Tales of A Family Drayber: Driver’s License Renewal at LTO Pasig

Having to deal with government offices here in the Philippines is challenging, to say the least. It’s one of the errands that I personally don’t look forward to or try to avoid as much as I can. That’s why I’ve been dreading having to renew my driver’s license. What with all the horror stories I read online such as waiting for 3-6 hours just to complete the transaction and getting just the receipt in the end. Yes, one piece of paper instead of the driver’s license card.

I tried to hold off my trip to the LTO. But it sort of had me “trapped” at home with nowhere to drive to, and it’s not good for a lakwatsera like me. So I literally dragged myself to LTO to get it done. I originally planned to renew my license at SM North Edsa but upon doing more research I found out that there’s a District office near my where I work. So this morning, I just dropped my things at my office, took a 10-minute cab ride and arrived at LTO Pasig.

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MMDA Children’s Road Safety Park

Last weekend, the Home Room kids had an educational trip at the MMDA Children’s Road Safety Park in Quirino Ave., Manila in line with their “Things That Go” topic. It was aimed to teach the kids about the signs they see on the road and basic road safety. I tried to google about the park prior to the field trip but all I saw were news releases about the opening of this park. I also tried to find it in google maps but it didn’t register. All I got was that it is in front of Manila Zoo and the address is Quirino Ave. cor Adriatico Street in Manila.

We came from Roxas Blvd. since the kids went on a Manila Bay cruise first before the MMDA park. So armed with the address and the knowledge that it is in front of Manila Zoo, we drove on. When we crossed Quirino Ave. and Adriatico, we saw the park. Since there was no entrance for parking along Quirino Ave. we circled around once and then when we reached the front of the Manila Zoo entrance we realized that there really is no parking area for the MMDA Children’s Park. So we parked at the Manila Zoo parking area then crossed Adriatico Street to go in the MMDA Children’s Road Safety Park.

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Travel theme: Couples

With the shutting down of the multiply social network feature in December, I’ve been spending more time in my old site, reminiscing the photos that I’ve posted several years back. With this week’s travel theme – couples, I discovered a lot of material that  I can get from my multiply site. It also gave me an opportunity to look back at the happy moments and travels that we did. Here are the shortlisted photos from our previous travels 🙂

Dusk in Boracay, one of the Philippines’ best beaches, is a great time to lounge around the shore and spend some quality time with your special someone.

Dusk in Boracay

In The Park at Real, Quezon, Philippines, the Pacific Ocean meets Tignoan River forming an estuary. The end point of the Pacific Ocean is a nice spot for some romantic walk or a quiet time sitting beside your loved one.

The Park, Real Quezon

Still at The Park, but on the river side, we saw these two kids handling a small boat that ferry guests from the camp to the other side of the river.

The Park, Quezon

Two men walking along the shores of Boracay. Sweet! 🙂

HHWW: Holding Hands While Walking

My friend and I got these BFF bunny rings in Chicago during an easter event that we attended.

BFF Bunny Rings

And the ultimate pair I got to taste in Batangas, Philippines: Kapeng Barako and Pandesal. Yummy!

Best Morning Pair

An Intimate Hideaway: Costa De Leticia Resort

Our recent team outing brought us to the Southern part of Cebu. After a three-hour drive from the city, we arrived at Costa De Leticia Resort in Alegria, Cebu and discovered that we had the entire place to ourselves. It was paradise!

Little Paradise

The resort actually has a small land area but they were able to maximize the space. Their facilities include a common room that has 2 sets of couch where you can just relax and read a book (if you just want to stay indoors); an outdoor dining area; a function room at the basement; garden and swimming pool. Their garden has an ample space for lounging around and even some drinking session under the moon and stars. The main house is really like a rest house so you will feel very at home with the place. There were different types of rooms that can accommodate honeymooners, families or the entire barkada.

The House
The House

There are several things that I really liked about the place.

1. The entire place is clean. Their bed rooms and even the rest rooms are well kept. Even their pool has clear waters and you will really enjoy swimming.

The Pool
The Pool

2. I love the little details and decors that you can see everywhere. You will see that the owners put effort in making their place appealing to the guests. They have a piano in the main living area that anyone can play. Little trinkets and figurines are all over the house and even in the garden. It just exudes a very homey vibe that will make you more relaxed and at peace.

Cute cats on a door
Cute cats on a door

3. Our room was fit for a princess! Purple satin sheets, big beds, fluffy pillows. Kulang na lang four-poster bed. 🙂

Our Room
Our Room

4. For such a small place, there are a lot of service crew. So someone is handy whenever we need anything. Talk about great service.

5. We never had issues with communications during the reservation process and even in payments. They even accept credit card payment so this helped us a lot as well.

