Welcome to My Blog

This contains snippets of my journeys from the most mundane to the most exciting. This will contain some reviews as well, mostly of hotels and places visited. At times, this could be filled with gripes and frustrations but in all, it will most likely show how truly fascinating life is from my vantage point. My personal mantra, however troubled or distorted things may seem to most, is rooted from the movie "3 Idiots" - - All is Well. Thus, I am a fervent believer of limitless possibilities. Live well. Cheers!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Family Bonding at Korea - Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel

Our family took a trip to South Korea last October 29 to November 2 - my mom, dad, brothers, sister, her husband and 2 kids, plus my three kids and I.  
Hotel Room - - My Kids and my Mom sitting on the Bed
 We stayed at the Millenium Seoul Hilton Hotel and our room was adjacent to my mom and dad's room. It's a pretty nice five star hotel with complete amenities.  Security is pretty tight as well as you need your room card to be swiped in the elevator room card slot before you are able to reach your desired floor.  The hotel boasts of a massive and beautiful lobby with a buffet breakfast area and several other dining facilities.
The flat screen TV is really big although the channels are mostly Korean channels and some english channels -like the Disney Channel- are translated in Korean. Only some news and sports channels are in English.  I didn't notice any HBO or Cinemax too.  The bathroom is nice with daily mineral water bottles compliments of the hotel. I particularly liked the toilet bowl as it has different settings such as a setting for the bidet with ways to move it forward and back, heated toilet seat, and of course, a dryer after you are done using the bidet.  It was both funny and interesting.  My sister told me that this is a normal occurence in Japan though I'd never been to Japan (yet...hahaha). 
My 23 month old son, Adam
It was my first time to take care of my son by myself (without the nanny) and it was quite a challenge because he is like an energizer bunny. In all, I think he had a nice time being with me and with the rest of the family. As you can see in the hotel photo where he is behind the desk, he seems quite somber (not!). More about the hotel. Well, the facilities are nice but it would have been nicer if no extra charges are given for the use of the internet just like in Radisson Blu. I did not get to see the other facilities personally but my dad said that the place had a very nice gym, heated swimming pool, and sauna. The hotel employees are friendly as well (at least most of them). One front desk attendant even gave Adam an orange. 

Korean Lantern in Water Color
Korean Lanterns in Water Color
Intricate Ceiling Design
Another Intricate Ceiling Design of a Palace

Our second day was spent in a whole day city tour of Seoul (on the first day, we slept in because we arrived  in the evening). Though I found it hard to understand what the tour guide was telling us, she was always laughing and smiling. What is particularly interesting about Korea is their talent in design and color combination. They have nice and distinct colors and patterns that are somewhat similar and yet different from what I saw in India. The ones here are more colorful, rounded, and abstract, almost magical looking.  Aqua green seems to be a dominant color as well. I could only imagine the hard work put in in building such designs and patters repeatedly and all over many structures from temples to palaces.
Here is my son adam right before we entered a museum on Korea's Life Passages.  He was still quite calm and collect here. Later on in the day, he was already rolling around the floors and making me carry him when he was tired of walking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Birthday Celebrations are a big deal in Korea. Here
is one sample of a birthday celebration where kids
are dressed really well. I did not get to understand the
rest of the details as my son was running around  like crazy.
The museum reminded me of our family trip to Malaysia some years ago where we saw something similar.

Museum - Korean Life Passages

The next day, we went to LOTTE World.  In the Philippines, we only know LOTTE as the gum brand.  But here in Korea, Lotte is like the Lopezes and Ayalas who own different industries. They own hotels, other products, even an amusement park, LOTTE World.
This is an indoor and outdoor theme park that has an array of exciting rides. They also have foreign characters, just like the one beside my son (though they are not American...probably European). The shows are a little on the strange side but I saw a bunch of great break dancers who could really dance very well. I think my younger siblings and daghter had the most fun because they had the chance to experience the different rides.  I was just happy that there was a stroller for rent.  In this way, I was able to secure my son in this stroller and not experience body pains by carrying him.

My dad, son, and mom

My family in LOTTE World
The tour guide told us that apart from LOTTE, Samsung, Hyundai, and a lot more are large companies that own different industries in Korea.  I might have even seen an apparel shop somewhere named Samsung.

Our fourth day in Korea was spent in the CHILDREN'S GRAND PARK that my sister and brother-in-law recommended. Entrance to this beautiful place is free. We went to the small animals village, world of ferocious animals, and adventure land (a huge playground where my kids had fun playing and where I experienced sweating in cold weather as I ran after them) although there are so many other places to visit here.

