Movies and Gemstones in my Mind

The recently concluded Star Magic Ball inspired me to collaborate with my Bulacan-based jeweler for the design and gemstone choices of these pretty and eye-catching earrings.

And because it’s a showbiz event which inspired the creation of these earrings, I decided to name each pair after the film which came to mind after saw the actual pieces.

Pretty in Baby Pink and Blue.  I combined blue topazes (with total carat weight of 6.20 cts.) and pink sapphires (6.65 cts.) for this pair of earrings which I envisioned to be an “all-around occasion” earrings.  And why is that?  Well, isn’t it that baby blue and pink are two of the popular color motifs in celebrations and events?  Whether it is a baptismal party, birthday, wedding or anniversary party that you are attending – these colors are almost always visible or part of the color themes.   I made sure that the gemstones used are not that big so you don’t have to worry about appearing too flashy.

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Frozen. Inspired by the movie “Frozen” and Bulgari’s drop earrings with cabochon-type blue topazes, this stunning set of earrings and pendant will bring out the diva Elsa in you.  You will love, love the gorgeous icy blue shade of these topaz gemstones, with total carat weight is 16.45 cts.  Adorning them are 3 pieces of 0.04 cts. diamonds and 6 pieces of 0.025 cts. diamonds.

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Best Exotic Marigolds.  The combination of purple-blue tanzanites and gold yellow citrines reminded me so much of one of the favorite films, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  The story in the film took place mostly in India, where jewelry pieces are intricately-designed and the gemstones bright and big – as if all the wearers are princesses.   This pair of earrings will also make you feel one – at a very reasonable price.   The yellow citrines have total carat weight (tcw.) of 6.28, and the purple-blue tanzanites have 7.36.  The diamond titos in both earrings have combined tcw. of 0.35.

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All earrings are custom-made, used 14k Philippine gold and high-quality gemstones sourced from all over Asia.

For price inquiries, email me at dbrightspot@gmail.com.

   

A Relaxing Weekend in Tagaytay

As you may have noticed, I have lots of travel posts here in the blog that features Tagaytay.  Whenever AJ and I wanted a change of scenery, a weekend getaway or an impromptu day trip – we almost always find ourselves in Tagaytay, which is just a 2-hour drive from Manila.

Last week was particularly stressful to us both – him with an impending system go-live (scheduled next week) and me with the budget season.   I guess we both sensed that we’re nearing that ‘burnt out’ stage so we hied off to Tagaytay last weekend and left all the work-related worries behind.

I’m so glad we took this weekend trip.  We were able to relax, and enjoy the cool climate plus the abundance of green scenery at Tagaytay.  Time really slows down whenever we are there.

I’m sharing with you our weekend itinerary, which we planned while on the road.

We left Makati at around 9:45 a.m. on Saturday and arrived in Tagaytay (via Aguinaldo Highway) just in time for lunch.  We went straight to One Destination which is in Tagaytay Ridge and picked the Original Mile-Hi for our lunch.

Our view outside the restaurant: the vast Taal Lake and little but active Taal Volcano:

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I ordered Grilled Pork Chops (P255.00) at Mile-Hi which is good but could do better.

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AJ’s Grilled Chicken Fillet with Creamy Pesto Sauce (P155.00) is better tasting but the serving’s so small, he felt like he’s on a diet.

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We checked into our hotel right after lunch so we could rest.  We booked Potter’s Ridge Hotel through agoda.com, just right before we left home (Note: Agoda’s rate is cheaper than the hotel’s rate.)

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Potter’s Ridge Hotel is located along Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway, a bit far from the city proper but this suited me well because I wanted a location that’s quiet and is really for relaxation.

The hotel may look like a bungalow-type building outside but don’t be fooled by this.  You have to climb down the stairs to reach the 2nd and 3rd floors below where more rooms are located.

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Our room.  It’s the Standard Room @ P3,850 per night, including breakfast.  It’s clean, nicely decorated but has plain bathroom.  Will write more about this and the hotel in a separate post.

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In the afternoon, we went to see Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm.  Ang tagal ko na gusto pumunta dito, and am so happy I finally made it!

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Of course, our visit there will not be complete without stopping by their shop.

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The now in-demand Ilog Maria organic, natural soaps.

