December 31, 2015

Camiguin Christmas Vacation

Since Nanay died, our family has been spending Christmas away from home. Last year, we were in Tagaytay. This year, we went to my father's hometown in Camiguin. Camiguin's a beauty, but more importantly, we were able to reconnect with our relatives from my father's side. The last time I was there, I was only 4 years old so I met most of them for the first time last Christmas. I must admit Christmas hasn't been the same since Nanay left, but thanks to the love and hospitality of our relatives in Camiguin, Christmas was a lot better this year. We were with family and we were home.

Drama aside, here are my top 10 things to do in Camiguin. :)

Stay in Bahay Bakasyunan, a bit pricey but if you want quiet and relaxation, it's the perfect place.
On the way to Catarman from Mambajao, don't forget to take a picture in the popular viewpoint. Preferably during sunset. 
Dip in Ardent hot spring.
Or if you don't like it hot, you can go to Sto. NiƱo cold spring instead.

Eat kiping, a local delicacy that's like a crepe made of cassava.

Swim in the majestic Tuasan Falls.

Photo op galore in the beautiful Old Church ruins.

Go to White Island during sunrise.

If you want beach and a Survivor-like forest, Mantigue Island is for you.
Have a seafood feast in Tanguines Lagoon. 

Favorites of 2015

Favorite Movie - Mad Max: Fury Road

Favorite Music Video - Sia "Elastic Heart"

Top 5 Favorite Songs

1. Kygo feat. Conrad Sewell "Firestone"

2. Rihanna feat. Kanye West and Paul McCartney "Four Five Seconds"

3. Drake "Hotline Bling"

4. Ariana Grande "One Last Time"

5. Justin Bieber  "What Do You Mean?"

What about yours? :)

December 29, 2015

Top 10 Things To Do In Hanoi

My sister and I went to Hanoi, Vietnam last October for the first time.  I honestly had low expectations going there but the trip exceeded my expectations and Hanoi pleasantly surprised me.  The beauty of Hanoi is not only in its charm but also in its people. They are, by far, the most hospitable locals in all the countries I've visited. The city was friendly and safe. Manila should have been like this had it not been corrupted and polluted. The side trips we had were also amazing. Ninh Binh is a beauty and Halong Bay definitely deserves its status as one of the wonders of the world.

To those planning to visit Hanoi, here are my top 10 things to do in Hanoi (a.k.a. my Hanoi trip highlights!)

1. Sign up for a free Ba Dinh Square tour on Hanoi EBuddies and learn about Vietnam's complex history.

2.  Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and discover local sights and sounds.

3. Visit Hoa Lo Prison and learn about the horrors and atrocities during Vietnam War.

4. Go on a day trip to Ninh Binh province and bike around picturesque Van Lam Village.  
5. Boat along Ngo Dong River and experience having a bad-ass female driver who paddles with her feet.   (We booked our Ninh Binh day trip via Vic Travel.)

6. Back in Hanoi, drink Vietnamese coffee.  Their iced brown coffee is one of the best I've tasted, and I'm not a coffee drinker.

7. Vietnamese pho noodles are a must, but I also recommend that you taste bun cha.  It is the best!

8. Drive around Hanoi in a motorcycle. Or in my case, have a local Couchsurfer drive you around town in his motorcycle.

9. Go on a cruise in Halong Bay (MUST DO!)

10. While in Halong Bay, climb up and go inside Sung Sot Cave. It is the most beautiful cave I've ever seen and I'm not exaggerating.

Feel free to comment below if you have questions about Hanoi or if you want me to share my 5-day trip itinerary.

October 20, 2015

Top 10 USA Trip Highlights

There were many highlights, of course!  But in this BuzzFeed era, these 10 were the most memorable and my must-do recommendation when in New York and San Francisco.

Singing along to my favorite Disney musical Beauty & The Beast in Castro Theater

Climbing on top of a mountain in chilly, windy weather just to get an evening shot of Golden Gate Bridge

Biking along West Cliff Drive while enjoying the beautiful scenery in Santa Cruz, California

Seeing beautiful modern artworks like Warhol's Campbell Soup in MoMa

Attending 3 NY Couchsurfing meet-ups and gaining friends from all over the globe

Exploring the sights and sound of New York Times Square, a tourist trap that I don't mind at all

Having a picnic with lifelong friends in Mission Dolores Park

Getting cathartic while watching the Broadway play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Wine-tasting then getting drunk in Napa Valley!:)

Exploring cinematic Central Park with both my high school & college friends

There! :) Overall, I enjoyed New York more than San Francisco.  San Francisco was too hipster for me.  Regardless of the place though, nothing beats the company of good ol' friends.  Just being reunited with them made the trip memorable already.