In the afternoon of the fourth day, we went to Alpha where they have different items. Beside this store was a very nice shop with so many wrapping paper.  I bought so many from here that my mom was so worried I wont get to bring these home with me.  The entire stretch of this place was full of wholesale goods just like in Divisoria, but cleaner. I the evening, we went to Myeongdong for shopping. Places like the Face Shop, Etude House, and other beauty products shop in Korea were pretty much everywhere just like Giordano in Hong Kong and Jollibee in the Philippines. Make up is cheap and beauty seems to be a huge deal to people in Korea.

Since I really use Face Shop make-up, I literally grabbed the opportunity to get my loot of face powders, bb cream, eye shadow, and blush from this place and the Etude House on account that it is 3 times cheaper than the prices in Manila. I found it hilarious that the ladies there were outside their stores asking people to come in with mic on hand. With us, it is usually religious people carrying along portable karaokes while preaching the word of God. Anyhow, the money I had left was spent on paper products from Art Box.  I bought a 2012 planner, a gel pen, stationary, and note pads. I really love the products here. If I probably have an alternative business, other than my apparel biz, I would probably go into this artsy direction.

On our fifth day, we had to leave the hotel at 5:30 in the morning and head back to the Philippines early in the day. It was a fruitful trip (well, apart from some of the hot headed Koreans who were quite frankly, downright rude) with a mixture of people...both nice (the younger ones) and not so nice (well, I suppose we have this everywhere in the world). The airport in Korea is really pretty which makes me hope that someday, I will actually see the day that our airport in the Philippines won't be labeled the worst in the world because we have some of the most fabulous sites, beaches, and friendliest people.

That is my hope...that our airport will be one of the best in the world...within my lifetime.  Hahaha.  Limitless possiblities.  It will happen.  I know it.  Thanks ma, pa, and siblings for taking us on this trip. Wish Jay got to see all these too. 

My India Adventure...One Down in my Bucket List

We recently took a trip to India (early October 2011) because our family friend and co-worker, Ms. Alice, won two tickets to India. When I found out that  she and my sister would go, I literally begged them to bring me along.  They asked my mom if she could sponsor me on this trip and she did (thank God) and so our 2 days one night stay in India began.  I know right, how is that possible?  Let me discuss the details shortly.

Premier Inn

Since Philippine Airlines had a strike and many of its employees walked out on them, our flight got delayed by a day. When we finally flew to India with a stopover in Bangkok, Thailand, we arrived at the airport at approximately 1 am and reached our budget hotel, Premier Inn http://global.premierinn.com/in/hotels/our-rooms.action in Delhi 40 minutes after. The hotel, being a budget hotel is not so big but its pretty new and decent. Our modest room had one queen size bed and one extra bed.  The entire place was purple inspired - - the hotel design, the uniforms of the staff, the linens, even the ballpen color is purple. The bathroom is clean with towels, toiletries, and hot and cold water so this being said, its a good place to go to especially when you are on a tight budget.
We even took some room photos before hitting the sack.
Our beauty rest lasted for about 3 hours because we had to wake up and prepare for our tour of Delhi. But before that, we got to take our breakfast at their restaurant, Linx. Its a modest buffet breakfast with limited choices of Indian dishes, western dishes, bread, butter, cheese, and coffee/tea, juice, cereal, and fruits. Nonetheless, the ambiance was clean and modern plus the food servers tried their best to be attentive to our needs.
The places we got to visit on this day were as follows: the India Gate, a memorial built in memory of the soldiers who died in world war I, Raj Ghat where the creamation of Mahatma Gandhi took place (I am not so sure about this one), Qutb Minar, the highest stone tower in India buld in the 12th Century by Qutubuddin Aibek, Jama Masjid, the largest Mosque in India and Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Mahatma Gandhi near the India Gate

Maan got some herbal meds from this Ayurvedic Doctor

India Gate
We seem to have accomplished a lot in one day.  My sister and Ms. Alice were telling me that never in their wildest dreams did they imagine visiting India but this is definitely one down in my Bucket list as I have been dreaming of going here for the longest time, having been an Asian History teacher back in the day (limitless possibilities in action here).
My sister and I at Qutb Minar
My solo shot at the Jama Masjid

What is so funny is that while we were taking photos of ourselves in these different locations, there were Indian locals who were also taking our photos using their cameras or cellphones.  We were a bit surprised but maybe they found us interesting (perhaps alien-like...ET phone home, twilight zone-ish interesting) as we find India (and them...there, I said it) interesting.That evening, we had a full day's rest. The day and night flew by so fast because next thing we knew, it was already day time and we had to travel far to Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

The Taj Mahal which is made of marble is the resting place of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. This structure was built by Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during childbirth. This was built in 22 years by approximately 20,000 skilled workers.

