10 Signs You Have Traveler’s Jet Lag

1. You wake up early not because you’re off to another island, but because you HAVE TO go back to work. Yes, work awaits your arrival.

2. The moment you get up from bed, you open your window and feel utterly lost in your surroundings. As if you’re a newborn baby slowly acclimatizing yourself to the world outside a womb.

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3. You gaze on the horizon, but your head can’t wrap around the idea that where you are now is your reality.

4. Everything around you feels like a dream. No, wait. It feels like you’ve been zapped into a nightmare!

5. You go to work as you’re supposed to, but your mind wanders elsewhere.

6. You keep on browsing photos of your travel, wishing you’re still there enjoying every bit of it.

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7. Your colleagues talk to you, but you absorb nothing. You are a walking and breathing zombie, unable to process communication. Your soul is not with you today.

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8. You sit in front of your work desktop and browse / plan your next destination. Exhibit A.

9. There’s nothing you want to do now but sleep and recoup all the hours spent on traveling.

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10. You check in on your travel mates every now and then, reminiscing while enduring a separation anxiety attack.

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Valentine’s Weekend at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

(I know, I know. Pardon the late post! Hope this still helps future roadtrippers, though! Las Casas is a must visit when in the Philippines. 🙂 )

Las Casas has become a favorite destination for us ever since our visit last July 2011. Even though we commuted all the way there at such a bad time (it was raining non-stop due to a tropical depression), we still had a grand time, but promised ourselves we’d return during the summer. We thought, if we could have fun there with the rain, just imagine how much awesome it would be with the sun!

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Rainy visit last July 2011. 😦

Luckily, I received a Php 1,000 worth of gift certificate last December, which we can use as a rebate for our next visit! I got so giddy and decided to use it as my Valentine’s Day gift for ❤. This time around, he decided to drive since our last backpacking stint was an uncomfortable experience. We felt so happy that we were blessed with such a fine weather! One of our best roadtrips / weekends ever! ❤

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Yehey for sunny weather!

What’s so special about Las Casas, anyway?

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is a private-owned heritage resort by an architect named Jerry Acuzar. Jerry started buying off old houses, which he eventually transformed as a business and tourist spot at a 400-ha. land property in Bagac, Bataan. Most people say it’s like a mini-Vigan / Ilocos that’s only a couple of hours away from Makati city. If you’re planning to visit anytime soon, I suggest you bring your own car. They have ample parking space (for free) in front of the resort, plus it’s only 2 1/2 hours away from Makati with light traffic. If you’re the backpacking type, you can check out this commute guide link, which we used for our first visit.

Heritage Resort, you say?

The main attraction of this resort are the refurbished houses and mansions, which once stood proud all around the Philippines from 18th-20th century. The owner bought these structures to save them from their depreciating conditions, brought them all the way back to Bagac, and carefully refurbished them piece by piece. Just imagine how much effort went into transporting and refurbishing these houses! Some of them came from neighboring provinces like Pampanga and Bulacan, but some were transported from as far as Manila and Laguna. Most of these structures came to life during the Spanish colonization in the Philippines (around 1840s), but some were also built during the American and Japanese periods. When we went there the first time, there are about 27 structures in the resort. This year, we were not able to get the actual count, but we saw new structures on their way to full refurbishment. I’m excited to see the final development once they have converted this 400-ha. property into an Old Filipino/Spanish Era township!

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The interiors of these houses are as beautiful as its facades.

Of course a resort would not be complete without a pool, so in the heart of Las Casas is a pool facing a man-made lake and the beautiful view of the West Philippine Sea (formerly known as South China Sea). On the day of our trip, we woke up early in the morning for a quick dip and photo shoot at the beach. The water was too cold so we ran back to the pool right after taking some vanity shots!

First taste of Summer 2013

While most websites lure you by posting deceiving pictures, Las Casas is not one of them. What you see on their website is even better upclose! Every nook and cranny of Las Casas is as picturesque as the photos on their gallery. You’ll have so much fun feeling like a Donya as you get camera-frenzy around the resort!

The Las Casas Tour

What’s great about Las Casas is that you get to experience all of the houses on a guided 1-hour tour. The tour guides are well-equipped with historical knowledge starting from where the houses were bought, to actual historical events that took place in that house, and other random facts that build each of the house’s character. It was fun listening to them as they always have something interesting to share. You would really feel like you’re warped back in time as the staff don the traditional Filipino Baro’t Saya, and the guards are dressed as guardia civil. There’s even native Filipino music like kundiman blasting in the background as you roam around the resort.

