One month

ONE MONTH…

…after I proposed to my fiancée; we have started preparing for the wedding. We have already paid to book the church and reception venue even though our wedding date is more than a year away. The stress of wedding preparation has started to kick in. We’ve researched gown designs, chose our motiff,  scoured Divisoria to canvas for cloths and other materials, collected countless flyers, browsed wedding fora, attended several foodtasting events, among others.  Within the next few weeks, hopefully we’ll be able to decide our caterer and photographer/ videographer. Why so early?

Because…

ONE MONTH later, I’ll be flying off to Singapore to pursue a new endeavor.

Awwww, how bittersweet right?

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Categories: Miscellaneous | 2 Comments

Friday the 13th special

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Better late than never for posting this entry. I’m still in the state of euphoria days after popping THE QUESTION. Yes, I’m finally engaged and it gives me a mixed feeling of excitement and nervousness that soon, my fiancée and I will be getting married. Talk about extreme cheezyiness.

Flashback: Friday the 13th, November 2009. After months of preparing and psyching myself on how to propose to my girlfriend, Macel, I decided to ask her on this “superstitious day”. If ever I get “No” for an answer, I’ll just charge it to bad luck.

The day before, I invited her parents for lunch and formally announced my  proposing to their “panganay”. It was a sigh of relief that Macel was totally clueless about the meeting with my future in-laws. It wasn’t an easy job but hell yeah, it felt so great after. With the engagement ring, the picture storybook I had prepared weeks ago and extra cheezyiness in tow, I was ready.

I was on leave that Friday. On top of the planned proposal that night, I had a so many things I needed to accomplish that day.  First, to formally hand over my resignation letter to my boss informing himof my “relocating to Singapore to pursue a new endeavor” plan. Second, to grace fellow Rusher Kytes’ invitation to be a guest speaker at a Twilight Saga talk show at her school in Makati that afternoon. Finally, to attend the joint birthday party of Jobert and Noel.

Even though I was on leave, I was up and about so early. I can’t control my excitement for the day that awaits me. I went to RX at 6 am and caught Gelli, Gino, Fran and Jolly. Rusher friends dropped by around 730, left the booth then had breakfast. After bidding them adieu, i headed off to the office to talk to my boss. He didn’t arrive until past 10. We talked and after disappointing him when I handed him my resignation letter, I left the office around 11 and rushed over to Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street. I met a friend of mine who is one of the bosses there and discussed the planned proposal over coffee. The plan was to place the story book I had prepared among the shelves wherein I’d pretend to browse through some material and let her notice “a special book”. Since I want the proposal to shy away from the public eye, the 4th floor was just the perfect place. I also requested if it was possible to have a great vantage point for the CCTV to capture the moment. I was demanding that way! We agreed on the plan and she introduced me to one of her store crew who’ll be my “point person” when the planned “Will you marry me?” would take place.

After High Street, I went to Jose Magsaysay Elementary School in Makati and met Principal Ferrer aka Kytes, Erna and 3 members of the Twilight Coven Philippines, Leia, Sheila, and Echo for the talk show. It was a fun experience. We didn’t realize that we were talking incessantly for almost 3 hours to those kids. It was almost 530 pm when we left the schol.

The moment of truth was at hand. I fetched Macel at her office around 6 pm but she still had some work to finish so I had to hang out for a while. I was running behind schedule. The “bad luck spell” of Friday the 13th! The plan was that we’ll be arriving just before 7pm.  To make matters worse, traffic was unbearable everywhere in Makati. It came to a point where Macel said that we go to Serendra some other time and just have dinner in Makati. Of course, I refused! I don’t want the preparations to go to waste. I still insisted that we go to HighStreet for a change. After inching our way through seemingly endless traffic, we arrived a little past 8 pm. We made our way through the store, stopping here and there to browse the materials that tickled our interests. Feeling the uncontrollable excitement in me, I prodded her to go to the 4th floor and look for coffeetable books and some CDs as well.

