Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Crescent Moon Cafe & Pottery

November 2nd, 2014 No comments

A few months back a friend told me about a place that she found that you can buy dishes and other pottery pieces called Crescent Moon. Then another friend went and I saw her dishes and wanted to go see for myself what they have. You have to make reservations for lunch. The lunch was tasty and filling and cost about 400 pesos. We were able to explore the grounds, see people making the pottery at different stages and then got to purchase either direct from the store, or in the back were there are pieces that are slightly damaged and you pay 220 pesos per kilo.  I think I may need to take another trip to Crescent Moon!

Warehouse area where the pottery is put into molds and inspected

Warehouse area where the pottery is put into molds and inspected

A bunch of pottery after it has been in the kiln and before painted

A bunch of pottery after it has been in the kiln and before painted

Hand painting each bowl

Hand painting each bowl

This bathroom pottery set I almost bought for just over $40, but it doesn't match my bathroom so I passed

This bathroom pottery set I almost bought for just over $40, but it doesn’t match my bathroom so I passed

We saw items being made for The Spa, Cafe France, Shangri-La Boracay, and other resorts. Maybe I’ll go back again and buy plates for the future…after we are out of the infant/toddler stage of life where things just get broken.

Categories: Philippines, Reviews Tags: ,

Day Trip to Eagle Point near Batangas

November 4th, 2012 No comments

Matt has great co-workers that tell him about places to go and things to try.  He has a co-worker in California who married a Filipina, so they return to the Philippines often and recommended a resort owned by his brother in-law called Eagle Point.  With it being the “All Saints Day” holiday, we decided to take a day trip to that resort.  The drive was about 1.5 hours away, and being from Texas we are use to having to drive to get anywhere!

Because it was a holiday we wanted to treat our household help, so we took them along for a “vacation” type of day and to also help with the kids so Matt and I could enjoy ourselves as well.  (They had the actual holiday off on Thursday, but the day after they came to work…think of it as Thanksgiving day as the holiday, and then Black Friday was the day that we took our day trip)

Something we were not aware of was the tolls on the road.  It was a lot like traveling in Europe where we kept having to stop on the freeway to pay tolls.  We paid about $8 each way just in tolls.


Day trip to Eagle Point from Makati, Manila = 100 minutes drive with no traffic one way.

Loading up in the “shuttle” to take us from the parking lot to the resort

Kalani helping her dad out with sunscreen so he won’t get burn.

Matt trying to get Kalani to snorkel in the pool with the black tip sharks…she didn’t want to do that.

Matt did get Kalani to snorkel with him out in the ocean.

Mason also tried snorkeling in the ocean with his mom.

The resort is called “Eagle Point” and they had about 6 “Filipino Eagles” there and a few other birds as well in their aviary.

The kids (and adults) really enjoyed this slide

Since we spent the day at the resort, we ate at their lunch buffet.  It was pretty good food with a decent selection and reasonably priced.  We spent around $65 for 5 adults and 2 children to swim, snorkel and eat lunch.  We will most likely return to this resort again and probably stay the night so we don’t have to be in the car for 3-5 hours in one day.


The Mind Museum

November 4th, 2012 No comments

When Matt and I came on a house hunting trip to the Philippines in September, we were told about The Mind Museum.  I love taking the kids to museums and letting them learn while having fun.  So, we spent a couple of hours there and had Kalani bring along a friend she met at church.

Learning about static electricity

Crazy mom hair!

Kalani inside a large bubble

Mason making a bubble “just like his sister”

The museum wasn’t super cheap, but it was a needed activity for our family.  You can only do the same things a number of times at the temporary housing before you get stir crazy.  It was also a bit upsetting that we paid $11-$15 person and could only be there during a certain 3 hour time frame.  But, the museum was pretty cool and there were things that we didn’t get around to seeing or doing.  I’m sure that we will attend again before we leave the country.



Bumalik sa sa Pilipinas

October 9th, 2011 1 comment

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of visiting the Philippines for the first time and wrote a short blog post about it here.  Luckily, I was able to return for a second business trip the last two weeks of September.

