My K1 Fiancee Visa Experience

This is not a typical travel post, but since many people are asking me about my US visa application experience, I’ve decided to finally share it. Because each stage in the K1 Fiancee Visa application is very critical, I will be posting a series of detailed guides to give you an idea of what to expect. To be quite honest, I have been toying with the idea of making a guide for months, but I wasn’t sure if I’m comfortable sharing this stage in my life. Only loved ones and cIose friends at the time knew that Chad and I are applying for a visa. It was an extremely nerve-wracking experience for us, due to the fact that it will ultimately dictate our future together.

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About 2 years ago, I shared that Chad and I got engaged, and a year after that we decided to begin the I129F, Petition for Alien Fiancee–also called the Fiancee Visa (K1)–application process, so we can finally get married and start our lives together. 

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The Eye-Popping Street Art of St. Petersburg

Mural by Ricky Watts

St. Petersburg is a millenial’s paradise. It has a vibrant community of artists, skateboarders, surfers, and young entrepreneurs and professionals, making it (arguably) the hippest neighborhood in Florida. If you were to ask me, I’d like to live there too. It has everything I’m looking for in a place–the beach is just a stone’s throw away and there are plenty of museums, galleries, gyms, quaint novelty shops, and cafes to explore. But perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when talking about St. Pete is the street art.

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Dodecanese Boulevard, Tarpon Springs

Here is the second half of our Tarpon Springs photos taken mostly on Dodecanese Boulevard. This section of Tarpon Springs is filled with colorful brick-walled shops that look like something out of a film set. No wonder they chose the district as the location for the movie Beneath the 12-Mile Reef in 1953.

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The Colorful District of Tarpon Springs, Florida

Autumn has officially begun and I haven’t even finished posting all my summer stories. Hustling now so I can keep up with the influx of fall trends flooding my social media feeds. This is just half of the photos my hubby and I took when we visited the historic district of Tarpon Springs in Pinellas County, Florida.


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Savannah, Georgia

While on a road trip to North Carolina, we took a quick detour to experience Savannah, Georgia for a few hours. Chad was excited to show Savannah because he knew I would love the place. For some reason, I’m awfully curious about historic buildings. I think they have a lot of stories to tell and that fascinates me a lot.

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South Carolina Stopover

Our first stopover on the way home to Tampa, Florida was South Carolina. While I was taking my master’s degree at the University of the Philippines, I studied American culture and literature, and the African-American history is one of many topics that fascinated me. And so, Chad and I decided to have a quick lunch in the historic town of Charleston and check out the nearby places while we were in the area. We drove through the amazing Ravenel Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge over the Cooper River in SC that connects downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina

Everyone has that one place where they can just go and be happy. For me it has always been the beach. I can sit in the sand for hours and never get bored. There is nothing like watching the waves roll in and feeling the wind blow through my hair.

That’s why I never felt so happy and excited when my US visa finally arrived. I simply couldn’t wait to check out the beautiful beaches in Florida! My arrival to the United States was perfect timing because I made it to the annual family vacation in Topsail Beach, North Carolina, which is about 10-hour drive from Tampa, our city.

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Fourth of July in Ybor City

I’ve been in the US for more than a month now. I’m still adjusting to my new environment and so far I’m doing okay. Florida weather is similar to the Philippines’ so I didn’t have a hard time acclimating. I don’t really miss the Philippines, but I do miss my loved ones and pets back home.

It’s now summer here but it has been really humid outside. I learned that during the summer, Tampa Bay often gets thunderstorms almost every afternoon, earning it the title “lightning capital of the US.” This city is well-known for thunderstorms that it even named its hockey team the Tampa Bay Lightning (a.k.a. Bolts).