6. Oh, and they have free wi-fi. Score! 🙂

I don’t have any negative experience with the place and I only have 3 minor areas of improvement:

1. Their function room is located at the basement. And there is very little to no mobile network signal at all. Imagine if you are in a conference or retreat and you will get to spend the whole day in the function room. You cannot be reached in case there’s an emergency.

2. Their food is okay but not really great. Well, we still get full so that’s still fine.

3. Their karaoke system is set up in the function room. The function room closes at 10pm. So karaoke happiness was cut short. ’nuff said.

All in all, I had a really great time spending the weekend with my team in this little paradise. It is a good place to chill with your barkada or just for some quality time with your special someone. The place is a perfect hideaway. If I’ll have a chance, I would definitely go back to Costa De Leticia. 🙂

Travel Theme: Foliage

I received an invite from Ailsa for a travel theme on Foliage and decided to join in the fun. There’s nothing refreshing than seeing nature around us. Beautiful trees and flowers are rare in this city where I live so it’s always nice to see a different scenery.

When Daddy Bunny went on his trips, he got several shots of nature. Here are some of my favorite shots from his most recent trips.

Seeing this picture of the Meiji Shrine reminded me of the Japanese doramas I’ve watched and I can almost smell the fresh scent of the leaves all around.

Meiji Shrine, Japan
Meiji Shrine, Japan

Daddy bunny was in California just in time to see some great blooms. Out of all his shots, this is my favorite. The simple leaf with a heart shape brings some peace whenever I look at it. And also, you wouldn’t expect a simple plant box in the middle of the park to have this amazing “love plant”.

Leaves of Love
San Francisco, California, USA

Of course, nothing beats some local scenery. On our trip up north to Pangasinan, we passed by SCTEX and can’t help but basked in the beautiful landscape on both sides of the expressway. Sunset + rice fields = perfect moment 🙂

SCTEX, Tarlac
SCTEX, Tarlac

Truly, images of nature at its finest will always make anyone feel good anytime of the day. 🙂

The Mind Museum Exploration

The family’s trip to the Mind Museum was not only driven by our curiosity but has an emotional reason as well. As it was going to be 40 days since Aileen passed away, we wanted to have an activity as a whole family. Suggestions such as swimming came in but we finally decided on going to the Mind Museum. We know Aileen would have been happy as well since this was in her bucket list.

The Mind Museum
We are never too old to be curious
The Mind Museum is considered the first world-class science museum in the Philippines. It was just completed last December 2011 and is located at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Tickets are valid for 3 hours unless you get an all-day pass. Personally, I think the 3 hours is enough if the place is not jam-packed. I heard that it can get really crowded during the weekends so the museum advises people to purchase their tickets ahead of time to confirm booking since they only sell limited number of tickets per schedule.

Despite it being a weekend, there wasn’t a big crowd when we visited the museum. I’m not sure if it was because the schedule is 9AM on a Sunday morning or because it was the much-anticipated and heavily-contested Pacquiao vs Bradley match. Maybe the latter. But anyways, I was pleasantly surprised to have the museum almost all to ourselves. 🙂

Upon entering the museum, you will be directed to the introduction hall where a robot named Aedi welcomes the visitors. After Aedi’s short spiel, a tour guide (known as the “Mind Movers”) will also give additional reminders and information regarding the different pods in the museum. After that short introduction, we are free to roam into the 5 galleries namely: The Story of Earth, The Story of Life, The Story of the Universe, The Story of the Atom and The Story of Technology.

Aedi the robot
Aedi the robot

The great thing about the museum is that they have a huge number of interactive exhibits. One will really learn a lot from the different interactive activities in each of the gallery. Visitors are encouraged to touch and try out the exhibits which is a progression from old museums where exhibits are just placed in caged, cordoned area.

When travelling with children, you will have to cater your tour to their interests as well. Yui is now in a stage where even little things such as flies can scare her. When we were at the museum, she got so overwhelmed that she was begging us to go home almost as soon as we came in. The evolution of man exhibit scared the life out of her. And even though she loved her starry glow in the dark ceiling, she wouldn’t go near the Planetarium. I had to leave her with daddy bunny, several feet away, just to venture into the gallery for some time. Even though she was pleading us to go home, we still insisted on checking out the rest of the museum. Our handy dandy diversion tricks were very much useful this time. 🙂 So although she was whimpering at the first floor, she soon was enjoying all the exhibits at the second floor, where the Story of Technology is located. Another proof of how much she love technology. I lost count into how many times we placed our bag in the X-ray machine and how long we “danced” the binary code of Yui’s name.

