse with other Disney figures including Minnie Mouse’s of course, are a constant decor. Wonderful!!!

Tina and I have lately developed the appreciation for boutique and themed hotels. It’s nice to see how people put so much attention to details. The first sight of the lobby of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel was definitely a feast to our senses!


Just before those bilateral lifts take Disney’s Hollywood Hotel guests to their rooms, the Disney magic manifests with the voice of Mickey Mouse no less, welcoming everyone to their room-level, night and day. So cool! :) It makes you think that Mickey Mouse doesn’t sleep too! *kidding*

Certainly, the glass etching on the doors of the lifts also has the same Hollywood art-deco theme and to make it distinctly Disney’s, there are so many Mickey Mouse embedded on it. Can you spot some?


We’re checked in at the 8th level where the view’s fantastic! The blurry hazy skyline at the backdrop confirmed that we’re about to experience a misty cool Hong Kong climate despite the clock already hit 12 noon. And coming from the tropical state of Penang, that for me, was so inviting! Thankfully, we didn’t have any downpour, God is really great! :D


The view from our room offers a relaxing sight of Lantau island, its bay stretching to South China Sea and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel’s swimming pool. Can you feel the cool atmosphere despite the clock hit 12 noon? It’s Hong Kong, baby! ;-)

Another view from our window gives you a glimpse of how Disney’s Hollywood Hotel back lot looks like…

I wish I’ve photographed it too at night. Some other time perhaps (that’s another little reason to go back!).

Tina and I basically want few essentials in a hotel room; just nice and comfy bed and pillows to provide us a restful sleep, an insect-free-airconditioned and clean room, toilet and bath and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel doesn’t disappoint. Its theme is continuously obvious. The play of colors are vibrant and definitely puts everyone into the Disneyland euphoric mood! :D

I guess each room with a twin-deluxe beds has a black and white cartoon of Mickey and Minnie from one of their movies.

How sweet it was to sleep with worries and stress far from your cerebrum.

A little while later, Gabby felt so at home!

From Malaysia to Hong Kong, this 7-year-old-Filipino kid loves his Disney cartoons!

It may not be the most spacious toilet and bath that we had experienced but nonetheless, its cleanliness and the generous volume of towels are truly noteworthy. It’s expected that Disney Hollywood Hotel would be family-friendly and we proved it correctly. How many hotels have thought of providing kid-sized slippers? This hotel has it making Gabby simply delighted. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and some wipes and cotton buds are provided in a pack inside 3 paper cups capped with Mickey Mouse ears.  Even the toilet is richly themed! :D

And again, the little artsy details made us smile and utter, “so cute!” :D

Cast members (or those who work for Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Hotels) are amazingly creative at these towel crafts. They even refill it everyday in different colors and adorable animal and alien-designs. We brought home some pieces, actually! ;-)

Riding the theme park’s own resort shuttle buses for FREE was definitely convenience in its truest sense of the word. After checking in and quick freshening up in our room at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we went to the resorts’ other hotel, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for the much needed lunch.

The HK Disneyland Resorts Shuttle Buses take passengers for FREE from the theme park to Disneyland Hotel then to Disney Hollywood Hotel in 10 minute interval. It spells convenience particularly when you’re traveling with kids. It’s so nice when you’re worry-free of going back to the hotel and theme park or hopping to a restaurant located at either of Disney hotels.

Experiencing two hotels of Hong Kong Disneyland was so awesome! Both hotels have unique themes, one takes you back in time to Hollywood’s golden years and the other is lavishly Victorian-inspired.


We saw luxury and sophistication at every corner of Disneyland Hotel… Our little-big boy, Gabby’s so amazed! I wonder what other kids think of  Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Surely, most of them believe that it’s a magical mansion!

what a gorgeous pair of chandeliers!

Everything’s so fanciful!  Even the men’s toilet melted all my worries away, haha! :D

While Tina and Gabby were checking out the merchandise at the hotel’s souvenir shop, I walked towards the concierge and didn’t pass the chance of capturing the framed paintings hanging at the back of the counters.

I asked permission from the Cast Members who are at the reception prior to snapping my cam; made me smile when they gave me a nod.

Aren’t these paintings fascinating?  I remember the Mark Twain’s steamboat that we saw in Disneyland Anaheim on the next painting.

Those bursts of colors are too beautiful in my eyes!

Sincere to their work place, I noticed Cast Members of Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resorts are all service-oriented, warm and friendly. Just when I was thinking for someone who could snap a photo of us, one male hotel staff offered to take our family pic even without asking him. That’s marvelous! :D

Look at my very own Minnie. Lovely, isn’t she? :)

The hedge maze in the garden of Disneyland Hotel fronting South China Sea really caught Gabby’s attention.

Did Gabby and I try and finish the maze? Find out on my succeeding posts! :D

Meanwhile, can you spot Mickey Mouse’s profile on this green maze?


What warmed our souls and filled our stomachs after that long tiring trip from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya and KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, to Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal to Hong Kong International Airport then finally to Hong Kong Disneyland apart from seeing Mickey Mouse again at the theme park was a sumptuous and divine Chinese cuisine at Crystal Lotus Restaurant.

With rich, classy and exceptional ambience, coupled with prompt and attentive service and a delightful menu, Crystal Lotus Restaurant is the best option when you feel like indulging in some Chinese favorites with Disneyland’s kiddie appeal.

Modern and sophisticated Oriental ambience of Crystal Lotus Restaurant. We’re so blessed to have experienced it.

Tina, Gabby and I met a few bunch of Filipinos who own blog sites too; Mom and Lifestyle blogger, ThammieSy, Fashion bloggers Laureen Uy and Kryz Uy of Break My Style and respectively, Foodie blogger, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, and travel blogger Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker. We communed with our families and friends and with delicious gastronomic treats at this luxurious room.

Crystal Lotus Restaurant brought our taste buds to a variety of Chinese dishes that we all happily took in.

stunningly gorgeous chandeliers

Now, let your eyes feast on the set meal we savored….you might need tissues to wipe your keyboard when you drooled! *kidding!* A glass of ice cold water beside you might be helpful. :D

If it’s Chinese, there must be Jasmine Tea.

We started our delicious dimsum lunch with Roasted Suckling Pig with Cucumber and Sweetened Paste in Steamed and Piggy Mask Buns…

Crisp and flavorful. I’m in heaven! ;-)

Family bonding comes in different packages. At this moment, it came with authentic Chinese cum Disney’s culinary. :P

 Next on the menu brought to our table was Disney Dim Sum Platter. Consisting of Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Bun, Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Bun, Mickey’s Glutinous Seafood Pancake which Gabby liked so much! :D

Eating Dim Sum has never been this cute! :D  It took me several minutes to take them with chopsticks and bite, haha!

I see harmony in steam basket, haha! Then I gave these 2 cute buns a peaceful death via taking them in, LOL!

Pink ears or orange ones? Doesn’t matter, both are appetizingly delicious!

Then came Braised Seafood Soup with Crab Roe. This warm soup dish won my palate! Tina liked it too.


The meal got more interesting when the next dish was brought in. It’s called Wok Fried Chicken and Longan with Sweet Sour Sauce.