Below is our grand Kalesa ride, which transported us from our hotel to La , the newly opened authentic restaurant in Las Casas.

Below is our grand Kalesa ride, which transported us from our hotel to La Bella Teodora, the newly opened authentic Italian restaurant in Las Casas.

My most favorite parts of the tour include these three —

Jose Rizal’s old ancestral house: When Jerry began to acquire Rizal’s old house in Binan, Laguna, the local government interfered and stressed that it’s a historical landmark in Binan, and cannot be transferred to Bagac. However, when the government failed to take care of the house, the owner pushed his luck once again, but only managed to save very few parts of it. The house in Bagac is mostly a replica, but they did their best to preserve the old pieces. I love the very spacious courtyard in this house! It also houses the new Italian restaurant in the property called La Bella Teodora.

Mini Museum: The mini museum, which was the house used by Generals during the Japanese period to plan the capture of Yamashita, showcases the antique collections of Jerry. I am very much amused with the old method of ironing clothes (lower right photo)! Back in the day, ironing feels like a total body workout above everything else. You need to balance on the wood and rock back and forth to iron the clothes underneath!

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The old UP building: This building became controversial back in the day because it was converted for vice-driven activities such as live shows at night. Now they are converting it into a chapel.


For our second visit though, since we’ve heard most of the information already last year, we took advantage of the sunlight and went gaga on photos. If you’re wondering about the interiors of the houses, you could also see some snapshots below (aside from our vanity pictures). 🙂

Quick fact: The names of the houses were given based from where they were bought. For example, Casa Binondo was from Binondo, Manila, and the hotel Paseo de Escolta is a replica of the old buildings in Escolta, Manila during the 1900s.

Photo Ops Vanity

Hotel and Houses

Currently, Las Casas has one hotel called Paseo de Escolta with 17 hotel rooms. On our first visit, ❤ and I could not believe our eyes when our lovely hotel room greeted us. It was spacious, cozy, and complete with hotel amenities like bath tub, hair dryer, hot shower, toiletries, safety deposit box, LCD cable TV, coffee, and so much more. All that for their Standard Room, which costs Php 4,050 per night less the Php 1,000 rebate I got. We only paid roughly 75 USD per night! The feel of each hotel room is a mix of old and new; the structure looking vintage, but the amenities are all modern. Their website says Jerry’s wife, Tess Acuzar, who’s an interior designer, designed the hotel rooms. Look at that awesome view from our balcony window below.

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Paseo de Escolta

Disclaimer: I don’t usually take photos of the bedroom during our trips so I borrowed the upper right photo online.

Look at our very cozy room!

If you feel like splurging, you can also rent out the houses depending on the size of your group. This photo below is the most expensive house in Las Casas, which you can rent at Php 160,000 a night (roughly USD 3,930) good for 16 people complete with butler service! If you want to feel like a Don and Donya, then go ahead and indulge!

OH SO YUMMY FOOD!

❤ and I are such food lovers. One of the first few things I have to check when I plan for our itinerary is the food reviews. Las Casas instantly became a favorite the first time we set foot in Casa Unisan, their Filipino restaurant. Most of the photos below were taken during our last year’s trip. This time around, we were too hungry and excited to eat that we didn’t care about anything else anymore! Funny story, after we had our dinner, I pleaded that we head back to our room as I felt really dizzy. I plopped on our bed and stayed motionless for about 20 minutes until I felt better. It was total gluttony at its finest! We went for a walk outside the property after the wicked and nauseating feeling went away.

These are our most recommended at Casa Unisan. However, I assure you that you will love whatever it is you order from here!

Food trip!

The tocilog (Tocino with egg, garlic rice, and slice of watermelon on the side) below is one of the choices for free breakfast inclusive with the hotel room charge. Pair it with their Tsokolate E (hot chocolate) and you’ll have the best breakfast experience!

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One of our favorite desserts in Casa Unisan is the Turrones de Leche con Sorbetes. It is best paired with the hot chocolate. Just writing about it makes me crave!