The Story of Life
The Story of Life: One of the things that scared the hell out of my little tot

The Story of Technology

The Story of Technology: Yui’s favorite place

There are some things that disappointed us as well. For one, I did not think the museum is THAT big. Like I said,  you can enjoy the museum if it’s not too crowded. If it is, then your time will be spent waiting on queues to the exhibits. Another one is the COLD air in the hand dryer in their restroom. I appreciated that it looked like the hand dryers in Japan, but it’s the first time that I experienced a hand dryer blowing cold air. I assume there is a setting on those things and am surprised that nobody complained about it yet. With all the mind movers that they have around, there should be at least one person that knows how to configure those things. Or maybe it’s all part of the experience. 🙂 And lastly, with the steep entrance fee, they should be maintaining their exhibits religiously. It’s sad that some of the exhibits are not working anymore or are starting to break down given that they’ve just recently opened the museum.

The Story of the Atom
The Story of the Atom: I just love their periodic table!

Outdoor Science Park
Outdoor Science Park: Water + Music + Math = FUN

All in all, we still had a great time at the Mind Museum. It is a great learning place for kids and kids-at-heart. I would still recommend it to everyone so you can experience the interactive exhibits your self. That’s one item crossed out from the bucket list. Now, I wonder where we’re off to next? 🙂

Take Me Back to Camotes

One of the things that I was looking forward to this summer was our Cebu team’s summer getaway. The last time I was in Cebu, we went to Sumilon Bluewater Resort and had an extremely fun day. This time we decided on an overnight stay in Camotes Island. We were a large group this time consisting of about 24 team members and 10 guests including our kids. The group left Cebu Port 4 through a fastcraft that traveled 3 hours to Camotes Island. We were fetched by the resort crew and drove 45 minutes to Santiago Bay Garden and Resort where we will be staying for the weekend. Despite the long and tiring journey, our fatigue were immediately lifted by the picturesque view.

Camotes Island
Santiago Beach in Camotes Island
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo
The deep blue sea
View from the resort veranda

After a quick lunch, we went for an Island Tour and our first stop was the Mangodlong Rock Resort. Since this is a sister resort of Santiago, we didn’t have to pay for the entrance fee. The resort has a nice beachfront with fine white sand and tropical huts that serve as diving spots. The team had a great time diving from those huts and rocks and the little ones spent theirs creating sand castles and sand “mountains” in the shade.

Mangodlong Rock Resort
Enjoying the white sands at Mangodlong
Photo credit: Edmar Banquil
Sandcastles in the Sand
Little girls playing in the sand
Tropical hut
One of the many huts surrounding the resort. Good spot for diving.
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo
Perfect dive
Perfect form 🙂

Our next stop was the Lake Danao Park. It’s sort of a resting pit stop for us since there was no swimming activity done here. We had a snack of Salvoro, a native delicacy that tasted really great! The team just spent some time taking photos and recharging our energy for the next stop.

Salvaro snack
Salvaro for merienda
Lake Danao Park
Group pic at Lake Danao Park
Photo credit: Shobe Jine
Lake Danao Park
One of the peaceful spots at Lake Danao Park
Photo credit: Suzzane Arreglo

Our last spot of the tour is the Timobo Cave. There is a P15 entrance fee to the cave and you have to wait for the previous group to come out before you can go in, as the space is limited inside. Going down the cave can be tricky as you have to walk a rocky stairway lit  sparingly by seemingly 5W bulbs along the way. Yui got scared a few steps going down so we had to go back up and wait for the guys outside. 😦 The group though had a blast swimming in the clear, cold waters of the cave. 🙂

Timobo Cave
Taking a dip in the cool waters of Timobo cave
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

After the cave escapade, we had to go back to the resort and skipped the baywalk tour since it was getting late. Santiago Bay Resort is designed with nature, its rooms are situated along the side of the mountain and you have to walk down stairs to get to the dining area and the beach. Early that Sunday morning, it was low tide and the guys had a lot of fun playing in the beach. There’s also an infinity pool where the kids stayed and had a blast. Unlike other pools, half of it is only about 2ft deep so the little girls can “swim” from end to end and were not stuck on one corner only.

Santiago Bay and Garden Resort
Santiago Bay and Garden Resort from the beach
Photo credit: Shobe Jine
Mountainside rooms
Standard rooms
Infinity pool
Santiago Bay’s Infinity pool
Santiago Beach in the morning
Santiago Beach in the morning
Beach fun
Super enjoy at the beach
Photo credit: Shobe Jine

It was a lot of fun and the whole team had a great time bonding and exploring. Hopefully one day, I can go back to Camotes with the whole family and enjoy the other great things that the island has to offer. 🙂

Camotes
Camotes…I’m coming back for you ~~~
Photo credit: Chaddy