Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs for 2010

Aside from TV and magazines, I check out the BLOGOSPHERE to see the latest trends about food, travel, fashion, health, even humor and almost everything that pops into my mind.  I compiled ten of my favorites and I also included my blog, of course.

1.  ChicAndCheaps (my personal blog) - Even though I am the one who's writing the posts on scratch, transfering them to my drafts, editing the posts, taking and uploading photos, I still love to read back on my posts.  Why?  Because my best firsts experiences started at the birth of this blog and I relive the memories here.

Tired of "super lalim" English blogs?  Well, well, well!  I found two bonggang bonggang unconventional blogs that will make your day.

2.  Ganda Ever So Much - I just came across this blog last June and until now, I'm still hooked to it kasi nga hindi  ako nagnonosebleed.  Parang kausap ko lang si Orman habang binabasa ang mga articles niya.  Try mo!

3.  Facebuko - Nakita ko naman itetch sa Nuffnang as Blogger of the Month.  Facebook na Facebook ang dating.  Mapagkakamalan ka pang nag-FB during office hours, but the truth is Facebuko lang ito.  Matatawa ka na lang.  I call this blog, "The Destressor".

Another not-your-ordinary blog...

4.  WhenInManila - I won in one of Vince's blog contests, but before that I already like his blog as this is the only video blog (VLOG) that I've seen.  The videos are made in a humurous way.  I also got my expression here, "AWESOMETACULAR".  I really enjoy the coined words of this blogger.


5.  NomNomClub - Once you see this blog, I bet you'll be drooling over food because of Sago's (este NomNom's) food photos. Mmmm... nomnomnomnomnomnom (",)

And for the entertainment side... show business and movies.

6.  Jay.eLx - I learn about this site through Boy Kuripot's.  I was a witnessed on how this blog evolved from a mixed blog to a movie blog and even the changes on Jay's template from purple to cream.  I've also met the blogger since I won on his contest and got the prize to him personally.  Guys, he is so nice!  Napaka-down to earth.

7.  ATBP! - The first time I saw this blog, I thought it was just an ordinary mixed blog because of the name, ATBP.  I thought it meant At Iba Pa, hahaha pero hindi pala.  I visit ATBP to scoop the latest tsismis in town.  Get it first here on ATBP! [Around The Buzz Primetime].

And for "halo-halo" blogs I love...

8.  TelTheWanderer - I just don't love her blog... I also love the blogger.  She is super bait and super bubbly.  I really, really like her travel pics and the food photos as well.

9.  Manila Fitness - Health and wellness awareness is increasing, more and more people are becoming conscious of their health and that's where Manila Fitness comes into play.  I check this blog too look for vegan restaurants around the metro.

10. Manila Blogs - If ever I need help or need to know more about blogging, blog design, etc., I just head on to EJ's blog.  The not-so-techie bloggers will benefit a lot from reading the articles.


Lapit na deadline ng writing project na to. Hope you can join.

All you have to do is to list down your Top 10 Emerging Influential Blogs. Five will do.

Guidelines on how to join. You can check the mechanics here >

Hope you can submit your entry before its deadline (August 31, 2010). All valid entries will be raffled off. 10 bloggers will get to win $100.

After you posted your entry to your blog, submit the URL as a comment to

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thai Buffet at Marriott Cafe

I added this event, the Flavors of Thailand buffet at Marriot Hotel, as one of my best firsts experiences.  It's not my first time to try Thai cuisine, but it is my first time trying a hotel dinner buffet.

I first tasted a Thai dish at Som's in Makati City.  They call it Red Curry (combination of rice, chicken and hot spices).  That was too hot for me.  I'm not really a fan of spicy foods.  But my friend asked me to try the Yellow Curry.  Now this has a subtle blend of hot, creamy and savory taste.  From then on, we always eat at Som's and tried their Phad Thai, Thai Iced Tea and a lot more.

But I was craving for more.  I wanted to have a bite on other Thai cuisine.  So when Ms. Sire and Alex gave me an invitation to come to Marriott Hotel, I eagerly said yes.

August 2010 -- Food bloggers celebrated the rich and unique flavors of Thailand at Marriott Hotel Manila in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Embassy of Thailand and Thai Airways.

As I entered Marriott Cafe, Ms. Vannah welcomed me and said feel free to taste the flavors of Thailand. I was wowed. There exists a wide array of Thai dishes which were well prepared and very well presented by Chef Thanathorn Krobsuay and none of which disappointed.