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Calaguas Islands, Camarines Norte

This year is probably the most pivotal time of my life. Having been born and raised in the Philippines for more than 25 years, I’ve only seen very little of my own country. I didn’t get to travel much until Chad, my soon-to-be-hubby who likes to call himself my dreamboy (hahaha!), came along. I used to be very stingy when it comes to spending, especially since I only had enough for my daily expenses. Traveling is a privilege many people, particularly in the Philippines, do not often get the pleasure of doing.

So before leaving the country, I decided to check out two places, one of which I already blogged about early this month. I’ve been meaning to visit Calaguas for a long time, even before it got really popular. It’s only 4 hours away from my hometown and pretty accessible.

I wanted to have the best experience since it’s going to be the last trip I’m going to make before finally leaving the country (more about that in a separate post), so I enlisted the help of an old friend from college who is now managing Beach Bliss Travel and Tours, a tour company that provides all the services you need to enjoy Bicol gems like Calaguas and Subic Beach in Sorsogon. You can contact them on Facebook for booking details.

The Beach Bliss Team with Kuya Eking (rightmost), the head bangkero

The standard rate per person for an overnight stay is Php 2,500 but always check their Facebook page for promos. Sometimes, the full package only costs Php 2,000! The amount covers transportation from Naga City to Calaguas Island and vice versa, three meals, tent rental, island hopping, and entrance fees to the nearby islands. To put it simply, you only have to bring your essentials, and some cash for tips to the boatmen (we gave a hundred pesos each). They offer personalized services and throw in some corny jokes for good measure (haha!)  so I can assure you that you will have an awesome experience with them–my friends and I did.

Look how clear the water is! My best friend Mav took this while on the boat.

As soon as we docked, Beach Bliss started pitching the tents and preparing lunch. All we had to do was wait and explore the island.

The famous white sand of Calaguas. Reminds me of polvoron! 🙂

Afterwards, we went island hopping and hiked the hills around Calaguas that greeted us with a magnificent view.



This trip is probably the most memorable one I’ve made so far. It’s my first out-of-town trip with my besties after being friends for almost 15 years. I don’t know where I’d be without these two. They’ve been my constant companions in good times and bad. Even though we don’t see each other as often as we used to, they always make time for me when I come home. When we’re together, it’s like high school all over again. 🙂

Anyway, I still have more photos to show so scroll away!

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Incantatus Festival, Zambales

Two weeks ago, my friends and I went to Incantadia, Zambales in Talisayen Cove to have a one-of-a-kind summer experience. We’ve all been really busy with work and life preventing us from seeing each other, so this trip came at the right time. Also, social media has become unbearably toxic lately so an island getaway sounded like such a good idea. And boy, it was.

It’s my first beach fest ever so I couldn’t wait for the day to arrive. Incantatus is not just a music festival–it also offers poi lessons, yoga sessions, and a cleanup activity. We’ve all seen how much trash such events produce and it’s really nice that the organizers thought of incorporating a cleanup activity during the two-day event. I only wish everyone participated. But… baby steps.

Incantatus was attended by mostly foreigners from all over the world. Some of the people I got to interact with came from Poland, Denmark, the UK, Spain, France, Nigeria, and Japan. I’ve always been curious about other nationalities, so it was a perfect opportunity to learn more about their culture.

Waiting for our bus to Zambales. We were supposed to leave at 7am but we left at around 8am.

I guess the only “negative” thing I can say is that the organizers weren’t too “organized”. There were certain things they failed to tell us before the event, such as the lack of network signal (as in nada) and boats to take us back to the mainland. No one knew exactly how many and what time the boats were gonna arrive–everyone wanted to go home and none from the staff approached us nor managed the crowd. Apart from that, it was an awesome weekend with friends. Definitely one for the books.

More photos after the jump!

