Holy Week in the Philippines sometimes mean traveling with the family. This year was a local trip to Balesin Island. We still had to ride an airplane though. We were at the hangar before sunrise.
With this post, I am taking you on a short video-heavy tour of some of the places in Balesin we have set foot on. There were more themed villages to see, like Bali, Phuket, Costa Del Sol and Balesin Village. There were fruit and flower farms, fish and aviary to visit, too.
En route to Balesin Island, day one
These were the unusual boarding passes.
There’s our ride!
Upon arrival, we first had breakfast at the Balesin Clubhouse. After filling our bellies, we rode a shuttle to the The Royal Villa. Here’s a quick tour of one of the Royal Suites, where our family of five stayed.
I was excited to finally take a break because it’s Mother’s Day. A couple of days before that our helper went on her annual vacation. Who could blame me for desiring time away from the kitchen sink, the mop and the dust? There would have been more of that in the next few days to come.
So for the moment, I dressed up and showed up at the front desk, where I was presented with KitKat Rubies (mmm….!).EDSA Shangri-La Hotel also celebrated Mother’s Day with the moms. My family and I then went up to the 14th floor and was greeted by a bright and lovely room. I cannot wait to soak in the bathtub and curl up under the fluffy comforter later that night.
On the agenda, of course, was swimming. I actually chose EDSA Shangri-La because of the water playground it has. Although the rubber flooring was crumbling in some areas, the kids had fun. It’s cool to see them practise a little of what they have learned in swim school last April.
But not while standing like the photo below.
There was a water slide into the kiddy pool which my eldest tried out.
We also posed for a picture in the hotel lobby where a garden picnic set-up was inviting the guests for a photo-op. Look at my flower crown! I would like to ride that bike!
Even if I really, really, REALLY wanted to sleep in, my eldest woke me up the next day at 6 so we could have breakfast and more swimming time. How could I say no, when I was looking forward to the breakfast buffet spread at Heat? And coffee!
It’s always such a treat for us moms to receive pampering on our hardworking hands and feet. I was the recipient of such a treat from Nail Spa Lounge by Ellabell. The branch I went to was the newly opened one located on the 2nd floor Alfresco area Robinsons Las Piñas. I went along with my husband Ricky to photograph the nail salon’s facade. The outside kind of looks like a café, don’t you think?
The ambience of this nail salon was very welcoming. I think it’s because of the friendly colors yellow and blue. They kind of remind me of a country home. The grey wall served as the perfect neutral background for the interesting painted hexagonal patterned wall panels and for the yellow & blue tufted armchairs where the customers sit and relax.
I like the VIP room very much! It’s cozy and I can imagine making chika with a friend in here.
I was treated to the Primadonna hand and foot spa. For the feet, a relaxing soak came first. I never wanted to remove my feet but the heels needed to be scoured. After a bit of massage, some cling plastic wrapping and slathering on of some products, a pair of pink heated booties were slipped on. The fact that they needed to be plugged in made me a bit nervous, but I had nothing to worry about after all. Before my toenails got some cleaning and nail polish was applied, a pouch with stones was rolled on my legs, maybe as another form of massage. I chose the color called Eternal Optimist.
As for my hands, they were also massaged, exfoliated and then placed in a Wave Pack glove. I was glad the glove was big so I could retract my hands a little from the fingers part, especially the thumb, because my hands couldn’t take the heat. Unlike the booties that were simply hot, the glove had herbs inside that could not only improve circulation, but could also relieve the joint and wrist pains. My right hand was feeling a bit weird before I went to Nail Spa Lounge. After the treatment, my hand felt better. I opted for a light color for my nails, but is still glittery in keeping with the holiday season. Haha! The name of my color was called Luscious Los Angeles. Reading the names of the color choices kept me entertained. Coming up with them must have been such fun!
Instrumental versions of some popular but old, sentimental songs (Unbreak My Heart) were playing in the background. I was not sure whether to sing along aloud or to relax and “feel the moment”. To prevent the attendants from rolling their eyes at me, I chose the latter. I wanted to sleep then and there, but we had to head home afterward.
This is the waiting area. Isn’t that love seat endearing? The word propped on the side table was a reminder for women (and men!) to love themselves.
In what ways do you show love to yourself?
For information and updates, visit Nail Spa Lounge By Ellabell’s Facebook page.
Our first summer family getaway was to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. I have to warn you that this is a long and photo-heavy post.
One sunny Wednesday, we drove to Bataan to visit Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar for an overnight stay. We arrived right before lunchtime after being in the car for around three hours. It helped to have a printout of the map to the place. Checking in was a breeze as I have already paid for the room reservation using credit card. I also printed the confirmation letter which I knew was important, but Las Casas also emailed me asking me to sign the guest registration form and the fraud advisory form, both that I think could be filled up when we arrive and were not very urgent.
Anyway, we ate at Café Marivent, the Spanish restaurant in Las Casas for lunch. My eyes popped at the prices of the food, but I knew that that’s expected when eating inside a restaurant in a resort or a hotel. It’s also good that the viands were good for sharing. Sorry, I didn’t take any photos of the food. I’m sure you know what Pork Adobo, Beef Kaldereta, Pakbet with Bagnet and white rice look like. Hehe! 😀 The Pakbet lacked flavor, it’s just very orange from the achuete, I suppose. I liked the kaldereta, with cheese! The adobo was not as saucy as how we usually cook it.