Ms. Savannah Santiago and Chef Krobsuay

The hotel staff were very helpful and they first offered me their Thai Iced Tea.  I prefer this than the one I tasted at Som's.  It is more mellow.  I think it is more smooth because of the milk.

Then I started taking photos of the Thai Live Station while picking which foods to eat.  The chef will cook live in front of you and I really enjoyed it.

Sorry.  I was not able to get a photo of this because every time
I would go back, the bowl is always empty as this fried rice is so savory.

This spicy dish is the crowd favorite...

Spicy Wok-Fried Seafood

As I've said earlier on this post, I've tried Red Curry and Yellow Curry and to my surprise... wow, I saw Green Curry at Marriott Cafe!  I like the creaminess and subtle chilliness of this dish.

Green Curry with Chicken

And these are the Thai foods that Chef Krobsuay prepared for us that night...

Pumpkin with Custard

From August 1 to 31, Thai chef Krobsuay will share his sophisticated style and expertise in Thai cooking which never fails to mesmerize guests and capture the palates of discerning gourmands. Diners who avail of the Flavors of Thailand buffet also get a chance to win a pair of roundtrip tickets to Thailand courtesy of the Thai Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand. The prize trip includes a three-night stay with breakfast at the Rennaisance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Thailand.

The Flavors of Thailand will be available during lunch and dinner at PHP 1,350 nett for adults and PHP675 nett for children, while Sunday Brunch is at PHP 1,650 nett. Children below 12 get in for half the price and children below 6 get in for free!

What a great deal, right?

And if you guys still want more, Marriott Hotel does not only offer Thailand buffet. They also serve dizzying range of Chinese, Japanese, Italian and American cuisine. Sushis, sashimis, crabsticks, roasted Peking duck, pizza, pasta, name it, they have it.

But one corner really caught my eye... the desserts place... yum!

First thing, the palate cleansers... sorbet!

I felt I was eating buko-pandan dessert while trying this.

Pro Bloggers highly recommend lime sorbet.
Not your ordinary sweet-tasting ice cream.
(It's a little bit tangy for me.)

Cherry Trifle - I appreciate the combination of soft whipped cream on top, then with a crunch of cherry and strawberry in the middle and soft cream again at the bottom.  Me likey!

Look at my plate, guys. Hehehe. (",)

I did the plating!  Yes, you can do your own, too!

So what are you waiting? Head on now to Marriott Cafe!

Marriott Café is located at the Ground Floor of Marriott Hotel Manila. For more information and reservations, call (632)988-9999 or visit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chasing Boracay Dreams


When I get to ride SEAIR,
When I meet the professional bloggers,
When I get to Boracay (my first time),
I'll be happy.

When I frolic on the white shores,
When I hang out with the pros,
When I get to stay on Microtel Boracay,
I'll be happy.

When  we get to relax (I hope we can),
When I get to bond with the bloggers and ask advice,
When we swim on clear waters and explore Boracay,
I'll be happy.
When we feast on the yummiest dishes (heavenly),
When I get to share my blogging experiences,
When we have tried all sorts of beach activities,
I'll be happy.

When I pack my bags,
When I draft my super-inspired blog posts,
When I get back to Manila (back to reality),
I'll be happy. (Will be super happy.  Thank you, God.)

"When" is an inspirational poem by Tom Felten.  (I just tweaked some of the words in it to fit my Bora dream trip.)  I love this poem because it's all about happiness and it also reminds us that we should not miss the reality that God is our joy and hope in life.

Boracay for me is happiness.  Boracay is a dream.  Boracay is a destination in life.

Boracay is also included in my "someday, maybe list".  Someday, maybe... my family and I will be reunited in Boracay.  Someday, maybe... postcard-pretty Boracay will kiss away the pain.  (Oh, now, enough of drama).  My someday, maybe list says that I should put the good things and the things I wanted in front of me, because when I do, it will attract what we think.

So the first step to take and the main challenge, write the reasons why should I be included in the SEAIR and Microtel Boracay's bloggers' tour.

1.  A budding adventure blogger wants to explore exotic beaches.  But how would I do that if I haven't experienced the most-talked about island?  I want Boracay to be my "ceiling".  It would be my first time in Bora then.

2.  I have been seeking for the white-sand beach for years.  I've gone to other beaches in Luzon (Tondol Beach and Patar Beach in Pangasinan and San Fernando, La Union) but they are "semi-white" I think.  If ever given the chance, I'll put some sand inside a small clear bottle (souvenir) hehe.

