Out to Taal Lake! (Club Balai Isabel)

It was our first night to sleep in our apartment after having bought the sofa bed last Tuesday. As we had to be at the meeting place by 6:30 AM, we woke up at quarter to six because we still had to fix the clothes we had to bring. I had no difficulty sleeping in our new apartment, and I normally have a hard time sleeping in an unfamiliar place. I consider that as a good sign, then.

A lot of people who registered and agreed to attend bailed out at the last minute and I was really happy to hear that. It means less people to deal with (i.e. the unbearable noise), and I was looking forward to a relaxing day. Plus, as there were about 50 absentees, it meant that we had more chances of winning cool prizes from the raffle. Again, I do not have the biggest luck in games of luck, but as there were 100 plus prizes for less than a hundred participants, I highly doubt I wouldn’t be picked even once!

Entrance-slash-gate of Club Balai IsabelAfter an uneventful hour and a half ride (though it was fun because I was with my friends/officemates with me, having a laugh over the silliest things), we finally arrived in Club Balai Isabel, a resort located at the edge of Taal Lake in Talisay Batangas. The last time I was near the waters was in 2004 (February 15, 2004, to be exact) during a field trip for our Geology 1 class. And as far as I can remember, it was my first ever banca ride and it was a really scary experience, seeing the kelp (or whatever you call them) swaying in the dark waters below. Rumor has it that thatShake, Rattle and Roll” film, with the infamous undin, was shot in Taal Lake. I took that fact to heart, so even if I am a capable swimmer, I was (or am) still scared of the lake.

The famous 'façade' of Taal Volcano - Binintiang Malaki

A floating house in Taal Lake

That was the time I became aware that the famous view of Taal Volcano was not the real crater. “Binintian Malaki” and its dormant crater is the face of Taal, but the real crater was located somewhere else in the near middle of the Crater Island. I actually got to go inside the real crater and we were even allowed to bathe inside. Of course, I did not but I remember a courageous lady from another section, who willingly took the plunge in her cut-out swimsuit (to the delight of the boys in the group). It was nevertheless nice to be back in a familiar place after almost a decade.

Nice native details on the ceiling

With my officemates!

Very nice shot of Mon and I by Faye

On a different note, it has been quite a while since Mon and I joined a team outing. The last time was unfortunate because Mon has acquired amoebiasis from Clearwater in Clark, Pampanga and we vowed to never join any of the future outings. But as we were in desperate need of kitchen and household appliances for our new apartment, we were eager to join so that we no longer have to buy some of them. LOL Again, given that there were far fewer people who attended, the succeeding events were a breeze, with only two games to boot. A far cry from the HOURS of games conducted before. Sporadic raffles in between eventually brought us three things: an oven toaster, a rice cooker and a digital camera! It was my first time to win a raffle!

And we won a rice cooker, an oven toaster and a digital camera

Club Balai Isabel was a nice place, but we had high hopes with the food because when we were still in Makati earleir, Mon and I spoked with a random guy in the elevator, commending thir food and service. So imagine that come lunch time, the roast beef was like rubber, the pork still had a lot of hair on the skin, and the soup was a macaroni short of being a macaroni soup. It was really unappetizing and it did not help that when we were about to be served snacks at around 3:00 PM, we saw that the delivery truck had accidentally dropped the trays of sandwiches on the lawn. I did not bother eating a sandwich, because it was a station away from being a soil-wich (corny, LOL).

However, make no mistake because the environment itself was beautiful. There were a lot of fruit-bearing trees, but the signboards were very explicit in warning us with bold “NO PICKING OF FRUITS”. What do they dowith them? We had no idea because the ground was littered with overripe fruits. What a pity. =(

The biggest pool in Club Balai Isabel

Somebody's irritated =D

Yes, I had to sit on the grass

As we were given a lot of free time to roam around the area, we had to visit the lakeside and see the bigger pool. There were few people swimming but I assume it would have been full if only the other company were done with their teambuilding activities. It was difficult to get a closer shot of the ‘volcano’ because my camera was not skilled enough, all of us had a great time taking pictures, particularly jump shots under the sun.

Slayin' them all with my cheerleader jump!

 

I still have it, I guess LOL

 

We also had a dip in the smaller but nearest pool to us, and I think we were inside for more than an hour. An officemate unfortunately had a mishap as she stopped swimming in the middle of the pool, not knowing that it was the deeper part. It was scary and funny at the same time because Mon and I had to rush and help her get out of the water. I knew that she would drag me in the matter, had I tried swimming to get her, so I just went below her and walked her to the gutter.