We walked around after the meal and took photos.
We chanced upon a booth with beaded necklaces and bracelets for sale. Ella, my eldest, engaged in its Marikit Jewelry beaded jewelry-making workshop. The price for children is 300Php for three bracelets, although we were given a discount. Ella made one for herself, one for Cayla and one for Caleb. So sweet!
Check in time was 2:00 PM, and because we were still early, we took advantage of the calesa ride with a horse named Makisig, for 50Php per person, children four years old and below ride for free.
We rested in our big room, a studio with loft, before Ella and I went on the Heritage Tour – a walking guided tour of the owner, Mr. Jerry Acuzar’s collection of historical houses. The stories behind the characters of history books were quite interesting.
Dinner was at La Bella Teodora, a very dimly lit Italian restaurant famous for its thin crust pizzas, or so they say.
I have read how lovely the place looks at night, with soft warm lights illuminating the facades of the restored houses and historical replicas. I looked forward to seeing them and asked my hubby Rix to capture them.
What I liked about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar:
It’s a unique, Filipino-themed resort.
It’s a wonderful mix of old and new, historical and modern. I am glad the bathrooms have modern fixtures, though.
My hubby Rix noted that the electric cables must be underground so as not to ruin the view and the vintage feel. Very well thought out!
There’s a swimming pool and a beach in the vicinity, which my daughter really looked forward to. The pool was very shallow, perfect for my little ones to frolic in.
All six of us were all given welcome drinks (sago’t gulaman), even if our room reservation was for four.
Aside from the free Heritage Tour and a Workshop Tour (a tour of workshops that craft the parts of the houses and artists at work), there are other things to do like riding the bicycle, kayaking, fishing and playing games like sungka, billiards and table tennis in the gameroom. There was even aerobics in the morning! Look like people of old times with Fotografia de la Escolta complete with Filipiniana costumes.
The people working there were courteous and friendly, I felt quite at ease in Las Casas. Vacations should be relaxing, right? When we came home, I did not feel tired at all.
The children felt at home in Las Casas albeit having a bit of difficulty walking on the uneven cobblestone-paved roads and the slippery wooden stairs going to our unit on the second floor.
Rix could fly his multicopter and take an aerial footage of the place. Yay! Please watch the video he made below.
Early morning on the next day, we went to bask under the sun on the sand near the sea, while sweating (or is it just me?)! Afterwards, we had a Filipino and American breakfast of bangus, longganisa, bacon and pancakes at Café Marivent.The accommodation comes with complimentary breakfast for four, we ordered additional pancakes for the two little ones.
Below are other romantic sights I captured from Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. I love the patterns made by the windows, arcades, and stone walls.
I would surely recommend this place to our friends who need a vacation and a temporary change of view. It’s a place rich in history and you’ll never know what you’ll discover behind every door, beyond every window and every arc.
I woke up at around 6 in the morning, still sleepy. But, I was looking forward to breakfast at Circles, Makati Shangri-La. Nomnomnom! We left after I washed the baby bottles and put them in the sterilizer.
I was so full my tummy didn’t even have room for the pastries and muffins. Darn!
We went back to our rooms afterwards. After a little rest and getting the swimming paraphernalia ready: a beach ball and a float ring, we were set! Elle was excited, I could tell. She and daddy hanged out at the kiddie pool. Then Rix came to get Caleb and both kids had some splashing action.
Me? I just hanged out and relaxed a bit on one of these:
Thank God for some fun time before it began to drizzle. Back to our room we went, took baths, rested, then packed all our stuff so we could head to Mothercare Baby & Me Club first ever meeting.
My friend is pregnant with her first child and I with my third. We thought of having a sort of joint photoshoot and stayed at Makati Shangri-La hotel to put some vouchers to good use.
Caleb and I were warmly welcomed with smiles, the front desk ladies were enamored with his cuteness. The one assisting me even carried him while I sign some documents.
I was disappointed with the Superior Rooms we were assigned with. They were so small and we didn’t know if the shoot could be done there. We thought of using another voucher to upgrade one of the rooms but alas! Both cannot be used in conjunction with each other. So we just settled for these. At least the bed and bedsheets felt nice and soft and very inviting, although we didn’t get the king-sized bed, just two twin beds joined together. Plus, there’s fast-connecting wifi all ready.
I also requested for a baby bed for Caleb and even though it was mistakenly put up in my friend’s room, they came to put it in ours and then offered to move it near the window after the hairdressers have gone. I’m glad that Caleb got to sleep in the cot even if it’s different.
It was already late when the maternity shoot finished, so we just had dinner in our room. Our hubbies and one photographer went to buy food from Savory. We asked room service for extra plates and cutlery. It took them forever to bring those over, and it doesn’t help that we were famished.
After getting ready for bed: showered to remove hair spray and make-up, I read a few blog posts until I became super sleepy at 12 midnight. Plus, it’s hard to resist the calling of the bedding. I’m glad I brought the Human Nature Sunflower Seed Beauty Oil along because it helped remove the stubborn eyeliner.
I was excited to bring Elle to the swimming pool the next day since I promised her that. Watch out for my day 2 post of our stay at Makati Shangri-La, Manila.