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Que Pasa: Naga City’s Hippest Dining Destination

Being away from home has its benefits. You become more independent, responsible, and self-sufficient. However, it can also be lonely, being away from your family and the place you’ve known your whole life. Whenever I visit Naga, I always get this feeling of excitement and loneliness. Most of the time I am excited to see and hug my family and friends, but the the day won’t end without me feeling sad for missing out on so many things in my hometown. Whenever I go out, I would often search for familiar faces. Then suddenly, the whole city would feel so foreign to me. I’m a pretty sentimental person and losing touch with my childhood and all the memories and emotions that come with it can be disconcerting. So, in an effort to stay in touch with my roots, I visit old and new places.
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Last month, my sister and I visited Naga to check on our babies–our doggies Lily and Pochi. So while in the city, we decided to visit Que Pasa. When I was younger, Naga only had very few restaurants, but now everywhere you turn there’s a newly opened cafe or boutique. I’ve been seeing nice photos of Que Pasa on social media so I was really curious. However, I’m not the type who easily takes secondhand info so I always check things out for myself before recommending them to people.

Design

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True to what I saw online, Que Pasa is indeed an Instagram-worthy place–a heaven for the creative freak I dare say. Outside you’ll see a weirdly beautiful time-worn facade, giving the diner a more rustic feel. Inside, however, you’ll see a combination of contemporary and traditional  designs. Walls are filled with works of art by Naga’s best. Even the water dispenser couldn’t escape from their creative hands!

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But for me, the one that took the cake is the restrooms. Que Pasa is the first in the country (as far as I know) that provides three restrooms, namely Que Gayon (girls), Que Guapo (boys), Querebels (gay lingo for ‘whatever’ + rebel wordplay). This is pretty progressive thinking from a region that’s fiercely Catholic.

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Food

I must admit though, I was completely uninformed about the kind of food being served that Que Pasa, but I was so sure they offer laing or gulay na natong in Bicolano. And I was right, however they serve it as side dish. In order to eat, you have to select your main course, your preferred rice, sauce, and sides. I didn’t know this from the get-go because no one guided us, although there was a sign board with instructions on how to order. I only knew about it after I was done ordering LOL. It would have been nicer if one of the staff who greeted us have told us about the process, or at least directed us to the sign board. I’m not sure about you, but when it’s my first-time at a certain restaurant I’m usually nervous, preventing me from seeing important details, like how to order haha! 😛

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So after the confused staff handed me my orders, I proceeded to pay at the nearby counter. You can order your beverages there as well. That day I was with my family so I paid about Php 1,300 for 8 people. Not bad at all. We ordered baby back ribs and tuna for our main course with Cerveza Negra and I-forgot-the-name yellow sauce; laing and grilled veggies for the sides; and laing rice and pimenton garlic rice.

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My relatives and I loved the ribs and the tuna as well as the grilled veggies. The sauces were terrific! I have a pretty high standard when it comes to laing though, because my mother makes the best gulay na natong I kid you not. Que Pasa’s was okay. Our only complaint was the rice was too oily for our taste. The oil kinda overpowered the flavor. Nonetheless, the whole experience gave us value for our money so I was satisfied.

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Would I recommend Que Pasa? Absolutely. It’s family-friendly and has gorgeous interiors so it is perfect for families. But I would advise you to ask for guidance from the staff in case you get confused like I did haha! More than half of them are very young so I guess they were just shy. There are customers who do not wish to be bothered so maybe that’s why the staff were hesitant to help out. At night time, the restaurant opens the bar, making it a great place to hang out with friends after a day’s work. For now, I’m giving Que Pasa a 4/5 stars.

The restaurant is located along Barlin Street, just right beside Naga Metropolitan Cathedral. Have you been to Que Pasa? Share your experience below! 🙂

Exploring Bangkok Part 1

When I was a child I used to let time pass by perusing photo books and travel diaries, and researching about the places that struck me. It was my way of escaping from my then-reality. I used to fantasize entering the ancient castles of England or the fairy-tale-like villages in Germany. I still dream of them today, but the main difference is back then I didn’t have the means to actually travel to those places. Europe is still unattainable at the moment, but as long as I get to pack my bags and hop on a bus or plane to a faraway place, I consider it a blessing already.