My palate is familiar with the fusion of pineapples and chicken meat in a dish but with longan, it must be fascinating! And it is!

With Wok-Fried Shrimps and Disney Root Vegetables, Disneyland and Crystal Lotus Restaurant really know how to make vegetables and seafoods appealing to kids. The dish to me is so impressive!

You know how some children have aversion to veggies and making the ingredients of this dish cut into Mickey Mouse’s gloves and head is pure brilliance!

Who says eating veggies is never fun?

Blessings continued to pour on our table with this golden crab dish…

This one really brought out the kid in me. I was in awe with the plating of this crab dish. Indeed, a crab plated in gold, hehe!

Flip the golden shell of this crustacean plate et voila…

Baked Tasmanian Crab Meat Fried Rice in Whole Crab Shell : Eating crab has never been this edgy!

And of course, a meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Crystal Lotus prepared and offered us Chilled “Mickey’s” Red Bean Honey Pudding and Chilled Mickey’s Green Tea Jelly. 

Gabby like these desserts and so did Tina. As for me, I like the fusion of textures and its light flavors.

Must take a detail shot… :D

Did I mention that we EACH received a full course meal? What Gabby cannot finish, Daddy Gelo’s there to rescue. hehehe! Immediately after our very first meal at Hong Kong Disneyland, I thought I gained a few more pounds! Who wouldn’t with such hearty Dim Sum lunch set?  :D

It’s not on a daily basis that we get to eat Disney-themed Dim Sum nor a crab dish on a golden crab shell and of course, not everyone is given the chance to have such indulgence in very sophisticated food place thus, Tina, Gabby and I are grateful for this great dining experience. THANK YOU, LORD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS! THANK YOU, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel : Such a Magical Dreamy Place!

After our sublime Oriental lunch at Crystal Lotus, we headed directly to the Hong Kong Disneyland Park via the resort’s shuttle bus. We got our fast passes to Space Mountain, Astro Blasters and The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh rides and tickets to the theme park for 2 days!  Excitement soared the highest! :D All that and a lot more in the part 2 of this blog series! Stay tuned! :D


*for more information about Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Crystal Lotus Restaurant, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, kindly visit the theme park website at

This Blog Series Includes :



And we’re back in Penang with so many wonderful and fun experiences from Hong Kong Disneyland.

Will prepare a blog series about it;  stay tuned!  *wink*



Excited is an understatement to describe how Tina, Gabby and I actually feel about our upcoming trip to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!  The wonderful anticipation to revisit the whimsical kiddie’s paradise heightens as days go by! Who would not be thrilled to return to the “Happiest place on Earth” with no less than the most important people in your life? :D  It will be a some sort of Post-Valentine celebration for the three of us but with or without occasion, just being there, leaving all our worries and stress behind makes any day definitely lovely and special!

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND, January 01, 2007

Gabby was only 2 years and 3 months old when we first brought him to Hong Kong Disneyland and that young experience gave him an early positive impression of how a life full of dreams looks like!

I’ve been to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND thrice in the past and had been to other Disneyland as well (Tokyo and Anaheim, California) but admittedly, my first trip outside the Philippines with my parents and siblings to Hong Kong Disneyland was the most memorable of them all! Meeting Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in person back then was absolutely surreal for someone who remains a kid at heart.

I was blessed to bring Tina and Gabby to Hong Kong Disneyland back in 2007 to celebrate New Year at the theme park.  Five years after, we’re so geared to go back and relive that magical experience! We can’t wait to see the newest attraction in HKDL that is dedicated to one of our favorite Disney animations of all time: TOYSTORY LAND!

It's PLAYTIME, baby! ;-)

We’re ready to see Mickey and Minnie again, together with Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy, the gorgeous Disney Princesses and of course, my personal favorites, Woody and Buzz Lightyear and a whole lot more in HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

I am sure it’ll be an extraordinary weekend full of FUN and FAMILY BONDING!

Have you been to HONG KONG DISNEYLAND? I’m sure! What are your most unforgettable memories about this fantastic theme park?



Road closure is inevitable when there’s either a repair or an important event. More than a week ago, the streets of George Town, Penang were not accessible to traffic because of the Chinese New Year Heritage and Cultural Celebration.

Kapitan Keling Street along Lebuh Chulia : Closed for the festivities

Everyone’s feet were on the go to welcome the Lunar Year of the Dragon!

Every spot and almost every laterals of Lebuh Chulia rendered a festive mood. Even Penang’s famous trishaws were dressed to the nines for the occasions!

Do you have any idea in mind about the next photo? Have you seen similar dry runs before?

They're rehearsing LION DANCE ON STILTS; Yup! LION DANCES ON AIR are observed in this part of Southeast Asia! Roads are not enough to dance to the beat of the drums! ....Too bad the shows were scheduled 7 and 9 that evening and I had to go home early. :(

As I marveled at the various preparations to make the event lavish and merry, I followed a few groups of people walking down the red carpet.

Walking on Red Carpet

Youngsters who rule the drums came in troops…

Drum roll, please!

Their thunderous drum rolls led me to the Opera Stage of Khoo Kongsi Temple…

The Opera Stage had these kids in traditional Chinese costumes prancing in lively tunes…

I only spent few minutes inside the Cannon Square of Khoo Kongsi because “something happened” to me (don’t ask what for now, will post it one day. Let’s just say, it happened all for the love of this hobby called photography). Moving on…

I exited the compound of Khoo Kongsi and went back to one of the streets of George Town…

Buddhist temples and clan mansions at this side of Malaysia are located left and right! :P

As I turned my back, another visual feast greeted my eyes : Chinese Opera Rehearsal…

The artists were stunningly beautiful in their costumes despite sans make up! I think this is because they proudly wear their culture on their skin.

Then, my feet brought me to this corner where kids were practicing what I assumed as yo-yo.

I wonder what they call this uniquely looking yo-yo. These kids are amazing! They're practicing the skill in sync

One more temple facade and I found myself back in Armenian Street.

In one of the souvenir stalls there, my eyes caught these pieces, won my heart and made me smile…

I know Tina would love these paintings as she appreciates art too. If only I have an extra budget for pretty but unnecessary things, I would have brought a frame or two for her. Perhaps, next time…

Do they appeal to you?

I’m sorry I failed to get the name of the artist, most of the artworks weren’t signed too so there’s no way for me to credit them.

CNY 2012 is being observed in Penang from 23rd January to 15 days after. A lot more streets will surely witness dragon and lion dances in the remaining days of the event; either on the grounds or on top of the stilts!

I know red is considered to be the most auspicious of all the colors. Does black attracts good fortune too? I guess so. It’s not a black cat anyway, it’s a lion! LOL! hehehe :D

And among the volume of  inspiring sights I’ve seen, this one’s most enticing…*wink*



As I am an ordinary spectator of the biggest annual event for the Chinese community here in Malaysia, my eyes continue to feast on the colors and festive moods extremely associated with the Spring Festival, the Lunar Year or simply, the Chinese New Year. It’s such a delight to learn that at the end of every grandiose day of celebration, a family reunion dinner and gatherings with friends remain to be the occasion’s most inspiring spirit!

Apparently, 2012 is the year of the DRAGON.

