FC International

 photo 20150124_174613_zpstol3v6tp.jpgA couple of years ago, Sam had a trial for Saigon Sports Academy but he was not yet ready for team sports. And he was the littlest in the team.

 photo 20150124_174407_zpsoaleliu0.jpgIn Saigon, there are quite a number of football programs. There is Saigon Sports Academy, Arsenal Schools, and a few more. There are football programs in the international schools as well.

 photo 20150124_171250_zpsm0iox0mw.jpgFor us our main issue is the location of the football field. On top of paying for the monthly classes, we have to worry about transportation costs. Luckily most of these football clubs have bus services.

 photo 20150124_171243_zpshafjzvqs.jpgThen just a block away from our apartment, the FC International started having Saturday training at Wonderland Park in District 7. We could walk Sam to the football field or most often, we ride our bikes.

 photo 20150124_174451_zpsvkv9f2yw.jpgSince it’s inside Wonderland Park, Rafa could run around as well while we wait for his brother. photo 20150124_174417_zpsspcf5uqy.jpg

Aside from fellow Filipinos, the other kids in Sam’s group are from Singapore, India, and Korea. Am not sure with the others. :P

 photo 20150124_174341_zpsxtfucu0u.jpgRight now, the cost is 80USD for 4 weeks — which is actually affordable compared to other football centers around in District 2 and District 7.

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If you are interested in enrolling your child, drop by the IFC field in Wonderland Park every Saturday at 4 – 6 PM. Let your child join a trial class.

 photo 20150124_173140_zps1d0i83ep.jpgFootball Club International

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Istorya Creations

I came across Istorya Creations from a friend’s post in Facebook. Joanna Gutierrez is the lady behind the amazing collection of jewelry pieces made from high quality aluminum, brass, and copper.
 photo 20141222_165748_zpsdv5c0fsw.jpgI ordered a few from her and even sent a couple of bracelets as gifts to my bestfriend.

 photo 20141222_164911_zpspxndl7yx.jpgWe loved the leather and brass combo of our bracelets which showed the names of our boys and their birth dates.

 photo 20141223_093851_zpsi93wjnqq.jpg

Ordering was easy through the site. But it was the holiday season and Joanna was neck-deep in orders. :P She had to rush my order to meet my requested date. Overall, Joanna delivered.

See more of her collection here.

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PH Food Trip: Kettle

I honestly don’t know how you can watch your weight in the Philippines when the food is so good! In Manila, aside from going to historical and cultural sites, I’m pretty sure you will drop by the malls. They’re hard to miss. And if you find yourself in Shangri-la Mall or SM Aura, I highly recommend you find a seat in Kettle.

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They’re almost always packed! This was during the holiday season and I thought lots were  vacationing outside the city — I guess not.

We didn’t know what to order but while we were standing around waiting for our table, we were scouting at other diners’ tables. :P

For starters, we ordered the Kettle House Salad and Pork & Potato Strips. I love the salad and the berry balsamic dressing tasted very Asian. I should have asked if I can buy the dressing! The Pork & Potato Strips? I could eat it as a snack and never get tired of it! Ang sarap! The cheese? The pork? Why is it so good and so fattening at the same time?!

 photo 20141230_130548_zpsf7zcfrzx.jpgKettle House Salad

 photo 20141230_130448_zpsw6jh4cyp.jpgPork & Potato Strips

For the main course, we had the short ribs, mac & four cheese (for Rafa), and buttermilk fried chicken.

 photo 20141230_131959_zpszeudgljh.jpgU.S. Angus Short Ribs

 photo 20141230_131431_zpscbyyfgfp.jpgMac and Four Cheese photo 20141230_131034_zpsb3jg5bbm.jpgButtermilk Fried Chicken

Topnotch food I tell yah! I want to go back!

