Kids’ day out

Instead of throwing a party, me, my sister and her husband decided to take the kids to theme parks in Manila for Lily’s 2nd birthday.


July 1 – MNL Bound

All set! So many firsts for these kids.

From the airport we went straight to Enchanted Kingdom.


Nice that we still got to avail of the weekday rate plus government discount plus student discount.



















Happy birthday Lily!

Enchanted Kingdom rates here.


We had Lily’s birthday dinner at Mandarin Sky complete with birthday cake and Tagalog birthday song (haha).


July 2

Mark took the boys to buy car parts up at Banawe and had them try Mamonluk.


Then we met up with fam for Lily’s birthday lunch,

And went to Dreamplay at the City of Dreams in the afternoon.




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Tired chipmunk (haha).






Dreamplay rates here.

Sneaked in a couple of slots at the Casino while the kids were playing (lol).

Dinner with fam at Dampa and went home at exactly midnight.


July 3 – HOME

Our flight was supposed to be at 5:30pm but was very very lucky to be chance passengers for the noon flight. Yay!



Such a great weekend! Kids really enjoyed, weather was really good, flight was a bit bumpy but we all got home safe and in one piece. Thank you God, thank you universe and Happy Birthday Princess!






Visions of Dune


Visions of Dune is the painting thesis of Matthew Odon Yrad. These works serve as a culmination of the time he has spent in school and in reading the famed science fiction series by Frank Herbert, Dune.

Each work represents an aspect of the books’ characters that can be well attributed to the artist himself. The philosophy applied to the works, from the concept of the figures to the usage of colors can be ascribed to the premise of the books and also the principles of Herbert. An eccentric blend of striking and solemn, each painting emits an atmosphere of its own that catches one’s attention, not with the colors alone or the strength of the line of work, but the suffering embedded in it.

This exhibition is not a mere juxtaposition of 2d and 3d forms or a display of contrasting pigmets, but ultimately stands as a declaration of one’s burden of purpose when on a quest for the truth.

– Francine Varca



Sugbo | 2016

Titas of Bacolod go on a trip.

We were thinking of going out of the country this year but since election period is nearing, some of us (that’s you and me, Mika) have to stay put. This was initially supposed to be a Vigan trip, I’m not really sure how we ended deciding on Cebu. Two were flying in from Manila and the rest of us hitched a ride with Aissa’s brother to Cebu. We left round 1AM because we took long at McDonald’s. When we arrived at San Carlos City, we missed the 3AM trip. Rode the 5AM and docked at Toledo port round 7AM I think.

From Toledo, it normally takes an hour and a half to Cebu (via SRP) but everyone decided to pass by Simala first. The Marian Shrine they say is miraculous, people flocking the place to ask for intercession. When we got in, my first impression was wow, this is some theme park. People were swarming. I felt like the essence of the place was lost because it somehow became a tourist spot.



But anyway, I lit my candles and said my prayers. I thanked God for a safe trip and wonderful weather.


As we were about to leave, we found out that these two got engaged. Somewhere between the bustling of people, wiping statues and lighting candles, he popped the question and we saw her jump hug him. Congratulations Manong Jun and Tin!


Saw this yellow moth at the banyo. Luck? Sign?

Arrived in Cebu quarter past 12, I think. Had lunch and got drunk on coffee. At this point, I haven’t had any sleep.

When those from Manila arrived, we went to Ayala to do some shopping of course. It was just right across the hotel we were staying at, how convenient.

After shopping, we had dinner at Brique,


and vino at Maya.

Aissa wanted to go clubbing (hahaha I’m not kidding) but the rest of us titas just wanted to chill. This was at Crossroads. Last time I was there, Vudu still existed (lol). So long ago.

Beach please.

When we decided with Cebu for this year, we planned to just go to the beach. When February neared, we found out that there was a long weekend so we grabbed that so for those of us working won’t be filing leaves anymore. First place we checked was Shangri-la but it was fully booked, so was Bluewater, because well the long weekend was Chinese New Year. Most of the hotels were full so we opted to stay in Cebu then a day trip to Mactan. Checked and decided on Movenpick since their day pass was cheaper compared to Shangri-la (add about 2,000 and you already get a room).

Movenpick Hotel, Mactan Island Cebu 
Day Pass: P2,500 – beach, pool, game room, lunch buffet and ice cream

Place is nice, beach is small though. Weather was perrrrrfect.