“In Sung Dynasty (a Chinese imperial dynasty lasting from AD 960 – 1279) texts, the dragon is described as having the head of an ox, muzzle of a donkey, eyes of a shrimp, horns of a deer, body of a serpent covered with fish scales, and feet of a phoenix.  The dragon usually clutches a pearl symbolic of its super-natural powers.  Invariably accompanied by thunder and rain, dragons move like lightning and whirlwinds – – all powerful yet totally unpredictable” (-sourced here).

And because Tina and I, together with my mom who’s with us currently here in Penang, are all under the DRAGON sign, behold my blog’s tribute to the ultimate auspicious symbol representing success and happiness…

In KUALA LUMPUR, dragons come in varied elegance…

At Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur, My

Detail shot of one of the dragons in Pavilion Mall…

Pavilion Mall, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

And its entirety…

Pavilion Mall outdid Suria-KLCC Shopping Complex in terms of volume and size of their dragon displays. This is how Pavilion Mall’s 600-foot-dragon looks like…

And what’s a Chinese New Year celebration without dragon dances?

Embroidered dragon in a man’s court suit on display at Pavilion Mall…

In PENANG, the Chinese community also shows solidarity and unity in welcoming the New Lunar Year…

Drum rolls and beats make the atmosphere so stellar!

Armenian and Kapitan Keling Streets welcome everyone with this dragon-designed arch.

Dragons in Pulau Pinang are everywhere!  From stage…

to novelty stores selling stuffed dragons…

and street kiosks with paper ones…

fifteen ringgit is two hundred ten pesos. mahal!

The streets of George Town, particularly the laterals of Lebuh Chulia display a lot more dragons…

Do you like your dragon on textile?

which are obviously hand-painted…

Or would you care your dragon be inked on you?

To environmentalists and those who care for Mother Earth, a dragon made of recycled bottles surely looks awesome!

but to foodies like my family and me, these last two photos certainly seems enticing!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone! :D

*CNY in Malaysia this year starts 23rd January 2012 until 15 days after.



Our Christmas Break 2011 Series includes :


There's my dad-in-law who came home for the holidays from Missouri; holding hands while walking with her lovely daughter (the one in black striped shirt; not in pink, ok--no offense meant. ;-)

After an engaging and informative Malacanang Palace Tour with Ivan Man Dy, our group of local and foreigner-tourists walked back to where we met that afternoon –the Legarda Mansion that’s turned into La Cocina De Tita Moning, a fine dining restaurant that features Filipino cuisine at its best.

It’s good to see an herb garden within the restaurant itself. It’s so uncommon to spot a food place that partially rely on their own produce.

They grow Tanglad or Lemon Grass among other herbs and leaves for their very refreshing Lemon Grass Iced Tea.

We were ushered to the outdoor dining area where a tasteful and supposed to be a light merienda but was a bit heavy and delicious on the tummy was served.

While eating, Ivan continued to entertain his guests without a hint of fatigue from more than 3-hour tour guiding inside the Malacanang Palace.  I believe it’s his gift more than a talent or skill.

Then the  opportunity presented itself.  Ivan Man Dy asked us if we’re interested in having a brief tour of the Legarda Mansion for free or as a last stop of our Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer Malacanang-San Miguel Walking Tour (remember, we were enjoying our light snack at its outdoor garden and without a reservation, one may have uncertainties to be accomodated inside the Legarda Mansion itself or the La Cocina De Tita Moning restaurant proper).  I immediately replied, “Sure, I read somewhere there’s a medical clinic inside, I want to see it!”   :D

Because it was almost past 5 in the afternoon, some of the tourists had to bid goodbye. We chose to stay to take a peek inside the ancestral house.  I’m glad that my father-in-law was so courteous enough not to say no to my want despite he seriously lacked sleep and was still struggling with jet lag from his more than 16 hour flight from US to HK then Manila the day prior to the tour.

More than the main dining areas (read: several private rooms to dine) of La Cocina De Tita Moning located at the mansion’s second level….

Rose petals, sculptured crystals and the best china on the dining table.

I am more interested to see the other quarters inside the Legarda Mansion…

The wooden and iron staircase leads to a whole lot of fascination.

Do you like PHOTOGRAPHY?

Antique photography equipments are showcased in one of the rooms as Dr. Alejandro Roces-Legarda was into this beautiful (and expensive) hobby. Visitors, diners and photo-enthusiasts like me have plenty to talk about over this priceless collection.

This was how a camera looked like in Dr. Alejandro Legarda’s years…

Imagine if time didn’t evolve and cameras still appear like this, I think I cannot strap it around my neck to stroll and shoot, haha! :D

Are you into ARTS?

"La Inocencia"

For the moment, I was left in awe…

How many houses own a Juan Luna?

If owning a priceless masterpiece is close to impossible, then dreaming to have a coffee table book about such art works is the next best thing, haha! :D

Let me remind you (or myself, haha) that this mansion is the restaurant itself.

Photography. The Arts. If not, perhaps, are we playing in the same field?

Notice the stirrups on the photo? I'm no OB-Gyn but a humble General Practitioner-Educator only however, man, I miss delivering a baby! Just like many Filipino MDs, I had the chance to go on rotation in Fabella Medical Center in Manila where 98 deliveries in a 24 hour shift is considered BENIGN. I also miss my Post-Graduate Medical Internship days at Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City and my OB-Gyn rotations there. I miss yelling (just to make your voice heard) at women about to deliver, "Ginang, hingang malalim, pigil, ire!" (In that order! --"Mrs., take a deep breath, hold and push")....ah, those were the days!

Can you find a vaginal speculum on the next photo?

Dr. Alejandro Roces-Legarda was an OB-Gyn specialist along with his 3 other siblings who were all MDs.

Like the others, I also believe having a clinic at your own residence gives you the convenience to practice. However, the downside is having your own home and worst, own family being exposed to your clients’ pathogens (microbe-causing diseases ).  To each his own.

We read the same book.

Of course, it’s not an issue to me but would you still have your appetite for fine dining at the sight of a female skeleton? *just asking*

An appetite stimulant or an appetite killer? haha! I won't mind for as long as the spread's delicious!

Other than the medical clinic, the living room upstairs is definitely attention-grabbing.

One of the quarters features the family’s radio transmitter collection.  Another rare and expensive collectibles.

And then, there are some more things to tickle your fancy.

According to Ivan, a fine dining set meal, either lunch or dinner on reservation will cost you around PhP 1,500 to PhP 2,500 and up per pax. With the sample we had at the outdoor garden, I am definite that the menu is as superb if not beyond words. :D

The Legarda Mansion, a.k.a. La Cocina De Tita Moning extremely reminds me of two of my favorite heritage houses here in Penang,




which both stand with grandeur in George Town, one of UNESCO’s Heritage Sites.


*Special thanks goes out to Ivan Man Dy for his generous invitations to me and my family.  For readers out there who would like a professional and intelligent and amusing guided walking tours of Manila, visit the website of  OLDMANILAWALKS.COM  for details. Kindly give my regards to Ivan if in case you’ll find time to join his tours. Thank you! 



Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


*This is not a paid post for Hotel Celeste. The blogger and his family spent for their overnight stay and this blog’s simple review and staff commendation attempts to be honest and fair.

