Posts Tagged ‘travel’


♫♪♫♪On a clear day

Rise and look around you

And you’ll see who you are

On a clear day

How it will astound you

That the glow of your being

Outshines every star

You’ll feel part of every mountain, sea and shore

You can hear

From far and near

A word you’ve never, never heard before…

And on a clear day…On a clear day…

You can see forever…

And ever…

And ever…

And ever more…♪♪♫♪

I think I am having  a LSS. That’s Capones Island located in San Antonio, Zambales. Someday, I would love to come back here and wait for the sunrise…maybe just greet the early morning with a smile.


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There are circumstances and events that live in one’s memory more prominently than the others and going on road trips with the family is one of them – remembering the happier days. I am transferring some of my family albums from Multiply which according to news will close in a few months and I can’t resist posting this particular album here since I loved the place when we dined there more than three years ago, a few months before I discovered that I had colon cancer. It changed my perspective about life because after my surgery, we have cut down on taking trips like this. It was replaced by regular trips to the hospital, diagnostic centers and my doctors. I am so grateful though that before  that life-changing ailment, I was able to visit here.

This was when I was still starting my love affair with my camera. I can’t remember now which one I used here, because I used to have a Pentax Optio and a much-lower-priced Samsung. I am using a Canon Ixus now with many added features. These are raw shots that were never altered, not even cropped.

Breakfast at Antonio’s (that’s actually the full name of the restaurant), is a high-end restaurant that serves breakfast meals all day long.  I remember the date, it was January 15, 2009. We came from our first road trip to Caleruega and we were on our way back to Manila. We were talking of where to take lunch even before we left Caleruega. And the kids were unanimous in saying that we will have it in Tagaytay so they could also enjoy the view of the Taal Lake. It was quite cloudy when we were there so I suggested why not try Breakfast at Antonio’s? It is about two and a half kilometers from the main highway but it is worth the time and the wait. We waited for about thirty minutes to be served. There were only about three occupied tables when we arrived. It’s gourmet dining at its best. Hubby was impressed. My two kids ordered chocolate milk drinks while  hubby  had tomato juice. I just had plain water because I had so much coffee while we were in  Caleruega.

It’s an architectural showcase, notice the high beams, it blends so well with the place.

While waiting for our food, we had one of the waiters take a shot of the four of us.

The fun part – eating! They call this Sausages and Scrambles.

Beef  tapa, a must have for a nourishing breakfast but we had it at lunch.

Ham and Swiss Cheese Roesti

Croque Madame

More than the food, I just love the ambience of the place.

This greets you at the reception area, a room full of antique items on the walls and as decors too. Even the floor entices you to go barefoot.

Ah, the Koi, we all love Koi!

Love that big pot of Anthurium, part of the charm of the place.

The main door stays closed but they open it for clients and diners.

My two kids….

A rare shot of the four of us – as always, we have to set up the tripod for this.

Love those paintings on the wall. This dining area has that airy atmosphere which is just perfect for a lovely chat.

I love that picture window and the garden beyond.

And this lush Koi pond….

The Koi fish are bigger than the ones they have at Caleruega.

Couldn’t resist these  lovely blooms….

Another shot of the reception area…

The garden in front…

That’s my son enjoying a few minutes of walking around the place.

I really hope one of these days, we could come back here and sample their other menu on the list.

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I took these series of shots in one of our road trips this year. We were on a long, long highway going to Tanay, Rizal and I was fascinated by the clear view of the countryside, but since we can’t stop and admire the mountains looming ahead, I have to aim the camera through the car window.

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Two years ago, my daughter and three of her friends went to Thailand  to learn the art of Thai cooking and to know a little of the culture of the place. They stayed there for about a week and enrolled in a Thai school. The other two who are certified chefs  enrolled in an advanced course in Thai cuisine. I am sharing some pics that would give you a closer look at an ordinary day in a Thai kitchen.

At the temple of the reclining Buddha.

The temples of Bangkok…

A typical wet market in Thailand. The vegetables displayed here are similar to what we have in our markets too.

Nissa with her cooking instructor shopping for fresh produce.

Look at those colorful array of veggies and spices and herbs in a Thai kitchen.

Don’t you just love these colorful food covers?

Preparing Thai Pandan Chicken

I love how colorful their dishes look…

She brought home some of these but our local cookies taste better.