They accommodate a maximum of 100 people per day for the day tours and we were lucky enough to have availed since they did not accept reservations for walk-ins and when we called earlier, they only had 5 slots left. We arrived round 11AM and welcomed ourselves with ice cold beer.

Somewhere in this parallel universe, sunlit skin and names in grains.

Story of the fortune cookie

We were finishing lunch and I noticed Guada had a fortune cookie. So I got up and got one. When I opened it, it was empty, no fortune paper inside, whatever that is called. So I went to get another one and when I opened it, it still had nothing in it! Guada got up and got herself another one just to check if it would also be empty but when she opened it, it had paper in it. So I went the last time and got another random fortune cookie. This would be my third cookie. And when I opened it, it had this.

How weird that all three would be in the last cookie I randomly get. Oh and unlimited mimosas.

We stayed until sunset and went back to the hotel when the beer and mimosas were starting to kick in.

Went to Rico’s for dinner but they ran out of lechon so we went to Zubuchon instead in Escario. Hit the Casino after and it was so full! All those people (including us) trying to get lucky because it’s Chinese New Year. Did a few slots and had a beer at the bar.


Before heading to the port, we passed by S&R to buy some junk to bring home (lol). Lunched at Bigby’s because everyone was missing it. All its branches in Bacolod has closed.

And another fortune cookie. Feels of the moment.

Arrived in Toledo and what’s new, we missed the 4PM trip. Killed time at McDonald’s and took the 6PM home.

Half a face because I’m all red and sunburnt.

Sugbo, bye for now.



Perfect Score

Matt Yrad | Artist

Matt Yrad (b. 1992) is a traditional artist from California currently based in Bacolod. His collection of work deals with philosophy, science, various social commentaries and man’s pursuit for peace and enlightenment mixed with a playful and whimsical sense of religious iconography.

Yrad has participated in various group exhibitions both in Bacolod and California, including Untamed Territory (October 2015) and The World According to Us (2014) at Gallery Orange – Bacolod, My Own Lisa at Art District (Bacolod, 2014), and the Orange County Fair Art Show (CA, 2010). He was also a semi-finalist during the 2015 Metrobank MADE Art and Design Competition. He is currently on his last year as a Painting student in La Consolacion College.


Recently, last February 5, 2016 to be exact, LCC Arfien had their 19th Thesis Deliberation and I am so so so proud to say that my cousin earned a perfect score!

I keep a couple of his works at home. AAAAnd (Donds) I’m so looking forward to you putting up a show in New York. Congratulations!

Check out his works and connect with Matt!



Instagram: @elmunstro

Twitter: @elmunstro





Oh October

That month when family was almost complete.

First up, my cousin’s wedding. Just some random photos.


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Special thanks to:

HMUA – Jan Nicole Puentevella Uy
Coordination and Event Styling – May Lee Wedding and Events
Photography – Digital Arts Photography
Video – Yellow Light Studio
Cake – The Cake Room
Photobooth – Mike’s Photobooth
DJ – Leandro Zayco
Acoustic Band – Aire Band
Host – Dani Dingcong

Official Photos and Videos:

Digital Arts Photography:


Onsite Photo

Yellow Light Studio:

Engagement video


Next stop: chill at La Vista Highlands


La Vista Highlands Resort

Eco-Translink Hwy, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

+639228680463 (Manilyn) or +639173216704 (Albert)

Next Stop: Dumsville! Haven’t set foot since God knows when and finally.. Was supposed to go whale watching in Oslob but weather did not permit us so we stayed in Dumaguete City instead.

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Last stop: Pura Vida, Dauin

That much needed beach escape.


And I’m missing my cousins and the rest of the fam already.




Today’s Early Morning Run

Finally after more than two weeks of no exercise, I get back to my daily routine of jogging at 5:30am at the New Government Center. And for the comeback, I was greeted by two disheveled boys, aged around five or six years old if I may guess, sleeping on the side of the road. They were sleeping on the hard and rough pavement in fetal position because I guess they were cold. They had no mats, no pillows, no blankets. Just two little bodies in dirty clothes and dirty feet. I also noticed they had a plastic bag beside them of I don’t know what. And as I ran past them, I felt like I was going to cry. These little boys. I can’t help to think where their parents are, why they are left alone or if they even have a home. And just my luck, I did not bring any money to even buy them a hot meal.