Celeste (pronounced with silent last e) means heavenly. And Hotel Celeste in Makati City is just that. Celestial. Stellar. Heavenly! :D

30 December 2011, Friday. Exactly 2 weeks after we arrived from Penang, we availed of the deluxe room I reserved a few weeks ago at Hotel Celeste, a European-inspired boutique hotel in the heart of Makati City.  Now, before someone raises his or her eyebrows and comments that we’re spending a fortune on this overnight accomodation, think again. We only availed of the hotel’s promo called CELESTIAL WEEKENDS that I luckily spotted at their website last year. Besides, give us a break, will you? It’s already 2012 and it’s our 8th Wedding Anniversary on Sunday, January 08, 2012, hence this simple indulgence. :D

I asked first my commander-in-chief’s go signal  (who else but Tina) if I can book a hotel room even for just a night in honor (naks!) of our 8th years of being officially married, 11 years of togetherness and as a part of our Christmas vacation in Pinas.  And man, I was in cloud 9 when I got her nod.

It was already the night of December 8, 2011 when I emailed Hotel Celeste to make a reservation. One night for us (December 30-31) and the other date this January 2012  as gift certificate that we gave as present to our first inaanak sa kasal (sponsored newlyweds, Nicole & Carlo). Tina and I thought it’s a decent wedding present for them more than the classic golden chamber pots (ginintuang arinola) *pun intended* :D

Incidentally, this is the first time I’ll be acknowledging the names of the people who served us beyond expectations.  The hotel service was excellent!

First to be applauded was the front desk officer, Ryan Lacerna. We never met him but he was the one who promptly replied to my email-request and immediately sent a reservation under my name on my preferred dates on PDF form. Thank you!

Second was the door man/bell boy, Dexter and the couple of guards outside. Mabuhay po kayo! Dexter’s Indigo blue marvelous uniform was perceived by Gabby as those worn with Samurai. (Our son mixed Japanese with Old World European–you know how kids watch so many cartoons these days, haha!).

And of course, the nicest people who man this small but ever efficient reception should be regarded as well.

Thank you to Em and Ethel who smilingly received me when I first personally went there to settle our bills in advance. Believe me, they’re the friendliest front desk ladies I’ve ever encountered.

Thank you to Jiggs Garcia who texted to inform me that the GC that I requested was already ready for pick up.

Not to forget the front desk people who were on duty during our stay, Gracie and the tall male front desk man who’s with her and whose name I forgot to ask, he also didn’t wear his nameplate that time, nontheless, thank you too!

To the Celi’s restaurant wait staff -morning and night shift, hats off to you for being courteous!

All of you made our brief stay so remarkable and memorable! Maraming Salamat! :D

Honey, lower your eyebrows, please. Umabot ata sa 3rd floor. Why? hehehe! *she'll kill me for this*

Needless to say, Hotel Celeste impressed us –not only the jologs in me who’s easier to pleased but Tina who has more discriminating taste. With only 30 rooms –in Suites and Deluxe that vary in their interiors (I think no room is designed similar), this charming hotel is an absolute respite amidst the hustle and bustle of Makati City and a great competition to the premier hotels around. It’s a few steps away from our favorite malls -Greenbelt and Glorietta. :D Very accessible too for tourists and balikbayans who likes a nearby accomodation from the airport.

Wacky Gabby posed for Tina while I check in at the counter.

Gracie, the front desk officer on duty didn’t ask anymore for the PhP 2K refundable deposit when I checked in for my family. I don’t know, either she forgot about it or I’d like to think she trusted me because of the 2 letters after my surname (ehem!).  She just requested me to provide an ID; I gave her my passport and after she scanned and returned it to me, I found myself with Tina, Gabby and the bellboy/doorman, Dexter inside the lift. Even the lift was elaborately decorated with DAMASK  TEXTILE and mirrors. Nice! :D

We’re assigned at level 3, room 305. Here’s the corridor…

The lateral view from the door of our room…

We were welcomed by spotless wooden floors and simple yet amazing fixtures.

I'm happy when my family's happy.

The mini bar isn’t free of course unlike QUINCY HOTEL SINGAPORE but nevertheless provides with complimentary bottled water, coffee and tea making facility.  Personal fridge also available.

The quality of pillows and the size of the bed for me are relatively important whenever slumbering in a hotel.  I want my pillows not too soft but a little firm.  Tina and Gabby like it otherwise.  We all love a king size bed instead of a twin, so much room to cuddle and curl up.  And in Hotel Celeste, we’re grateful that we had one of our restful sleeps. Fantastic!

Tina noticed the wardrobe has a long umbrella for the guests to use. We both think it’s uncommonly provided by most hotels unless you ask for one and Hotel Celeste was thoughtful in doing so even without a request.

The tandas (toilet) at first glance was instantly perceived as covered with wall paper but a closer look revealed it’s beautifully stenciled.  Thank God it’s no floral design but leafy. The Deluxe room has no bath tub but the rainshower dutsa with comforting hot and cold water was good enough.

The banyo may be small but almost sterile. It’s so important to be kept clean.

L'Occitane hair and body wash are provided, must of all, I like it when hotel choose Colgate to include in the box of toothbrush (despite we always bring our own gum needs).

The Celestial Weekend Promo package that we availed comes with a foot and leg massage upon arrival that we failed to enjoy. Tina and I opted to have it in the morning just before checking out however, it’s already late when we learned that the service is only available from 3 to 5 in the afternoon.  Our fault. No worries. But definitely, Gabby and Tina savored the welcome drinks; they chose ripe mango shake and iced chocolate. :)

vouchers for fee welcome drinks that were handed to us upon check in.

Fast forward to dinner : Most deluxe hotel room packages would only offer buffet breakfast, but Celestial Weekends treats guests to set dinner as well. When we’re almost ready to choose from the set menu, Gabby asked me to accompany him to pee.

This is how the toilet at the lobby looks like…

waiting area just before the toilet at the lobby

the male toilet : I wish I had mural painting of a knight to in our comfort room. :)

Admittedly, the set dinner may have been better if the servings are a bit bigger. But I’m not complaining; just saying. As mentioned, it doesn’t happen all the time that set dinner is inclusive in a hotel package unless it’s an ALL INCLUSIVE (Read : QUINCY HOTEL SINGAPORE again FTW!).

Inside CELI’s  Restaurant just by the lobby of Hotel Celeste…

There's a male acoustic crooner who's set we adore : love songs from the 80s sang and popularized by male foreign singers. Ang husay!

The view from where we sat…

From the set menu, Tina and I chose, focaccia and another high-fiber bread with buttered spinach and rock salt as starter, then roast chicken for me that’s sadly too salty and so minimal serving (I should’ve ordered the salmon!). Tina had carbonara which we gave a thumbs up but wished for, yes, a larger serving, hehe (note to self : it’s free and included in the package, remember?). She shared some pasta to Gabby but he likes the desserts better. We all love the chocolate ecclairs but the creme brulee’s too sweet for my sweet tooth. :D

If the set dinner was just OK, we were greatly surprised with the buffet breakfast! :D

A knock at our door at few hours before we went watching last full show of Gabby’s choice from 2011 MMFF at Greenbelt 3 cinema (guess what movie? haha!),  made me opened it and saw 3 people, wearing white collared shirts and pants (correct me if I’m wrong but they struck me as on OJTs or HRM interns) who handed me 2 sheets of paper to fill out.

