Another Reason to Love Davao

September 13th, 2014


How’s your weekend so far? From where I’m writing, it’s drizzling and I don’t like it.  Had a long week with two assignments, a blog advertising job ( yes!), and of course, my perpetual duty as a mother that I was hoping to get out of the house.

Unfortunately, I’m doomed to stay indoors. Well, maybe some armchair travel will elevate my drowsy spirit this Saturday.

Would you like to join  me?

I’ll take you to an island that I’m hoping to be close to where I live. Dreaming of going to the beach, images of Samal Island keep scrolling in my hazy mind.

The Garden City of Samal as it is known, is one of the reasons why everyone should visit Davao.

Take me here right now please..



We live in a country that undoubtedly has the best islands. Too many count to be honest but hey, not all of them are conveniently located. Not Samal, it is less than 15 minutes from the wonderful city of Davao.

This is my second time to visit the island yet. It still impresses me to enjoy the island without spending too much time. Left Radisson Davao at 10, took a cab with fellow bloggers to the pier and in a few minutes, the beach!

By the way, this is where we took a boat to Samal. Literally beside an oil depot, but not a sight of oil swimming in the water. Davao is very clean.


Because I’m getting older and I don’t have extra clothes, no swimming for me. I’m fine with the sight of the sea, the gentle breeze, the soft sand underneath my feet, and great good company.


If you are in Davao and you happen to be free on a morning, let us say, you’re appointment is still in the afternoon, you can absolutely get away and be back in the city in no time. With this, there is no reason to skip Samal Island whenever you’re in the city.

Till next time Samal Island! Thanks to be my fellow bloggers – Chamee, Renz, Sarah, and Glen for tagging me along!



I would like to take you back to my first Samal adventure..if you are like, here are the links

Davao Day 2 ( Samal Inland Tour)

Davao Day 3 ( Samal Island Tour)

Samal Island’s Hagimit Falls



RoRo Schedule San Carlos City to Cebu ( Toledo)

September 7th, 2014


Tracking this blog’s traffic, my post on RoRo schedule from Bacolod to Iloilo (and vice versa) is a constant “hit” among visitors.

Thus, it gave me an idea to post the schedules from San Carlos to Cebu via Toledo. I know they’ll come in handy because it took me so much time researching online for the schedule when we drove all the way to Cebu last July.




Here is the schedule for the RoRo from San Carlos to Toledo, Cebu and vice versa.



We missed the 7:30am trip during our quick trip to Cebu because from their website, it says it only serves during peak season. As of this writing, there is a 7:30am trip. I suggest you call them first for reservation and for fees for your vehicles.

Again, their website gave the wrong number. We called this number , (034) 729-8040.

If you don’t have any car, there is a fastcraft to get to your destination quicker. I took this years ago. Just in case you would like to know the schedule for fast-craft from San Carlos to Cebu, here it is



Hope you find these information useful! Have a good trip!


Related posts…

RoRo Schedule Iloilo-Bacolod

Why I love Road Trip

Road Trip to Dumaguete


Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival at The Promenade

September 3rd, 2014


One of Iloilo’s top restaurants, Days Hotel Iloilo’s The Promenade offers a gastronomic festivity to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival or the Moon Cake Festival with lunch and dinner buffet featuring Chinese specialities as well as moon cakes.

To give you a background of this Chinese festival, you may want to read this.


Moon cakes for you to love



…as well as to share with your loved ones



Ilonggos all look forward to The Promenade’s lunch and dinner buffet menu. For this celebration, all lovers of Chinese cuisine will be in food heaven.


Yours truly got a chance to enjoy the festivity with a lunch buffet last Monday.

Let’s start this virtual food tour shall we? Let’s begin with the appetizers.




They had Shredded Meat Soup, freshly baked breads, and this delightful Golden Shrimp Balls.



Love tofu? This is a nice nibbling treat – Stuffed Bean Curd! The dragon carving adds to the over-all flair of the plate.



Dimsum lovers -steaming hot siomai. They also have siopao.



If you want something light, go for salads. The Promade has an organic salad bar, fresh from their very own, Orchard Valley Organic Farm. For this celebration, they also present Chinese Shrimp Salad


and Chinese Bean Sprout Salad


For their Station of the Week, they have Soy Chicken, White Chicken, and Chinese Roasted Pork with special sauces for you to pick.