3.  Hungry for knowledge.  I believe that traveling with the pros and newbies is more than just joining a blogging seminar.  Binondo Food "Walk" with Dong Ho and other bloggers was a great start for me.  I came up with this blog (Chic & Cheaps) with their help.  They've inspired me so much.  Then my recent travel at the Thunderbird Resorts with bloggers, print media, and photographers was also life changing.  This gave me a more view of what blogging is, feature writing versus blogging and also about photoblogging the unusual way.

4.  Curiosity.  It is curiosity that drives my world.  I wonder why Boracay has already reached its x-millionth visitors.  What to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay and how to get there?  I can feel that Bora has myriad surprises in store for travel junkies.

5.  I wanna know how Boracay looks in a panoramic shot.  I just learn how to do a panorama shot in my digital camera and I wanna test it with photogenic Boracay.

When I get to Boracay,
I'll accomplish all of these...
When I head back to Manila, I'll share my dreams that came true...
And... I'll be happy.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Thoughts at Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, La Union

I vividly remember being captivated by a fleeting image of Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point in a magazine-television show (which is Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho) before, so for years I had longed to visit it.

It's been two weeks since our (bloggers and print media's) 3-days, 2-nights stay at Thunderbird Resorts.  Yes, lucky me!  I had the privilege of living my dream in this Mediterranean-style resort setting inspired by Santorini, Greece.  Visiting this new place also helped me made surprising new discoveries about myself.

Let me share them together with my first-time experiences and random things that made this an easy resort hotel to fall for.

DAY 1 (July 26)

A Fresh Start

It's only just our first stop and I already had my delightful experience with the Sushi and Sashimi Combo at Vegas Cafe.  It's my first time to eat tuna sashimi. (I don't eat raw, actually.) For me, this fresh appetizer is really at par with what the best Japanese restaurants here in the city serve.

Sushi and Sashimi Combo (P750)

Blogging 101

While waiting for our dessert to be served, I had a little travel and food blogging lessons with Sir Estan of

POINTERS:  For travel blogging, write about the paths barely taken, much exciting.  And for food, describe the texture and color of the food instead of just saying that it's tasty and yummy.  Also share your experience while eating the dish and what do you remember as you were tasting it, maybe your childhood or another place you've gone through.

Wow, really a great help for beginners like me. (",)
*He also gave me a little photography lessons when the soft, yet resilient panna cotta arrived.  He said to use the zoom effect to focus on the food and not on the other things on the table.  Here's the outcome:

Photography 101

With Sir Oggie of  Since it was off-season, our first afternoon was cloudy. At first I said, grrrr, where's the sun?! But Kuya Oggie said that it's still okay to take photos of the resort even if it's gloomy.  Don't go with the usual sunset thingy pictures.

And look what I've got on my cam.

Afternoon Rains

This signaled us to slow down from our activities (which should be swimming and golfing) but good thing 'cause it allowed us to catch up on the latest with each other and take advantage of the free WiFi at Patio Santorini (the lounge area) and the soothing music that calls from within.

DAY 2 (July 27)

Golf Buggy Ride

One of the best firsts during this trip is my first golf cart ride.  Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point offers use of golf carts (P400 per hour) and bicycles enabling you to enjoy going around the property.  You'll only need to make reservations first.

Are you looking for me?  I was behind the lens.  (",)


Time to get fit! Another option to roam around Thunderbird Resorts.

Dissecting the Halo-Halo

For me, the highlight of our city tour was our visit to Halo-Halo de Iloko where we had a fill of their best-tasting halo-halo.  We're curious about the pleasing combination of the ingredients (yes, we want to know the secret ingredients).  So Betty, Sol, Doc Gelo and I "dissected" the halo-halo special (haha, I mean we named the ingredients) and found cereals (instead of the usual pinipig), corn kernels, banana, green sago, ice cream, ube, and custard-like substance.  Plus! What a surprise! I found strawberry bits (Maybe they added it because La Union is just two hours away from Baguio City, where the strawberries grows).  Mmm, not your ordinary halo-halo!

Halo-Halo Special (P85)

Ilokano 101

While enjoying our surprising halo-halo, Betty reads the menu and she saw the word, "Agyamanak Apo" and she asked me what does it mean.  Agyamanak apo is simply, thank you.

As I mentioned on my first post, I'm 100% Ilokana (and proud of it), so I armed them with the basic phrases of Ilokano, the province's official dialect.

Beautiful - Nagpintas or Napintas
Delicious - Nagimas or Naimas
 Thank you - Agyamanak

Panoramic World of Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point

It was late in the evening. Kristel of Tel the Wanderer, Kuya Oggie and Kuya Ferdz of and I were just lazying around and still taking pictures (haha addicts).  To my surprise, I have made a panoramic shot (first time) with my GE J1050 digital camera!  Wow, I've been practicing how to make that shot for weeks and wasn't able to make one.  But during that time, I did!