It's all in the details.

The paper had the menu for breakfast but it allows the guests/diners to customize their dishes. It’s like tick the ingredient you want in your omelette; tick if you want Belgian waffle, croissants, danish pastries, cinnamon, smoked fish, pork tocino, bacon, chicken frankfurter, eggs benedict, fresh fruits, cereals, yoghurt and a lot more choices with various tea and coffee.

The jologs couple in us were puzzled after reading the instruction on the paper. It simply state tick your preferred dish to be served either in Celi’s restaurant or right inside your room. We’re not dumb or anything but we want to make sure before filling it out and submitting it to the front desk before 11PM.  So Tina called the front desk to clarify. The OC in me followed to verify.

Tina :  “Hello, this is room 305, We just received 2 sheets of paper for us to select our menu for breakfast. So how do we fill it up, will it be, we choose one per dish category or we can select more than one plate?”

Front Desk :  “Maam, you can select all po.”

Tina : “Ah, OK, Thank you.”  …puts down the phone and turned to me, “‘ney, pwede daw lahat? haha! Ikaw nga tumawag!” :D

To cut the funny story short, I confirmed that it’s like “select-all-that-apply” kind of thing. SARAP! :D  Alam nyo naman, we have to eat like a KING during breakfast! hehe! :D

We’re glad to have tasted their SMOKED BONELESS BANGUS… This is one reason why we love Filipino dishes!!!

Admit or deny it, this is how a typical Filipino buffet plate looks like : mix-mix! haha! ...There's that gorgeously delicious Smoked Boneless Bangus (we opted it instead Daing), Omelette, Beef Tapa, Pork Tocino, Hash Browns, Bacon strips, Chicken Frankfurters which we all shared.

Then Tina loved their Eggs Benedict…

And then seriously, while being served with one of our delightful breakfast meals, Gabby began feeling sick (he and I really got sick, NOT because of Hotel Celeste but perhaps of pollution/bacterial/viral exposures or change of weather temperature),  so Tina requested the wait staff if we could have all the food to be served in our room in order for Gabby to have ample and more relaxed time to eat. Et voila!

We didn't finish everything! Ang we take it home by buying microwavables from Landmark when we went grocery shopping before checking out at 12noon. Sayang naman itapon! haha..

Our stay in Hotel Celeste’s Celestial Weekends only cost us PhP 5,399 nett (the promo runs every weekend until January 15, 2012).  Some may accused us of overspending beyond our means, but hey, it ain’t your money we’re using. So chill. Some may say it’s too much for an overnight stay, well I say it’s a steal from the original deluxe room price of almost PhP 10K+ exclusive of what we enjoyed.  And above all, price for as long as you can afford, shouldn’t be an issue when you spend for family’s happiness and family bonding. Memories are cherished forever. Money can be earned.

I love you honey and Gabby! Cheers to our 8th year and here’s to more traveling, delicious feasts and fun-filled family bonding! :D

For more details on Hotel Celeste, visit their website at




Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


*Disclaimer : I try to maintain my blog as an APOLITICAL one so this isn’t about views and opinions about any issue. :)

 “How many times have you been inside Malacanang Palace?”  asked by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks to our group of 14 tourists –a mix of locals, balikbayans and a few foreigners.  One of us replied, “Four!”   …I thought my previous Malacanang experience was absolutely no match because I only answered, “Once“…

Then Ivan continued to ask, “How many times have you been to SM (Shoemart Department Stores)?

I smiled. :)

Apparently, setting foot inside the grounds where President of the Philippines resides and takes office doesn’t happen on a daily basis.  Needless to say, it’s another EXTRAORDINARY experience for us. Thank you, Ivan for the invites! My wife, my dad-in-law and I definitely enjoyed every bits. Brilliant!

We began The Power, Palace and A Shot of Beer Walking Tour in one of the art-deco huge houses in San Miguel, Manila– the Legarda Mansion, that’s known to others as the fine-dining restaurant, La Cocina de Tita Moning. From there, Ivan escorted  us through a parallel of San Miguel all the way to the stone throw away, Malacanang. The drizzle that Wednesday afternoon wasn’t an issue to get us in the Palace.

these things look amazing to me...

ORGANIZED…  Several days prior, we received an email with reminders of what to expect, where to meet, the how-to-get-there-map, and whatnot on the this walking tour. Our names were collected for submission as guests to the Kalayaan Hall or the Malacanang Palace Museum thus, getting inside was such a breeze (Do you think PSG did a character-investigation prior to the tour? haha, just asking!).  Understandably, since we’re paying the highest office of the land a visit, our bags and bodies were scanned; cameras were labeled with red-orange PSG stickers (I just didn’t get it why PSG asked us-those with cameras to have a test shot with them or point and shoot it first at anything…). Ivan explained everything’s a protocol, of course.

With utmost humility, I got 1.25 (highest of 1.0 and lowest of 5.0) in Philippine History back in my days when I was taking up my pre-medical course at Far Eastern University (who cares, right? even the carebears don’t care, toinks!). Defensively, I am neither a History geek nor a happy-g0-lucky kind of guy. I just don’t know up to now what soul got into me those days that I became so fascinated with Agoncillo’s book on Philippine History and taking essay-type-of-exams in our class wasn’t difficult for me. With more than a decade after, I forgot everything I’ve learned. Haha! Well, almost.

INFORMATIVE…Glad I was one of the participants of this walking tour because A LOT of things that happened in the past were not found on books. And Ivan had refreshed and informed us even of things unfamiliar to many. Case in point are these four men  on a set of painting who contributed to the Philippine History. The only name that rang a bell to my ears was Hernando de Magallanes who toured the globe before he got killed with his Portugese Christian soldiers by a native ruler of Mactan, Cebu–who else but Lapu-lapu. (Iyong iba, di ko ka-facebook, hehehe!) :)

Apart from history and politics aside, Malacanang Palace as a tangible structure in my humble opinion, is very Filipino or at least represents who we are, how we evolved through the years. Inspite of the fact that the exteriors reminds us of Spanish colonial regime, it boasts of intricate carvings on solid wood inside its vast and countless rooms that  obviously reflect talent, skills, artistry and craftmanship of Filipino people.

Must have that detailed shot…

INTERESTING…wood carving galore!

Can you believe that this served as a luggage used in traveling in the previous era? ...*hebigat*

One can easily tell that those solid wood carvings from  Narra, Kamagong and other finest lumber are symbolic of our resilience amidst adversities, or was it only my interpretation? I hope others won’t perceived it as luxuries in the heart of a third world country (Did I just mentioned this blog would not discuss social and political issues?).

NEVER  BORING… The tour featured almost all corners of the museum and the stories behind them.

Imagine the efforts exerted in making these floor to ceiling wood carvings. One can almost feel the hands that held those chisels. Artistic. Decorative. Beautiful!