Let’s proceed to the main dishes, but let’s not forget the rice. Feel free to choose Steam Rice or this Peking Rice. It has pineapples, squid, and mushrooms.


Four Kinds Vegetable


Stir-Fry Fish Fillet


Hoisin Chicken


Braised Pork or Hong Ma


My personal favorite at The Promenade is their dessert spread. Take a look at this from egg tarts to hal-halo!


A popular Chinese dessert, Almond Jelly.



With its sweet aroma, this Steamed Banana Cake is hard to resist.



Sweet tooth alert!


Not to be missed is the Moon Cake



Dining out with family and friends? Reserve a table at The Promenade!




Read more..

Ayana Restaurant, Sheridan Boutique Resort

7 Ilonggo Specialties You Shouldn’t Miss

Home Sweet Home, Camiña Balay nga Bato


Quick Trip to Cebu

August 31st, 2014



My iPhoto has thousands of shots waiting for me to upload and share, just like our trip last July. Yeah I know, almost two months but hope you don’t mind me sharing.

Older sister came home from Japan for a much-deserved vacation with her own family, and my mother grabbed the chance to pressure me to go home to Cebu. Pressed for both time and money, I think we pulled it off and the kids had the best of their time with their Lolopops, Mamalo and their cousins.

Coming home is a wonderful time but my husband is traumatized with the lack of taxis in Cebu that we never go without our own transportation. And that simply means …roadtrip!

From Iloilo City where we are based, we traveled all the way to Cebu. It was Iloilo-Negros Occidental-Cebu road trip for the family.


We left Iloilo at midnight and we arrived in Negros in time for sunrise. Done this road trip countless times; it was like going to school every morning. haha.

Kids were asleep throughout our Roro trip ( boat ride), perfectly waking up when we reached the verdant scenery of Don Salvador Benedicto.


Traveling during early morning is a beautiful experience. Peaceful especially when the kids are asleep. haha!

We did a few stopovers like watching Malatan-og Falls and for our 2nd breakfast, since we had a lot of time to spare before our trip from San Carlos City to Toledo, Cebu. Once in San Carlos, we grabbed antihistamine because Aki got allergy from the shrimp crackers I bought in Murcia.


The beauty of road trip is that you are not in a hurry, which is perfect for lazy people like me.  Once in Cebu, we drove via TransCentral Highway.

It was nine in the morning and it was still foggy. Lovely place. Sorry, I didn’t take photos, I was enjoying my ride.

In case you missed, we stayed at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. Did a little work and met my friends, as well as new friends from Marco Polo.



Marco Polo Plaza is the best place to enjoy the cityscape of Cebu.


Quiet time for father and sons at the Continental Lounge


The next day was family day! Before that, this PAREF student made sure we go to church first.



It was a muggy day but we completed the Holy Mass. And off we went to my parents’ “mansion”.

Five children, our parents have 12 of now. We planned to have our family time in a resort however, the kids just wanted to go to Lolopops’ house, leaving my mother to feed us all.

Chaotic and tiring, but our parents are the happiest. The screaming and the laughter made our time together more memorable.



We didn’t go somewhere touristy except for Ayala and the Basilica, yet I have maximized our time, from our staycation in Marco Polo to our family bonding over dinner and then lunch before we went home.

A weekend trip, my boys wanted to stay longer or want to go back to Cebu right away.


Till next time Sugbu!


Related post

Staycation at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Marco Polo’s Sabores de España

RoRo Schedule Iloilo-Bacolod and Vice Versa


TGIF at Kusina Tsina

August 30th, 2014


One of my favorite restaurants in the city has offered a dinner buffet for their loyal diners. Kusina Tsina ( Chinese Kitchen) is well-loved by Ilonggos who want great Chinese cuisine at affordable price.

My family often comes here as much as we can. I’m a patron for the past 4 years, dining with my brood almost every Sunday, after mass.

Yesterday, yours truly was invited along with fellow bloggers for their Payday dinner buffet.


For just Php288, you can treat your family and barkada! Just want to tell you though that expect a lot of people at Kusina Tsina during their buffet. But it simply means people love it. The whole place was packed that this is the only photo I snapped for my main meal.