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So when Chad asked me to go to Thailand with him, I was more than excited. It won’t just be the normal out-of-town trip that we usually do when he’s in the Philippines–it would be my first time to fly outside the country, the first stamp on my passport. For someone who grew up surrounded by rice fields and hills, it was such a momentous time. I can finally tell people what it’s like to be unfairly treated by a NAIA immigration officer and how ugly our airports look when compared to another developing country’s. Haha! Nonetheless, I still love the Philippines no matter how crooked our government officials can be.

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Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chad and I queued to the Immigration area. I was nervous as hell, having read so many horror stories about immigration officials. The officer who interviewed me, however, was nice and smiling. He welcomed and wished me a pleasant visit–that was when I was to able to breathe properly. We didn’t plan for this trip at all. When we got out of the gates, we were both clueless as to where we were gonna stay. I must say, though, it’s quite a fun experience. Thankfully I had this app called AirBnb on my phone, I managed to save there the address of this cute hostel in Bangkok, otherwise we would have to rely on suggestions from taxi drivers. So off we went!

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It took us a while to find the hostel. The cab driver dropped us off on an unfamiliar street. The maps we had were no use at all. The street names were spelled differently than what was written on the maps so we had to ask a number of people. What’s surprising was even the Thais were unable to decipher the spelling. After asking for directions from five people and walking a kilometer or two, we successfully found the hostel. At that point we were unsure if they accept walk-ins, but we asked anyway. The staff at Baan Nampetch were really pleasant and accommodating. Fortunately they still had one available room. Hurray! We booked the room with two beds for three days and two nights, which cost us around 1400 Baht (approx Php 1900). Not bad, I think, considering they offer free breakfast and WiFi. On that same day we explored Khaosan Road (I’ll show the pictures later).

Below are just some snapshots I took on our second day. Chad is a Buddhist, and one of the reasons he chose Thailand is he wanted to visit the temples. With the help of the staff at Baan Nampetch, we found our way to The Grand Palace on Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, where the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is located.

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Beautiful, colorful things welcomed us before entering the temple. Prior to our trip I was on a portion control diet, but when we arrived in Thailand I could no longer control my appetite. Everything is delicious in that place, I can’t even!

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The Grand Palace was built in 1782 after King Rama I ascended to the throne. Currently, the whole 218,000 square meter-complex houses 35 temples, offices, shops, restaurants, throne halls, and the royal residence itself. I’ve seen some temples in the Philippines, but they’re not as crowded and big as this one.

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Outside the palace, tens of thousands of people were going in and out. We didn’t know this was a favorite tourist destination until…

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Island Girl

Recently I’ve been really busy juggling my time among work, school, and blogger duties, I barely have any time for myself. Other than food, my usual destressors are sleep, quality time with loved ones, and traveling. Would you believe that I actually have to schedule all of them just to get that much-needed break? Yes, even sleep. This trip to La Union with my housemates and friends was scheduled a month prior to our actual trip. You can imagine my excitement when the day finally came.

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When asked about my favorite travel destination, the beach always tops the list. The idea of a man-made resort (aka swimming pool) has never really appealed to me since childhood. When my relatives would decide upon spending our family reunions in pools, I would daydream about spending my days in the beach instead. I just don’t get it. Who doesn’t like seeing the sea and the great blue sky? I think they’re the most wonderful things on earth, I will never trade the beach for any other travel destination.

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Oh to travel and see the rest of the world! It has always been my dream but it was only in 2011 that I got around to doing it. That year was when Chad and I became a couple. After being friends for more than a decade, fate finally nodded in our direction and permitted us to be together. (Wow, that sounded so cheesy but I can’t help but be all mushy when I think about our history together haha!) I didn’t expect that this guy who I loved since I was 13 is the same person who would eventually help me begin fulfilling some of my dreams. I learned to be more spontaneous because of him. During our first two weeks as a couple we embarked on our first trip to Zambales without much planning. It was scary for me because before, I avoid uncertain situations. I always had to know what’s coming so I can prepare. That attitude of mine often snuffed the fun out of things, it became a bit tiresome. Things changed when Chad came into my life. After Zambales, we visited a number of surfing spots in Luzon such as Daet, La Union, Baler, and Ilocos.