*rubdub*rubdub*kabog*kabog*kabog*

I felt as if my heart would explode with the unexplainable emotions I was having at that time as the escalator slowly climbed to the 4th level. Before stepping off the escalator, I took a quick glance behind my back and saw my friend seeing me. Taking it as a signal, she went to talk to her staff.

SHOWTIME!

Macel wandered for a bit and browsed through some Art books. I saw Jeff, the staff-in-charge, and asked him to show me the aisle on “Coffeetable books”. He led the way and pointed where my storybook was placed. I called for Macel and told her that there were some interesting books where I was. She did not notice it immediately until she realized that it was our picture at the cover of the book she was looking at.

“Awww… Kelan mo pinagawa to?” Surprised as she was, she started flipping through the pages of the storybook. I can see the surprised look on her face as I started rummaging through my pocket for the ring box. As soon as she reached the back cover of the book which read, “Chapter 1: It’s Time for Us Now”, it was then that she realized and blurted out,

“Don’t tell me…”

It was then that I already went down on one knee and asked her, “Will You Marry Me?” The funny thing was, as I was kneeling down, she got so excited and pushed me. I wasn’t able to kneel long enough because I got off-balanced. The only thing I remembered was hearing the deafening whisper:

“Oo naman!”

You just got proposed to! I slipped the ring onto her finger and she started crying. She did not saw it coming. She cried and cried. Tears of overwhelming joy. I called up my friend and thanked her for the successful mission. She went out from her office, congratulated us, and quipped, “Smile! You’re on camera!”

She called up her family and friends to tell them of the news. I also texted mine. Within minutes, I was deluged with congratulatory messages and heartwarming well-wishes. It was such heavenly bliss. I can’t believe that we’re engaged already. Next thing we’ll be talking about are the wedding plans. Now that’s a different story.

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Categories: Romance | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

One week after Ondoy

Some things can change in an instant. Others take longer if not forever. For instance, a week after Ondoy relentlessly dumped rainfall in the metro and nearby provinces, there are still many towns and villages still submerged in murky, germ-infested floodwaters. However, rescue and relief efforts are unwavering. In our own little way, extending a form of aid will help somebody survive.

Pedicab kayo dyan!

Busy intersection

No choice but to wade

Daming tao!

Boatman

Submerged

Passengers

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Mercedes cor. Sandoval

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And now, we are facing yet another challenge, as super typhoon Pepeng (Int’l Codename: Parma) ravages Northern Luzon. Despite all these, another thing remains the same,  Filipinos are resilient. No matter how challenging life’s trials await us, we don’t just wave the white flag yet, we face them. Surprisingly, not just alone… Others may be there willing to extend some helping hand.

“No matter how thick the clouds are, behind them, the sky is always clear.

Categories: Adventure | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Ondoy aftermath

What was supposed to be an enjoyable monthly get-together EB with the rushers turned out to be a harrowing experience for me, my niece and thousands of others affected during the weekend. Who would’ve thought that the unexpected downpour bought about by typhoon Ondoy would turn out to be a horrific disaster that affected so many people in the city and nearby provinces?

It was Friday night when rains started pouring bought by Typhoon Ondoy. I was on my way home from my girlfriend’s house when the rain was stronger than usual and traffic was heavy even after midnight. It took me more than 2 hours to get from Las Piñas to Pasig.

The next day was no better.  My niece, Coleen, has an afternoon class at DLSU so I suggested that she go with me first to RX before I accompany her to Taft then go to my girlfriend’s house. On our way to Ortigas, floodwaters were already at least ankle-deep along C5 near the Tiendesitas/SM Hypermart area. While at RX, rains turned for the worst. I got a call from my girlfriend who was at church at that time telling me not to go to their house anymore because of flood. Coleen also got a text from her classmate that their afternoon class was cancelled. We can no longer wait for the rains to subside so we left the station around noon. Since there were only a few of us who had vehicles, we offered to accommodate everybody we can and headed off to SM Megamall to have lunch. On our way, we were surprised that floodwater entered the mall and some parts of the basement were flooded. Even the parking areas on the 2nd and 3rd floors were flooded because the waters from the downspouts can’t hold the volume of water pouring. We also got a glimpse of EDSA as a virtual parking lot because vehicles on both directions were not moving. Fortunately for commuters, the MRT was still operational.

