Ultimate Throwback!!!

One of the first pictures that we have together, taken February 2001

One of the first pictures that we have together, taken February 2001

Kahit hindi TBT ngayon, I’ll just post this here. This I think is the FIRST picture Maan and I have together taken in 2001 (?) at UP Rural High School in Laguna. I was a 2nd year exchange student then from UPIS in our sister high school in UPLB for the annual UPIS-UPRHS Dual Meet. I met Maan then, but never expected that I’d be marrying her 12 years later. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Deciding When and Where

Obviously, one of the first steps in planning a wedding is deciding WHEN and WHERE to hold it. Aside from it being two of the most frequently asked questions to any newly engaged couple, the answers to these two simple questions sets the ball rolling in deciding on the other million things to decide on in wedding planning.

But do not be deceived as to how simple these two questions are. They are, I think, two of the most difficult ones to be answered as there are many factors that you need to consider like yourย budget, availability of yourself, your partner as well as your important family members, proximity to your ย guests, and superstitions/traditions in choosing the right/lucky day.

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DECIDING WHEN

For our case, we didn’t have much trouble deciding WHEN to hold the wedding. We instinctively wanted to hold it on our 10th anniversary, May 22, 2014 para meaningful pa rin, but at this time we would be more busy in our training programs (Maan will be 4th year/senior resident and I will be a 1st year/junior fellow). We then decided on December 2013, so that we’re still both in third year, less demands in training, and to have more time in the preps.ย We also figured that a 1.5 year long engagement is just enough preparation before the wedding. Despite being in the peak-season, a December wedding also allows our balikbayan relatives to join us in our wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚

We want our wedding to fall on a weekend so that our guests (mostly fellow doctors) would be available to celebrate with us, preferably a Saturday so that there’s no work the following day. December 7th was then perfect. This would allow us to have at least a week off from work for honeymoon before returning to work mid-December in time for the moratorium for PGH residents: no leaves on the last two weeks of December.

DECIDING WHERE

One of the first things we decided is WHERE to hold the wedding. We want our wedding to be a destination wedding but also want it to be a accessible to our guests, especially our co-residents coming from PGH. We eventually narrowed it down to three locations:ย Tagaytay, Batangas or just hold it here in Manila.ย But since Tagaytay has a special place in our hearts (thats where we had our final “date” before she answered my question, cheesy haha), we decided to hold our wedding in the breezy, cool city in Cavite.

Maan, who instantly and expectantly became so engrossed in wedding planning the moment I proposed (haha!) bought three wedding magazines in one go! In one of the magazines was a feature about Tagaytay weddings. It said that in Tagaytay there were only a handful of available churches/chapels, but lots of possible venues for the reception. What intrigued Maan was the exclusive chapel located at Tagaytay Midlands, the Madre De Dios Chapel. Upon seeing the beautiful pictures of this cozy-small chapel, she immediately texted me that SHE WAS SOLD. ๐Ÿ™‚

I then told her that we must keep our options open for other places especially if we wanted to hold the wedding in December, baka fully-booked na (this was around June 2012, 1.5 years away pa when we were deciding!). So when we both had a free Saturday, we headed to Tagaytay to do an “ocular” of some of our finalists:

1. Transfiguration Chapel (Caleruega)

Taken on our pilgrimage to Tagaytay for our medical board exams last 2010

Taken on our pilgrimage to Tagaytay for our medical board exams last 2010

Maan and I have been to Caleruega before with our brods and sisses in our Tagaytay trip during boards review. ย With the cool mountain breeze with lush gardens surrounding the church on top of a hill, we knew then that this was a great place to get married. Butย as one of the most sought-after churches in the Tagaytay area for weddings, we knew that Caleruega would be a tough choice for us.ย Unfortunately (or fortunately), this was easily scratched off our list since all its December weekends were FULLY BOOKED already when we inquired. (Again this was sometime around June 2012! Crazy right?!) Besides, we were not sure if this chapel is big enough to accommodate our guests.

2. Chapel on the Hill (Don Bosco Batulao)

This circular chapel reminds me of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman

This circular chapel reminds me of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman

Scenic view of Mt. Batulao from one side of Chapel on the Hill

Scenic view of Mt. Batulao from one side of Chapel on the Hill

This is the chapel near Caleruega and was our 1st runner up. We fell in love with the circular chapel and its breathtaking view of Mt. Batulao outside! We fell so in love with the church that we almost paid the downpayment for reservation of our chosen date! But after much deliberation, we realized that we didn’t have many options on where to hold the reception if we hold the ceremony on this side of Tagaytay (Batangas side). So again, we scratched this off our list.

3. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

Because this is a parish, this I think is the biggest church in Tagaytay located along the highway itself. This would be a great option for a big wedding because of its 1) proximity to the Tagaytay city center; 2) there are a lot of reception venues located near this church, 3) did I say it’s huge? haha. But Maan didn’t want a big church for our wedding, so yet again, we scratched this off our list. We didn’t even bother going there during our ocular.

4. ย Madre De Dios Chapel (Tagaytay Midlands)

We finally decided to give Tagaytay Midlands a visit along with our families. I’ve been to Highlands many times before but was never able to go down to Midlands so it was both our first time to see the chapel when we scheduled our visit there.

P-E-R-F-E-C-T-!

P-E-R-F-E-C-T-!

Our first impression of the church: PERFECT. ๐Ÿ™‚ The chapel was not as tiny as Caleruega or Chapel on the Hill as it comfortably sits around 200 guests. With its high painted white walls and ceiling contrasted by dark wooden beams, the coziness of this chapel is just perfect for a very solemn Tagaytay wedding. It also offers a great view of the Taal lake! What more can you ask for?! Maan also loved that the altar is not as “traditional” looking as with old churches. One of the drawbacks in choosing this chapel however is that it has a short aisle for the bridal march. But Maan seemed not to be deterred by this fact so we went for it and reserved the chapel the following week.ย (Here is a great write up from Weddings in the Philippines websiteย about the chapel)

Taal Lake View from The Veranda Clubhouse

Taal Lake View from The Veranda Clubhouse

A great feature of having your wedding in Madre De Dios is that you wouldn’t have a problem on choosing where to hold the reception as The Veranda clubhouse is just an escalator ride away! This is very convenient for all the guests since they don’t have to ride cars going to the reception after the ceremony. However, one downside to this is that you wouldn’t have a choice of a caterer since you’re limited to getting food and drinks exclusively from them.

Tagaytay Midlands Country Club (image taken from http://tagaytayhighlands.com)

Tagaytay Midlands Country Club (image taken from http://tagaytayhighlands.com)

So as early as late August last year (about 1 year and 4 months before the wedding) we already finalized WHEN and WHERE. Akala namin we’re going to breeze through the other decisions, but boy we’re we wrong! This was only half the journey, but half is really not that bad is it? ๐Ÿ™‚

Below are some pictures I took when we went to Midlands for our second ocular and food tasting this August (one year after booking it!). There was a wedding about to happen that afternoon so the place was set-up already! Too bad it was raining hard that time (Habagat hay..) so the view wasn’t that spectacular as we first saw it last year.

Contact Details

Madre De Dios Chapel, Tagaytay Midlands
banquets@tagaytayhighlands.com
+63ย (46) 483-3657|+63 (46) 483-0820 / 3657
http://www.tagaytayhighlands.com/

Maan’s Birthday Dinner at Cova

Maan recently celebrated her birthday and is now officially OLDER than me. Haha. And yet again, we celebrated it with our favorite activity together…EATING! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cova Tapas y Sangria

Cova Tapas y Sangria

We ate at Cova Tapas y Sangria, a contemporary, modern spanish restaurant & bar at Jupiter St., Makati known for one of the best tapas and sangria in town. Being the self-proclaimed foodie that she is, and professing her love for Spanish dishes & SANGRIA, she has been EGGING me to bring her to Cova (because she read this & this) for the longest time. So again, dahil birthday nga naman niya, reservations were made and we had one of the best dinners we’ve had. ๐Ÿ˜€

Earlier that day, I finally bought a new camera, a Canon EOS M, which I’ve been thinking of buying for ages. Matagal ko nang gusto, pero naghihintay lang ng sign kung bibili na ba talaga ako. A few days before Maan’s birthday, while searching in the mall for a gift, I saw that it was on sale. Let me repeat for emphasis, ON SALE. Haha. So I then called Maan, and spoiled my surprise and told her I have a gift for me the birthday girl. Or was it really a gift for myself? Haha, ako na ang may birthday.ย I then explained to her how great this camera was, and what great pictures we’ll have in Japan this December!

