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July 10, 2017

App Review: CNNCT


Photo credit: EVG company

Having a place or an app to use when you want to connect to people around the world, learn their culture or simply seeing their environment is just amazing. Personally I use this app to divert my attention from my full time job which is sometimes exhausting for me. There are times I am bored and I am just going online on CNNCT and voila! My boredom has vanished! 

The concept of the app is to travel around the world while you're at home. Users can learn about other culture and many more. 

I had the privilege to chat with Igor Monakhov, a highly successful Russian IT entrepreneur, who founded the new video chat app CNNCT.

Me: Tell me about the people behind CNNCT.

Igor: It's a project very dear to me. I gathered a team of young, ambitious and open-minded people who share my vison.

Me: What inspired you to create CNNCT?

Igor: Well, I faced an interesting problem at a former project of mine. In 2011, the team Fotostrana, a photo sharing and social network website, asked me to deal with the fact that a lot of people were leaving their website. I had a look and realized that a lot of people were leaving because some users made them uncomfortable. You see, users on some website had very different goals. When someone like a married man or woman, or even someone happy in their relationship, is constantly confronted by people using the website as a dating site, they are uncomfortable. They just want to find pen-pals around the world, to discuss anything they feel like.

I felt touched by the issue. That's when I realized I had a solution. I want to create an application where people feel safe to chat and discuss. 

Me: What's the vision and mission of CNNCT?

Igor: The vision I have is of an application where people from around the world chat and discuss, make new friends, share interests and have inspiring and interesting conversation in a safe and cozy environment.

Me: How do you see CNNCT on the long term?

Igor: I believe that everyone has something worthwhile to say and everyone is worth listening to. We all have different areas of expertise and we should all have the opportunity to share our thoughts, our visions, or opinions. On CNNCT, everyone will have that opportunity. 

May 8, 2017

Kapihan: When Coffee is Life



I consider coffee as one of my vices and something I can never let go of. When I was still living in the city where coffee shops were very accessible, it wasn't difficult for me to indulge in such vice. Having coffee in the middle of the night while my eyes are busy reading the pages of my favorite book was my favorite thing to do. Many people say it's a waste of money but I always rebut, the happiness I get from that can never be replaced by money. Unfortunately, when we moved to the countryside where coffee shops aren't that accessible, mother in-law became my personal barista. It's not as good as the ones we have on Starbucks or Coffee Bean and others but still I can taste the goodness of it. 

Just recently, a coffee shop emerged! Yey! It is located at GM Reyes Building, Rosario Batangas, across from Hypermarket. My husband kept telling me about it but I wasn't that interested at first. Then one day, we just decided to go try it. I was expecting for the usual menu from the famous coffee shops but no. I am a cappuccino and a cafe americano lover and they don't have them so I thought of giving a try with what they have. I ordered a single pour over and from then on my heart was captured. 


There's nothing much special about it but the aroma got into me so I order that every time I go there. And it's just 60 php! I have tried their french press when single pour over was not available and it just brings me back to my morning coffees at hotels when I travel. 

The coffee shop named Kapihan offers not only coffee but varieties of snacks as well. 

cookie ice cream tower

muffin


And there's more! They have books if you like to read, not many choices though but still it can help you kill time and enhance your brain while having coffee. LOL!  They also have board games which you can enjoy with your friends and family. 

teens playing
us playing scrabble

my sisters in-law playing jengga

April 24, 2017

Puerto Princesa: Firefly Watching and Underground River Tour

Our city tour was really tiring but we didn't have a choice but to book our firefly watching tour that night because there's no more time. We have agreed to be picked up at the hotel at 7 pm because our schedule for the firefly watching was at 9 pm and the travel time is 45 minutes. Our city tour guide Kuya Bert was not feeling well that time so we were assigned to another driver, Kuya Nelson. The road to Iwahig Firefly watching was dark and there were many trees on the side of the road. I wanted to ask our driver to stop so I could take pictures of those big trees but I was little scared. LOL! 