After the delectable lunch and dessert (Thanks again KC and Jobert for the 7 different gelato flavors we’ve sampled in Amici), we parted ways since we still needed to do some grocery shopping before heading home. During that time, I got a text from my sister, telling me to call our dad, because our other car overheated and got stuck somewhere along Taft. My other niece, Chili, still went to school because their class in the morning was not suspended.

We left the mall around 3 pm. Traffic was light from Julia Vargas and C5 southbound to Makati. The opposite direction was a different story. Traffic stretched out way back probably until Market! Market! We made our way to Pasig Blvd and then to Mercedes Ave. From that area to our house in Greenwoods would only take around 10 minutes. It was only then that we realized our real ordeal would start. Floodwaters started rising until about waist level. I would assess from time to time, if my trusted car can brave the relentless floodwaters. It did… for some time. When we turned right towards Sandoval avenue, we realized that the water was slowly entering the car, and the the level outside was around chest level. Looking for some last effort to save the car (and ourselves), we chanced upon a slightly elevated area at a gasoline station and parked the car at an angle, just to spare the car’s engine from excessive drowning. There were other vehicles parked there as well but the others had a better parking position.

I texted my sister that we were stuck at a gasoline station a few kilometers from the village’s gate. We were just waiting for the floodwaters to subside. An hour… 2 hours passed. Water level remained unchanged. It was already getting dark and my sister insisted that we just wade through the flood. I was concerned more with my niece because she has her monthly period and the risk of infection is high. I also have a wound on my toe and fear of leptospirosis. We were still fortunate in some way because we have some food and water to keep us satiated and hydrated (and rubbing alcohol to keep us santized at least). From time to time, we would scoop out the floodwater in the car using the trashbin I had in the car. We used that same trashbin to pee in. Yeah,  TMI but survival skills at work here! We ditched our efforts scooping out the floodwater because it would still get in anyway. At least, the water level didn’t reached the seat level and we managed to remain dry for several hours.

The next several hours became more and more difficult as total darkness pitched in. Movement was limited in the vehicle. Both of my phones were drained. My PSP battery died on me as well. The signal on Coleen’s phone suddenly died and we had no way of communicating to anybody. I had to ration the remaining drinking water we had and made sure that Coleen is relatively ok. I was praying incessantly that we may be ok as well our family and friends who might be experiencing their own challenges brought by Ondoy. We managed to sleep for a few hours only to be jolted awake by a wave of floodwater that rocked the car caused by some idiotic truck driver who drove fast by the area.

I woke up again around 3 am and noticed that the stars were lit in the sky. The sky was clear! But the water level lowered a mere few inches. From time to time, I would turn on the car’s radio to listen to the news and update us on what’s happening. Turned out that Marikina, Pasig, and some parts of Rizal, including Cainta and San Mateo were the hardest hit by the storm.

By 6 am, Coleen and I decided to “abandon ship” (umm… abandon car?) and just bravefully wade through the flood to go home. After picking up our valuables, I locked the car and began trudging the thigh-high waters. Fortunately, an oil tanker truck passed by and we waved for a ride along with several others already hitching on its steel beams. We got off near the village and walked towards the guardhouse. Thank God the flood was only a little higher than ankle-level! While walking, I was still trying to get a good signal to call my sister so she could fetch us at the guardhouse. I managed to contact my girlfriend and requested that she call my sister and inform her about our situation. After walking for another 10-15 minutes past the guardhouse, we saw a familiar vehicle turning a corner and we frantically waved our hands in the air… Finally, we’re saved!

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View from my car's passenger seat

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Hitching a ride on an oil tanker

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One among the many villages submerged in water

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Water water everywhere!

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Cainta is one of the many submerged towns in Rizal

As I post this, my car is still abandoned along Sandoval Avenue in waist-high waters. I’ll try to recover it again when the floodwater subsides. To everybody else who had their own stories to tell and to those concerned about our safety, we are grateful for your thoughts and prayers. Hope you are too.

