Friday, July 31, 2015

7 reasons my #momlife is amazing (because it's a #SmartLife!)

This post is brought to you by Smart Communications.

A few weeks ago, my blog partner, Smart, launched a new campaign called #SmartLife. It's all about a better life—convenience, entertainment, peace of mind everywhere, any time. As you all may know from the banner emblazoned on the top of my blog, I'm a Smart Mom and I'm so happy I have been living the #SmartLife for two years now. Here are 7 reasons why:

7. I am entertained.
As a work-at-home mom (WAHM), I spend a lot of time at, well, home! Now my house is an amazing house. We have books, movies, TV shows, magazines, video games, art materials, Legos, food... This is a fun house. But when I became a mommy, I just didn't have the luxury of loooooooong stretches of time devoted to devouring a novel or watching a movie uninterrupted by demanding children. What I did have was snatches of time, like when I'm breastfeeding or waiting for the tot to finish pooping. 

When those precious few minutes happen, I go on Facebook! Then I get to read an article or two, laugh over funny memes, or watch a few trailers of upcoming movies. If nothing is happening on social media, I can play my favorite Minions game. Simple little time-wasters, yes, but enough to save my sanity most days!  

Oh, and you know what? My Instagram seems to entertain people, too! 
My followers' favorites are #SalesVIP updates and the rare #OOTDs.

6. I can keep my kids occupied.
Many perfect parents (heehee) frown on other parents (for example, me) who give their kids gadgets. But unlike most parents, I bring my kids with me to work. That's my excuse for being a bad parent who gives gadgets to their kids! If I'm at a shoot or in a meeting or a workshop or at an event, and my kids are getting bored, I whip out my iPhone 6 or tablet and—bam!—the kids stop whining while they play with their favorite apps! Thank you, Smart!
Iñigo waiting for the car after a very long event that Mama had to attend.

5. I am connected to the big world.
While part of my work requires me to go out and see people, most of it involves me in my ratty shirt and shorts, with messy hair and smudged glasses tapping away on a laptop on our dining table. Ya, being a WAHM ain't glam! But I don't feel isolated and depressed because of social media. Hooray for Facebook and Messenger and Whatsapp and Instagram and Twitter! My Loyal Readers (or, maybe more correctly, the fans of the #SalesVIPs!) are also updated on my life even when I don't update my blog because I'm constantly sharing super cute photos of my sons on Instagram. 

And I'm not just talking about being connected to my friends and followers. I also mean being connected to what's happening in the real world. Because my kids have taken over the TV, my husband and I have been reduced to our small screens to grab news and information about the world. 

4. I can work from anywhere.
Yep. A WAHM need not work literally from home. I write lists and reminders on my Notes app while waiting for my Uber to pick me up. I answer emails in the car while stuck in traffic. I make calls while waiting for my lunch at a restaurant. I post photos and links that my blog sponsors want on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter whenever they request it, even when I'm at the gym. As long as I have my Smart iPhone 6, I'm also always working. When I want to stop working, I refuse to charge the battery for a few hours, because a dead phone is the only way I can't work!
This isn't just a gym selfie. I'm also promoting my Skechers GoWalk shoes.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Old photos of Piero

Haha, so funny to type that blog post title when Piero is all but one year old. How can I even describe his photos as old?!

But Vince was making a video of Piero's first year of life and he found soooo many pictures of our darling bunchokoy that he wanted me to share with my Loyal Readers. So let's take a break from my Bohol posts and sneak a peek at a few pictures of Piero love, who just turned one this month!


We found hundreds of beautiful photos all taken by Vince but I'll only share a few here for now. Let me know if you want more! I'll do a post on Vito and Iñigo and then all the boys together! Love you, my dear Loyal Readers! Thanks for loving my family!

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Family fun at Bohol: bee farm, tarsiers, Chocolate Hills, and the best halo-halo ever!

What to do when you're in the beautiful island of Bohol? Oh my, you won't run out of things to do! We were there for three full days and we didn't even get to do diving at Panglao island or visit the beaches!

The Peacock Garden, where we stayed, arranged all our activities in Bohol. They were so excited to show off their island. We were game to squeeze everything we could even though there was a storm.