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Our visit to Ilog Maria was full of wonderful discoveries.  We were enchanted by this place!  I’ll take you to a virtual tour of this beautiful honeybee farm soon.  In the meantime, check out their very informative website here.

It was almost dinner when we left the place so we headed to Tootsie’s along Tagaytay Ridge, which we have been wanting to try also.  The restaurant is known for home-cooked Ilonggo cuisine, and our choices that night were none other than their best sellers!

You should try their Pancit Molo Valentino (P395.00), made of native chicken and is perhaps the best molo soup I’ve had.  Truly a comfort food.

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Also commendable is the Chorizo Adelfa (P295.00), a chorizo recipe that has its roots in Bacolod.  It’s crispy and at all oily.

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For desserts, we had Turon Halo-Halo (P125.00) and Ube Palitaw (P98.00).  The turon has a halo-halo twist because it has langka and ube inside, then topped with a special langka sauce.  The palitaw has an ube name in it because of the very thin layer of ube filling inside (sobrang nipis nga lang hindi ko na nalasahan hehe).

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On our way back to the hotel, we passed by the newly-opened Watson’s store along Mendez Road, and kinati ako mag-shopping because they’re giving 5% discount on all items, not to mention the buy 1, take 1 promo still ongoing for some of their items.

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My purchases earned me a ticket to the Win A Million promo.  Sana manalo ako!

AJ and I were supposed to do some walking early the next day at Tagaytay Woodlands, which is just beside our hotel.  But we woke up late na so we just relaxed at the balcony while enjoying the sight of this rich green landscape in front of us:

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Time for breakfast!  Big servings, refillable coffee, and free newspaper c/o Potter’s Ridge Hotel.  I love their chicken adobo!

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We have no specific itinerary for the day but since it was Sunday, I suggested we go to Calaruega Church.  We were there just in time for the high mass.

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We spent the rest of the morning touring the compound.  It was my first time to be there.

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Before we knew it, it’s time for lunch na.  We chose to have pizza and pasta at Carlo’s Pizza, also at One Destination in Tagaytay Ridge.

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What we had: Nachos and Cheese (P135.00), Pesto with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Kesong Puti (P270.00) and Lasagna alla Carlo (P190.00).  I won’t recommend the pasta, but the pizza you should definitely try.

Our last stop before heading back to Manila was Java Jazz Coffee.  Masarap daw k’se ang kape dito.

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We had bit of a hard time locating this because it’s small and is located at the busy Tagaytay-Calamba Road.  Thanks to Google Map, hindi naman namin sobrang nalagpasan ito hehe.

The restaurant looks loud and small outside but is very quiet and spacious inside.  Being a museum cafe, you are surrounded by art and can spend hours there looking at this free exhibit while enjoying their signature Kapeng Pinoy.

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The Kapeng Pinoy + Bibingka with Latik dessert set that costs only P159.00.  You can choose between the bibingka and chocolate cake but I chose the former para meriendang Pinoy talaga sya.

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The coffee’s super duper good; after all, it’s Amadeo coffee!  They served the bibingka warm so bagay na bagay sya sa mainit na kape.

We left for Manila at around 2:30 p.m. and was home at a little past 4:00 p.m.

In the less than 36 hours of our stay in Tagaytay,  we were able to see 2 of Tagaytay’s attractions (Taal Lake and Ilog Maria) and tried 3 of their popular restaurants (Tootsie’s, Original Mile-Hi and Java Jazz Coffee).  We were able to stay in a quaint hotel that is in a peaceful location, has big rooms and comfortable beds, and serves big breakfast meals.

Tagaytay truly has it all.  No wonder we keep coming back to this charming place.

 

Hotel Villa Rosa

It was my sis-in-law Juvvy who ‘discovered’ Hotel Villa Rosa, a beautiful mansion located in Alcoy, Cebu that functions as a boutique hotel.

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The municipality of Alcoy, Cebu is known for its numerous dive sites and proximity to the town of Oslob – the home of the famous whale sharks of Cebu (locally called butandings).  From Oslob, you can hire a boat to take you to Sumilon Island, another diving and snorkeling haven.

I find Hotel Villa Rosa very homey and relaxing.   And why wouldn’t I?  We have the whole house to ourselves that we can basically walk around wearing pambahay and not be mindful about sharing common areas with people we don’t know.