 

Synchronized swimming LOL

 

Before leaving, somebody made us fill papers for a raffle, and it was for a free stay in their place for some days and nights. As it was a raflle, I definitely have a small chance. It was a free trip so I should not be complaining, but the food was really a letdown. I even heard that they are charging about a thousand pesos for a sinigang dish in the executive restaurant, yikes! We also highly doubt that they have prepared food enough for about a hundred people. If none were absent and backed out at the last minute, alas, we needed a miracle to have enough food for all os us. =D

Going home from Club Balai Isabel

*(Some photos were grabbed from Faye and Dale) =D

 

DIY alteration project on a rainy Saturday

Two weeks ago, Faye sent a Reddit link to me about a guy who became quite adept in altering his old and/or thrifted clothes. I’ve been wanting to try this project out, given that I have recently bought a sewing machine for my mother, but the busy graduation week last week prevented me from doing so. But as it rained so hard this Saturday afternoon and as I had no plans to go out, I had all the time I needed to experiment on some of my clothes that needed some revamping. The first two things I thought of working on was this retro-looking longsleeves and a pair of navy blue pants.

A 'before' shot of the MEXX longsleeves shirt

Before the drastic chop and alteration

The longsleeves was in a stretchable fabric, and I was quite worried over what kind of stitch to use. It  would only be the second time to sit in front of my mother’s sewing machine and I only used the basic, running stitch over a minor alteration on that previous occasion. Should I use the zigzag stitch or just stick to the running one? I have also tried using the tailor’s chalk to mark where I needed to cut and stitch the new seams together, but the fabric did not seem to have the slightest orange stain on it. I resorted to using a black ballpen and good thing that the marks were placed inside because I had mistakenly drawn a lot of stray ones.

The first cut was difficult. The length of the shirt was about five inches longer than what I would normally want it to be, so I had to cut it. From the tutorial, he went straight away sewing the marks, without putting on pins. However, I wasn’t that comfortable in doing the same thing, so I had to put on a lot of pins before sewing. I started with the armpit to the sleeves, then back to the armpit all the way to the newly-unfinished hem. I had a hard time sewing the sleeves, though, because I can barely fit the hole beneath the machine’s feet. I eventually got there somehow, and after several runs with the acting-up bobbin, I was able to hem the sleeves.
Holding the fabric with pins before sewingAs for the pants, I only got to wear the pair once on a Valentine’s night since buying it, but it stayed inside the closet since then. The fit was just weird, and even if it has been already altered by my beloved tailor, I still did not like how it sits on my behind. Frankly, I had no idea what to do with it while altering, but I just ran a half-inch adjustment from the crotch up to the hem. The sewing machine is not a heavy-duty/industrial type, so I was careful not to push it too hard and break a needle. Most of the time, I just manually move the wheel just to lock the stitches.I even altered this pair of L.O.G.G. pants for a better fitEt voilà! I think I have made a fairly good job with the alteration of this longsleeves to a short sleeves,  and changing a straight cut pants to a slim fit one. It was not as tasking nor difficult than I had expected. What was first a guinea pig garment for experimentation, actually turned out to be something I will definitely wear in the coming days. As for the pants, I am very sure that they will look nice with every pair of boots that I have. I might try altering two longsleeves tomorrow, that is if Mama will not use the sewing machine, as she was so inspired by my DIY work and will most probably alter a few garments of her own.

Altered MEXX Shortsleeves polo and altered L.O.G.G. by H&M navy blue pants

See you again in July!

Today is Mon and I’s 4th year and 5th month together and a few minutes after the clock had struck 12, he gave me a piece of paper with a note and a drawing of the Eiffel Tower and some French macarons from Max’s. =D First of all, I did not even know that these are called as such, and I initially thought that there was a mistake with the spelling (i.e. macaroons). The irony of a French major not knowing French food.

French Macarons from Max's

We had a plan to meet up with Ikle today because he is going back to China tomorrow until the semester ends in July. As it is still winter there, I decided to just give him one of the trench coats I bought last November online. I was in such a hoarding phase that I bough two black coats, with this one in the smaller side. It fits me snugly, but coats are not supposed to be like. It should have a little room for the clothing to move nicely and coat’s purpose is just for cover. I had thought that he would love it.