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He taught me how to ride a surf board and skim board. I got some bruises in return, but the pain was no match for all the amazing stuff I experienced. And then I realized, we cannot learn if we don’t unlearn a few things. My fear of the unknown, that sense of wanting to be in control all the time has always prevented me from experiencing wonderful things. So I’m extremely grateful for the people who’ve encouraged me to just relax and go with the flow. It’s kinda surprising how I, Chad, and my friends have developed similar temperaments, especially when it comes to traveling. I am still fighting the urge to plan everything, but I think I’m getting there.

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Terranova swimsuit | Sunnies by Charlie sunglasses
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Sometimes I wonder why we castigate people so much for changing. For me, change is fine as long as it makes you a better person. I would rather be different, in a positive way, than get stuck to the same immature, self-destructive person that I was. Coming to Manila in 2010 made me discover things about myself, career, and life in general. Since I’m far away from my family, I needed to develop a thick skin but at the same time be more open to my loved ones. I used to keep all my problems to myself when I was still in Naga, which only worsened every situation.

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Decided to ditch makeup, so here’s my bare face. 🙂

And then one day four years ago, after a horrible breakup, I decided I will be better. Change takes a lot of courage and determination. We sometimes get too comfortable with the person that we are now, but I’ve learned that if I want to make my life worthwhile I have to improve myself. That attitude has helped me and my loved ones in so many ways, and that’s enough reason for me to keep on developing as person. What other people say about me is irrelevant.

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So go live your life to what you think is best. If you’re not stepping on anyone while on your journey to a better you, then by all means continue. 🙂

The Island Cove Experience Part 1

It was a busy week for me last week. After getting off work I joined a few friends to Kawit, Cavite for some Saturday fun. It’s been a while since I last went out of town to relax so I decided to skip sleep and go on with the trip. Just 15 to 30 minutes away from Manila is a beautiful resort called Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park. It used to be just a small island that the Remullas developed into a resort in the 1970s. Due to economic reasons it had to close but reopened in 1997 and remains so to travelers and families until today.

Island Cove Logo Island Cove Entrance

When we arrived, we were welcomed by the resort’s Managing Director, Gilbert Remulla. If you are a 90s kid, you’ll remember him as a news reporter for ABS-CBN. When I shook hands with him I was quite surprised because he hasn’t changed one bit. Lol!

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With Mr. Gilbert Remulla, Island Cove Managing Director

When we got there, we were immediately treated to a hearty breakfast. We were so excited to explore the place so they toured us around. The first stop was the Wildlife Sanctuary where we were greeted by lush green foliage and man-made ponds and rivers for the fish, ducks, and reptiles. Island Cove is a partner of DENR, ISO 9001:2000 certified, and accredited by the Department of Tourism as a triple “A” resort. Many of the sanctuary’s inhabitants are actually rescued species.

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Found two cute duckies swimming with koi fishes

This turtle looks like he needs a hug. Too bad he’s too far away from me! I would have taken him home in a heartbeat! Too cute <3
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The sanctuary has several ostriches, but these two were the most eager to see us (or be fed). I love how their eyes are so big and expressive and how gorgeous their lashes are. No need for mascara! 😛 Because they can run up to 70 mph, Island Cove made a special runway for them to have space to run around.

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And then we got to meet two baby Bengal tigers, Jasmine and Gerald. I love cats so imagine my delight when I saw these wonderful creatures. When we got there they were being fed so I got the chance to feed them as well.
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I was able to hold this huge snake. I am honestly afraid of snakes but the men holding it said this guy is so used to people.

