Sunday, February 24, 2013

Manic Monday: Charlotte Olympia + Banana Leaves = Awesome

*photos sourced from and google search results edited using my bff, photoshop =)

I've been browsing the Outnet site and stumbled upon these 3 Charlotte Olympia shoes. How cute are these? *drool* One of each please!

Ahhh, the list of CO items to be obsessed about just got longer. I'm not even over the kitty flats and platform pumps (soooo last year right? haha!)

Here kitty, kitty...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shoptalk: Amazon WarehouseDeals

*Note: This is not a sponsored post. Just writing about one of my interests which is online shopping =) 

If you're not familiar with this dimension of Amazon yet (where have you been? jk!), Warehousedeals "features deep discounts on open-box, like-new, refurbished, and used products from".
I've been ordering from warehousedeals since 2009 and I make it a point to regularly check (like once a week) new items that have been added (women's shoes size 6 please!).
As explained in their "How warehousedeals works" illustration, they ensure working condition and assess the product quality of an item. I believe the best quality would be "used - like new". I've ordered items in "used - good" condition but nothing worse/lower than that. Expect though, that they will usually have one stock for an item. If you're lucky, you can stumble upon designer shoes in your size at up to 80% off. This is just our little secret: they'll actually reduce the price further the longer it is listed. Since you can't actually add the warehousedeals items to your wish list, you can just add them to your cart and 'save for later' so you can monitor further reductions.
Based on my experience, the items are packed really well and I've never had an issue with the quality. Even the item in good, used condition -- though it came with a warning that it might have scuffs/scratches and whatnot -- actually looked brand new to me. I did order a pair of Dolce Vita sandals that came instead in a plain, brown shoe box so that's something to keep in mind if you're particular about receiving shoes in its original box. Aside from shoes, I've also ordered some outdoor/sports gear.
Just some of the best deals I've gotten are:
  • his and hers Osprey hydration packs which we've used many times on MTB (mountain bike) rides and light treks at 40-60% off
  • 2XU compression tights which I also use during bike rides and evening jogs at more than 50% off
  • Sesto Meucci brown leather huarache sandals at 70% off (fell in love with the bohemian vibe of it!)

I have my eye on a few pairs (warning: items in my size) right now.
If you love oxfords like I do, check out these classic John Fluevog ones listed at $57 (originally $255!!!).

Can't go wrong with these black pumps from Dolce Vita and Rebecca Minkoff now listed at only $47 (retails for $189!) and $88 (originally $325!) respectively.

How about these designer pairs by Jean Michel-Cazabat, Kate Spade, Badgely Mishka and See by Chloe at around 40-60% off. I just might pull the trigger on those perfect nude kate spade pumps.

Since, I've been using/abusing my new balance running shoes for hikes/treks, it's time that I buy myself a decent pair of hiking shoes, no? Funny that these are a close second choice (to the KS pair) for me:

Before ordering anything online, I make it a point to read reviews/feedback on sizing/fit and comfort. Also, try to see if it really is indeed the best deal out there (consider shipping fees, taxes, return policies and reputation of the seller). Sounds like a lot of work but doing research is just the wise thing to do, right?

Share your favorite warehousedeals finds and good/bad stories? What are you coveting right now?

Continuation: Our Batanes Adventure - The Food


So let's talk about where and what to eat first =)
Sorry my thoughts seem quite scattered. Guess, you'll just have to get used to it.

The Food
I'd go back to Batanes just for the food. To be honest, I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I mean, just look at this platter of food that they served us at Pension Ivatan!
Even the sweet potatoes seem more delicious here -- sweeter and creamier somehow! Now, if you ask people what food you should try when in Batanes, most common must-try will be this alien-like (stargate maybe?) creature:
It's the cocunut crab (also called robber crab). It sorta looks like a giant hermit crab, no? I would've love to watch it open a coconut but they say it will take quite some time (like almost a whole day!?).
Tada, steamed and ready to eat! He was delicious but I would rather not meet my meals before eating them though...

If you're not a fan of seafood, not very adventurous 'food-wise or allergic, you can look for Casa Napoli. They serve really good pizza and pasta dishes. Well, it's the only pizza place in Batanes that I know of. We were lucky coz we actually knew the couple who owns it so we got some special treatment (wink). We loved it so much we came back early the next day to have pizza for breakfast.

During our island tour to Sabtang Island, we were served this bounty for lunch:
Grilled fish, Pork adobo with pineapples, sauteed veggies and the star of the table, bocayo for dessert. How can something made from coconut and brown sugar be so good? I've tasted quite a few bocayo but this one is the best so far. I swear I'm willing to fight to the teeth for a crumb of this (I could be exaggerating a wee bit).

We were also lucky to have visited Batanes at the same time that famous food and travel blogger Anton Diaz is hosting a tour there so we were actually able to join and enjoy the private al fresco dinner he arranged at Fundacion Pacita which came with a cultural show. The show was good but the chicken was a bit on the dry side.
As well as a barbecue dinner at the Basco lighthouse.

As I was staring into the night sky, I  couldn't help but feel really, really lucky to be there at that moment and so thankful for the great weather, company and happy in this trip. Definitely, the trip was one for the books =)

These blogs actually have a more complete list of places to eat in Batanes:

Guess I need another post for the other Batanes info/story I want to share...

To be continued!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Throwback: Our Batanes Adventure

It has been 8 months since our trip to Batanes but whenever our group gets together, we still cant help but talk and gush about it. I can say for certain that it's my best and most memorable trip yet. I admit though that traveling with a fun group of people was a big factor. It always is, right?