My sons would love the eat-all-you can dimsum. Less people that time that I was not shy to take out my bulky camera..


I love the cake, it balances the taste of the dimsum since I rarely eat them with sauce – just a sprinkle of calamansi.

I made a fool out of myself when I thought this is sapin-sapin – obviously, it doesn’t tune in with Chinese cooking. Turns out this is jelly. Yummy. I love anything with ube.

Blogger friends and I left Kusina Tsina at quarter to eight and there were more people pouring in. I really didn’t mind the crowd, the food was just great and affordable. Next time, I will reserve a seat that is away from the “traffic”, somewhere a little bit tucked.

So we met other bloggers who were just having their dinner at Wawa Heritage Restaurant. I haven’t been to this restaurant with a flamboyant impression on me. So let’s give it a try.

We only ordered their guyabano juice and turon. More on hanging out and enjoying chill-out Fridays.

The interior is nice. I was told it is best to come here at 4-5pm and stay till night but not during the day when the sun is blazing.

Nice right?



I didn’t get any superb food review for WaWa but I’m thinking of bringing the husband here and review this restaurant.



So that was my Friday night. I love spending time with fellow bloggers. No mommy talks and more lessons on blogging. A quick break from my mommy routine.

How was your Friday? Hope you had a good one.

Thanks for reading!



Related posts..

Repackaging Kusina Tsina

7 Ilonggo Specialties you Shouldn’t Miss

Old Mansions in Iloilo City



Apps I love

August 27th, 2014


While most parents cringe at the thought of letting their kids use gadgets and other hand-held devices, I guiltlessly let my sons play their iPad.


Working at home as a writer with no fulltime help, iPad is one of the best things to my existence. I used to ban gadgets during travel but now, it comes in handy when you want 15 more minutes in bed at a fancy hotel.

I think it depends on the guidelines you give to your kids – and stick to it. So far, my kids and I are in zen when it comes to their iPad usage.

Likewise, I’m sort of semi-homeschooling my preschooler. While he plays, socialize with other kids, and do crafts at school, I am introducing him to reading and writing at home. Interactive and educational apps are one of my tools. So far, I love the educational apps from KIDS ACADEMY.

I discovered these apps since April and so far so good. Liam, my preschooler loves his “study time”. I would like to share to you their three apps that I personally use with Liam.

We first started with this app. Basic reading and writing. Click here to download.

 Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.25.26 AM


And interactive workbook to test your little learner. The apps are very user-friendly, your child can easily navigate. It goes without saying that you have to “play” the apps first for a few times with your child before letting him do it on his own. Click here to download this app.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.25.59 AM


We just started with this app. Number tracing is more than developing motor skills but letting him recognize the digits- visually and orally. We love the games.  Much more, the Parent Mode – every app should have a parent control/mode feature. Here is the link for download.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.26.29 AM

We’ve been using Kids Academy for a few months now and you’ll surely love these apps as much as we do. If you are looking for new educational apps for your child, download them all now!

Thanks for reading!


Discovering Laughlin

August 25th, 2014


Hello everybody! What’s up? Sorry for my hiatus – kid’s exam week and some magazine writing assignments.

So here I am on the last day of the long weekend. No travel, not even a quick road trip to a nearby beach; instead, husband and I spent lazying around thinking of his trip to Spain next month and planning for our next travel.

Surfing the net and checking hotel sites like for travel inspirations,  I found myself getting to know the town of Laughlin in Nevada. My apologies that I am more familiar with other places in the state but Laughlin is actually the third most visited casino and resort destination in the state of Nevada!

I love hotels, my kids love them more. I explored looking for hotels in the area and  read from previous visitors that you must stay at Laughlin hotels on the river . One of the hotels I found is Tropicana Laughlin.

Nevada can be costly, my husband wants to visit his friend there so I want my travel inspiration to be a little bit realistic.  I think Tropicana Express Laughlin fits the bill!

Here is a photo I found in Flickr

The Tropicana Express


This hotel has a total of 1,495 rooms and has its own casino. I don’t gamble but I enjoy those slot machines. I find them really cute. :)

Here is one photo of  Tropicana Express’ room. I love the color scheme. This is one retreat from the buzzling activities around Laughlin.