I know I promised to post my USA Trip itinerary but work obviously got the best of me.  In case you're interested, just send me a message and I will readily share it with you.

August 07, 2015

Three Milestones

I have been very busy since the last time I posted an entry that I forgot to blog 3 life milestones that happened to me this year.

First, after 15 years of working in the industry, I finally got to direct my first full-length mainstream movie.  It took us a year to make it because of our lead actors' busy schedule but it was worth it.  I am sincerely grateful to my company bosses for entrusting me with the project.  I must have done something right because my hard work paid off.  The critics, of course, clobbered the movie but the fans and our target audience were all praises and loving.  We also hit the 100 million mark in the box-office, which is rare for a movie launching a new loveteam.  In the end, doing the film validated my purpose of working for mainstream TV and cinema.  That is, entertainment.

The alternative poster of my first full-length movie "Just The Way You Are

The second milestone was my first trip to the USA, specifically California and New York, which happened March and April this year.  It was a memorable trip like all my other trips.  I met lots of people, got to reunite with old friends, and went to places I only saw in the movies (hello, Central Park!)  I promise to photo-blog my US vacation after this entry.

Napa Valley, California

Third milestone was me finally moving to my own condo unit last May.  I am now independent and living alone.  So far, so good!  For some reason, I now choose to stay at home than go out on my free days.  I am becoming a homebody.  I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  I am just in love with my space.  Haha!

My bed where I'm seated now doing this blog entry

I am truly blessed. Yeah, I know for some people it means I'm bragging but I really am blessed, and grateful. :)

April 16, 2015

Singapore Quickie

Since this has been turning into a travel blog, I figured I should write about my quick Singapore getaway.  Last March, I went to Singapore with my Annaliza family.  It was my 4th time in Singapore and I'm happy to note that it has remained the country where I feel the safest.  Everything was still clean and orderly.  I should say it's the perfect country to bring the whole family for vacation.

This time we stayed in a backpackers inn in Chinatown.  It's called Rucksack Inn.  We had a pleasant stay there because the receptionist was Filipina and she helped us a lot especially with the discounted tours.  We were also in the heart of Chinatown where food was aplenty and souvenirs are cheap.  I would dare say that Singapore has the cleanest Chinatown in the whole wide world.  If I go back to Singapore, I would have no second thoughts staying again in Chinatown.

Team Annaliza in front of RuckSack Inn

I made our travel itinerary for this trip and since it was the first time in Singapore for most of my company, I included all the touristy spots in it.  We went to Merlion Park, Sentosa, and Universal Studios where I got to ride again the fun Transformers: The Ride.  My most favorite, though, would be getting to enter Steven Spielberg's Lights Camera Action studio where we saw how Hollywood does special effects in movies.

Team Annaliza in front of Lights Camera Action studio
Another Universal Studios highlight would be having my picture taken with Sesame Street's Ernie.

Ted and Ernie
We also went to Gardens By The Bay where I noticed this very unique artwork about travelers literally leaving a piece of themselves in Singapore because they love their stay in the country so much.

It took me awhile analyzing how they were able to install this piece.
In my fourth time in Singapore, I was also finally able to go to the top of Marina Bay Sands for a bird's-eye view of Singapore.  My tip would be to go to the Sky on 57 bar, order a drink and be amazed with the view.  It would cost cheaper than booking a tour or staying in the expensive hotel.

Feel free to post in the comments section if you have questions or want a sample travel itinerary of Singapore. :)

January 20, 2015

2014 Favorites

Favorite Movie I Saw in Theater - Gone Girl 
I unfortunately saw only 14 movies in cinema this year and while uneven, this film tops simply because it took me to the unexpected and made me think about humanity in the age of electronic exhibitionism.

Favorite Movie I Saw on Torrent - Blue is the Warmest Color 
Aside from its excellent aesthetics,  the film features the best acting ensemble I've seen in years.  This is the perfect supplement to Wong Kar Wai's classic Happy Together.

Favorite Song - Sia "Chandelier" 
A song with brilliant songwriting sang brilliantly by singer-composer Sia.  It may have been overshadowed by its equally brilliant music video but the song is a class on its own.

Favorite Album - The Fault in Our Stars (Music From the Motion Picture) 
I didn't even like the movie (I prefer the book), but the album brought me back to a time when I remember the movie every time I hear the songs from its soundtrack.  

Favorite Music Video - 2NE1 "Happy" 
There's nothing landmark about the video but I love its fashion and color scheme that perfectly complement my favorite K-Pop band.