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The experience was so crazy and scary at the same time. It kept hissing and moving towards my arm while I was holding its neck. Suddenly my whole life flashed before eyes. Haha! It’s very heavy, mind you.

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Outside we found more reptiles like iguanas, crocodiles, etc.

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This Burmese python needs 10 people to carry it out of the cage. It was previously owned by a private individual. But his neighbors became so afraid of it, he had to take this poor fella out of his residence. And so Island Cove was entrusted by DENR to care for the snake. The caretakers said he’s actually a nice creature; he never bit any of them. Good to know. Haha!

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After touring the animal sanctuary, we went to see the other places Island Cove is famous for. They have this giant chessboard which kids and families can use. When I saw it, I immediately thought of Wizard’s Chess from Harry Potter. 🙂

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Of course, a resort is incomplete without its water facilities. Recently, Island Cove added a 350-square meter kid-friendly splash park, the biggest in Mega Manila, to the Oceania Water Park (which is now aptly renamed as the Oceania Swim and Splash Park). The splashers and sprayers were imported from Australia. It is guaranteed safe, due to the colorful, water safe rubber flooring (EPDM) installations which minimize the possibility of accidents.
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The main pools of the Oceania Swim and Splash Park have 4 giant slides and enormous inflatables. The whole water complex spans over 3,000 square meters. Wowza! They also placed lifeguards certified by the Philippine National Red Cross and can offer basic life support and first aid when needed.

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I do not want to bombard you with too may photos so I’m cutting the first part here. In a few days I will be showing you more about Island Cove. Will there be food in that post? Definitely! Meanwhile, here are maps that you can use as guide if you decide to go to Island Cove:

Island Cove Map

Here’s a map showing you how to get there.

how to get_REVISION2

RATES

Oceania Swim and Splash Park

Operating Hours

Weekday ( Monday to Thursday)                   – 08:00 to 18:00

Weekend ( Friday to Sunday, Holiday)          – 08:00 to 20:00

 

RATE 1

(OSSP, Wildlife Sanctuary, Php. 50 Meal Voucher, MAZE)

Adult                                       Php. 400.00

Child                                       Php. 350.00

 

RATE 2

(OSSP, Wildlife Sanctuary, MAZE)

Adult                                       Php 370.00

Child                                       Php 300.00

 

RATE 3

(OSSP Only)

Adult                                       Php. 340.00

Child                                       Php. 280.00

 

Night Rate ( 17:00 onwards)

Adult & Child                         Php. 250.00

 

ANIMAL ISLAND RATES:

Entrance Fee: Php150.00 per head for both adult & kids

Tilbury Ride: 1 hour – Php320.00/ 30 mins. – Php200.00

Horsedrawn Carriage: 1 hour – P620.00/ 30 mins. – Php380.00

Operating Hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park

Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite

T (046) 434 0210

www.islandcovephil.com

e-mail: inquiry(at)islandcovephil(dotcom

 

Makati Sales Office:

Suite 1416 Cityland 10 Tower 1, De La Costa St., Makati City

T (02) 8107878

 

 Follow them on

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

 

More information to be posted soon so please come back! Let me know how your vacation to Island Cove went! 🙂

Technicolor

Vigan

So here’s the long-delayed ootd+travel post. I shared in my earlier posts that my boyfriend and I traveled to Vigan, Ilocos Sur immediately after the holy week.  We knew the place would be filled with tourists during the said week, so we decided to go there a little later.

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Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to go to Vigan. I remember being inspired by our HEKASI (history and culture) books and amazed by how beautiful our tourist destinations are. But because I came from a poor family, we did not have opportunities to travel. I clearly remember being envious of my classmates who could afford our school’s annual trips.

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I told myself that when I’m employed and more capable of traveling, I will go to historic places as well as tourist destinations found in my old school books. With Chad’s help, I saw Zambales, Daet, La Union, Baler, and now Vigan. My next destinations would probably be Corregidor Island, Palawan, and Cebu. I’m crossing my fingers that I get to be in these places before the year ends, but I digress.