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Categories: Adventure | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Mini Amazing Race – Day 1

I had been to Singapore the first time in 2005. But now… Three countries. Three days. This experience left me tired rather than relaxed during the first few days of our vacation. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it overall.

DAY 1: MANILA – SINGAPORE

Our flight from Manila to Singapore was 6 am, so we have to be at the airport at least 2 hours earlier. I had no sleep that day since I was only able to finish preparing my luggage at around 2 am I took a quick shower then fetched my 3 officemates along the way. We arrived at the airport a little past 4. The check-in counter had a long queue because Cebu Pacific’s system was down and they had to check and print the passenger manifest, seat availability, and boarding passes manually. Talk about being in a hassle so early in the morning. We had to rush to buy our breakfast and just eat them at the plane. As soon as the plane took off, sleep caught up on me and woke up minutes before we landed.

Dapat ganito kalinis at walang trapik sa Pinas!

Dapat ganito kalinis at walang trapik sa Pinas!

We arrived in Singapore around 10 am. But due to the usual security and immigration procedures, we were able to leave the arrival area around 11 where the local travel company came to pick us up. He offered to take us to places we liked (the usual sales talk) but we were just too tired.  We headed straight to Riverview Hotel where we stayed for the next several days. What was supposed to be a short rest turned out to be a 2-hour nap.  We were supposed to meet our boss around 130 for lunch. We had no local currency yet and we had no choice but to exchange some money at the hotel lobby where the rate is a lot lower. When we left the hotel, there were thunderclouds looming over the distance. Since we were still unfamiliar (operative word: still) we took a cab for Outram Park where we were supposed to meet with our boss. A sudden downpour made the journey less enjoyable. With no umbrellas in tow, we walked where there is cover and where our legs would bring us. We arrived at a hawker center (take note: hawker not hooker) where we had our first meal of the day in Singapore. For the empty stomach, it was simply delectable… and cheap too.

Chicken rice

Chicken rice

Black jelly with longan

Black jelly with longan

After the hearty feast, we were energized to do some shopping despite the rain and headed off to Chinatown.

Parang Binondo lang!

Parang Binondo lang!

Shopping is a great way to kill time (and money).  We didn’t noticed that it was almost 7 pm. After taking a quick break sampling the satay and noodle concoctions, we decided to head back to the hotel, dump the stuff we bought and then head back to Orchard road to do more shopping. But back at the hotel, my other officemates decided to rest instead to face another day. Luckily, my girlfriend’s sister together with her boyfriend were on their way to the hotel from work to pick up the pasalubong I bought for her… a box of Cinnabon! Since it was still early, we set off for Clarke Quay for some dinner and sightseeing. They taught me how to commute via bus and MRT from our hotel and gave me their extra EZLink card for easier and cheaper way of going anywhere. I’m just amazed how Singapore is idiot-friendly in using their public transportation. Together with some little walking, their transportation system is so efficient that you can go to any point just using the MRT and bus.

Minicooper!

Minicooper!

How I'd love to test drive... ala-Italian Job

How I'd love to test drive... ala-Italian Job

Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay

Since Cathy and Drew had work the next day and the last trip for the buses in the city was around midnight, they accompanied me back to the hotel. At the bus stop, it was then we realized that the bus number we rode on our way from the hotel does not go back since it was a one-way street. We rode the bus that would stop “near” the hotel. We tried out luck walking from there until it was still some 15 minute walk from that bus stop. Charging it to experience, what a better way to end a tiring day than to dip myself into a warm and sudsy water in the baththub…. Ahhhh….

(Day 2 continues…)

Categories: Adventure | 2 Comments

Panic!

12:23 am: Here I am, doing this entry as I stare at the pile of mess on my bed: clothes, cellphones, chargers, toiletries… I’m off to the airport in less than 2 hours and yet my luggage is in complete disarray. I don’t even know where to start.