So we tried out the camera that night…and hence these pictures capturing our great night, in low light, vivid colors and a low depth of field. ๐Ÿ™‚

Capturing a moment when you were exactly 28 years old

Capturing a moment when you were exactly 28 years old

Shine bright like a diamond (how cliche haha)

Shine bright like a diamond (how cliche haha)

Testing the miniature/tilt-shift effect

Testing the miniature/tilt-shift effect

Free bread is always welcome

Free bread is always welcome

Pintxo de Queso Frito: fried gruyere, honey, caramelized onions

Pintxo de Queso Frito: fried gruyere, honey, caramelized onions

Gambas Racion - shrimp! :)

Gambas Racion – shrimp! ๐Ÿ™‚

Salpicao Ternera: Wagyu beef salpicao, the best salpicao I've ever tasted, and probably the priciest too. haha

Salpicao Ternera: Wagyu beef salpicao, the best salpicao I’ve ever tasted, and probably the priciest too. haha

Huevos Cabreados: Fried eggs, shoestring potatoes, crispy chorizo, alioli - SARAP!!!

Huevos Cabreados: Fried eggs, shoestring potatoes, crispy chorizo, alioli – SARAP!!!

Arroz Negro: soft shell crab, mussels, squid, prawns, alioli - not really my favorite paella but the black ink is definitely worth trying

Arroz Negro: soft shell crab, mussels, squid, prawns, alioli – not really my favorite paella but the black ink is definitely worth trying

Apple Bunuelos: regular apple fritters with speculoos dip

Apple Bunelos: regular apple fritters with speculoos dip

Since Maan is such a foodie (i.e. willing to try anything new, upcoming and the best food anywhere) and I’m just an eater, I’ve been telling her to write reviews here on our blog. I’ve never attempted in reviewing a food place,ย di naman kasi ako mapagkakatiwalaan sa ganyan, kasi para sa akin, lahat ng pagkain, MASARAP! ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha.

Here are some more pictures:

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Cova Tapas y Sangria: 22 Jupiter Street, Makati
Tel: (02) 478-9700

Birthday Parties

If you know me for quite a long time, you’ll know that I almost always mark my advancing age with a blast. Almost every year, I am lucky enough to have the chance to celebrate my birthday with a party! I don’t know why I always get to have a party on my own. Probably because I’m special in the family (haha, not a special child mind you), since I was born on November and the rest of the family were all born on July. While they celebrated their birthdays together every July, I had the whole month of November to celebrate mine. And almost every year, my birthday wish was to have a party with friends and family. ๐Ÿ™‚

So since today is my birthday, maybe it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce the best parties I’ve had. ๐Ÿ™‚

The first party that I could at least remotely remember was my 3rd birthday party at Jollibee Greenbelt. I think we had jollispaghetti and a mocha cake. My memory from this party mainly comes from pictures, and the cake figurines of Jollibee and Champ I kept as souvenirs.

The next big party I had was during Grade 6 where my elementary friends came over at our house for a wild and wet water balloon party, hahaha. So juvenile, right? Haha. But we had so much fun! So since then, I had an annual party at my house with friends and family coming over for dinner, and later on for some drinks.

Highschool soon came up and my annual party became the annual inuman of the barkada. Yep, I celebrated my 15th to 17th birthday drunk. Haha. Sometimes we’d climb up our roof, even our water tank. Still so juvenile.

I only missed holding a party on my 18th birthday since I was stuck in Manila, studying for a lab exam in Biology. So the following year, my mom and dad treated me to a BIG party again at our house, debut style, haha, complete with 19 tequila shots!

I had the biggest surprise on my 20th birthday when Maan, Sheng, Sandee and the rest of my med friends organized a surprise party for me at Rob 7th Floor with all my classmates invited! It was the first and only time that I had one, and the feeling was so surreal. I couldn’t believe na naitago nila sa akin yun. Haha.

They later confessed that they would announce the details of the party to the whole class whenever I would go to the CR or outside the lecture room to get food. Hahaha, kudos to all of you! ๐Ÿ™‚

I celebrated my 21st birthday at Ultra Complex during the Palarong Med, an annual sports competition among med schools in NCR. I didn’t have time to organize a party that year, but I got one of the best birthday present I’ve ever received: our volleyball team won 1st place, and so did many other UP Med varsity teams! Championship trumps a party anytime, hehe.

Maan and I had our first joint party when we celebrated our 22nd birthday together. ย We called it The Ge & Maan’s Party, a.k.a. The Priors’ Party since we were both Brother and Sister Prior in the fraternity/sorority that year. We held it in my house, served lots of food and booze, and it was great that our friends, brods and sisses, came all the way from Manila to QC for our party! Saya!