A typical floating market selling mangoes. Nothing beats our sweet mangoes here in the Philippines though.

I love Thai food. Months ago, I found some authentic Thai ingredients in a supermarket  near our place and they are  now permanent fixtures inside our pantry. That’s how close I can get to experiencing  a little of Bangkok without actually being there.

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In one of our many road trips more than two years ago, we discovered an exciting place teeming with murals  of one of our National Artists, Carlos V. Francisco popularly known as Botong Francisco. And here I thought, Balaw Balaw Restaurant And Food Gallery was enough for me but in a place where so many artists abound, you’ll be glad to discover something more. Botong Francisco,  was the second Filipino artist to receive the title National Artist in Painting after Fernando Amorsolo. He is well-known in the art of mural painting.

Dona Aurora St.  in one such place ,  the whole stretch of the street is literally teeming with Botong Francisco’s artworks. The sun was too hot on our backs so Nissa and I had to take some quick shots of the place. I even saw maestro Lucio San Pedro’s lyrics and notes of his composition, Sa Ugoy ng Duyan but I was not able to record it in my camera.


Bayanihan, which loosely translated in English means helping each other is a typical Filipino trait that is still being practiced until now especially in the province where you only need to invite neighbors and relatives to help you with a particular work or task and they do.

Kaingin – 1945

Magpupukot -1957

Magpupukot means pulling in the net. The above picture is the actual painting where the mural was probably copied. Painting the lives of the fishing community was one of Botong’s favourite subjects. Angono, his hometown where he was based, was a fishing village.

Pista Sa Nayon – 1947

Pista, taken from the Spanish word fiesta (festival or feast) depicts revelry and thanksgiving. We celebrate many fiestas here in the Philippines. Such popular devotions and festivals are the Sinulog in Cebu, the Ati-Atihan in Aklan, and the Pahiyas in Lucban, Quezon to name a few. Philippine fiesta has its roots during the pre-colonial period.

If you have the chance to visit Angono, visit Aurora St. and you’ll surely be surprised by the richness of murals painted in almost every wall of the houses there.

And it’s more fun in the Philippines.

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A few kilometers from the shores of Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales lies Capones Island – white beaches, high rock cliffs, colorful crushed coral. You can reach the island by taking a boat ride from the Pundaquit shores. The waters surrounding the island is known to be rough but it is generally calm in the early morning until noontime. If you are into quiet places where you could see a wide expanse of blue waters and sunny skies, this is the place for you. It’s actually a big lump of rock formation  but the sea surrounding it is simply awesome.

It’s really more fun in the Philippines, why not try visiting us?

It’s like a small dot in a sea of blue, that’s Capones Island seen from the Pundaquit shores.

Such amazing rock formations, tempered by the elements.


Sea and sky!

And a wide beach….


The joys of living….

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I’ve always been fascinated by distant places where all you see are a vast sea of green, hills,  mountains, highways, country roads, the clear blue sky and clouds. Oh, not necessarily in that order because aside from flowers, clouds are my favorite subject  in photography. Never mind that sometimes, I have to tell hubby or whoever is driving  to slow down a bit so I could take shots of the place.Hubby knows this and he is indulgent enough to offer to stop for a few seconds but then, when it is not practical to do it and we are traveling a winding road, I just click my camera even when I am inside the car.

Last January 2,  hubby and I went on our first road trip for the year going the long distance route from our place in Cainta to Tanay, Rizal. Passing by Marcos Highway was such a breeze because there was no traffic.  Hubby loves driving along curves and bends on a concrete long highway where sometimes all you see are just mountains and the fantastic view of foamy and cotton clouds hovering above.  These are those times when you think of life and how blessed you feel communing with nature. Here are some more shots I took (sorry, if they  look a bit grainy, took them all while traveling) on our way to Regina RICA. The Sierra Madre mountain ranges and the view overlooking Laguna De Bay are simply breathtaking. You won’t even think that this is just about 70 kilometers away from Metro Manila.


Traveling in the heart of the country….what bliss!


And all these remind me of the song, I See You Lord which goes this way:

I’m so blessed my Lord
I can see you
In all the lovely things
So fine and true
I see you in the beauty
Of the flowers and the rain
I see you between the lines
Of a sweet refrain
I’m so blessed my Lord
I can see you
Even when I’m lonely and in pain
I see you in the beauty of the stars at night
I see you in my life
I feel alright.