My village friends just left the house for a “min-despedida” after feasting on cholesterol-loaded shawarma and 1.5L ice-cold Coke. I can feel my arteries clogging already. Just like the clogged feeling in my stomach. Travel jitters maybe. Or just the fact that I still have lots of packing to do. No more sleep for me today. Good luck to me tomorrow. I hope caffeine will keep me awake. Singapore here I come (again)!

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Cat shots at the funeral

During the wake of my brother-in-law, there were times when I’d take a stroll outside to get a whiff of fresh air or just to escape the multitude of people. One thing that stood out during my four-day stay at the wake were the presence of lots of stray cats/pusakal in the area. Inspired by one of  Chico’s cat portraits , with camera in tow, and lots of time to kill, I shot away! Here are some of the results:

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First attempt...

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Loved this shot! ummm.. pokerface?

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Striking up for a pose

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Caught in the act!

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Model is sleepy

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Ssssss. I'm the model here! Get away!

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Gotta love those eyes

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Another cat lurks from the shadows

Categories: Miscellaneous | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Bidding farewell

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As I post this entry, the nation is grieving for the peaceful demise of former president Corazon Aquino. At 3:18 am today, Mrs. Aquino died after a year-long battle with Stage 4 colon cancer. She was 76. Together with the Filipino people here and abroad, we offer our prayers and condolences to the family of Mrs. Aquino. She has now peacefully joined our Creator.

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My brother-in-law has just been recently promoted as AVP-Cash Operations – Southern Luzon for Banco de Oro when the family tragedy happened. He was in Naga for a 3-day inspection of the area. It was July 23, when the shocking news of my his untimely death came in as a late night phone call at home. I was talking to my girlfriend on the cellphone when my mom called from downstairs and said that I have a phone call. I told her that I’d call her later. When I answered the landline phone, it was my cousin in a distraught tone. I knew immediately that something was not right since it was unusual for my cousin to call at that time. I asked her, “Chu, baket? Ano problema?” She answered, “Joey, si Kuya Romy… inatake sa puso… Nasa Naga siya ngayon.” I asked how it happened, how he was, and if his family already knew. Apparently, my cousin was called by a former colleague who was with my bro-in-law when it happened. She replied, “Wala na siya. Di ko masabi kay Ate May pati sa mommy mo kasi alam mo namang may heart condition din siya.” She said that my bro-in-law had just finished playing basketball and was already resting when he suddenly collapsed and had seizures. I told her to confirm this first before relaying the message to his family. Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was my sister crying uncontrollably, repeatedly saying, “Joey, inatake sa puso si Romy!” At that same time, I can hear my niece’s voice in the background frantically crying out “Papa!”.

I had to shout for my mom downstairs to help me comfort my sister over the phone at the same time, making sure that she would not go hysterical as well. After grabbing some extra clothes, my mom and I rushed to my sis’ house in Pasig.

When we arrived, my niece hugged us while crying. My sister was still trying to get in touch with people who were with my brother-in-law when it happened when I told my niece to get some rest and that I’d sleep beside her. She kept on muttering, “Babalik pa si Papa! Hindi nya ko iiwan! Sabi niya uuwi siya e.” It felt painful hearing those words from her. She was still in a state of denial. I dozed off for a while and woke up around 4 am. Noticing that my niece was already fast asleep and that the light in the master’s bedroom was still open, I went there. They were already discussing arrangements with the funeral parlor. With no need for words, I hugged my sister and she started crying again. The harsh reality started to set in…

It was almost 8 am. My mom, sis and I were still in the bedroom exchanging stories when my niece woke up and came in the room. She asked casually, “San na si papa?” My sister bravely told her the truth, “Coleen, wala na si papa…” Upon hearing those words, it’s as if her world collapsed and she was trapped in a terrible nightmare. Hysterical crying was instant. I tried to fought back the tears as I saw them crying again. My mom and sis had to leave for a while to go to Arlington (East) here in Pasig so I was left there with my inconsolable niece. I just hugged her and let her cry out while she was repeatedly saying, “Ang unfair nya! Sabi nya uuwi siya. Bat nya kami iniwan…” I told her to cry out all her pains, but eventually she needed to be strong not only for herself but for her mom as well.