I didn’t really feel like celebrating on my 23rd birthday since we were clinical clerks that year, and well, toxicity got the best of me. Haha. Celebrated my whole day with my blockmates (who surprised me with a chocolate cake!) and Maan (and ate at Cyma Greenbelt). No party again that year.

I was an Intern on my 24th birthday, and since it was my final year in med school, I pledged to hold an all-out wasakan party that year. So I asked the support of my Phi batchmates to celebrate my birthday as a half-way through internship party and called it after our batch name: The Half Life Stag! We rented out a mobile bar, asked them to double the alcohol content of the drinks so people would get really wasak after the party.

Soon found myself to be the one who was the FIRST wasak! Didn’t really remember most of what happened that night, but I’m pretty sure that I was happy. Hahaha. ๐Ÿ™‚

I spent my 25th birthday in Boracay as an island doctor. That was my first time moonlighting (ergo, I finally had my own moolah!), and also the first time I spent my birthday away from Metro Manila. Mam Girlie was so galante and prepared a great seafood and inihaw dinner for all of us! So even if I was away from home on my birthday, I did have a grand mini-party at Boracay! ๐Ÿ™‚

Last year was my 26th birthday and I vividly remember being stuck at the OR for an emergency operation. Unfortunately, I was on duty (kelan ba hindi, haha), ย but after our long OR, I went to Maan for while to find out that a caramel cake was waiting for me! Wee!

But I really didn’t bother to celebrate my birthday last year. I was a first year resident, I had no right. Haha.ย Pero siyempre, I couldn’t resist my batchmates, so I treated them and Maan in Don Henircos (para walking distance lang, pwedeng tumakas, haha!)

And so we end up to this year, my 27th birthday. Well, this I think was the most benign birthday I’ve had so far. I didn’t hold a party, but ย I had a birthday dinner pakain with Bjay ย for surgery batchmates at Yakimix and had fun serving food from Amber Restaurant at the Plastics office for the Plastics and Burn teams (sarap ng Pichi-pichi!). Maan and I had dinner at Opus (thank you!!!), and the food was really really great! Topped the night with a Golden Spoon dessert, and Wreck-it-Ralph movie, where I slept in 50% of the time. Hahaha.

It’s really fun to bring back all these memories of my birthday parties. Makes me thankful to have all these great family and friends to share my birthdays with!

Don’t worry, next year I’m planning to hold one helluva party since it falls on a very special date: 11/12/13! Mazel tov everyone!

His and Hers

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On our first year of residency, I spent my birthday while, well, guess what…ON DUTY! But to make up for a very unfortunate life that we live, Maan surprised me by giving me a perfect present (despite our meager salary): a black Skagen watch! Siyempre di ako magpapatalo, haha, and gave her her own silver Skagen watch for Valentine’s day this year. Now we have our HIS and HERS matching watches!

On a sidenote, since we got together in 2004, we’ve already bought many matching things together like our blue converse shoes, black havaianas, keychains, messenger bags and cellphones! Hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

Stella/Slice/Jamba Juice on a Friday Night

Finally, after several weeks of bad, gloomy weather, yesterday was the perfect night to go out. Ge and I went to Bonifacio High Street Central. I love that place, there are just so many restaurants worth trying out. Traffic nga lang ang katapat when you’re coming from Manila on a Friday night.

We initially decided on eating at Nolita but it was jam packed by the time we got there. Buti na lang, or else I would have succumbed to eating so much carbs in the form of pizza and pasta. ๐Ÿ˜› We walked around and finally settled on this place called Stella. Apparently, it is from the company that brought us Museum Cafe, MoMo, Mr. Jones and Chelsea. We’ve tried all but Chelsea. We love Museum Cafe and MoMo but Mr. Jones absolutely sucked. Buti na lang Stella didn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚ Adjacent to Stella is the Rocket Room which is a bar which also serves food from Stella and some tapas and pica pica.

The thing unique about Stella and the Rocket Room is that it has a wood fired concept which lends its dishes a smoky kind of flavor. ๐Ÿ™‚

Complimentary bread with roasted tomatoes and herb dip

I got the crusty rye bread and Ge got the white dinner roll with the nipple. Haha! The dinner roll was soft and chewy on the inside which goes perfect with the dip. We had to control ourselves from getting second servings so when the waiter asked “more bread, maam?” I immediately answered no. Bago pa makaorder ulit yung katabi ko. ๐Ÿ˜›

The Stella Salad | Butter lettuce, crispy bacon, sundried tomato bits, candied rosemary pistachios, buttermilk chive-ranch dressing, malagos pecorino

A very refreshing salad! Still didn’t beat Cyma’s Roka Salata though. Ge said he would have enjoyed the salad more if we ordered the ceasar salad.