You do wish to be here right now. This is a bedroom peg for me. Calm and cozy.



 As a 4-star property, it offers a myriad of activities for guests courtesy of its worldclass amenities and facilities. Getting to know Tropicana Express Laughlin makes me learn more about Laughlin particularly when it comes to attractions.

This hotel as I read from, is close to sights like Lake Mohave, Colorado River, Davis Dam as well as Edgewater Casino and E Center.

All these information want me to discover Nevada and the rest of the United States. I guess Laughlin now goes to my bucketlist.

Thanks for reading!

Related posts

Park Inn by Radisson Davao

Yamate Italian Garden


Lighthouse Resto + Bar

August 8th, 2014


I had the most stressful lunch last Sunday at the highly-hyped Horizon Cafe that I was wishing to be in a different place while dining. One of them is Lighthouse Resto + Bar. It also reminded me that I forgot to blog and share this new restaurant in Iloilo.

I visited it twice and the photos here were taken last June 12, all photos by Antoine Greg of Cafe Ilonggo.

Lighthouse Resto + Bar is located on General Luna Street, once the busy part of the city. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the place use to be a party place called Tijuana.

Lighthouse is a family restaurant, it is spacious but I recommend you have a seat near their drink bar — cozy with big plushy pillows. We didn’t take photos because there were many diners.




Their menu is the usual – pasta, steak and the likes but they have good choices for drinks. A plus point for me. I asked the waiter, what is their specialty and he recommended Crispy Belly. My reaction was, ” nothing new“, but I ate my words after that. This is one yummy crispy belly. Very soft meat with crispy skin.



Greg also ordered their Oyster Rockerfeller – baked talaba.



and Spanish Chorizo.


This one was a little bit tricky. In the menu, it didn’t mention that it will come with rice. It was fine if the waiter didn’t give us an “warning” because we are big people (haha!),  but when we told the waiter if we can return our other rice, he refused at first.

We had like 4 cups of rice in total! We said ok too but it is not comfortable because even if Greg and I are big eaters, 4 cups of rice is gluttony. haha. So we asked again and showed their menu, he must be scared of our persistence that he accepted our request.

Food was great and I love the little cozy restaurant. Again, I wished I brought my family at Lighthouse Resto + Bar last Sunday rather than spending time and money at Horizon Cafe.

For dessert, Greg and I had Sans Rival. It was fine but I have tasted Dumaguete’s, which is so far the best of its kind in the country.

For drinks, have the mint cooler ( I forgot the exact name). Greg told me to get it and it is really refreshing. I would like to try their others mixes. I paid 700+ for 3 dishes, 2 cups of rice, one dessert and 2 drinks – very affordable.


You may like..

Don Rite Gourmet Food

Lunch Buffet at The Promenade

Nothing but Desserts

Happy Kitchen


Home Sweet Home,Camiña Balay nga Bato

August 2nd, 2014


How are you getting by this cold and rainy weather? Heavy rain can be a hassle but this season means yearning for an extended bed time, or warming up with something hot to sip. How about a chocolate drink?


The continuous rain reminded me of all hot drinks -coffee, tea, and chocolate. Many have spoken that the best tsokolate( chocolate drink) in the Philippines can be tasted at Camiña Balay nga Bato in Iloilo. Now that brings me back to our visit last summer with my parents.

 What I admire about  this ancestral home in Iloilo is that they offer to tourists and travelers not just a heritage home in Iloilo, but it is also an antique shop. And now, a food trip destination. Isn’t it brilliant for tourism?

It is easy to find this house. It is located along the highway, a few steps from Arevalo plaza, going to southern Iloilo.

My parents in front of the house, after our tour.



The activity kicks off with a tour of the house. Naturally, you will see their antique shop from saint statues to local spiced vinegar called sinamak. You will also be acquainted with few facts about this attraction in Iloilo.

At the ground floor, which is the storage area in bahay na bato, you will see the original pillars that not only give a strong support to the house but also a status symbol of the Camiña Family.

Another interesting fact that sets it apart from other ancestral homes not just in Iloilo but throughout the country is that the family still resides in the abode.

Presently, 4th generation Luth and Gerard Camiña call this house, home. If you are curious if there are ghosts or if this is a haunted house in Iloilo, sorry..I didn’t feel anything.