Coordinating with some of his relatives in Naga, the local funeral parlor, and Banco de Oro, the body was shipped to Manila friday evening. When the family, together with some close friends were informed by Arlingon Memorial that everything was set, we settled into the area and braced for the opening of the casket. When it was opened, my sister went hysterical again and had to be restrained by 3 of her friends. I was with my niece who was sobbing quietly and refused to be comforted by others. It was such a heartbreaking scene.

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Over the next several days, throngs of visitors, friends, colleagues from PCI/EquitablePCI/BDO flocked to Arlington, offering prayers and condolences. During those times, there were some light moments of laughter especially when sharing happy memories.

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It was early Tuesday morning when we had to pack up so that the body will be transferred to Liliw, Laguna, where he will spend another day before he will be buried.. his final resting place… his hometown. My sister said that it was her husband’s wish that he be buried there.

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Now that he’s gone, I’m now staying with my sister and niece taking over the “father duties” as much as I can… as long as I can. And I’m praying that God give them the strength to move on as they face another chapter in their lives. I know Kuya Romy is now peacefully and eternally happy.

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Categories: Miscellaneous | 4 Comments

Traffic Violation!

I was preparing my post on our Davao trip over the weekend when I remembered that I still haven’t claimed my driver’s license. Last Thursday, on the eve of our flight to Davao, my boss and I were on our way to a client meeting at Mckinley Hill. Left turn is no longer allowed on the intersection of Mckinley (going to Edsa Ayala) and 5th(?) (The one with the stoplight). We went straight to Mckinley so we can make a U-turn along the way. My boss who was driving ahead of me, made a U-turn further down the road. I turned as well but I was flagged down. Grrrr! I argued with the officer for at least 10 minutes. My point is that there was no “No U-Turn” sign anywhere on the road. He argued that the solid lines on the road indicate that automatically u-turn is not allowed unless it’s an intersection. I never heard of such crap before. But since we’ll be late for our 3 pm meeting, I gave up and handed over my license to the traffic enforcer. But I asked for his name and number just in case I would like to vent out to him in the near future.
Arrgggh, now I still have to go to Makati to get my license.
Of all the years I've been driving, first ticket I got from Makati

Of all the years I've been driving, this is the first traffic violation ticket I got from Makati

Categories: Adventure | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Nurture Spa – Tagaytay

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Imagine yourself spending quality time with your barkada, family, or significant other away from the hustle and bustle of city life and into a secluded paradise of blissful relaxation, then you should try out Nurture Spa in Tagaytay. About an hour-and-a-half drive from Manila, Nurture Spa will pamper you with their relaxing massage. They have 4 naturally ventilated Ifugao huts and 7 airconditioned rooms where you can further relax or spend the night. They also have 6 twin-sharing spa rooms with their own shower area and jacuzzi (but we didn’t try the jacuzzi when we were there). For outdoor treatments, they have 6 garden gazebos so you can fully appreciate the natural beauty of the outdoors. But they don’t just offer relaxing massages but sumptuous food as well. The restaurant, Aruga Cafe, offers a variety of dishes which caters both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

Nurture Spa also offers garden wedding services and other wellness activities such as Yoga and Tai Chi.

Facade

Facade of the reception area

Welcome tea

Aromatic Taragon tea to welcome you

flower petals

For added ambience

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View from the garden

Nurture Spa 2

Garden gazebos

Fresh ingredients for facial

All-natural ingredients

Spa room

One of the twin spa rooms

Aruga cafe

Inside Aruga cafe

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Lamb Chops Madagascar

Pollo Tagaytay

Pollo Tagaytay

Ifugao hut

Afternoon nap at the Ifugao hut

Garden Gazebo where we had our facial

Garden Gazebo where we had our facial

The overall experience was a relaxing one. Their food and service were great. Attendants are warm and friendly. They make sure that your stay will be a memorable one.

You may contact their Sales and Reservations Office through Telephone Numbers: 838-0073; 839-2196; 838-3646 or visit Nurture Spa’s website

Categories: Relaxation | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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