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Puerto de San Juan Resort @ San Juan, La Union (Video)

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Check out my latest video edit. I created the video using the FilmoraGo app.

This was on my last trip to La Union in August 2017. We had so much fun in the water and it felt like we privately rented the entire theme park. We brought some food and drinks, my aunt had to pay extra charge for that. Despite the extra charge, we all had a blast. The food was great, the pool was fun and the company was amazing. I did regret staying under the sun for too long. I had sunburn and I’m too tan now.

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Vacation!

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Good day!!! How was your weekend? It’s a long weekend here in the Philippines so, many people are still sleeping in or on their vacation. I just got back from a three-week holiday myself. I am excited to tell you the places I visited with my family. Before I do that though, I would just like to send a shout out to my wonderful sister. Hello Ate Melissa! Thank you so much for my new Kindle Paperwhite. I’m in love with my new reader!

My Aunt and my cousin arrived in the Philippines on August 3 from the UK, we traveled to La Union that night. La Union is our second home here in the Philippines. It is a province in Region I in which both my parents came from. They were born and raised there. My father did not join us on this trip because we have pets at home and there’s no one else who can look after them. Anyway, it was a 6-7 hour trip from Manila to La Union. We arrived in San Juan, La Union on the 4th of August. Our first week in La Union was kind of a blur. We often go to the beach and eat local food that we all missed. However, the highlight of the week was Andrea’s (my cousin) first communion at St. Joseph Church in Quirino, Bacnotan, La Union. My cousin is supposed to attend a week long seminar, but, my cousin was an over achiever, she already memorized all the prayers and learned the lectures earlier (she goes to a Catholic school), so, she didn’t have to do the seminar. She had her first Communion the following day after her Confession. This is big deal for every Catholics, so, we had a small party for Andrea after her first communion.

Me and Andrea at the beach!

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St. Joseph Church at Quirino, Bacnotan

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Andrea’s First Communion

On our second week, my Aunt Teresa decided to travel back to Manila so that we can visit some sites they’ve been planning to check out. They opted to stay in our house in Rizal, which is good because we have unlimited internet access in our house, unlike in our place in La Union when you can barely get a signal. Anyway, we had lunch at Barrio Fiesta in Ali Mall ( One of my favorite restaurants in Cubao) then we visited The Venice Grand Canal Mall in Taguig. We used Grab taxi, which made the travel more convenient and comfortable. After that, we went to the Art in Island in Cubao, we hired a Grab Taxi again. The driver was quite funny, he made our travel interesting despite the traffic.

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Our last week in La Union was all about food and swimming. My goodness, we went to the beach almost everyday. However, the only day I got sunburned was when we went swimming at the Puerto de San Juan Theme Park. We also went Grape picking at Bauang, La Union, and on the same day, we visited the Poro Point Baywalk. My cousin, Rose Ann brought us at Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa where we had dinner. The view was magnificent. On the 19th of August, my uncle celebrated his 60th birthday. It was an advance party because his actual birthday was on the 22nd. We had so much fun, and we went home with full bellies. The food was amazing.

That sums up my three-week vacation. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Novel

Tagaytay Adventures: RSM Lutong Bahay

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Right after checking in on our hotel in Tagaytay, the first place we went to is a restaurant called RSM Lutong Bahay. It was my second visit to the restaurant. A couple of years ago, me and my high school friends went to eat at RSM and I remembered how delicious the food was. I recommended the place to my sister and they all want to try the food. It was only one jeepney ride away from our hotel. It’s popular too, so, you can just ask the driver to drop you off at the restaurant. If you brought your car with you, there’s a large parking space in the front of the restaurant.

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As soon as we got there we were seated right away. The staff were very nice and corteous. They gave us a table that provided us a wonderful view of the Taal Lake. It was a little chilly though, but it was a nice spot.

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The restaurant also offers buffet meals, but we completely missed the lunch buffet. We were about an hour late.  We had the famous bulalo, chicken barbecue, rice wrapped in banana leaves and leche flan for dessert. We enjoyed the food, especially their bulalo.

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Before leaving the restaurant, we made sure to take snaps of the view and the rest of the area. It’s a must place to visit if you want to have a good Filipino meal with an astounding view of the Taal Lake. It’s a perfect place for families, big or small groups, couples, etc. 

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If you’re in Tagaytay and looking for a place with the best Bulalo, you should consider going to RSM Lutong Bahay, it will not disappoint. Wonderful service, good food, great view, what more can you ask for?

Hotel Dominique Tagaytay

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Hello again Tagaytay! The first time I went here was with my colleagues from Citigroup, the second time was with my high school buddies and this year, with my family! Tagaytay is only 2 hours from Metro Manila and is probably one of the best weekend getaway destinations. It’s a short drive from the city, a perfect place to relax and unwind. The weather in Tagaytay is a lot less warm than in the city and the view of the Taal Lake is a site to behold.