The first thing we did was meet some bees!
That's my husband Vince with a heavy tray (is that what you call this?) of bees and honey.

The beekeeper said that in the afternoons, the bees are easily agitated so I was a bit nervous that my kids would get excited and provoke the bees. So we stayed a few yards away while Vince checked those bees out.

Vito didn't like the bees at all but Iñigo went straight up to his Papa and looked at those bees. They were almost sitting on his nose!

Bohol Bee Farm is also a resort. You can book rooms, you can buy organic vegetables, you can eat at any of their four restaurants. We automatically gravitated to Lantaw Restaurant because it had this incredible view:

Lantaw's menu is interesting because they serve a lot of food that uses the organic plants from their garden. So expect to find entries like various kinds of flower salads, buko soup, cassava lumpia, squash bread, pineapple pancakes, malunggay iced tea, mango iced tea with real mangoes floating in it, spicy ginger ice cream, tomato ice cream, dalandan ice cream.

Here's Piero ordering from the menu! We were still full from our sumptuous lunch at The Peacock Garden so we only had the ice creams and the halo-halo.

Oh, the halo-halo!!!
It is, by far, the best halo-halo in the world!!!

It's crazy because it was a fruity halo-halo. There's the homemade ube ice cream on top, sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with their very own Molave honey. Then you dig through layers of watermelon, mango, papaya, banana and buko, with creamy condesned milk and more of that Molave honey in between each fruity layer. Grabe, nakakaiyak sa sarap. As in I dream of this halo-halo every day! Every day!!!

I loved that Molave honey so much, I bought three bottles. It is the best honey I have ever tasted. Ever!!!

Sigh. I really need to go back to Bohol.

Our next stop is a visit to the tarsiers. Tarsiers are tiny primates with large eyes. They are really so small! The hill where we saw them is a steep climb, and because it was drizzling, the steps were slippery and dangerous. Not a good idea because we had small kids with us! But, after a heart-stopping moment when Vito slipped down the hill, we were okay. Thank You, God!

And we saw this little one. The photo may be very bright but that's because Vince is a fantatstic photographer and he has a fantastic camera that sucks in a lot of light. In reality, the forested hill was very dense, so dense and dark that the rain and the already wan sunlight hardly reached us.

Last stop: Chocolate Hills. Okay, when you have little kids with you, you cannot believe the excitement those words evoke! They were so excited to see the Chocolate Hills, I almost felt afraid they'd be in for a massive disappointment. Well, they were disappointed because they truly were expecting chocolate mountains, and the lush greenery for miles around did not help me when I said the hills were named that way because they were as brown as chocolates!

Well, at least one kid didn't mind!
To go up the viewing deck, you'll need to climb these looooong and steep stairs that had nothing but thin rails to hold on to. I'm not afraid of heights but when you have small kids and the steps are slippery and the winds are blowing you about, you get freaked out!

Buti na lang my boys were well behaved. And buti na lang my Skechers GOWalk shoes did not fail me! My lungs and legs almost did, though. That was one high climb!

Throughout our drive around Bohol, we were drenched with green green green. This was one island that cared for its environment. And we loved how clean everything was. And even though the houses were simple, we saw satellite dishes and sports cars. We love Bohol!

To know more about Bohol Bee Farm, click here.

To know more about the tarsiers, click here.

To know more about the Chocolate Hills, click here.

To know more about Bohol, click here.

To book a stay at The Peacock Garden which will happily arrange Bohol tours for its guests, click here.

More on our Bohol adventures soon!

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Family fun at The Peacock Garden in Bohol

Exactly one month ago, my family and I were flying home from a truly magical vacation at The Peacock Garden in Bohol. We usually look forward to going home. Since we're a family that has three kids all under the age of 5, every vacation is stressful. Every single one. Except for our Bohol trip. It was our best holiday ever. Ever! And we owe it all to the beautiful Peacock Garden luxury resort.

Just look at this view that greeted us when we arrived!

That's the view from our room, by the way. All we needed to do was look out our glass doors and we were instantly calmed by that azure horizon. I seriously wanted to wake up every morning to this!

My kids agree. Until now, they keep asking to go back to The Peacock Garden. That's how much we enjoyed our stay! My kids never ask to go back to anywhere (except places like Kidzoona and Active Fun) but with Peacock Garden, they ask to go back there nearly every day!