Nothing’s overlooked…

even the electric sockets should look authoritative? :P

NOSTALGIC…Alas, my solitary memory of Malacanang Palace resurfaced from my lazy cerebrum. Upon the sight of the rooms, I remembered Imelda Marcos’ shoes, Ferdinand Marcos’ five libraries with vast collection of books, their gorgeous paintings, Madame’s canopied bed with wooden crown at its top, her toilet boasting of jars of perfumes with actual miniscule faucets and a lot more of Marcos’.

Admit it, they're the most vivid and powerful people who lived in the palace.

COMPELLING… How does a ruler convince his people to follow his lead?

Letras Y Figuras : One of the eye-catching commissioned paintings inside Malacanang has the name of Imelda Romualdez Marcos with scenic and iconic paintings representing her "achievements" per letter of her name.

Si Sir....

at si Madame...

Martial Law may have scarred the many; thus, looking at the same chair and table where it was proclaimed could hyperstimulate your senses or worst, can be disturbing…

ENGAGING with WITS and HUMOR…As a lecturer myself for almost a decade now, I have learned to make my classroom discussion interactive, lively and enticing despite a boring topic.  And the Ivan Man Dy certainly knows to do the same, in fact far better than my limited skills.  He makes Philippine History soft and chewy to absorb by the common tao, much more by the foreigners who most of the time are clueless of our own story.

"How many pairs shoes did Imelda Marcos have?", "Where are her shoes now?" Everyone was enthralled in the charming discussion about everything inside the museum including fellow blogger, Marian of her site, upto6only (wearing black shirt with pink headband and pink belt; yes, it must be pink, right, Marian? hehe!)

Folks, meet the most participative tourist in our group,  Mr. Primo (the one wearing Fedora hat and eyeglasses). He’s the man who made the tour more fascinating. He had the most extensive commentaries.

Ivan's so successful in engaging all of us in his tour.

To me, students who come to my classes so prepared and well-read, are definitely a challenge. And Mr. Primo is similar to such, that with his impressive knowledge on Philippine History, his great discussions with Ivan made me think he could effortlessly pass as a Dean in an academe or simply put, he’s someone who experienced the tales being told.

FANTASTIC... The tour featured the priceless art works of Filipino artists as well as gifts from foreign dignitaries that are all housed inside Kalayaan Hall.

I just had to click my cam on the sculpture of that Greek God, Mercury (right photo); reminds me of a local drugstore's tag line, "Gamot ay Laging Bago" hehe!

There’s something for everyone to be interested with…

With all due respect, Ex-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada's inaugural Barong Tagalog showed he's definitely bigger than I am. *no pun intended*.

She will be forever Tita Cory to me. I was once a child growing up in her presidency.

One of the reasons why this tour's called, "Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer" : San Miguel Brewery back in the old days was located literally beside Malacanang Palace. Don't ask me how it happened. I highly suggest you join the tour of Old Manila Walks.

And of course, there were those photo-op moments…

Special thanks to my father-in-law who snapped this shot.

On way out, I found this sculpture of a family that I wished to have as a takeaway. hehe!

After more than 2 hours, we walked our way out of the Palace and Ivan led us back to the Legarda Mansion (not of  Senator Loren’s but Atty Katrina’s family).

The tour promised a fine-dining merienda, et voila!

How often do you eat with rose petals on the table?

We enjoyed it in an-open-air-dining area within the simple garden of the Legarda’s.  The ambiance was so casual yet the offerings were special.

The sotanghon (vermicelli noodles) dish was a delight. Squeezing a calamansi covered with mesh (similar to how they serve it at the Lobby of the Manila Peninsula --abangan!) over a sauce dish of fish sauce and chili even made the pancit more heavenly.

We were treated to a delicious light snack but absolutely less ordinary…

If my taste buds and memory serve me right, those 2 slices were chicken galantina. One thing is definite, its aroma and fantastic taste was to die for.

However, they made the dessert less sweet (perhaps, they’re considering the diabetic tourists/diners). Sayang, I like it done with more sugar.

Guinataang Bilo-bilo

For the nth time, this tour’s called, Palace, Power and A Shot of Beer.  So other than that refreshing and refillable Tanglad Iced Tea (Lemon Grass Iced Tea) and cold water, here’s that single shot of San Miguel Beer, cheers! :D

It was so nice to end a tour with a simple feast. But lo and behold, Ivan gave us a plus! After I told him that I read somewhere that the Legarda Mansion houses a doctor’s clinic (the patriarch and his 4 kids were all MDs), without hesitation, he invited all of us for a short but another impressive tour inside La Cocina De Tita Moning.

The experience inside the Legarda Mansion deserves a separate post…Soon! :)

For interested parties to join Ivan Man Dy’s tours of Manila, contact them via their website at OLDMANILAWALKS.COM


Manigong Bagong Taon po sa lahat at Maraming Salamat! May the good Lord continuously shower us with His divine grace.



Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I was once lost but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.

“T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.  And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear;  the hour I first believed”

Even Santa Claus found time to visit the children of Ulingan.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;  ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.”

“The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”

Thank you generous donors, co-volunteers and supporters of Project Pearls!

Bigay ng BreadTalk

“Yeah, when this flesh and heart shall fail,  And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess within the veil,  A life of joy and peace.”

“When we’ve been here ten thousand years. Bright shining as the sun. We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise. Than when we’ve first begun.”

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,  That saved a wretch like me.   I once was lost but now am found,   Was blind, but now I see.”

Pagpalain Nawa Tayo Ng Maykapal.

*Thank you so much PROJECT PEARLS (through the amazing photojournalist-blogger, Mr. Sidney Snoeck of the award winning blog, MY SARISARI STORE , the generous soul behind  PROJECT PEARLS,  Ms. Melissa Villa, and the rest of my co-volunteers) for sharing with me one of my most unforgettable experience in ULINGAN. Your unselfish efforts to help the children and their families living in Ulingan is awe-inspiring.

*For those of you who would like to contribute, donate, share, volunteer and help, kindly contact and coordinate with PROJECT PEARLS. Thank you and God bless!

*Amazing Grace, the song used in this post was written by John Newton.



18 December, 2011. Sunday. 2nd day of our days off from work in Penang. *Arrival and Day 1 to follow.

Prelude : People who have been chronically exposed to coal dust of about 15 to 2o years are at risk to develop COALWORKERS’ PNEUMOCONIOSIS also known as “black lung disease” which is a progressive and incurable disease. Imagine the plight of those babies, children and their families living in Ulingan.


I tried to win the battle against the alarm of my mobile by curling up in bed a bit longer but my sleepy brain was telling me that I  needed to wake up at 4:15AM with the thought that I shouldn’t be late to my appointment on a very early Sunday morning.  Resistance as they say, is futile.  So after my quick but necessary morning rituals, I kissed my wife and our 7-year old son goodbye while they’re still dreaming and immediately hopped on a tricycle from my relatives’ place in Pasig City and rode a jeepney to LRT 2 Santolan Station. From there, I took the train for less than half an hour to Avenida, Recto Manila. One more jeepney ride and I found myself at the corner of Kalaw Avenue.

Because I left the house with an empty stomach, I felt the urgency to fill it in.  I surrendered to one of my favorite Jollibee breakfast meals -fried rice, egg, corned beef and coffee. Solb! :)

En route to our meeting place, I walked through Rizal Park (formerly known as Luneta Park back in my childhood). It’s  good to be back here after some time.