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During this trip, we also tried out their new Italian restaurant called La Bella Teodora. We had their brick-oven Margarita pizza, carbonara, and porkchop. Ah, everything was just too yummy! We can’t wait to go back again and eat our hearts out! Too bad I only got a photo of the porkchop and it does not even look delectable anymore. If you want to eat here, you can ask the receptionist for a kalesa ride since it’s quite far from the hotel. This service is such a nice touch to the very vintage feel of the resort!

I could go on all day and talk about much nicer things about Las Casas. We’ve been here twice and not a single complaint comes to mind. It’s definitely a gem that’s located near Metro Manila! If I haven’t convinced you yet to try and check out this place, then I have nothing else to say. Can’t wait to visit this place again soon! ❤

Let Me Take You on a Summer Stroll

Under the heat of the sun, all she ever wanted was to walk in the park where trees provided shade, falling leaves graced her path, and wind whistled sweet nothings to her ears. She can already taste the sweetness of vanilla ice cream on her tongue, completing her afternoon stroll. The flowers along the sidewalk complemented the solid green grass – brightly highlighting the golden color of summer. She hums a melody to sing in chorus with the chirping birds. Her twirls make her white strapless sundress flow, whirling in the summer breeze up her thighs. The sight of the playground ahead excites her all the more. Children take their naps at around this time, which means she can have the place all to herself. The swing, her most favorite spot, takes away all her worries. Every minute spent on it swinging back and forth instantly makes her day.

She waited for the solid white wall clock above her classroom’s blackboard to strike 4, checking it every 2 minutes in between her summer stroll daydream. The cool wind coming in from the window soothed her, painting a smile across her face. She tapped the soles of her black leather shoes on the side of her armchair, rested her chin on her left palm, and closed her eyes. The monotonous voice of her Algebra professor whirred through her ears, but she could only focus on Beirut’s Postcards from Italy playing inside her head. Her mind wandered in the park, no longer interested on deriving the value of x in the equation. She gently opened her eyes to check the time. It always feels slower when waiting for class dismissal. The clock’s hour hand steadily positions near 4, waiting as its minute hand speeds its way to 12, almost closing down the hour to 4’o clock a few seconds from now. Her heartbeat quickened and her stomach grumbled. Those butterflies could already feel the giddiness of a promised summer afternoon stroll.

Before she could return to her daydream, the bell rang. Finally! It sounded like music to her ears. Her consciousness snapped back to the classroom as she hurriedly opened her tribal-printed backpack and swooped everything inside. She then walked briskly towards the halls of the summer-illuminated campus. The boys exchanged high fives, patted each others’ backs, while the girls chuckled and tucked their hair behind their ears. Their eyes glowed as the boys glanced towards their direction. Everyone wore an indescribable smile that only a summer afternoon could bring to life. Laughter echoed. Nobody cared about time anymore.

She looked to her left then swiftly to her right, waiting for a familiar face to emerge among the crowd. To her right across the gray lockers, she fixated her gaze on a red backpack. As if through telepathy, the tall boy with the red backpack turned to her direction. They stared at each other for a few seconds, and he responded with a grin. She held her breath and skipped towards his direction. Without hesitation, she put her arms around his neck, brushing it down to his shoulders, fingers interlacing around his nape. He scooped his hands behind her waist, and gave her a sweet peck on the cheek. They marched towards the exit of the campus along with everyone else, hands intertwined. The smell of freshly cut grass outside overpowered the air. Their smiles glimmered with the sun’s rays as they stride on the campus sidewalk. Off to the park they go.

Summer break is here! And in this moment veiled with youthfulness, nothing else matters.

Document less, experience more!

There was a time in my younger years (this makes me sound old) that I had a strong need to document everything that happened in my life. Friendster and Multiply were my avenues for photo and video sharing… where friends could snoop around posts and comment away. In 2008, I got sick of my ex and his new girl’s oh so inlove faces on Friendster that Multiply became My Life in a Nutshell site. Facebook happened shortly afterwards.

When I head out with friends, I’d got to have my digicam with me. I felt obliged to take photos of every moment we had together. I went as far as documenting every little movement each of us did! Even if we’d get home at 12 or 1 in the morning, I can’t help but post the pictures as soon as I can. My barkada calls this efficient, real time uploading. During concerts, I’d feel empty-handed without a decent video of a song performed, or a close up photo of the artist. I’d raise my hands as high and steady as I can, trying not to sing in the background so that future viewers of the video won’t get annoyed with my singing. I documented every little detail of birthday bash, out-of-town trips, holidays, shopping, spa and coffee sessions, movie dates, and even the most mundane days in the calendar. I just got to post what I was doing, who I was with, where I was, how I got there, why I was there… Post and share away!