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My sister always wanted to go to Tagaytay but never had the time. We went there purely for her benefit. At the time though, she didn’t know that her boyfriend (now, her fiance) have a surprise planned for her. We originally planned to stay at a different hotel, but we decided to choose a much more affordable hotel. So, we decided to stay at Hotel Dominique.

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The hotel is just a long the high way and easy to locate. You can even tell the bus driver to drop you off at Hotel Dominique and they will do it for you. It’s located just before the Olivares Rotunda. Just in case you missed the hotel, you can always stop at Olivares and walk back to the hotel. If you don’t feel like walking, then ride a jeepney and tell the driver to drop you off at the hotel.

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From the outside, Hotel Dominique looked small, but once your inside you will see how spacious it is. The staff are pleasant, and they are very accommodating. We arrived there about an hour before our check-in time and we were allowed to stay at their in-house restaurant, Pahimis Restaurant. I love their food BTW. More about the restaurant later. =)

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If you are travelling using a private vehicle, parking area is not a problem. If you feel like swimming, there is a pool too. They also have a gym and an entertainment room. We didn’t explore the hotel that much, because we were a bit hungry and we immediately left after checking in. Here are some photos of our room.

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We stayed here over night, and we had a great time. They have free wifi for all the rooms, and in the lobby/restaurant. The room is clean and cozy. The bed is comfortable. Towels and toiletries were also provided. There’s also a complimentary breakfast for two. All of this for less than six thousand pesos.

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Now, let’s move on to their in-house restaurant. Right after our late lunch and quick trip to the Sky Ranch, we had a light dinner at the Pahimis Restaurant. The food is good and affordable. We ordered pancit, coffee and the blueberry cheese cake I’ve been eyeing since we arrived at the hotel. LOL. The food was delicious, and the ambiance was nice. There were still Valentine’s Day decorations all over the place even though it was already the last week of the month. It was nice though.

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After dinner, we went straight to our room. We watched TV until we fell asleep. I had a good night’s rest. The actual rooms are far from the main road that’s why it was quiet and peaceful. The next day, we woke up early to take advantage of the complimentary breakfast. I loved the food. My parents ordered the meals that offers more quantity of food, they are used to large breakfast. Me and my sister ordered a small breakfast that consists of fruits,ham and cheese croissant, and hot choco. It was delicious! My parent’s meal was the complimentary one, we paid for me and my sister’s meal. I think it was about 150 pesos each.

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After breakfast, we decided to visit Tierra de Maria and People’s Eye in the Sky before checking out of our hotel. We returned for our check out and everything ran smoothly. Again, the staff were very nice and we left the hotel with a smile on our faces. I recommend this place if you are planning to go to Tagaytay this summer.

La Union, Philippines Part 2

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La Union is about 6-7 hours drive from Metro Manila in a private car. It could be more than that if you are taking a bus to San Fernando, La Union. There are a lot of road project going on all through out the Northern region of the county, so, you should also expect some traffic on the way.

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Taipan Garden Restaurant's Halo - Halo

Whenever were in La Union, I always make time for a Halo-halo in Taipan Garden Restaurant located at San Fernando City. Unfortunately, I went to the dentist that week and my teeth were very sensitive. I didn’t think I could handle anything cold, so, we didn’t go. =( Most people go to Halo-halo de Iloko, but I think Taipan has the best Halo-halo. (It’s better than Razon’s!) Note: the photo above is the halo-halo I had last year.

After going to the bank, we ate at Happy Tummy for lunch. They serve Filipino dishes and some Japanese too. I saw fresh maki and sushi in the menu. The food is good and it’s very affordable. I saw a lot of changes in the city, there are numerous establishments and restaurant that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. They now have Hap Chan, 7/11, etc. For me though, San Juan has changed the most. They now have fancy cafes, restaurants, bar and grills located near the surfing spots. It only means that business is very good in the area. =)

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Popoy at Basya's Pizza and Chips

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My parents, my nephew EJ and my niece Riza

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Me and my sis!

Before our week in La Union ended, I had to try the Bacnotan’s pride– “Popoy at Basya’s” restaurant. My sister loved the place when they went there last year, and it seemed like business is so good that they had to expand and move to another location. It’s a restaurant inspired by a popular Filipino movie, One More Chance. It’s very Pinoy, I like the theme and all but I wasn’t very impressed with the food. We ordered pizza, chips and drinks. My niece and nephew loved the food though. They finished their food and drinks, which doesn’t happen often. The huge hit for me was the potato chips. I could eat it all day if only I won’t gain weight from all those sodium, fats and carbs. LOL. I didn’t get a photo of the artwork outside the place because it was so hot. But it was cute. I think the place is perfect for teens and college age people, it’s a great place to hang out with friends. Also, the food is budget friendly which appeals greatly to students.