Glad to see you again, fellow MD –JPR.

To say that Rizal’s iconic is an understatement. The sight of his monument was so apt to further fire my willingness that day to participate in a medical mission of PROJECT PEARLS in Ulingan, Tondo, Manila. I had a chance to become a manggagamot again just like JPR in joining this worthwhile activity. Thanks to SIDNEY SNOECK  (a Belgian photojournalist whose heart is in the Philippines and thanks to his facebook account and his famous and award-winning blog, MY SARISARI STORE) that I got to know MELISSA VILLA (the soul behind the charitable organization) and PROJECT PEARLS.

I had arranged the schedule with him few days before my family and I left for Pinas.  Sidney and I met up in front of Manila Hotel at around 7AM and together we went to Ulingan in Tondo, Manila.

In my 35 years of existence, I have heard so much poverty in my country commonly personified by people of Smokey Mountain who thrive in rubbish. But it was only last Sunday when I saw and experienced the gospel truth behind issues I’ve read and heard. The sight was terribly haunting.

Sidney : “Doc, I’m sorry I failed to ask you to wear proper footwear. Your shoes will get muddy and dirty.”

Me : “Don’t worry, it’s already muddy even before we got here.” 

I should’ve been prepared to wear rubber boots (the ones worn by fishermen, wet market vendors, and the like) however, I had no hesitation to soak my shoes just to reach (out to) Ulingan.

Unbelievably, a community exists in this part of Manila.

ULINGAN is a small slum community in Tondo, Manila that sits on a dumpsite and surrounded by charcoal factories that emit toxic smoke; there is no electricity, no access to toilets or sanitation. Children and families have no choice but to live with soot, garbage, mosquitoes, flies all day and all night.  The common meal is “pagpag” (leftover food from fast-food restaurants scavenged from garbage sites). “Pagpag” means to shake away the dirt and maggots in the food.”  -sourced from the website of PROJECT PEARLS.

These are their homes– the abodes where they face life’s challenges, the houses where they build their dreams…

Sidney noticed the potted greens -proof that people of Ulingan still find time to make their surrounding a little pleasant despite and inspite of their condition.

This is their usual food, “pagpag” which is sold at PhP 15 per pack…

This is their common past time…

And this is how they make a living…

Sidney told me that children who work for their families in Ulingan remove the nails from the pieces of wood they collect from else where, then other workers would burn them under an "earth" where smoke is emitted day and night. It takes 2 days before charcoal is ready.

Before a sack of charcoal can be sold to about PhP 320 each….

the end consumer might be clueless that young and small hands were behind those uling...

Imagine breathing the smoke and living with the tons of rubbish day and night. Think of babies born by mothers within Ulingan with only midwife to assist and manage them. Life is unbearable but people here are probably the most resilient to tolerate such difficulties.

The main purpose of my trip to Ulingan began immediately after I was brought to the Project Pearls Learning Center.

Despite my heart was breaking at the sight of everything and everyone in Ulingan, inspite of the fact that my respiratory tract wasn’t getting along well with the polluted atmosphere in that community (I have not puffed a cigarette stick in my entire life but believe me, the feeling was probably worse than chronic smoking. I only spent half day in Ulingan but it also took me another six hours to breathe with less discomfort), I was silently jumping for joy upon seeing these…

Thank you to those who donated medicines for us to prescribe and dispense that day. May God bless us all!

*photo courtesy of ace photojournalist, Sidney Snoeck. Thank you, Sid! Mabuhay ka!

Assessing his frontal mass, apparently an infected wound with a complaint of pain and swelling in his mouth. Because we didn't have sterile instruments, I gave a referral note for surgical consult and management at a nearest hospital.

Do you remember the song, Paraiso sung and recorded by the group, Smokey Mountain and if I’m not mistaken, composed by Ryan Cayabyab?  The lyrics came to my mind when I was in Ulingan…

“Return to a land called paraiso,
A place where a dying river ends.
No birds there fly over paraiso,
No space allows them to endure.
The smoke that screens the air,
The grass that’s never there.And if i could see a single bird, what a joy.
I try to write some words and create
A simple song to be heard
By the rest of the world.

Their eagerness and enthusiasm to read and learn despite and inspite of everything are inspiring! Hope is alive in their hearts!

His eyes tell so much tales…

but his hands and feet certainly melted my heart…

As a father to our 7-year-old son, I feel so much for these kids. They’ve been exposed to unimaginable severities in life and were robbed of their childhood. Look at their eyes and peek into their souls…

It was a day that I will not forget for as long as I live.  Sidney was repeatedly thanking me before we left Ulingan but I told him the pleasure’s mine. Had it not for him and the organization he’s in, I will not be reminded to make the most of what we have, and MUST THINK BEFORE WE COMPLAIN because we are more blessed than people of Ulingan who certainly know how to SMILE AMIDST ADVERSITIES.

Thank you to all my fellow volunteers…

Thank you, Project Pearls, Ms. Melissa Villa and Mr. Sidney Snoeck for giving me a chance to experience this worthwhile endeavor.

Find me in a sea of unsung heroes. It's an honor to be with them! *photo courtesy of the awe-inspiring photojournalist and award-winning blogger, Sidney Snoeck.

Another wonderful shot by Sidney–this time with Lola Felissa, a 99 year old woman from Ulingan. It’s just amazing she’s still up and about, can still walk and stand straight as if she’s not in her late geriatric years!

One more year and Lola Felissa from Ulingan will be a centenarian! I have not even lived half of the years she enjoyed in life! Mabuhay ka, Lola Felissa! *photo by Sidney Snoeck.

Thank you for these priceless smiles that bid us goodbye…

You can make these children’s lives a little better through your donations and/or by supporting the activities of PROJECT PEARLS; contact the organization via their website at ProjectPearls.Org


*This is the first of the series of our Christmas vacation in the Philippines; DAY 1 to follow soon.   May our CHRISTmas and holiday celerbations be happy and meaningful.  Let us always count our blessings!  God bless us! :)



I am humbled and honored to be one of the 10 finalists under Best Personal Blog Category-National Level in this year’s Philippine Blog Awards.  Maraming Salamat po, PBA and to everyone who follows Beyond Toxicity. Congratulations to whoever will win this Saturday, December 3, 2011.  :) Win or lose, this is absolutely INSPIRING.



I’m shooting for the moon and the stars, people! I entered my photo below, taken at Klonghae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand to National Geographic Photo Contest 2011 under People Category. Win or Lose, it’s all for the thrill and the experience! USD 10,000 and a trip to Nat Geo main office in Washington DC, USA to attend a Photography Workshop on January 2012 and a spread of the winning photos on Nat Geo issue are at stake! There will be judges to critically select the winning entries per category but your support will be so appreciated!

So if you’re generous to show support to DOCGELO’s entry, kindly click LIKE his photo via this link -> HERE!!!

It’s difficult to resist the unique charm of the rural life reflected by the fascinating vendors of the Klonghae Floating Market in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand. The ambiance simply radiated their passion to live and to boost the local tourism.