Since we are a group of 9 (8 adults and 1 kid), Juvvy booked all 3 rooms at Hotel Villa Rosa.  The overnight rate there is P3,300 per room (good for 2 persons), breakfast included.  So cheap, right?

The 3 rooms we occupied are so big, pwede k’me magkasya lahat sa isang kwarto.  Extra beds may be provided (for a fee, I think) but of course, we are there to relax and celebrate my brother’s birthday so everyone better be comfortable  =)

Here are our rooms:

Room #1

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Room #2

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Room #3

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The rooms have generous spaces, were impeccably clean and have big windows that let natural lights in.  They are all furnished with queen-size beds and inverter-type air conditioners so guaranteed hindi maingay ang aircon pag gabi We all slept like a log actually, waking up just in time for breakfast.

Check out this bathroom inside our room. I felt that I was in a junior suite!  Ang laki!  The open cabinet at the right holds the towels for the guests’ use.

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Hotel Villa Rosa is being maintained by Ms. Astrid Teschen, a German who has lived in the Philippines, specifically Cebu, for years already.  She built this home and opened it to tourists / travelers visiting Alcoy and its neighboring towns.

As my “home” for a night, I marveled at everything grand and beautiful inside Ms. Astrid’s hotel-home.   Her kitchen, for one, instantly became my favorite part in the house because of its open-space layout, the use of local woods and of course, the smell of food especially cooked by Ms. Astrid.

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Her ‘work area’ is very organized and tastefully decorated at the same time.

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Just across the open kitchen is the dining area and the living room – with big, lazy-boy type sofa.

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Here you can read a book or watch a DVD movie to relax.

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Everything about this house (turned into hotel) is grand and richly decorated, including these cabinets:

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I was told that most of the wooden cabinets in the house are made in Cebu, and I’m impressed.  I want one of these for my future home project  =)

I also noticed that the house is surrounded by statues, giving it a Greek-Roman atmosphere.

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There are two (2) pools at Hotel Villa Rosa – the standard and kiddie pools – which have been readied for our use.  Remember, we were the only guests in the house so we have these 2 pools to ourselves.  Yey!

Here’s the bigger pool, surrounded by palm trees and overlooking the calm sea.

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But we ended up staying more at the kiddie pool because Liam is practicing how to snorkel and dive =)

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For real divers, however, Hotel Villa Rosa offers escorted dive tours around the area, and you might as well start your adventure at this sea overlooking the hotel:

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There’s a cabana or small hut just beside this spot (see below) for divers wishing to take a shower or rest, while enjoying the view of the sea over a cold drink.  In the picture are Dino (my brother), Juvvy (in red) and Ms. Astrid.

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Ms. Astrid obviously loves pink, hehe!

For those aren’t into diving (like me), you can treat yourself to a spa or massage at Villa Rosa’s own spa room.  Cool!

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100% or perfect rating na sana ako sa Hotel Villa Rosa, if only drinking water was served free and the food were cooked Pinoy-style =)  We bought gallons of mineral water outside the hotel (because the hotel charges drinking water by the glass), and the food served during dinner, breakfast and lunch were generally lacking in taste; everything has to be seasoned with salt and pepper.

Of special mention however, is this grilled fish dish (blue marlin, I think) that we had for dinner.  It’s fresh and has the right combination of citrus (lemon) and salt.

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Even the plates at Villa Rosa evokes a classical, Greek-Roman theme.

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Overall, we had a wonderful and enjoyable stay at Hotel Villa Rosa.  I’d recommend this to tourists traveling in big groups who want privacy and exclusive use of amenities, not to mention a spectacular view of the sea that will greet you outside when you go to the pool area.

Hotel Villa Rosa is all about relaxation, “me” time, bonding with family and friends, and discovering beautiful underwater landscapes through diving and snorkeling.

Hotel Villa Rosa  |  Atabay, Alcoy, Cebu  |  facebook.com/Villa Rosa Cebu  |   for inquiries and bookings – info@villa-rosa-cebu.de

 

A Cebu Weekend Getaway

How I wish my weekends will always look like this:

Waking up at the sight of a calm and peaceful ocean.

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Enjoying a morning dip at the pool.

