My love affair with the French – Part Deux

Shall we continue? Click here if you missed part one.

I rested all those two days until I was well enough to walk to school again. My foster parents did not speak English, which I thought was great so that I could really immerse. It wasn’t so great when I first got there though. M. Pagés agreed to walk me to the bank so I can get some local currency and he ran some errands, and we agreed to meet outside the bank. Or so I thought. I waited outside, in the rain. I waited about 30 minutes until I decided to just find my way back. Not sure how I did it but I didn’t really get lost; it just took me some time (only an hour) to figure out where to go. I wasn’t paying attention when we were walking to the bank earlier. Soaking wet, I was greeted at the door by M. Pagés. It turns out our agreement was to just see each other at home. 🙂

Our communication improved as the days went by. I was really forced to speak the language and they were very patient with me. M. Pagés was a local butcher and I loved the sausages he made himself. I adored Mme. Pagés – she was so sweet and motherly, and made the best dinners. She would pair the sausages with béchamel sauce made from cauliflower. The sausages were not links but a really long rope in a spiral and we would just cut off from it what we wanted. I also learned to drink black coffee – the best way to have it! In the mornings, I would go in the kitchen and it would smell of fresh coffee and bread. They would serve the coffee in huge cups like those we see at Central Perk (know FRIENDS?). I had never seen sugar cubes before and I was so delighted to have to put two of those in my steaming cup. And then I would have a slice or two of warm baguette with butter.

Continue reading My love affair with the French – Part Deux

My love affair with the French – Part Une

No, not French men. 😛

Anyway, watching Les Misérables made me think about my French connection. Allow me to share that story with you as I reminisce. (Please excuse the photos. We didn’t have digital cameras back then.)

I’m not really sure how my love affair with the French started. I just decided that I wanted to learn the language and without giving it a lot of thought, I took up International Studies in college and chose French as my elective. 15 units of French won’t really get you anywhere, and while I learned some curse words and the usual greetings, nothing prepared me for the 3 weeks that I spent in France.

I was one of the 2 delegates from my school chosen to participate in the Study in France program of the French Embassy in 1999. Not sure what my school would gain from it as we left in May and I graduated the previous month (LOL!), but I still went – grateful for the opportunity and excited as hell.

Continue reading My love affair with the French – Part Une

Go Abu Dhabi

I apologize for the delay in publishing this post as I didn’t have much time to write and I knew this was going to be a long one. Anyway, here’s the second leg of our UAE trip last November. I wrote about the Dubai stretch in this post.

We made our way to Abu Dhabi by bus from Dubai. It was a dusty morning as usual, but the cool breeze made it bearable to stand in the queue. Since I had stayed in the UAE for a few months some years ago, I had anticipated that the females will again stand before the males when boarding the bus. I didn’t see that this time. However, there were still two queues: one for families traveling together, or individual females, and another for single males. We stood in the first line but that did not mean that we all went up the bus first. We were split up in batches so that people from both queues get to secure seats. Inside the bus, a man still could not sit beside a woman unless she is his wife or family, or if they are both Filipino (at least it certainly seemed that way). Continue reading Go Abu Dhabi

Stilts Calatagan in Batangas

Summer is here again and before school lets out and the beaches get crowded, the husband and I trooped to one for my birthday weekend. We had been looking for a pet-friendly beach so that our ten-year-old labrador retriever, Bishop, may experience how it is to frolic in the sand while he is still able to. When I saw that a friend was a fan of the Facebook page of Stilts Calatagan in Batangas, I looked at their photos of the place and saw that they are open to bringing in pets. I was excited for my babies!

It took about 3 hours from our house in QC to the resort via the Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway.