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I love being with Chad because he’s spontaneous and very adventurous. I used to be a pretty uptight person, but after a few months of dating I noticed myself becoming more calm and cool about things. I’m even enjoying skimboarding and climbing now; a few years ago, you won’t see me doing those things.

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We learn a lot from each other, and it also helps that we both love to travel. We enjoyed Vigan immensely and you will know why in a few days. I have allotted a separate post for the trip. Chad and I used our Canon AE-1 and Rebel G film cameras for the pictures and they turned out really nice. 🙂

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Thrifted multicolor dress | Marikina-made wedges | Crown ring and headband from bazaar

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By far this is the best photo of us during the trip. We were all smiles for the date picture at Hidden Garden, and so was our photographer. I thought he just found us cute, apparently his friend was photobombing behind us. HAHA best photo ever.

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Join my Chicken Charlie giveaway and get a chance to win Php 500 worth of Chicken Charlie GCs!

Summer Solstice

Chad and I kickstarted our first summer together by travelling to Vigan and La Union. He took me to La Union late last year, but since we love the place, we had to visit again for some surf and skimboard sesh.

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It has become unbearably hot this year so I decided to stay in for a while and went out after the heat died down a bit. La Union is no ordinary beach, it’s the surfing capital of the Philippines so you can imagine how strong the waves are there. So yeah, I didn’t wear this bikini top while aboard a longboard (well I did until it began slipping off—the horror!). I changed into a rash guard, which you will see later in the video (below), to prevent more embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

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But being me, I had to enjoy the scenery first before diving in, and take advantage of the opportunity by wearing a quirky outfit. I am easily entertained at the beach—there’s just so many things to feel and look at: the people, the waters, the decorations, etc. The best thing about La Union is that people do care for the beach. They hold clean ups regularly, so you will seldom see trash lying around, which is a good thing. There’s nothing wrong about promotion and tourism as long we also know our responsibilities both as locals and tourists. The world has provided us with beautiful places, it is our duty as inhabitants to take care of it. Come back soon for more posts and photos! 🙂

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 Boutique de Reines bikini top | Clothes for the Goddess skort | SM GTW scarf used as headband

Check out our travel video below! We got really nice feedback when we posted it on Facebook. We hope you’ll like it as well! 🙂
Run Run Run from chad verzosa on Vimeo.

Hype this look on

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Unforeseen

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as frequently, but Chad and I have started a project and we’re concentrating a lot of our efforts on it. I’m still going to post updates here though  at least once or twice a week (and on my Twitter of course). Like I said earlier, I will never abandon blogging and the small group of people who read my blog (and who I love dearly).

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Before I share my usual narrative, let me skip to the outfit first. I won’t necessarily call it stylish, but it’s my lazy day look. Chad and I had to interview some people and do a photoshoot on the same day so I chose the most comfortable ensemble I could wear—that is an oversized hipster shirt and my trusty maxi and wedges. I was going for a functional, modern-day hippie look so I “forced” myself to wear some earrings, which I kinda abhor. But hey it worked. Lol. That’s about it really.

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So what’s the project going to be about? I can’t reveal the whole thing yet, but it does involve documentary photography and a bit of social work. No complaints though, I’m even more excited to see where this project is going. Chad will be leaving for the States in two months (*teardrop*) and we won’t be seeing each other for a year or two, so we’re making good use of his remaining days in the country. Yesterday was no doubt a very good experience for both of us.