Stella’s Porchetta | Pork belly stuffed with double smoked bacon, fennel, herbs, served with warm rosemary sultana sauce

The serving size was huge. We were supposed to order two main dishes but the waitress politely informed us that one meal is good enough for two. This was their sosyal version of lechon kawali. The pork belly went well with the sultana sauce. However, kahit na masarap, we found this dish too laden with fat, even the sultana sauce was not enough to get rid of the nakakasuya taste. My brother would have enjoyed this pork dish, being the carnivore that he is. We were not able to finish the two huge chunks of pork that was served to us!

Roasted Seafood “Firecracker” Fusili | Spicy olive and sundried tomato cream, dried chiles, fire roasted seafood, fresh herbs, malagos ricotta

This was our best meal of the night! There were huge chunks of shrimps, salmon and squidlets. When ordering food, I would usually go for the spicy ones. Gerald only acquired liking spicy food when we got together. Food really is an acquired taste. ๐Ÿ™‚

We loved our Stella experience. The serving portions were big, and the price was not too expensive. The food presentation was also tastefully done.

For dessert, we headed to the other side of BHS Central…

There wasn’t anything I wanted in Slice that I thought would be worth the calories. So I headed to Jamba Juice beside it and ordered a Mango Peach Topper–yogurt parfait with mangoes, peaches, bananas, granola, muesli and nuts. When I went back to Ge nagulat ako at ang dami nyang inorder! Caramel cake, banana muffin with blueberries, and a Chocnut-coffee smoothie. The caramel cake was really yummy, it was worth the calories! The banana muffin reminded me of my mom’s baked goodies, moist and flavorful. The Chocnut-coffee smoothie had the distinct chocnut taste and it was not too sweet. My Mango Peach topper from Jamba Juice was disappointing though, masyadong maasim! i should just have gotten fro-yo from somewhere else…

Ang dami nya inorder!

Me and my Yogurt Parfait

Gerald and his Cake

Where can we find wedding cakes na caramel cake sa loob? ๐Ÿ™‚

Banana Blueberry Muffin

Mango Peach Topper–pero bakit bananas ang topping?

Yey, it’s a very long weekend and I’m not going to PGH! Woohoo!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Yay for Weekends!

The good thing about being a Patho rotator is that I don’t go on duty every three days and that I get free weekends! I went home to Sta. Rosa yesterday. It’s nice being at home, even if I just slept most of the time. Plus, I didn’t need to spend anything because Mom and Dad took care of that. Wehehehe. Here’s my weekend in pictures!

Boodle fight!

Lunch at Blackbeard Seafood Island in Solenad 2, boodle fight style! I really liked the pakbet, i think it’s one of the besk pakbets I’ve tasted. You can’t expect much from the rest of the food because they are just the usual inihaw. The presentation was creative though. And ang daming kanin, exag.

Yummy fat crab all to myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then I had to go back to Manila. On the way to our unit, we stopped by San Andres market to get some fruits. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 kilo of rambutan and three ripe, juicy, succulent mangoes for me!

Gerald went home to QC so I’m eating alone tonight. I bought some groceries and prepared a quick dinner– shrimp quesadillas. Ingredients that I used: whole wheat flour tortillas, pizza sauce, sauteed shrimp, sauteed onions, red bell pepper and mozzarella cheese. A quick and satisfying dinner, so easy to make. I’m loving whole wheat tortillas right now, they are so versatile and you can put just about anything you want in it. Plus, it’s an entire meal in itself. Medyo messy nga lang kainin.

And for dessert, one whole ripe mango. Normally I would have eaten a cake or a chocolate… Pero kailangan mag-tiis. Hehe. The mangga was good. ๐Ÿ˜€

I have the rest of the night to myself. I could study for the quiz tomorrow… or finish my report for Wednesday… but I chose to start a new series instead. Sherlock!

Hope to have more weekends like these!

Travel: US Summer Vacation 2008

Maan and I spent our summer vacation together last 2008 traveling around New York, New Jersey and Los Angeles! ๐Ÿ™‚ She just finished her summer clinical elective in Mount Sinai, NYC and I just came from the UP MedChoir tour around the US. It was a great to finally get around and travel together abroad for the first time. Well, hopefully this is not the last!