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Our last stop for the day was the “Bahay na Bato” in Darigayos. It’s actually far from my aunt’s house in Taboc, San Juan. We travelled for about an hour (or more) using my sister’s car. I wasn’t surprised because there was traffic due to the Road Widening project by the government. The sun was already setting while we were on the road. When we arrived we only had a few minutes of daylight left, that’s why I only have very few good photos. “Bahay na Bato” have a 20 php entrance fee. If you are commuting from San Fernando, you have to ride a jeepney that have a Darigayos sign. Some guests who visited “Bahay na Bato” the same time we were there, hired a tricycle privately. I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s convenient because they didn’t have to worry about getting lost. There are a lot of corners in “Bahay na Bato” that we weren’t able to explore because it was already dark. I suggest you go there at three or four in the afternoon so that you can explore the entire place and get the chance to see the beautiful sunset.
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The next day, before we travelled back to Manila, we visited my aunt and cousin in Talogtog. They have a wood bridge there over a fish pond that only has one sided hand railing. When we were kids the bridge doesn’t have a railing at all. It was a little scary, specially for us city kids because we don’t know how to swim.

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I had such a great time in La Union. I’m looking forward to visit again next year!

La Union Visit

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If you haven’t been to La Union, you are missing a lot. La Union should be included in your list to visit this summer wherein you can learn to surf, taste the local delicacies and enjoy the amazing view of the beach. San Juan, La Union is a very popular spot for surfer enthusiasts. There are a lot of resorts that you can choose from that can match your budget. My parents are from La Union that’s why the province is very dear to me.

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Anyway, we always go to La Union whenever me or my sister is in the Philippines. Fortunately, we were able to coordinate our vacation this year, that’s why we were able to visit our family and relatives in San Juan together. Our first stop was the beach. Just across the road from my aunt’s house, there is a free access to the beach. It’s not white sand but, it’s still quite beautiful. For the next few days, me and my family would walk to the beach every morning as an exercise.

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Our next stop was a beach front bar and restaurant called Coast Call Kitchen and Bar located in Urbiztondo, San Juan La Union. They offer a wide variety of foods. They have Filipino food,  seafoods, coffee and sandwiches, pasta and pizzas. I think the bar opens very early or it doesn’t close at all. I’m not sure, LOL. I just noticed that there are some guests who were drinking alcohol early. If I’m not mistaken, Coast Call Kitchen and Bar is the in-house resto bar of San Juan Surf Resort.

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We also went to San Juan Church for a Thanksgiving mass on a Thursday morning. It was still dark when we arrived at the church, and I think most of the attendees were senior citizens. There are very few people who attends the mass on a weekday. Its sad, but I get it. Most people are preparing to go to school or work during those early hours on a Thursday morning.

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We also visited the cemetery where my cousin was buried. She died last year in October and I wasn’t able to attend her funeral so, I made sure that I visit her final resting place before I go back abroad. We also visited my brother and grandfather’s grave at Forest Lake en Cielo.

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We visited other restaurants and sites outside San Juan which I will share on the next blog post. =)

Thanks for dropping by!

Novel

Basmah – Getting simcards linked to customer’s fingerprints.

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The very first thing I did, even before going to the place I live here in Saudi, is to get my simcard activated. Usually, the solution to reactivate the service on my simcard (I use STC) is to reload 50 SAR. However, while I was in the Philippines, I received a text alert from my service provider regarding the linking of SIM Cards to the customer’s fingerprints. About a week ago, I was given an option to buy a new simcard or register my fingerprint on any STC branch. I didn’t want to get a new simcard so I registered my fingerprint as soon as I could. I went straight to the STC branch located in Al Jazeera Supermarket and had my fingerprint registered. There was a long queue, but female customers are allowed to skip the queue and go straight to the counter to get their fingerprints registered. A customer is required to show his/her residence ID/IQAMA and his phone number before scanning his/her fingerprint.

Four years ago, any one can have a simcard as long as you have the money to purchase one. Then, two years later (if I’m not mistaken), every customer is required to submit a personal data sheet and a copy of
his/her residence ID/IQAMA to the service provider. I think the action intends to protect the customers from text scams and fraud, or maybe they just want to ante the security inside the Kingdom. It a little inconvenient, but this is for everyone’s benefit. =)

If you haven’t registered your fingerprint yet, I urge you to visit the nearest branch as soon as you can to prevent any network problems in the future. I think the network providers are allowed to disconnect your service should you fail to register your fingerprint in their system. There is no cost in registering your fingerprint. I had to reload 50 SAR though because I needed to call my mom in the Philippines.

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