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Swimming with whale sharks until lunch.

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Enjoying a laid back afternoon at a mansion that you can rent per day.  

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Non-stop snacking on local biscuits.

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Spending quality time with my family (especially this kid whom I see only 3x a year).

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Visiting a castle-looking church (Simala Church).  

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Lighting colored candles for my prayers and intentions.  

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Finishing a whole burger for dinner at Casa Verde.

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Capping the night with a yummy cheesecake from Leona’s and local coffee.

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These are just snippets of my weekend stay in Cebu last week to celebrate my brother’s birthday.  He chose to celebrate it in the peaceful town of Alcoy, some 3-hour drive from the city and just minutes away from Oslob, the home of the famous whale sharks of Cebu.

We stayed at Villa Rosa, a private resort at Alcoy that you could rent on a per-day basis.  My sis-in-law Juvvy took care of all the arrangements.  We had a pleasant and relaxing stay there and, save for the bland food that were served to us (dapat k’me na lang ang nagluto doon), everything was faultless.

The highlight of our trip was seeing and snorkeling with the whale sharks (locally known as butanding) in Oslob.  The experience was indeed one for the books!  I got a little scared though after seeing how big they actually are, but these gentle giants are truly at ease swimming with us humans that I eventually let go of my fear.  Still, I didn’t stay long with them because my snorkeling gear was not working well and hirap ako huminga while underwater.  Haay, kailangan bumalik ako dito! 

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I will write more about our stay at Villa Rosa (Update: Read my post here), which I would recommend to those who prefer staying in a private residence while in Alcoy or Oslob.  These 2 places shouldn’t be missed when you are in Cebu and would like to venture out into exceptional dive sites.  I was told that surprises await you underwater!

In the meantime, allow me to give a little shout out to my pamangkin, Liam, who looks up to me as his grown-up partner in play and recreation, and not as his auntie hehe!  Hi there, Liam!  

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In the few days that I was there, Liam and I have constructed a zip line inside their house, dived like Jonathan Bird in his bedroom, gave Mr. Penguin (his penguin stuff toy from Manila Ocean Park) countless baths, made ice cream (in 5 yummy flavors) using Play Doh and danced to the tune of “Mamang Sorbetero”.   There’s just so much to do when I’m with this kid and yet so little time, argh!

Tomorrow I’m off to another weekend getaway, this time with AJ, who barely took a break after he came back from Toronto.  We’ve both been working home at night these past few days too so you could say that we are really looking forward to this weekend.

Can’t wait for Saturday to come!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(Whale shark photos are from my brother, Dino de Leon.)

 

From Toronto with Love

The hubby went to Toronto, Canada for a 3-week training last month, and he bought as pasalubong for me this beautiful leather wallet from Roots Canada:

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This was my personal request actually, having been stalking the Roots website since we found out that AJ will be traveling to Toronto hehe!

Roots is a well-known Canadian brand known for its high quality leather goods.  There’s a huge rave about Roots bags at the Purse Forum  so if you’d like to know more about the brand, just head over to the link.

But if you’ve been a reader of my blog long enough, you’ll remember that I already featured its French Tote Prince Leather Bag back in 2011.  In fact, I was looking forward to finally owning this bag but it’s no longer available.

But bag or no bag, I made sure to have one of their best-selling wallets, and in a leather that is exclusive only to Roots – the Vintage Tribe leather – which is described as follows:

Tribe leather is at the heart and soul of Roots. This leather is tanned using a hand-made process, ensuring it will never fade or crack, and hand buffed to create a vintage effect – no two hides will ever be the same. Its worn-in appearance shows off just how much you love it, and will become softer (and better) with age.  (source)

My new wallet is a small tri-fold clutch, by the way, which features 10 credit card slots, bill money compartment and zippered coin pocket all in one piece!

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The leather, by the way, smells so good.  It also has a soft and almost velvety smooth texture.

Here’s the simple but environmental-friendly packaging:

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I love my Roots wallet so much that I am now declaring it as my wallet for keeps!  I can feel that it will bring me years and years of satisfaction and hopefully, money luck hehe!

Of course, AJ didn’t forget to bring home some key chains for my collection, and ref magnets too for our budding collection  =)

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More Toronto stories (from AJ) soon so stay tuned!