The Accidental Shot - my first ever panoramic shot using my GE J1050.

Thunderbird Resorts lights the cliff.

DAY 3 (July 28)

Beginner's Luck at Fiesta Casino

First time at the card room.  The card games I only know are "tong-its and pares-pares".  Sounds familiar, huh?  So I felt lucky when we got to experience playing at the Fiesta Casino VIP room (money-less of course).  First game was Baccarat -- a table game using 6 or 8 decks of cards which does not require skill (only luck).  Second game -- Blackjack, almost like Lucky 9.

I found myself playing safe... I was scared pushing the chips all-in.

Things I'll Miss the Most

The Greek mezze-style breakfast buffet at Olive's Restaurant.  I'll miss choosing among the dizzying array of food and drinks.  I love Olive's fried rice!

I'll miss Room 313.  For those three tiring but fun-filled days, this has been Ann and Kristel's home sweet home.  The cozy beds will tempt you to sleep in!

Tel and I love the long cylindrical pillows.  (",)

The Santorini Dome.  I love taking pictures here.  When you go to Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, look for it at the lobby and strike a post just like what I did!

I took this picture two minutes before we leave Thunderbird Resorts. (",)  Nice one!

And of course, I miss the bloggers (Doc Gelo, Kristel, Kuya Ferdz, Kuya Estan, Kuya Oggie), Betty (Female Network), Sol (Sidetrip Magazine), and Princess and Nica (Thunderbird Resorts).

Nothing really compares to the life lessons, happy things and best firsts I experience here at Thunderbird Resorts.

Visiting news places is not just about learning cultures, meeting new people, and trying out local cuisines.  It's about you.  It's about you discovering the passions that inspire you towards greatness.

Additional Information:

Vegas Cafe - It is just a 10-minute walk away from the hotel or you can ride a shuttle that drives within the compound.

City Tour - Separate arrangement and reservation  is required.  Includes visit to Pindangan Ruins, Ma-Cho Temple, Halo-Halo de Iloko and La Union Botanical Garden.

Fiesta Casino - Open 24 hours for gamers

Olive's Restaurant - Serves breakfast buffet early in the morning till 10:00 am.

The Cliffs - This is nine-hole golf course with golf carts and caddy service.

Thank you very much to Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point management and to Nica Serrano for the bloggers' fun-filled stay at Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point.

So if you plan to go places, why not start at Thunderbird  Resorts Poro Point.  From now till September 30, 2010, they have this promo below.

If you just want to tour around Thunderbird Resorts for a day, they have this day tour promo.  I actually plan to bring my family here when we'll visit our vacation house at Pangasinan and take advantage of the promo.

Promo for the golfers

Contact Information:
 Resort Address: Poro point Freeport Zone, San Fernando City, La Union
Telephone no.: +63.72.888.7777
Makati Office:  24 F Salcedo Towers, 169 H.V. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City
Telephone no.: +63.2.886.5555
Fax no.: +63.2.894.3333

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thunderbird Resorts: Another Reason to Love Northern Philippines

From the ten bloggers who were invited to the three-day immersion at Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, I was the only one whose roots are from La Union.  But I find it funny because even though I spent my teenage years there, I know nothing about the rich history and captivating places in La Union.

I have no idea that surfing was a trending sport in my lolo's hometown, and that I can find a Santorini-inspired beach hotel in its capital, San Fernando City.   See? I am a stranger to my own land!

Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point

But thank, God! We're given the squeak to experience La Union through Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point.

Here's a sneak peek of the bloggers' food and travel adventures:

Sushi-Sashimi Combo at Vegas Cafe
The Dome
View of South China Sea
The Cliffs Golf Course

Pindangan Ruins
Ma-Cho Temple
Our Lady of Namacpacan Church

Halo-Halo de Iloko
Thunderbird Resorts at Night

Have you noticed anything?  Not all of these pictures are taken from Thunderbird Resorts property.  Some were from our visit to the city.  And that's the most fun thing of all!!! When staying at Thunderbird Resorts Poro Point, they will not just let you experience their world-class facilities and amenities, but they will also let you create new experiences outside the Mediterranean-inspired property.

I love Northern Philippines more!!!

Thunderbird Resorts - Poro Point
Poro Point Freeport Zone,
San Fernando City, La Union

Telephone Number: (+6372) 888-7777