The Agra Fort, on the other hand, was built in 1565 by Akbar and was later expanded by his son Jahangir and grandson Shah Jahan.

Agra Fort - - Ms. Alice with our
Tour Guide, Bigotilyo (harhar)

Taj Mahal - - Inside Taj Mahal, some of the marbles glow in the dark.
If you will notice in the photos, it seems cold in India but in our trip, it was really hot and we were fanning ourselves like crazy.  Still, we noticed that locals were mostly clad in formal wear.  Men were wearing pants and polos (short sleeves and long sleeves). Women were in colorful long dresses. Some dresses were even shiny. Cows were everywhere because cows are deemed sacred. Most of the locals, especially in the stores we visited, were quite good in the English language so there is no such barrier in terms of this. However, some of the vendors were really persuasive and would peddle their wares to us insistently. According to our guide, the way to deal with these people is to give them a stern look in the face with a matching hard enunciation of the word "NO". This was difficult for me because I am usually very cordial (a Filipino inherent trait). Still, it might be necessary to go this direction because Indian vendors are a persistent lot. We also got to visit other places before finally heading back to Delhi for dinner and then to the Airport.

This guy is creating a design out of marble stone.
This is one example of a marble art piece.
Some parts glow in the dark.
A dancer and a musician (probably his dad) outside
the restaurant where we had lunch
Overall, India is fascinating.  Its culture is really evident everywhere and people are very religious (with so many effigies of their gods everywhere). The caste system still exists and according to the driver I interviewed, it is still based on their surnames (Brahman, warrior caste, merchant caste, etc.) but people are gradually becoming more liberal about it...well, at least the younger generations. India has great potential as there are so many smart people here (from what I heard in Cupertino where many engineering geniuses are Indian). 
So that is how our 2 days and one overnight stay ends.  It was a quick but long journey as well as an experience of a lifetime. Now, off to Mesopotamia (Parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq) and China, the other earliest civilizations.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The place to be in Cebu is Radisson Blue

My hotel room at Radisson Blue in Cebu
I was here in September 2011.
 I attended a conference at the Radisson Blue Hotel in Sergio Osmena Boulevard, Cebu http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-cebu last September 2011 on Professional Learning Communities.  This activity was sponsored by Phoneix-Sibs Publishing. I attended this alongside with other school owners, principals, and administrators of several Quezon City schools.

We were given the royal treatment in this hotel during our three-day stay from the grand welcome complete with drinks in their gigantic lobby and lounge to daily buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner at their massive and beautifully designed restaurant, Feria. I enjoyed the different assortment of cheezes, dimsum, and of course Japanese appetizers and dishes. The attendants from the receptionists down to the food servers were all very friendly and accomodating with their ready smiles. My special request for hot water (since I was a little under the weather) was always granted without a miss. And the room was gorgeous complete with a flat screen tv, ipod dock, spacious bathroom, and a weighing scale (the weighing scale was a plus because I had to keep track of all my eating).

I stayed two extra days to be with my husband who is currently based in the Visayas and for a five-star hotel, it is a truly value for money venue for either business or pleasure.

This is the view from my hotel room window.
Since the place was a stone's throw away from the international port area, I was able to do some visualization exercises of me owning several containers (the ones you see inset) filled with my goods.  It's definitely a nice view from my room since my personal business is in connection with selling export overruns and it is my hope to someday do this on a massive scale.  Why not right? The title of this blog is Limitless Possiblities so sky's the limit.  Cheers to that!
Seminar Topic: Professional Learning Communities

      Of course, since the main reason for being in Cebu is to attend a seminar on Professional Learning Communities, we all paid careful attention during the duration of the two-day seminar.  Emphasis was given on being outcomes or results oriented, including student results in the performance appraisal of teachers, and working through collaboratation in helping support the success of students. Still, I cannot help but be awed with the accomodations given by the staff of Raddison Blu, the very inviting and mouth-watering snacks, and the venue itself which is nature-inspired. No wonder, it is a choiced venue for different conferences and celebrations.  I think there was a wedding and a prom concurrently going on while we were here.                                                                                                 
My husband and I enjoying the scenery
After the serious business of attending the conference, I stayed two more days to be with my husband. We hung out in SM City Cebu Mall which is adjacent to this hotel.  By the way, Radission Blu is a franchise of the owners of SM.  From what I heard, this was an incomplete building for several years already which SM later on acquired to put up this mega hotel structure.

Many thanks to Phoenix-Sibs Publishing for putting this together and spending for all the Quezon City delegates and to Raddison Blue for giving us such a lovely experience.

I will definitely bring my family here the next time I go on holiday to Cebu. Just like SM, Raddison Blu has it all for you.