Black Zara Man double breasted trench coat

Ikle wearing the Zara Man trench coat I gave him

So Ikle arrived in Makati at half past 4PM, tugging his suitcase back for China. As he already planned to stay in the house of one of his friends he met in China until his flight tomorrow, he already brought all of his things with him. Over coffee and some pastry, we talked about what lies ahead of us in the coming months, and possible plans when he finally returns in July.

Coffee with Ikle before he returns to China

Ikle, Mon and Gina

Ikle, Gina and I

Ikle and I - Purple polo shirt, H&M black v-neck sweater, brick pants, Red Wing boots

I actually felt sad to see him go again, but his return in July is definitely a shorter wait than the year and a half when he first left. LOL It was so weird to see time fly so fast, as we all felt that he arrived just a week ago rather than three weeks. See you again, Ikle, and don’t forget to eat properly but avoid greasy Chinese food as much as you can!

A few hours later, Mon and I had our late dinner at Tempura Japanese Grill right across Ayala Avenue, from our office building. I was still admittedly full but it was already late and we can’t put off dinner for another hour.

Tempura Japanese Grill

Waiting for our food to arrive

We did not order much but we still had a little difficulty finishing everything off: chiken roulade, mixed tempura, agedashi tofu and kaisen raisu.

Chicken roulade, mixed tempura. agedashi tofu and kaisen raisu - dishes from Tempura Japanese Grill

We barely finished eating the rice and tempura, and I was already gasping for air. I was really full. I honestly felt bad leaving something on the plate, as my siblings and I grew up being told not to leave even a single morsel. It eventually showed in my face and Mon had to ask me what was the matter. LOL All in all, it was a good day, even if it meant saying goodbye again to my friend for a few months. Happy 4Y5M again Mon! <3

Time warp: Happy Halloween!

I had little recollection of anything fashion-related in the 90s, except for distinct shoulderpads and distinct baroque prints done by Gianni Versace when he was still alive (R.I.P.). But apparently, while I was busy oggling over my Disney and Japanese-imported (and Tagalized) cartoons, there was a huge craze over the the little black backpacks done by Prada. I had no memory of such but  whenever I Google “Prada nylon backpacks”, there was always a 90s reference to it. Just before the turn of the decade (and the millenium) in 1999, the movie ‘10 Things I Hate About You‘ had an oft-quoted Prada backpack reference on it:

Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) as Bianca with her epiphany over a Prada backpack in 10 Things I Hate About You - with Gabrielle Union and Joseph Gordon Levitt

When I first watched the movie (I was already in high school), I had no idea what the analogy was about, but I definitely knew what Skechers was. I literally begged for a suede pair as a Christmas gift from my mother and that was the most expensive thing I’ve owned at that time.

Years later when I began being interested with bags, I never considered owning a nylon Prada backpack because: 1) the size of the bags I always see is tiny and some even have this leather-and-chain straps on them, 2) they seemed very dated to me as something that should be left in the 90s, and 3) a backpack was no longer an option, given my unfortunate experience of having my cellphone stolen when I had last owned one. But as they always say, “Never say never”. Yesterday, something arrived for me and I finally have my own big Prada backpack. The 90s is now officially alive in my books. =)

Big Prada Nylon and Saffiano Leather Backpack - Manila, Philippine

Bench polo shirt, my 'favorite' black H&M sweatshirt and black Prada nylon and saffiano leather backpack - Manila, Philippines men's fashion

I wish I could find a nice Prada Trick Robot to attach on that D-ring (Photo from Polyvore)

Wearing all-black today does not only signify the Halloween-ness of the atmosphere as it is October 31; but also exactly a year ago (and approximately within the hour), my grandmother peacefully passed away. I can’t believe that it has been already a year when I was surprised by a phone call from my brother telling me that Nanay has already died. It was one big blur and I remember immediately rushing home from work (because it was a holiday), while we waited in our house for the coffin to arrive.

Our tree was already out of the box - Manila, PhilippinesKnowing the results of my examinations yesterday made me extra emotional because I remember that when I graduated from grade school in the 90s and high school in early 2000, my grandmother was the one always present in every ceremony. And when I finished college in 2007, and she was already very sick that time, she even managed to congratulate me from her wheelchair. Come 2013 when I attend the rites for finishing graduate school, my grandmother won’t be there. But I know she’s in a much better place now, and my parents will finally be personally attending mine. =)

Well on a different note, I noticed that our Christmas tree has been already taken out of the storage room and just waiting for ornaments to be put on it. ^_^ I expect that the Holiday season will go on full throttle once the All Saints Day and All Souls Day are finally over. I’m actually looking forward to decorating the tree this weekend.