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What made our stay at Regina Rosarii RICA more wonderful, aside of course from being able to visit Our Lady and pray were the rows and rows of mahogany trees and the different varieties of flowers all over the place. A gardener that I am, I just could not resist taking shots of their lovely blooms and vegetable plots. I chanced upon one of their gardeners planting seedlings of red-tip  lettuce and asked him if they are easy to grow. The place is cool  enough for these green veggies to survive.

Ducks looking for food?

I was fascinated by  these  so I asked what they are and one of the assistants of the place told me they are Bubble flowers, and it is the only one in the place.

This hanging bridge reminds me of the one they have at Caleruega but this one is only about half the length of the hanging bridge there.

Oh, love birds…they are so colorful!

A single-petaled red Zinnia!

The name of these flowers escapes me, I used to have them  in our garden.

Another bright red Zinnia bloom!


I stayed here for quite a while watching the gardener dig the earth ready for planting.

Even the gardener doesn’t know the name of these lovely purple blooms.

I also used to have these red Impatiens in our garden but they are annual plants so they show their lovely blooms once a year.

And these hammocks invite one to take a rest and listen to the birds chirp and sing. It’s so peaceful around here.

Found these on my way to the comfort room, I was waiting for the peacock to spread its wings but it totally ignored me.

And these trio are called Bengala chickens. They’re lovely, aren’t they?

I wonder when I’ll be able to come back here but hubby promised me another drive when he comes home in a month.

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I love going on road trips, sometimes they take us to places where we discover something wonderful and I just stare in awe  and imagine myself transported to a world where only peace and quiet reign, when the only thing you could hear is your heart saying, “Thank  You, Lord, You took me here.”

This morning, we  decided to visit Regina RICA (Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia), an hour and a half trip by car from our place. This is my second visit to Tanay but it is my first time to see Our Lady Regina Rosarii located at Brgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. I love the winding road going there, it’s more of a zigzag actually, with curves and bends and lots of greenery dotting the countryside. It’s what I like about going on road trips because I get to recharge and relax while traversing a road that leads to somewhere interesting.  We passed by the place where I took my first test of endurance three weeks after my final session of chemotherapy last December 8, 2009. It was indeed like touching heaven.  I really find it so relaxing traveling the scenic Marcos Highway where the view of the Sierra Madre mountains is an eye candy for city dwellers like me. The glimpse of the Laguna de Bay from a distance is an added bonus.

The Warm Welcome

This is the view that greeted me upon reaching the gate of Regina RICA, an image of Mama Mary from a distance. In my excitement I forgot to take pictures of the two iconic figures of the Dominican community, the image of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena at the gate.

Another journey has begun and I am committing it to memory.


Regina Rica is a 13.5-ha land envisioned by the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii to be a place of pilgrimage, prayer, contemplation, ecological sanctuary and wellness environment.

Pasilungan which in Ilonggo dialect means shelter is the first stop where you get to see the miniature models of the entire place and where you can also write your prayer petitions.  They have a welcome video just waiting for the visitors  to appreciate what Regina RICA has to offer.It serves as their reception area.

The Journey To Mama Mary


The view from the top…

Getting closer and I am so excited. The walk towards the image of Mama Mary is a S-rail to give the pilgrim a breathtaking view of the place. She stands 71-foot high. There are 13 candle stations where one can leave candle offerings.

Catching my breath at one of the candle stations. There was a gentle drizzle on our trek up and while  going down the road leading to the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. I told myself, “this must be Mama Mary’s way of showering her blessings.” I  held that thought until we went back to Pasilungan while looking at her through the open windows of the place, so serene and so peaceful.


Seeing her up close at last. Sr. Eppie Brasil, OP describes the image this way, “She shelters and shield us in the safety of her mantle of love. Below her feet is a canopy of clouds where 17 angels watch over us. Inside the mantle of Our Lady is our Adoration Chapel called Sulod (Sanctuary of Universal Love and Devotion) an Ilonggo word for “enter”. We were allowed to enter the prayer room, barefoot and taking pictures is not allowed.  Imagine yourself in a very peaceful place  enveloped in the mantle of  Mama Mary. Awesome!