Iwahig Firely watching was the highlight of our stay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. We were so close to nature and away from technology even for a short period of time. I brought my camera with me just hoping I could get a shot but I failed, so we just savored the moment. We had a fun time with Kuya Anton our boatman. He was quiet at first but when my husband started telling jokes, he started telling his as well. Not only we saw wonderful fireflies and how they responded to certain color of lights but we also had a short lecture on the solar system particularly constellations, but there's more! Kuya Anton told us that the river is full of plankton so my husband tried to soak his hand and there, the plankton showed up! Spectacular experience! 

We had dinner with our driver after our tour. Since the night was still young, we decided to have a drink before going back to the hotel. It's just heartwarming to have a full interaction with one of the locals of Puerto Princesa, there,we have heard authentic stories about the place. 

The next day was our schedule to Puerto Princesa Underground River. With the amount of beer I had that night, I was able to sleep tight and be fully energized for the next day's long trip. It's two hours away from the city by car. Our tour consisted of 11 tourists. Our tour guide Kuya Marlo was awesome! He made the long trip more exciting!

We had our stop over to have some snacks, use the rest room and also to stretch. The stop over was just picture perfect! 


We hit the road again after 30 minutes of stop. While on the road, Kuya Marlo gave us a lot of information about the mountains and caves that we passed by. We also had our stop at one of the tourist attractions on the road to underground river which is the Ugong cave. There, we climbed the cave which is a seventy-five-foot limestone formation. I have fear of heights but with Kuya Marlo's encouragement, I tried it! It was one of my heart-wrenching experience! 

 Kuya Marlo loves taking pictures with my camera so every time there's a chance, he would say, "Let's take a picture" LOL

It is called ugong gave because when you tap the cave's entrance, it will make a roar-like sound.

 With proper equipment, gloves and helmet, we were good to go up. As I have mentioned on my earlier post, we needed to use gloves to prevent contamination of the cave.



The above photos are just one examples of rock formation. Sorry I'm not good at taking those. Huhu!


Our tour guides never cease to ask us to pause for a photo! They are just so welcoming and they want us to experience the best of it!


After braving the cave, there we are at the top with that spectacular view! Those three ladies were part of our tour group. Pardon me but I forgot their names,I'm so bad at remembering names, however we had a very nice tour with them. After this we rolled again to underground river. It's near as we can already feel the sea breeze. 

April 10, 2017

Our Trip To Puerto Princesa


The day has finally came for us to travel to Puesto Princesa, Palawan. I booked our plane ticket in August last year so we had enough time to prepare for everything especially for our expenses. 

It was my first time traveling domestically without delays. Our flight was on schedule and we even arrived 10 minutes earlier in Puerto Princesa Airport. Our airport pick up seemed to have arrived early and we were dropped off at the hotel. After taking a rest for a few hours we went to Robinson's Mall to buy some foods and slippers for my husband; it's a grocery which is good for our entire stay! Lots of beer of course. haha! After we were headed back to the hotel to take a longer rest. 

At night, we went to baywalk to have our dinner. It's surprising to see how clean the place is and also how cheap the food was! 

my husband thinking which one to eat first :D
We wanted to find a bar to drink but we went out late so most have already closed. We just went back to the hotel to take a rest and be ready for our next day's tour.  While on our way back, we met a tricycle driver who offered us a city tour for the price of 800 which my husband and I both thought it was good. 

We were picked up at the hotel at around 10 am as I just finished working. It was late and the weather was hot but then I though if we won't do it today, we might not be able to find time the next days. Our driver first brought us to Plaza Cuartel, a place were the burning of American soldiers during the World War II happened. I felt the chill while going around this place. My mind just went, thank you Americans for dying for the Philippines. 

Near the Plaza Cuartel is the Puerto Princesa Cathedral.


Our next stop was at the Butterfly Garden. It was a very nice place to visit as it is so close to nature. Of course, there are so many butterflies around and some bugs and insects that can only be seen in Palawan. 




My husband had a good interaction with those insects! LOL! While the tour guide was explaining something about those insects we were called to join a group of tourist having a discussion about the Palaw-an tribe.