This second trip was long enough to permit a weekend with my brother Drew, who is serving a two year LDS mission in the Cagayan Valley (a one hour flight from Manila).  It was great to spend some quality time with my brother after not having seen him for nearly two years.  It was also fun to see him as a missionary, participate in missionary activities, and hear him speak Tagalog fluently.  He finishes his mission in December 2011 and will then attend university at BYU Hawaii.

Similar to the last trip, I was taken yet again by the kindness and warmth of the Filipino culture.  I guess you could call it culture shock, but with a positive connotation.  This alluring contrast was even more pronounced in the small city of Tuguegarao where Drew lived.  Over the weekend he taught me a few phrases in Tagalog which served me well throughout the trip (‘How’s it going?’ ‘Thank you sir’ ‘Yes sir’ ..etc..)  Most of these attempts at Tagalog were received with a very surprised smile and a bit of laughter.

The photos below illustrate some of the highlights of the trip, and the rest can be found here.

This map shows where Drew is serving his mission (Tuguegarao), and where Tia's grandparents are from (near Cebu).

The Peninsula Hotel is almost too good. It's hard to leave and come back to reality.

Security "bomb dogs" sniff any baggage coming in and out of major buildings (hotels, offices, etc).

This monument at RCBC Plaza is to commemorate Phillipine independence (July 4, 1946)

Drew's apartment in Tuguegarao. Most of his neighbors are college students.

Tuguegarao City. The green building is the mall / market.

These taxi tricycles are the main method of transportation. They can pack in 5-8 Filipinos.

A traditional bamboo house and a traditional shoulder ride.

Maybe I'm bias because our kids are part Filipino, but the kids over there seem a lot cuter than the ones in the states.

A Saturday morning service project (weeding / clearing land). I'm holding a traditional local dish -- hot chocolate made straight from the bean. It was a sweaty 95' degrees and we are drinking hot chocolate and they are wearing jackets (apparently trying to avoid a tan, light skin is more attractive in their culture).

Dinner with a nice family from Church. The second boy from the left is named "Fourteenio" because he's the 14th kid in the family, and born on November 14th, 1994. (I was also born on Nov 14!)

First trip to Asia

June 15th, 2011 1 comment

It wasn’t quite the Thrilla in Manila, but I was fortunate enough to visit the Philippines on a week-long business trip. My younger brother Drew has been over there for 18 months as an LDS Missionary and has shared some great stories in his letters.  Also, my father in-law Jeff is Hawaiian Filipino, which means Kalani and Mason have a dash of Filipino in them.

Our hotel: The Peninsula

As a family we’ve visited Hawaii several times and do a decent job of exposing the kids to the Hawaiian culture, but we haven’t done so much on the Filipino side.  The trip turned out to be very rewarding, both culturally and from a business perspective.  Below are some of the thoughts and impressions I’ve brought home to share with the family:

A culture of kindness — the never ending smiles, customer service, genuine desire to please, thoughtful respect, happiness without regard for material possessions:

  • Everywhere we went, we were greeted with a glowing smile accompanied by a “Hello Sir!”.   Everyone seemed eager to interact, help, answer questions, or assist in any way possible. Contrast this with our recent trip to Europe and it’s a night and day comparison.  Often times in Europe, you feel like you’re ruining someone’s day by asking them a question.  It was quite refreshing to have the opposite experience in Asia.
  • One evening a hotel employee knocked on my door asking if I’d like him to prepare the room for sleeping (change the pillows, etc).  I wanted to decline, but I could not say no to the eager anticipation on his face.  His body language seemed to imply that it would have been a major let down if I had told him no.  After prepping the room he ended with a big smile and “Please sir, is there anything I can do to further assist you?!”
  • I was often asked if I’m rooting for Miami or Dallas in the NBA Playoffs.  Not only did they want to make conversation, but they love basketball in the Philippines.  Everyone plays it, courts are ubiquitous.  One waitress gave me a laughing smile and high five when I told her she was getting no tip because she was rooting against my team (Miami).
  • When the airplane was pulling off the runway, the entire ground crew assembled in formation to provide an animated farewell wave to the passengers on the plane.  (Could you ever see that happening in the states?)
  • When shopping or dining, the staff was always quick to assist, but never too pushy or rude.
  • Just to reiterate how pleasant these people are: A janitor at a cafe one evening had the biggest grin while cleaning the restrooms and simultaneously dancing to the music being played outside.