Going Down, Exploring The Site

A distant view of the Sierra Madre Mountains and the S-Trail of Our Lady and Candle Offering Stations.

This place reminds me so much of Caleruega in Nasugbu, Batangas, another Dominican site where peace and quiet abound.  I was delighted to see their vegetable garden where they grow different varieties of lettuce, Chinese kangkong (water spinach), okra, cabbage and other garden veggies that I could not identify.

Near the garden is Rotunda de San Jose, where the image of St. Joseph is enshrined.  Near the place are lovely small Bahay Kubo and animal shed  where you could find some birds, monkeys and some flowering plants. I was tempted to take shots of all the lovely flowers, some I’ve seen only now.


We went back to Pasilungan and watched the video presentation, ordered their popular mais con hielo and met Sr. Ellen Tayo, OP who is in charge of the place. I gave her two rosaries which I made and she was thrilled. I just told her it’s my way of giving back for all the blessings and for my health. She was so touched she gave me prayer pamphlets, their latest issue of Sacred Space mag and Regina Rosarii calendar for 2012.

It was a journey worth-repeating. One of these days, I would love to visit the place again and attend a Holy mass there.  It would take one or more blogs to complete the pictures I took of the place. This message I read in one of the pages of their calendar touched me to the core.

Alone? Feel His presence in pain, persecution, and problems. Don’t be afraid. Jesus promised, “I will be with you until the end of time.” You will be okay.

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I was plain excited when my daughter came home from a five-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand.  She was in the company of some friends and she was so enthusiastic in sharing her experience touring the place and absorbing  the culture.  Five days would not be  enough to see all there is to see  about the place but they went there for the food tour, they enrolled in a Thai cooking school to learn authentic Thai recipes.  More than  anything , I was elated when she brought home several ingredients for Thai cooking.

Two months ago, I bought a cookbook on Thai Cuisine and both of us planned of trying some of the recipes there.  Thai cuisine has a lot of similarities to some Filipino food so it is not so hard to find fresh ingredients in the wet market.  I just told her to source for dry ingredients  which are difficult to buy here. And she came home with several packets of Coriander seeds, dried Kaffir lime leaves, red curry paste, chilli powder, whole white pepper, instant Phad-kapraow paste and hot and sour curry paste, good enough for several experiments in the kitchen.

The richness of Thai cooking is more pronounced through its skillful use of wealthy colors, tastes, textures and smell wonderfully incorporated in every recipe that they use.  Many people think that Thai cooking is a complex process since they use a lot of ingredients and spices.   It is said that  “much of the heat of the  spicy dishes comes from red and green peppers” which we commonly know as chillies. The Thai call it Phrik. Thai food comes in varied forms like soups, fresh vegetable salads, dips, grilled meat, fish or chicken but the most popular   is the use of curry paste.  I’ve been accustomed to using the yellow curry powder so I was surprised that there is a red one too.

Here’s one recipe which is the whole family’s favorite when we eat at a Thai restaurant.  It’s called Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves.

Chicken Wrapped in Pandanus Leaves (Kai Hor Bai Toey)

You would need:

2 cups of boneless chicken meat

10 pandanus leaves (Pandan  in Tagalog)

Oil for deep frying

Pound Marinade together into a paste:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp. oyster sauce

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sesame oil

1-2 tsp. pepper corn

3 garlic cloves

2 coriander roots

And the ingredients for the sauce:

1 tsp. white sesame seeds

1/2 cup ( 250 ml.) distilled white vinegar

1 cup (100 grams) sugar

1 tbsp. black soy sauce

1 tsp. salt

Cut chicken meat into bite-sized pieces.  Mix the marinade with the chicken.  Set aside in the refrigerator for three hours. To prepare the sauce, cook the same seeds in a skillet for 2 minutes without oil or until lightly browned. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix white vinegar, sugar, black soy sauce and salt.  Add the sesame seeds and set aside.

Wrap two or three pieces of chicken in each pandanus leaf to form a knot.  Alternatively, wrap each pandanus leaf around the chicken to form a bundle and secure with a toothpick.

Heat oil in a wok or small frying pan.  Deep fry until fragrant.  (about 5 minutes).  Serve with sauce and steamed rice.

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