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Food Trip: Quan Ut Ut

 photo 20150115_174140_zpsb18f39bf.jpgQuan Ut Ut opened last year and honestly, I thought it has been along Vo Van Kiet road forever. The humongous sign of a pig wielding a slotted spoon is hard to miss when you’re driving from District 4 going over Cau Ong Lanh  to District 1.

 photo 20150115_174640_zpsa7b68228.jpgIt’s a perfect place for big groups to chow down on some barbecue and drink beer. If I were a beer-drinking person, I would definitely feel like drinking beer here.  :P

 photo 20150115_174652_zps43d566b3.jpgI’ve been hearing lots of good things about Oink Oink (Ut Ut) since last year. I’ve been meaning to drop by but dinners don’t usually work for me. They’re only open from 4pm – 12mn 7 days a week.

 photo 20150115_174446_zpsbc6871cf.jpgWhen hubby brought me here last Thursday, I was still hung over from all the holiday eating so I wasn’t really “game” to try the food. I love barbecue but I felt full.

 photo 20150115_175009_zpsb12a29f7.jpgThe smell of smoked barbecue was hard to resist. And so we settled on the BBQ Sampler so I could have a taste of their specialties.

 photo 20150115_175815_zps6905eeca.jpgThe sampler had rib tip, shoulder, smoked chicken, sausage, corn and coleslaw. You can exchange the slaw for okra if that’s more to your liking.

 photo 20150115_180016_zps23e70ad7.jpgAnd I just had to try the chicken skin with blue cheese dip. Sinful!!!

Honestly, I would like to come back and try more of their food. It was just difficult to order when it’s only 2 of you. Barbecues are definitely for big groups!

Quan Ut Ut
168 Vo Van Kiet St., D1
08 39144500

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PH Trip: Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen, Tagaytay

 photo 20141227_190143_LLS_zpse2de78f2.jpgOn our 6th day in the Philippines, yes, we decided to have dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, Bawai’s :D And it was ideal too because it was practically in the same area where we were staying in Tagaytay.

We actually wanted to eat dinner at Bawai’s the night before but was turned away as it was by reservation only. Bawai’s is only open 3 days a week (Friday-Sunday) and you must order in advance.

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Bawai is a family-owned business with the 1/2 of the owner is a Vietnamese lady. Bawai comes from the Vietnamese word bà ngoại which means, “grandmother”.

Since the place is really the home of the owners, they have very limited space in the second floor area (the first floor is reserved for parking), so with our big group (10 adults and 4 kids), we were designated at the garden gazebo.

 photo 20141227_190352_LLS_zps45aae39d.jpgWe can’t complain! With 4 kids, our group can be rowdy. We actually liked our private space as we were able to enjoy the cold Tagaytay weather. If you check the photo above, there are lots of Vietnamese products being sold including Vinamit and Trung Nguyen coffee (shelf). They were expensive of course! :P

 photo 20141227_190518_zps9dacb7c0.jpgIt was a tight space but cozy. :)

We ordered our favorite Vietnamese dishes. And we were happy that we got Bay’s stamp of approval. She said the dishes were authentic Vietnamese recipes. :D

 photo 20141227_192000_zps396d6787.jpgSpring Rolls 

 photo 20141227_192645_zps86058200.jpgGoi cuon
 photo 20141227_192741_zpscc4747b5.jpgGoi Rau Muong (Bawai’s House Salad)

 photo 20141227_192756_zpsc1b400da.jpgChao Tom

 photo 20141227_194234_zpsf0b4f39c.jpgBanh Xeo

 photo 20141227_194300_zps31b603dc.jpgGa Quinhon

 photo 20141227_195542_zps9d60183e.jpgCa Nuong Xa Ot (what’s left of it!!!)

 photo 20141227_195548_zps4073c90f.jpg
Tom Rang Me

Visit Bawai’s in Tagaytay at J. Hernandez Street, Pruok 5, Bucal, Silang, Cavite but contact them first by phone +63 920 972 2924.

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PH Trip: Puzzle Mansion, Tagaytay

 photo 20141227_163358_zps90b7e9b9.jpgAfter visiting Sky Ranch, we also navigated the inner roads of Tagaytay to visit the Puzzle Mansion where its owner, Gina Gil Lacuna houses some 1,028+ puzzles. 1028 was the official number when her collection was recognized by the Guinness World Records in 2012.

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The mansion is actually the family summer home of the Lacunas. We had to use Google maps to get to the place as there weren’t a lot of markers (or I just wasn’t paying attention) on how to get to the place.

 photo IMG_3006_zps317790cb.jpgIt was quite overwhelming seeing the extensive collection. And it wasn’t just about flat 1D puzzles. There were 3D-puzzles, wooden puzzles, crystal puzzles, and more.

 photo IMG_3004_zps441444db.jpgI especially liked the Van Gogh puzzles.

 photo IMG_3003_zps3b68cf64.jpgI mean you can’t get the original painting ever so might as well get the puzzle version. This wooden version was really cool. :D

 photo IMG_3002_zpsae77a717.jpgSome looked like real paintings from afar.

 photo 20141227_160422_zpse4ecc58b.jpgGina Gil Lacuna’s passion for puzzles is unmatched! Can’t imagine the time and energy put into building such intricately designed pieces.

 photo IMG_3011_zps2e1556c0.jpgYou can spend hours in the museum!

 photo IMG_3008_zps737aeb61.jpgI wish I could have spent a longer time here.