I am appealing to our local government, these children roam where you go to office. They are very visible in the premises and I am praying you do something about this situation. They need your attention, our attention. They are constantly exposed to a lot of danger besides uncontrollable weather, from petty crimes to substance abuse, just so they could survive a day. These abandoned, helpless children are malnourished and uneducated. And just like every other member of our community, they too have the right to food, shelter and education. We need to get them off the streets and put back even just a little bit of hope into these kids’ despairing fates.



Session | Verdeflor Family (by HM Veñegas)

Family – Where life begins and love never ends.


Family is not an important thing, it is everything. – Michael J. Fox



“Each of our lives will always be a special part of the other.”

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“You remember where I’ve been, respect who I’ve become and encourage me where I’m going.”


“Children are the keys of paradise.” – Eric Hoffer


“Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.” – Susan Scarf Merrel



“Even though we appear to be sewn in a different pattern, we have a common thread that won’t be broken-by people or years or distance.”



“No closer bond of friendship is to be found than the love shared between brothers.”


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“Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!”– Albert Einstein



“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more… secure.”– Jim Butcher



“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no aw, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie

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“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” – Henry Ward Beecher


“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”– Mother Teresa

Photo courtesy: HM Veñegas



Just my two cents: New Beginnings Foundation Inc., Bacolod City

We are a caring community concerned with the recovery, growth and freedom not only of the addicted person but the entire family system as well. – New Beginnings Foundation Inc.

March 25, 2015

Last November of 2014, I was overly thrilled to know that finally, a reputable rehabilitation center has opened here in Bacolod City. What was more overwhelming was my husband’s intent to go into rehab. We talked about it, talked it over with his family and everything was put into place. I was praying nonstop, profusely thanking God and hoping that this might be it. Finally, an answered prayer.

Prior to entering my husband into rehab, a lot of people advised me not to put him in New Beginnings, suggesting that there are far better centers that offer more extensive programs; that most patients from NB relapse; that NB is not able to control patients “sleeping” with each other given the fact they mix men and women in sleeping quarters. But I am not prejudice, I did not let the stories affect me, I know a number of people that graduated from New Beginnings who are now doing well, so I decided to visit the site. I was met by very accommodating staff; the facility, the house, they were all very good. It was a homey, quiet, and relaxing environment. The center follows the 12-step recovery program which focuses on spirituality, religion and God having an impact on changing a person’s life; the patients are allowed a day each week to interact with the outside world, they are not isolated; they are served healthy food and engaged in proactive activities and the family is involved every step of the way.

On November, 25, 2014, dazed and nauseated, together with my best friend and her husband, I brought my husband to New Beginnings. We were explained about the program, the expenses, the terms and conditions. I was made to sign papers, from what I understood, were liabilities between the patient and the paying party such as expenses for medication on top of the program cost or that the patient has the freedom to choose whether he wants to complete the program or not and the center cannot force him to stay and of course the house rules, visitation hours, etc. I was presented the total expenses that I will be paying every month after which I was also informed that they are open to staggered payments as they also put into consideration the financial aspect to be shouldered by the paying party. It was a laudable recourse, and I definitely believed that this was the right center for my husband. They pointed out the vital items that I needed to pay outright but to save myself the hassle, I paid the full amount of the program fee (excluding medicine and allowance) and they distributed it to the expenses that needed immediate attention.

That same night, my husband was evaluated by the center’s affiliated psychologist and it was found that his level of toxicity is fairly high and the detox administered by the center could not suffice and resolved for an intravenous detox.  They explained to me that he was supposed to be admitted in a hospital for that process but to save me from further expense, they will be administering the detox at the center and I’ll just be paying extra for the nurse to be assigned to him. I paid for a separate fee for the detox, that included the doctor, nurse and meds. It took 3 days for the detox to finally clear him of any sign of chemical toxin.

I was more than willing to do anything to help my husband get well because that meant my family had the chance of becoming whole and normal again. It was an opportunity for him to redeem his self from all the bullshit he’s done for the past years. After 5 days, my husband bailed out.

New Beginnings: You gave me really encouraging words that night and I’m very grateful. You gave me suggestions on what to do next and I truly appreciate it.

You also informed me that I will be getting a refund. I wasn’t expecting any because I knew I was gambling when I decided to put my husband into rehab but since you mentioned it, it somehow eased the frustration I felt right at that moment. You told me that I will not be getting the whole amount and I totally understand. You then obliged me to write a letter request for the refund. I got part of it last December together with a torn ledger of my husband’s record, written stuff I can’t understand on yellow paper and a bunch of receipts and you informed me that you will be in touch once the remaining reimbursement will be released.