We went to Smokey Mountain to document our friend and the place while also helping out the kids with their costumes for their upcoming festival presentation. No, I’m not pertaining to the band nor the mountain range, but we did see heaps and heaps of trash. Smokey Mountain is the term used to identify a large landfill in Manila. Decades ago, the area was surrounded by slums. Later on, the government provided public tenements to the people, most of whom pick trash for a living, and they stayed there since then. We visited them yesterday and made their costumes for the parade. 🙂

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I got to talk to a lot of kids and asked them about their life in Smokey Mountain.  Oblivious of their brutal surroundings, they told me about the death of their brother (gunshot), their sister’s incarceration, and other horrible things. I even saw one child with his forehead bleeding because his parents couldn’t attend to him. Chad saw a kid using drugs. Outside the tenements are stores selling pagpag, leftover food scavenged from garbage dumps. There was trash everywhere. I felt and am still feeling very sad for the children for living in such an atrocious environment. What’s worse is, there’s a big possibility they’ll never rise above their situations—unless they are assisted by the right people.

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Nevertheless, I’m happy I experienced it. I would have not known their lives and stories if we didn’t go there. I came from a poor family as well, which made me more determined to help out. So I decided to use my blog and my influence to encourage you, the person reading this blog, to help impoverished kids have a better future.

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 Any kind of assistance will suffice. We are young and we can do a lot. If you’re reading this, you know you’re lucky to be in a safe home, with healthy food and nice environment. These kids don’t. We have to remember that when small good deeds come together, they make one big impact. Gawad Kalinga is helping Smokey Mountain, now named as Paradise Heights, rebuild the community. Click THIS LINK to know how you can help out. 🙂

Travel Post: Baler

Here’s my long-delayed travel post that I promised to share last year. Chad and I went on a surf trip to Baler, one of the most visited surf spots in the Philippines, in December. I haven’t been to that part of the country so we decided to go there. I wanted to see the places Chad frequented when we were younger; I didn’t get to travel during my teenage years so we promised each other that we’ll travel a lot while he’s still here in the Philippines.

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That’s me carrying the boards on our way to the bus terminal. I remember being very tired at this point. I just got off work  and we were trying to make it to the (only) 7:30 AM direct trip to Baler via Genesis bus. Alas, when we got there, they told us the bus left at 7AM. I was ready to go back home when they told us there’s another way to get to Baler. All we had to do was board an ES Transit bus to Cabanatuan and from there board another bus going to Baler.

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We chose a non-airconditioned bus upon arriving in Cabanatuan, as long exposure to airconditioned rooms make me sick, literally. Finding the bus wasn’t difficult, but I got annoyed with a group of men who kept ‘volunteering’ to help us with our stuff. They hounded us and grabbed some of our things and placed them on top of the bus. The next thing I know, they were forcing us to buy the food they’re selling since (according to them) they ‘helped’ us. I was like, “seriously?!” I had never felt so harassed in my entire life.

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Good thing the weather was chilly, I left my hot temper in Cabanatuan. Baler was very nice place, a typical countryside.

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I loved the fact that they are preserving the old houses and signages. Here are some of the photos:

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The next five photos were taken using my phone, sorry about that. We went to Doña Aurora Quezon’s residence and got to see old pictures and newspaper clippings as well as some of her dresses. There was no entrance fee but visitors can leave a donation.

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Of course, we had to see the late President Manuel Quezon’s old home. I was surprised to see how modest his house was, very much unlike our current leaders’ homes. I gained more respect for him that day.

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And the museum. No entrance fee required as well. Isn’t that awesome?

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We stayed in Pacific Waves Inn for two days. I don’t have pictures but you can check out a great review of the place here. The owners were very kind, they even provided us free transportation and a discount. 😛 The room we rented, which was good for two persons, costs Php 1,200 a night but they gave it to us for only Php 1000, complete with internet connection, airconditioning, and a hot-and-cold bath. Another bonus is we’re just a few steps away from the beach. 🙂

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Chad surfing 🙂

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It often rained during our stay in Baler, but we enjoyed the place tremendously. Here’s a nice album by George Kamel I recently discovered that’s perfect for rainy, cuddle weathers. 🙂 You can download his album for free here and believe me, you won’t regret it. 🙂