To enter the living quarters, that is at the upper floor, you will climb its very steep stairs. Just like other houses, I have visited, you can see vintage pieces and hard wood.

Its tin ceiling is very interesting. They also have nail-less door and you will learn about the defense features of this house.



Without a doubt, the highlight of the tour is the be accurate, tsokolate e..the stronger version of the hot chocolate. Our visit was on a hot day but it was a refreshing drink. The very well-ventilated azotea of the house, invited the breeze to come inside.

Feeling donya si mader..



The tour only costs Php150 per person, and that already includes the chocolate drink and some biscuits. It goes without saying that my folks had a great time.



You can also purchase the tsokolatera ( the kettle) and the batirol ( the stirring rod) as well as the chocolate tablets. My mom bought one pack for my tsokolate addict sister-in law. You can ask the staff for the measurement to make your own chocolate drink at home.

The staff will serve the hot beverage but my mom, insisted to do it herself ( for our refill). It reminded her of my grandmother..awww..


We were lucky to be the only visitors. We took our time and had great conversation, forgetting for a second that it was not our home.

My dad, went back touring the house and took photos like his favorite archangel, Archangel Michael.



You may ask what I think of the tsokolate. Well, I can’t really say it is the best because of my personal preference of something bitter. I’m a coffee drinker and they added milk so maybe pure tablea (cocoa tablet), water and sugar will be perfect for me.

But compared to other chocolate drink I had, Camiña’s tsokolate is richer and more flavorful. I trust my father’s reaction, ” Lami, Lami ( delicious) ” while smacking his lips like an expert taster.



For inquiries, visit their Facebook page.


You like ancestral homes? Here are heritage homes you can visit..

The Grandiose Nelly Garden

Night Tour at Casa Mariquit

Iloilo’s Old Houses and Mansions


Of Motherhood and Gratitude

July 29th, 2014

Since June, I was contemplating on what to do to mark another year of freelance writing. Planned on throwing my first blog getaway for you dear readers or treat myself to a solo trip. After all, I will be turning 6 this month as a freelance writer. I have paid my dues and I am extremely satisfied of my hard work.

Then last Tuesday, our pediatrician advised to have my second child, Liam, for a hospital stay after seeing initial result of his X-ray taken a day before after our check-up.

Liam was sick since Friday with fever and he had a very bad cough. I was in denial because of my two boys, Liam is the “healthy” one – exclusively breastfed for 6 months and he never had fever for more than 24 hours.

No full-time help, with my husband working out of town, I was alone but not complaining- there is no reason. As long as  we can provide the best medical care to my child, I’m fine.

Went home, packed our bags, planned on Aki’s ( my eldest) schedule while I’m away at the hospital, and spent an hour conditioning Liam on what to expect for a hospital stay. My fear was Liam screaming as nurses complete all tests and procedures. Thanks to Google for giving me cute images of children in the hospital.

Liam was physically fine that day, he walked with me around the hospital, processing his admission and all those stuff but his eyes were weary and his voice gloomy.

Taken after his IV insertion, blood test and skin test. Not a single tear, thus, explaining my smile. You’re a trouper Liam!

liam hospital


Nebulizer at the emergency room.

liam 2


Whenever my kids get sick, I’m always reminded on how I became a freelance writer. That 6 years ago, I prayed what I thought an impossible thing to ask – to spend more time with my son yet still earn money. So here I am, an epiphany that what I should be doing for my 6th anniversary working at home is to remain that gratitude in my heart.

It is not just the gratitude to earn while at home, but to find the thing what I really like to do. I believe that you will naturally excel if you love what you do.  Never in my consciousness that it occurred that I will make a living with words and images.

After 6 days in the hospital due to bronchopneumonia, Liam finally went home and my heart was full of thankfulness to other moms who helped me with my eldest child, Akira – buying school requirements to reaching out to watch over him. It’s a wonderful feeling that fellow moms show their support.



Those days staying at the hospital was a reminder to be thankful each day to have the financial means to be with the kids. To be thankful of the people around you.

I don’t earn that much but it’s okay. Someday, my kids will have their own appointments but while they are little, I just want to be with them.

How about you? What are you thankful for?






  • Hi! I'm Valerie Caulin. Welcome to my blog!