These lovely trees lined the road along a hacienda in Batangas owned by Enrique Zobel
These lovely trees lined the road along a hacienda in Batangas owned by Enrique Zobel

Continue reading Stilts Calatagan in Batangas

Fly Dubai

It’s been 5 years since I was last in Dubai and so much have changed over the years. One thing that hasn’t though is the fact that everything outdoors is still dusty no matter how many green trees they have taken great pains to grow and build irrigation for. Since we traveled late in the year though, the weather was cooler and much like the Philippines’ except that it’s not humid. Even if we walked around a lot, we didn’t sweat as much as we would have back home. And so dusting sand off our clothes at the end of the day is a small price to pay for being able to walk around feeling (and smelling!) fresh. Continue reading Fly Dubai

My Mom’s 80th Birthday in Bacolod

We celebrated our Matriarch’s 80th birthday last August 8 in our hometown of Bacolod City. My ten (10) other siblings came home from the US, Australia and the Middle East so we can all gather again for this special occasion. The last time we were together was in 2006 during Dad’s passing.

family-moms-80th Continue reading My Mom’s 80th Birthday in Bacolod

10 Things I Will Miss About Kapitolyo

Moving again. It’s still something I am strangely looking forward to, although certainly not to all the packing that comes with it. I’ve moved a lot since I was 19 so I can safely say I’m an expert at dumping all my clothes in several pieces of garbage bags (haha!), but I’ve never become so attached to a neighborhood as I have to Kapitolyo. Yes, I will not miss the house, but the neighborhood. You see, Kapitolyo, Pasig, is a combination of quiet residential and bustling food corner. We live in a sort of cul-de-sac with no annoying sounds during the day and only the singing love birds coming from our neighbors across the street. It almost feels like living in the province, except when you turn right down the road, you enter the busy East Capitol drive and you are immediately thrust in the middle of foodie paradise. Kapitolyo is not just all about food though, so I’ve compiled the top 10 things I will miss about Kapitolyo (in no particular order): Continue reading 10 Things I Will Miss About Kapitolyo

Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas

My nephew was visiting from Bacolod and we needed to get away from the scorching heat in the city, so we booked an overnight stay at a nearby beach. Batangas is the closest to “nearby” as we can get, and so I scoured TripAdvisor for resorts with the best reviews. Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas came out on top. We made reservations via Agoda for a junior casita with an extra bed.

We were 5 in the party and were in high spirits on our way out of Manila. The map on their website was clear so we didn’t lose our way, but it was a long drive. Travel time was about 3.5 hours via Star Tollway.

The highway was undergoing major repair between the length of SLEX and Star Tollway so we were slow-moving at times, and traffic was expected in the towns leading up to San Juan since it was a Thursday. What took us by surprise was the mandatory “tourism” fee of P20/person when you reach the town. They say the fee collection is for the preservation of the natural beauty of the area for tourism. Shouldn’t the local government be taking care of that already from the taxes? Anyhoo, we didn’t let that spoil our day. Besides, we were greeted by a young vendor of suman with a wide smile and a very cheerful, albeit very loud, voice. That instantly lifted our spirits. Continue reading Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas

Birthday in Tagaytay: Calaruega Retreat House, Batangas

I realize I hadn’t posted about our side trip to Calaruega when we last went to Tagaytay for my birthday. Calaruega is actually in Batangas but it was a short trip from Wilson’s Place in Tagaytay. Calaruega has always intrigued me due to the numerous stories I had been told about beautiful weddings that were held there. I had never had the opportunity to go, and so when we decided to drive there on a whim, I was too excited. We were greeted with the breathtaking view of the countryside on our way there.

Continue reading Birthday in Tagaytay: Calaruega Retreat House, Batangas

Birthday at Tagaytay: Bag Of Beans

Bag of Beans, TagaytayI was curious as to why my friend Aileen was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Bag of Beans so when we went to Tagaytay for my birthday weekend, we made sure to stop by the place. Thankfully, the original Bag of Beans was right at the corner before turning towards Wilson’s Place.

We went there for drinks after lunch at Breakfast at Antonio’s. The café’s façade was quite deceiving. From the outside you’d think it was a quaint little coffee shop. We were wrong.

There were two large outdoor parking spaces for the customers that seemed to keep pouring in despite the fact that it was a Friday. The place was undergoing renovation when we got there, and the server informed me that they were having the buffet room redone. Buffet room? Continue reading Birthday at Tagaytay: Bag Of Beans