The Peacock Garden is a boutique hotel tucked away in the hills of Baclayon. It's not in the party section of Bohol. If you like peace and quiet, if you like luxury, if you like impeccable service, if you like the most amazing food in the world, then you will definitely love The Peacock Garden.

That's what my family enjoyed most—the privacy. Everything was so serene. Everything was so luxurious. I imagine this is how it feels like to live in a castle. Vast estate, manicured grounds, the most delicious food we've had in our life (and we've eaten in many fancy places), rooms outfitted in heavy, solid furniture, and dignified, attentive and discrete service. This hotel made us feel so grand.

And yet it also made us feel like we were just at home.

Here's a view of the rooms. The hotel has just 40 rooms. When we stayed there, there were other guests but everyone kept to themselves, enjoying their privacy.

My kids, city boys that they are, enjoyed the lush garden. We picked flowers, followed a trail of ants, watched a giant centipede crawl on the green grass, looked for birds singing in the bushes, were entertained by birds taking a bath in the pool, named the resident peacock Fitzgerald (he looked really fancy!), crunched leaves and stomped on duhat, watched the rain clouds roll in, and watched that rain pour down on everything. It was incredible!

That's why my kids miss it so much!

Anyway, as soon as we arrived from the airport (a mere 15 minutes away), we were greeted by a warm staff and a cold drink of pineapple and watermelon. Our enormous room was outfitted with a massive bed—it was as tall as a dining table with the best mattress ever. Okay, while I loved how high it was (made me feel like the princess in The Princess and the Pea!), as a mom, I was scared for my kids. If they fall, that's a pretty high fall. Some of my friends who've stayed at Peacock Garden also said that they literally had to climb up and down the bed. It's that high!

But I still love it. I think it's even better than Sofitel's beds, which Sofitel is very proud of. The beds at Peacock Garden are impressive. That amazing mattress is couched in a huge and heavy, solid, wood-carved bed frame.

I know I'm waxing poetic but I love how the bed and the furniture and everything in the hotel actually is so far removed from the boring modern streamlined beiges of hotels nowadays. Everything was so old world and European. Just opulent!

See how happy my kids are???

See how comfy they are?
My Iñigo and Vito are so very tired here. After our flight and initial tour of the hotel grounds, we went to the Bohol Bee Farm, which was quite a fascinating place. I'll make kwento in another post since I want this post to be all about The Peacock Garden, but just so you know, the hotel staff can arrange these tours for you, and I suggest that you do!

Anyway, here's Piero and me the next morning! Haha, I look so scary.
There was a storm approaching when we flew in but we had tours planned that day (Chocolate Hills! Tarsiers!) so we woke up early for breakfast!

A stay at The Peacock Garden comes with free breakfast. While there is a buffet, you can order from the menu, since the buffet consisted mainly of breads, cold cuts, cereal and yogurt. If you wanted something hot from the kitchen, you order it.
And you really have to order from the restaurant's fine menu. The Old Heidelberg is absolutely the best restaurant we've ever set foot on and had the greatest luck to eat in. Grabe ang sarap ng pagkain dito! Of course, I can't say every dish was a resounding success but all the dishes we ordered was a resounding success!

The kids loved Old Heidelberg so much. We did, too. It was very clean. The kids were playing on the floors and under the tables (we were the only ones there so we let the boys play). The wait staff was also very attentive and playful with the kids. They anticipated needs like a pillow for the kids to sit on because the table was high.

Speaking of that table, it was another heavy hardwood piece. The chairs were embossed leather. The chandelier was large goblets of glass and gold. And there were peacocks everywhere—on sculptures, plates, furniture. I'll do a post on that! It was fun hunting for peacocks!

Okay, I have a gazillion more photos and stories about our Bohol adventure. For now, let me leave you with scenes from our stay that my husband Vince captured.  
Lady in the rain.
Koi swimming just beneath the rain-dappled surface. 
Iñigo drawing on the condensation.
A bird and a goddess survey their kingdom.
Birds right outside our window.
I love this photo!
More on our Bohol adventure tomorrow!

To know more about The Peacock Garden and to book a stay at this exquisite place, click here.

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