We sometimes hear of the positive effect laughter can have on health, stress, and mood.  I would venture to say that a similar phenomena exists when exchanging smiles.  When someone smiles at me I can almost feel a small boost of energy, enthusiasm, and stress relief. When everyone around me is smiling, like in the Philippines, I can tangibly feel it lifting my spirits.

Other Thoughts / Activities / Stories

Greenhills Mall - Pearl Shopping

  • One evening while shuttling from the office back to our hotel, a convey of police and SUVs followed has up to the hotel doorstep.   Security guards kept us at bay while the President of the Philippines made his way into the hotel (for a meeting?).  About an hour later on our way out to dinner the President made his exit and walked by us at only an arm’s length or so (he still had an entourage with him).
  • Security is much higher in the Philippines than it is back home.  I’m not sure if this is merely a scare tactic to keep crime in check, or if there is enough crime to warrant the extra security (or some combination of the two?).  Upon entry to the hotel or the office, we are stopped and inspected by bomb sniffing dogs and metal detectors.  Each floor in the office high-rise has its own security guard. Additionally, most retail stores have their own security guard.  Someone asked if I felt insecure while out and about due to all the security, but it actually had the opposite effect.  I felt quite secure thanks to all the guards.
  • We spent a day touring our geothermal operations.  This renewable source of energy is fascinating to learn about, and even more interesting to see in person.
  • A local co-worker invited me to come play basketball with some other employees one evening.  I anxiously took him up on his offer and had a great time.  The court was a high quality roofed / open-air court in Forbes Park, Makati (one of the nicest parts of town).  It’s kind of neat to think that I’ve now played basketball in four countries:  USA, France, Scotland, Philippines.
  • Pearl shopping is a common tourist attraction thanks to the near-market low prices found in Manila.  A couple co-workers took us to a large bazaar of sorts and helped negotiate good prices on South Sea and Freshwater Pearls for our spouses.  It doesn’t sound too exciting writing it here, but it was actually one of the more entertaining cultural experiences we had.  (the sheer size of the shopping area was astounding)
  • When watching Filipino TV, you’ll notice that the dialog switches mid-sentence between English and Tagalog.  There doesn’t appear to be a rhyme or reason as to when the switch between the two languages should occur.  This back and forth is apparently called “Taglish” and is a common form of communication.  When pulling money from an ATM, it prompted me to pick from two languages: English or Taglish.  It was also interesting to watch the NBA Finals on TV being called by local announcers switching between English and Tagalog.
  • When I asked why Filipinos speak such good English and have great accents, I was told it’s due to all the American TV they watch (in addition to their adoration of American pop culture).
  • Piracy is the norm without any social stigmas.  In our airline lounge on the way home, they were showing a bootleg copy of the movie Thor, which was still in theaters back home.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any adherence to traffic lanes when the streets get congested.  Nor is there any concept of a fluid merger (most people are cut off with only inches to spare).  Luckily, there isn’t much road rage and we always have an assigned company chauffeur.
  • The weather was similar to Houston, Texas, with a bit more humidity.
  • It wasn’t too surprising that we were stared at wherever we went, but one of the more memorable occasions was when a local girl exclaimed “Maximooooo!!!!” as our 6’7″ Scottish co-worker passed by.  (We then named our 5′-something English co-worker “Minimo”)

Overall the trip was very educational, fun, and productive.  Due to the travel distance I was not able to go visit Drew up north in Cauayan, but there may be other opportunities to do so in the near future.  If nothing else, he will be able to share the Filipino culture with our family as the kids get older and want to learn more about their heritage.

Jeepneys are a very common form of transportation

Makati City is one of the nicer parts of Manila

Categories: Reviews, Travel Tags: , , ,