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More puzzles!
 photo IMG_3012_zps7800f102.jpgThis 5000-piece Disney puzzle was what ignited Gina’s love for puzzles. She got this for his then 2 year old son, Gino.

 photo 20141227_160017_zps1dc26c1a.jpg30 years later, she is still at it. In fact, in 2013, she completed the 32,000-piece Ravensburg puzzle — the biggest in the world! You can read a story about that from Travel on a Shoestring.

 photo IMG_3019_zps4935243b.jpgIf you don’t want a screaming toddler demanding for a puzzle, I suggest you don’t drop by their Puzzle shop upstairs!

 photo IMG_3016_zps84b87d65.jpgInside my head, I was screaming too! I want those puzzles!

 photo IMG_3014_zps880ea246.jpgOh and we just had to have our photo taken with the Mona Lisa.

 photo 20141227_160234_zpsaa02cac5.jpgThe Puzzle Mansion has a bed & breakfast too so if you love puzzles and want to take your sweet time going through the museum, why not stay here too? Oh and you can also have guided tours by Gina herself.

Puzzle Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Cuadra Street, Brgy. Asisan
Tagaytay City, PH

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PH Trip: Sky Ranch Tagaytay

Our home in the Philippines is actually just 30 minutes from Tagaytay. But clearly, it has been quite a while since we returned because Tagaytay now has Sky Ranch. And unfortunately, it was the wrong time of the year to go to this place with the long queues everywhere!
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Sky Ranch is an amusement park overlooking the famous smallest volcano in the whole world, Taal.
 photo 20141227_110718_zps9a1ea3b5.jpgDespite the crowds, it was a perfect day for visiting with the lovely cool weather.

 photo 20141227_105901_zpsb856925b.jpgI’m really just not fond of crowds and queuing having my fill studying at the University of the Philippines during the early 90s when queuing is a norm <insert deep breath> when enrolling for each class and the fact that I used to work in QC and Manila when I lived in Cavite (2-3 hours commute one way). I know I am ranting!

 photo IMG_2977_zps798ef575.jpgAside from lining up to get entrance tickets, you still have to line up to pay for each of the rides you want to get on. Okay so you pay for all the rides you want go first — but the line was loooong. Check out the line along at the Nessi Coaster. I just wished that they had a ride all you can ticket you can pay out front or a ticket for all the kiddie rides. That would have saved us a lot of time. My sister had to queue for an hour.

 photo IMG_2973_zps29452f8a.jpgWhile my sister patiently lined up, all we could do is take in the surroundings and wish we were on one of the rides. :P Yes, Grinch in the Ranch. photo IMG_2968_zps38c3df44.jpgAfter consuming cotton candy and popcorn, the kids finally got to ride! And finally, there were some side shows happening.
 photo 20141227_124408_zps304be963.jpgSaw this guy walking home along the road after his gig. :P

 photo 20141227_124401_zps57470514.jpgThankfully, the weather was great for I can’t imagine these 2 guys baking under the hot sun.

 photo 20141227_123105_zps6e760bd6.jpgOur Vietnamese nanny, wanted to go horseback riding so she got on one. :D After one round though, she wanted to go down!! This one roughly costs 5 USD!

 photo 20141227_123820_zpsdce85c7a.jpgI on the other hand wanted to get on this one: photo 20141227_110731_zps3bc5b1f9.jpgBut I balked at the price.
 photo 20141227_121012_zps6c284297.jpgThe kids had fun though so I couldn’t really complain all that much. My 2 year old Rafa was such a trooper and would automatically say, “Next!” after getting off a ride!

 photo IMG_2999_zpsd3baa1a6.jpgHe just got disappointed when they wouldn’t let him ride a horse with his dad because he was too young. But he did get to ride an ostrich in Mui Ne when he was much younger so…

 photo 10407636_10153062318902646_6217758114499627078_n_zps671814fe.jpgAll’s well that ends well I guess. What matters is that the kids had fun and the adults enjoyed watching the kids.

 photo 20141227_105830_zps5225e64e.jpgWould we go back? Yes! But not during the holidays!

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