It’s been three months and I haven’t heard any feedback from your end so I took the initiative to ask about the status of the refund. I’ve been told that it’s being followed up and I’ve been passed around. Yesterday you told me I wasn’t getting any which was contrary to what you informed me last November 30, 2014. You said that you have a nonrefundable policy as per my signed contract. Being put that I did not read and blindly signed the contract last November, missing out on the nonrefundable clause stated therein, I wasn’t furnished anything from your office that could somehow be a basis of whatever it is that you are trying to put out there. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE SOBER END. The portion of the refund I received last December led me to assume that I was indeed entitled to one.

You were there. You saw how he walked away from me and our kids and away from the center that Sunday. You were there when he signed his discharge papers. You were there when I was bawling my eyes out of frustration. YOU WERE THERE.

Yes we are strangers. I don’t know your stories, you don’t know mine. But strangers as we are, I TRUSTED you. I believed in you, I fucking believed you were a solution to this cancer that has struck my family. I’m not writing this to extract money from you. This is not about the money. You can have your refund for all I care. What is SAD and infuriating is you’ve given me false hope. You made me believe that you are here to help and ease what’s already damaged. You made me believe that I am not at a loss. Not only were you not convincing enough to have my husband stay (although that is beyond you), I also feel robbed emotionally, mentally and financially.

End point, it all boils down to just doing business.

Just some of my two cents.


This post was drafted on the day New Beginnings informed me of the nonrefundable policy, after three months. I decided to post my sentiments after I get hold of my copy of the signed contract. I brought my husband to the center last November 25, 2014, the same date my contract was signed. I got my copy just today.

My Own Lisa

My Own Lisa | A pop art exhibition
2nd Flr, Art District
Bacolod City
November 12-15, 2014


Congratulations to my cousin Matt Yrad and his fellow student artists for bringing together this exhibit!






His own Lisa


Great concept, cool and fun exhibit, worth the effort!




Weekend Getaway

Since a friend of mine is going back to the US on Thursday, we planned to have a farewell get-together out of town during the weekend. Initially, we planned on going to Dumaguete or Sipalay but due to our busy schedules, we decided to go somewhere near.

We ended up at La Vista Highlands, a mountain resort in San Carlos City. It’s more or less an hour’s drive outside Bacolod City.

The owner is an architect from Bago City, he is currently based in Cebu. We made reservations with him and he was very accommodating.

We took the route going Murcia since the distance is shorter. Road going there is well paved and traced with the scenic view of pine.


We hit jackpot when we arrived because it was just us for the night; we had the whole place to ourselves!

The Asian-tropical themed resort has very captivating landscape and architecture. It is surrounded by cabanas and huts that overlook the 24-hectare area.




Their rooms are varied to suit clientele capacity. Ours was situated at the Garden Villas, good for eight persons at P9,600/night inclusive of room amenities, swimming and breakfast. It has awesome interior, the beds were really cozy and the pillows were super fluffy. The terrace has a dining/lounge area and a hammock with a great view of the surrounding mountains.






Other resort amenities include a full-menu restaurant, a minibar with activities such as billiards, table tennis, darts and foosball and a lounge area.





The place also features two swimming pools. The big pool is 6 feet deep and the small pool is 3 feet deep; it’s also used as a heated jacuzzi. (Underwater shots were taken with a Sony Xperia Z2)






The resort also offers outdoor activities such as horseback riding and for the more adventurous ones, the zip line and cable car.








Overall, it was a truly great experience. The kids especially enjoyed the stay!




La Vista Highlands Mountain Resort
Contact no.: +63917 320 0211 (Anne) / +63917 321 6704
Email: /

On our way home, we stopped over at Pandanon Valley Resort to go see some monkeys. The place is fairly known for wild monkeys roaming loose.

536299_419489391418246_1210224479_n(Photo Courtesy: Pandanon Valley Resort)

557992_635572849809898_645188358_n(Photo Courtesy: Pandanon Valley Resort)


They also boast of their natural spring water. There are cottages alongside the spring and they also have a restaurant and a swimming pool. Costs of the cottages and food are fairly cheap.


photo 1

That’s us waiting to see some monkeys. We got to see a few but at a far distance. According to the staff, the monkeys usually come down from the mountains to the resort and the guests could see them up close and feed them.



Pandanon Valley Resort
Contact no.: (034) 434 9463 / 433 5527

Weekend well spent.



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