Later on I figured, WHAT THE HELL?! My digicam gave up on me, but this helped me let go of the share away mentality that social networking sites integrate in our lives. A few photos of every event are sufficient enough for my planner and annual photo flashback. I still am a sucker for flashbacks, keepsakes, and memories, but it’s more fun to document less and experience more! 

Nowadays, when I watch a concert, I’d listen intently to the performance and let its greatness linger without taking a video of it. I’d rather sing, dance and shout, than steadily raise my hands for a clear shot. Why would I let the opportunity to experience something live pass by for some stupid, amateur video? It would turn out shaky and noisy anyway without the proper equipment for it.

With out-of-town trips, isn’t it more fun to worry less about the photos (especially your vanity shots), and experience the scenery more? I’d rather frolic in the beach all day (with a few jump shots in between!) than document every detail of what I’m up to.

This goes out for Twitter usage as well. My fingers often hover at the Unfollow button for users who do not show proper Twitter etiquette. Thanks but no thanks for the info, dear user, but it’s best to keep some VERY personal stuff to yourself. Say, when your private part’s itchy, or you let out a fart, or you plan to have a smoochapalooza with your boy toy. I’d rather not know. There’s a fine line between freedom of speech and info overload.

This incessant need to document everything online is here to stay, though. I am a hypocrite if I say I no longer have that urge to share away, but I learned to do things in moderation. And choose your sites well for info sharing. I check in ALL the time, but I keep it within Foursquare. If I need more people to see it, then I cross-post on FB or Twitter. I also have this blog for rants, Tumblr and Pinterest for random shenanigans and inspiration, 8tracks for music, Facebook for interactions (and stalking haha!), and Twitter for a bit of everything. Just imagine how much spam I’d contribute to the worldwide web if I cross-post at all sites!

Documenting less makes every night out, concert, movie date, out-of-town, coffee catch up, etc. feel more human and fun. You get to appreciate everything around you more without the constant worry of the Share / Post button. I hope more people adapt to this mentality soon! Plus, we’ve been playing this game since summer of this year. Face-to-face versus face-to-phone! See the difference a strictly no phones policy could do for you and your friends. 🙂

 

Post inspired by Jason Mraz’s beautiful music, as always. Live in the moment, people! 🙂

What do you wanna come home to?

I was feeling gloomy and restless the entire day that I kept thinking about coming home. I had a hard time falling asleep the other night and woke up with a heavy feeling. This Wednesday wasn’t cheery at all.

As I dragged myself out of my hellhole after work, I kept longing about things I wanna come home to. I’m sure we all have those “I wish school’s/work’s over so I could go home already” feeling.

Sadly though, I didn’t get any of these I’m about to mention tonight (which further affirmed why I wanna get my own place really soon!!!).

Someday please come sooner.

1. Nice warm bath – Aaaah, nothing beats a refreshing, warm bath after a stressful day. Bath time is not just freshen up time for me. It’s also my way of unwinding and reflecting about the day that was. I’ve already gained so much epiphanies while in the shower! I don’t know, maybe the sound of running water helps me think better. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has this sentiment about bath time epiphanies! 😉

2. Big, empty bed – All I could think of while on my way home was the idea of crashing in my bed and just lying there, eyes closed, arms stretched out, and mind drifting away into a sea of happy thoughts. I have this tendency of being such a loner sometimes. I just want the entire big bed to myseeeeelf!

3. Tight hugs – Studies show that body warmth actually helps a person relax and feel better. Who doesn’t like being hugged, anyway? Even those suffering from SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) or Panic Disorders could be pacified with warm, tight hugs. All day long I kept thinking about my face gently pressed on someone’s chest, eyes closed, arms folded, my body tightly squeezed with loving arms. Now ain’t that such a good feeling to come home to?

4. Chill music – I just can’t function well without music. There should always be something playing whenever, wherever — while in the shower, while cleaning the house or washing the dishes, and even while in bed and waiting to fall asleep. It calms my nerves and soothes my soul. Music is indeed therapeutic.

5. Chocolates – Need I say more?

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