 

March 30, 2017

Hotel Review: Palawan Palm Suites

Palawan Palm Suites is located near Puerto Princesa International Airport. If I'm not mistaken it's less than 10 minutes by car. I booked the hotel through travelbook.ph and the reason I did so was because of the discount offered. The original price is 4,200 php for 3 nights but I got it only for 2,560 php. The booking includes a superior room for 2, free breakfast and a round trip airport transfer.

A day before our flight I sent sms to them informing about our flight schedule. They were prompt enough to reply. We agreed that I will be keeping them posted if there are any changes on our flight. Fortunately, there wasn't any delay on our flight. Upon arrival at Puerto Princesa International Airport, I sent them sms that we've arrived but the driver was already there waiting for us. He was holding a card with my name on it. LOL! The driver was courteous enough  he even offered to carry our luggage even if my husband refused to. While on our way to the hotel, he gave us a lot of tips on what to do and where to go. We had a mini tour as I call it. The heat of the sun was making me uneasy but his humor made my day.

The staff on duty on the hotel were welcoming. We were ushered to our room by one of the staffs. I was glad there were no elevators, in that way, we can exercise our legs when going up and down as I always gain weight when traveling. haha!



February 20, 2017

Movie Review: Hidden Figures


By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51342178
 Are you on the verge of giving up your job because of the flaws on your company? Have you lost your passion because of the struggles? Have you ever been discriminated because of some reason? Well, maybe Hidden Figures will rekindle the fire inside you to push yourself harder, love your job and be thankful for it. 

Hidden figures is a Hollywood true story set movie based on the book written by Margot Lee Shetterly set in the 1950's , the time when there is a huge difference when it comes to the color of the skin. This is the story of a three black women who made a name in science in the time when the United States is competing against Russia in conquering space, engineering and computers. Because of the brilliant minds, perseverance and the passion for their field of work no matter what kind of obstacle they face, Katherin G.Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, put them on top of everyone in NASA. 

Taraji P. Henson (Katherine G. Johnson) Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monae (Mary Jackson) gave the movie a life. Their superb acting will make you travel in time and feel how it is like to be treated differently. 

Jim Parsons (Paul Stafford) will make you feel the anger as he played very well as Katherine's foe in NASA's Space Task Group. I remember him very well from Big Bang Theory and I was expecting he will do a very good job in Hidden Figures and he did. 

I won't forget Kristin Dunst who portrayed Vivian Mitchel and who also became Dorothy Vaughan's greatest challenge for promotion. You might want to punch your screen every time they have a scene together. 

You will definitely love Kevin Costner's role in the move. He played Al Harrison the head of the Space Task Group. I won't forget what he said in the movie "Here at NASA, we all pee the same color." I was teary-eyed upon seeing this scene. 

Kudos to the people behind this movie, Director Theodore Melfi, screenplay writers Allison and Theodore Melfi. These are the kinds of movies people of today must see. 

I really appreciate my husband for recommending me this movie!

February 6, 2017

Baley Park Bar and Grille, Vigan

Our trip to Vigan on the New Year is considered one of the best we had. Not only we felt a stress-free life but also the sumptuous food the place has to offer. Let's start it off with the restaurant of the hotel we stayed at. Upon reaching the hotel, we were dead tired and hungry because of the long trip. We asked the bell boy if they have a restaurant and he ushered us at the back of the hotel, where the swimming pool is also located. The restaurant is very spacious; an open restaurant where you can't hear the busy national highway because of the big trees surrounding it and which serves as a shade as well. 