UPDATE : SUNTOK SA BUWAN ito pero I want to WIN!
“The First Place winner in each Category will each receive US$2,500, and his/her winning photograph will be published in National Geographic magazine. One Grand Prize winner will receive in addition to the First Place prize, US$7,500 and a trip to the District of Columbia, USA from Jan. 10 to Jan. 13, 2012 to participate in the National Geographic Photography Seminar. Trip includes round-trip coach class air transportation between a major airport near winner’s home and Washington, D.C.; three nights hotel accommodations in Washington; a behind-the-scenes tour of National Geographic headquarters; and access to the all-day Seminar on Jan. 12, where Grand Prize winner’s winning entry will be projected. The Grand Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is available.” -sourced from National Geographic



Tina and I were astonished this Thursday afternoon upon seeing one of my friends’ posts in my own facebook wall. She shared a video she found uploaded in youtube with our wedding photos (not one, not two but many!) together with some other foreign couples’ pictures over David Pomeranz’s love song! The thing is, we don’t know the person who used our photos and uploaded it on the video-sharing website. We would have appreciated it more if she/he asked permission to use our photos and we would have granted him/her our sweet nod. But I must state, Gabby was happiest to watch that video with his parents’ wedding photos.

View it HERE!

PS : Because some of the photos were not uploaded anywhere, neither in our online wedding album nor on my social networking sites (this blog, fb & twitter), the person who created and uploaded the video must have been so resourceful with a good taste and great sense in choosing our photos among so many other married couples around. hahaha! Thank you but next time, please ask permission. It’s called courtesy and ethics, in case it slipped your mind. *wink*



This was how God greeted us last Saturday noon when we viewed Him from our porch…

It was a sunshiny day too perfect to go to the Island.  It was a long weekend, by the way, because last Friday, 16th September, 2011 was Malaysia’s 54th Merdeka or Independence Day! However, Tina and I were actually lazy to go out last Saturday and had psyched ourselves to spend it at home, rest, eat and do Grey’s Anatomy marathon (We loved Season 7 Episode 18 – the Musical episode of that Medical drama).

The plan to be a bum at home didn’t push through. I was too weak to resist Gabby’s wish to accompany him to the Island. OK, fine, I also shared the same thoughts with my kid. :D  So while Tina had her much deserved-rest at home, Gabby and I hopped on the bus, went to the jetty in Penang Sentral and headed to the Island…

Enroute to Georgetown aboard the ferry…

Round trip Ferry rides from Butterworth to Georgetown jetty cost RM 1.20 per adult (PhP 16.8) and RM 0.60 sen (cents or PhP 8.40) per kid. And you only pay once at Butterworth (so if you’re coming from the Penang airport or anywhere in Georgetown, crossing to Butterworth is always free).

Another very short bus ride took us here at Sweetenham Pier..

Gabby and I had the chance to board a 12,000 ton vessel and the boy was as excited as his dad.

No we didn’t go on a cruise! How we wish, but you certainly know we won’t board a cruise ship without our muse (Tina of course!).

We went to Logos Hope, the world famous floating library that took its maiden voyage to Malaysia this year; docked in Penang since last week of August and will leave for other parts of Malaysia prior to Singapore on 25th September.

“A community of 400 UNPAID VOLUNTEERS from over 45 nationalities lives and works together on board Logos Hope. With over 5,000 book titles bringing knowledge, help and hope to the world…” Absolutely it’s a unique and inspiring experience! :)

Has Logos Hope visited your country already?  Check it out…

Apparently, it already docked in the Philippine shores too but it took us to become expats in Penang before we get to experience it.

The little kid was so happy on board the floating library…

There’s a book for everyone, even if you’re looking for the most delicious ones…

Since this largest floating book fair travels through so many countries, book titles are priced in units and there are a charts provided that convert the unit prices into local currency…

Titles are so varied and mostly affordable.

Logos Hope has different sections, prior to the main book fair, there’s a “Welcome LifeBoat Theater”. There’s that “Journey of Life” that will surely melt your heart by merely looking at the illustrations on the wall; they tell story even without trying…

Those walls will make you reflect in a blink…It cuts through me.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite part of Logos Hope, the International Cafe where you can have ice cream or coffee or both, depends on how you were inspired by those books, haha!

Volunteers of different colors and hair-dos try to make kids’ visit to Logos Hope more fun and memorable; they even hand away colorful sculpted balloons…

Imagine the passion and dedication these unpaid volunteers have as they serve Logos Hope; truly inspiring…

I know I still have a lot of grains to swallow, but as a young father and a medical educator, I say it’s so easy for any fool to teach anyone to earn a livinlifeg but it takes a ton of passion and skills and dedication to teach anyone how to live a life.

I’m glad I accompanied my son to Logos Hope last Saturday. We both learned beyond books.



Today’s my 35th birthday. Thank You, Lord for everything, most specially for giving me Cristina and Gabby. Amen.


updated @ 4:19PM  18 September 2011…

Who needs a fancy birthday party when I’m enjoying a great time bonding with Tina and Gabby?  I had the luxury to doze off after I left home at 6AM and went to public market to buy stuffs to last until the next weekend. Life is good.

And look what my lovely wife prepared and cooked for lunch…

Tina’s version of crispy birthday noodle is enough to complete the wish for longer & blissful life. Medyo maalat nga lang ang noodles, she needed to add water so it became a noodle soup dish after. What the heck, it’s still delicious! cheers! :)

PS : my blog’s hit couter just reached more than 300,000. thank you so much for the follow. it really means so much. Maraming salamat po! :)



And so the weeklong break has come. We’re up to enjoy the Hari Raya (end of Ramadan) vacation from work (for Tina and I) and school (for Gabby) beginning today, 27th August until 4th September. I will take my wife & kid on Tuesday next week to a short trip in a neighboring Asian country for the very perstaym, but since it’s too early to pack our luggage and bags, we’re just happy to spend more time together for more than a week (repeat : no work, no school, yahoo!) and do things we’d like to do. 

De-stressing at home : As Tina’s busy preparing our meals, she also finds more time to play her favorite computer games. Gabby’s doing a cartoon marathon on TV (making me miss to watch one of the series I follow, The Amazing Race but that’s OK of course) while I go online to do a little research on our itinerary next week, making last-minute reservations and bookings (akala ko ba de-stressing?) and blogging and blog hopping in between.

I’m happy that a popular Filipino website called featured few of my blog pictures of the Japanese restaurant back home called, Zensho, with, permission, proper credit and link to my post (back in 2009),  I was inspired to browse my photo files once more.

I chose to repost my favorite photos taken after I purchased my Nikon D7000 early this year. They may be far from your standards, but I’d like to share them again to you as my favorites to date as these captures simply make me smile when I browse them in files. Comments for improvements, particularly free tips on this hobby called photography (I consider it a big word for I am a neophyte with still so much to learn –blame my laziness to read the few photography books and magazines I acquired) will be appreciated. :)

And of course, my main reason for owning a camera is to capture moments with them with their precious smiles…

I don’t know of the technical aspects of photography yet but I like these pictures not only because of the subjects but the memories that come with them.

PS: I agree with what I have read before that “owning a DSLR doesn’t make you an instant blogger more so a photographer”.  My 2-cents-worth: It’s not really the camera that matters for it’s only a tool; it takes passion, talent and the will to learn new things for you to love and improve on these hobbies. :)


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