My husband and I ordered bulalo (beef shank soup) and of course their famous poqui-poqui for our late lunch and early dinner since we arrived late at the hotel. Beef shank soup is a very famous soup here in the Philippines and there are many different versions depending on the place. Since I was born in the north, my tastes buds still cheer for the northern Philippines' version.

beef shank soup

Poqui-poqui is a grilled eggplant then sauted with garlic, onion, tomatoes and egg favored with just salt and pepper. I know my husband is picky when it comes to veggies but I was surprised when he started devouring it after tasting it! LOL! 

poqui-poqui
Because we had a delicious lunch and dinner at Baley Park, hence we ate there again the next day. One order of their dish is good for 3-4 pax so we decided to have just two orders and just one rice each as we will have difficulty finishing them again. We ordered pinakbet and fried chicken for lunch. I was looking forward to their pinakbet because that's one of my comfort food during my childhood days. Pinakbet is dish comprising mainly of eggplant, ladyfinger, squash, and bitter gourd. You can flavor it with chicken, pork or beef. It's slowly cooked until tender. I can say that this restaurant never failed my taste buds. Even the fried chicken was really delicious! My husband loved them very much! 

Pinakbet 
We forgot to take a photo of the fried chicken before we murdered it. hahaha! 

Aside from the delicious meal they offer, our free breakfast come from this restaurant too. They served as their famous Vigan longganisa, egg, rice and coffee. Who wouldn't look forward to waking up in the morning and smelling longganisa for breakfast? I definitely would! 

If you plan to visit Vigan, try to eat at this restaurant, not only it's cheap, but the food they serve will definitely make you fall in love with Vigan. It's located at the back of Mel Sol's hotel along Bantay Ilocos Sur.

I wanted to meet the chef but my husband was shy enough to do so! Who ever you are, thank you for making us feel at home with your dishes!


January 17, 2017

Year-end Travel: Vigan

It's been my tradition to go somewhere during the holidays and months before it, I've already booked for accommodation since I know how hard it is to find a place to stay during the peak season. Originally, I should be traveling alone but my husband decided to come at the last minute. After our long wait and long journey by bus, we finally reached our destination on the 30th of December, 2016 at around 5pm. 

Day, 1: December 30, 2016 

We ate first upon checking- in. We rested for a while after, took a shower and went to Calle Crisologo. It is where you can find the old houses from the Spanish era. Even they looked old, it was such an amazing view. It's like going back in time looking at those houses.


We enjoyed taking a walk, looking at shops and restaurants there. The street was so busy and crowded with so many tourists. After spending time there, we decided to look for the place where they sell only the famous Vigan empanada. They call it empanadahan.  It was already late at night but the place is still crowded. We wanted to eat but there are no more seats so we just looked around. 

A lady making empanada
We went back to Calle Crisologo and settled to eat at Cafe Leona. We had vegan pizza and beer. It is one of the yummiest pizza I've ever eaten.

Hubby enjoying his beer with vegan pizza roll

After making ourselves tired from walking, we headed back to the hotel.

January 9, 2017

Review: Partas Transportation Company, Incorporated



Traveling by bus is still very popular nowadays in the Philippines as it is still considered one of the cheapest as long as you are patient enough to go through the hassle and bustle before you reach your destination especially during the peak season. I planned "my" trip to Vigan 2 months in advance so I won't have a hard time fighting over the internet in booking accommodation and so on. As it is my first time to go to the other side of the Northern Philippines, I wanted to book my bus ride in advance as well. I tried using online booking but it didn't allow me to book. It says, there's no advance booking from December 21st until January 2nd hence I asked my husband to stop by the bus terminal when he went to the city, unfortunately, it was the same. He was told passengers will just have to go to their terminal and wait for buses. Being said, I gave up my thought of not having an agonizing time before reaching my destination.

January 5, 2017

Hotel Review: Mel Sol's Inn and Resort



Booking a place to stay in advance is very time consuming especially when you're traveling during the peak season. I initially planned of traveling by myself since my husband and I can't make a solid decision of leaving our dog behind. Hence, I booked a place for two just in case we make our minds up. 

It was a bit difficult for me to find an accommodation using booking sites as most of the hotels were the expensive ones. I tried looking on travel blogs and I got a list of hotels from the cheapest to the most expensive. Most of the 3 star hotels don't have online booking. I always prefer online booking when I travel as I don't want to go through the hassle of paying the counter when checking out. 

It's a good thing I found out that Mel Sol's Inn and Resort is using travelbook.ph which I often use because of the conveniences plus discounts and bonuses when you book through them.