I'll try to cover as much as I can share in one post (at least, those that I think those wanting to travel to Batanes will find quite useful).
The Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA) is a tour operator that offers several packages to Batanes -- from the somewhat affordable to somewhat luxurious (yes, it is quite possible). According to their site, they are working with the local government to promote Batanes. Their website is pretty comprehensive ( so it will be good to check it out. If you live or work around Ortigas, you can drop by  their office at the Park Chateau condo (it's near Unionbank bldg) and actually talk to someone (if that's what you prefer). They can actually assist you in choosing your accomodations and preparing your itinerary.

Flying to Batanes

We flew via SkyJet. I believe it is affiliated with the Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA). They have flights twice a week. According to a recent post at, that hasnt changed. It also lists some other airline options and costs ( I should warn you that flights to Batanes aren't exactly cheap. With the prevalence of promo fares, you can get much, much cheaper flights to say, Thailand, HK or Singapore.
We had a talk with our very wise guide, Ed, about this and I hope I can convey the message he wanted to say -- that attracting tourists is not really a priority for them -- they would prefer that few people visit actually. They have seen the effect that tourism does to a place and somewhat controlling the number of people that do visit to a few groups at a time will help them maintain and preserve the culture. Afterall, Batanes was declared by UNESCO Paris as a World Heritage site. I hope that made some sense.

Where to stay
We initially planned to stay at the swanky and famous Fundacion Pacita.

Unfortunately, it was fully-booked so we ended up choosing Octagon Bed and Dine ( which wasn't so bad (except for the water pressure tho I'm unsure if this is the case throughout the island). It was cozy (I loved the knickknacks and quirky wood carvings) and had an amazing view of the sea and a lighthouse. The breakfast fare was pretty good too and they had a well-stocked fridge (sanmig light anytime). They only had 3 rooms which was just enough for our group so we thought we had the place to ourselves. But since it's a local hangout, people will come and drink and sing. Don't worry though, the videoke/karaoke singing is usually over by 10pm.

To be continued...
The Food
Where to go/What to see: I'll share our itinerary and some awesome photos
Other things you should know...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Surviving Mount Pulag

It has been unusually cold during the past few weeks. News that the temperature at the Pulag summit reached zero was quite disturbing for me. You see, I love summer. I love the beach. I love the sun. I pretty much don't care for the cold. I only tolerate it coz I get to wear my extensive collection of coats (I own too many for our climate). Needless to say, it set off the 'doomsday prepper' in me. In the end, while lying inside our tent waiting for sleep to come, I found myself wearing a thermal shirt, 2 layers of fleece jackets, a north face jacket (with fleece lining still) with hood and a thin waterproof/windproof jacket, thermal leggings, regular leggings, trek pants, 3 pairs of socks, 1 thick pair of fleece gloves, 1 fleece bonnet and 1 headware scarf worn as a baklava.
Now, i wasn't really wearing all that during the 6-8 hour trek to the campsite. You'll need your thermal shirt and leggings only after sundown when the temperature will start to drop pretty fast. You'll mostly be wearing a baselayer or dri-fit shirt and a light jacket throughout the trek.

But first thing's first, if you were to ask me if I found the climb to be easy, I would say not really. Pulag is afterall the highest peak in Luzon. It looks quite easy looking at pictures but somehow didnt feel that way. I consider myself quite a fit person (I work out regularly) and never expected to struggle as much as I did. And we did the easier of the 2 trails, Ambangeg! Most times, all I can hear is the heavy pounding of my heart (not exaggerating). I suppose it's the weight of our bags and the thinner air that made the difference (excuses maybe?).

So some questions you need to ask and do if you're thinking of climbing pulag for the first time:
  1. Do you want to hire a porter? You and a few friends can actually pool your heavier stuff and hire a porter to carry it with you. By stuff, I mean your tents, cooking gear, etc. You can just choose to carry a bag with your hydration, jacket, essentials, etc.
  2. Are you physically prepared? Taking the stairs to your office at the 10th floor daily for 2 weeks will help some ;-)
  3. Are you prepared for the cold? It depends which time of the year you're going. If it's summer already, you wouldnt have to bring as much. But if the forecast says it will be below 10 degrees, you will need at least 3 layers of clothing. Thermal shirt and leggings for me is a must. It need not be expensive I bought ours from greenhills for 450 pesos per set and it was pretty effective. Just dont expect it to have moisture wicking technology.
  4. How much water should you bring? My hydration pack can carry up to 3 liters of water. I also carried a 1 liter water bottle. I was able to consume it all plus 1 liter which I refilled from a spring water source. There are a couple water sources located near camp 1 and 2 so if you have some puritabs, maybe you wont have to carry as much water as I did.
  5. Where's the restroom? Fortunately, Pulag has several latrines set up. But then, if you really need to go and a latrine is nowhere in sight, do it off the path.
  6. Which camp will you spend the night? Our group chose to stay at camp 3 which is also known as 'saddle camp'. It is around 2 hours away from camp 2. The advantage of camping at saddle camp, it is nearest the summit so you wouldn't have to wake up 2 hours earlier and trek in the dark from camps 1 and 2.  

 Other things to expect/remember:
  • The jeepney ride from Baguio to the ranger station is around 3 hours long. The road is winding and you will get dizzy so better take something 30 mins before the ride (dizitab/bonamine).
  • If you plan to take the bus back to manila, compute what time you will get back the next day and buy your tickets already. Otherwise, you'd have to consider falling in the 'chance passengers' line. It's really not advisable for big groups to do that. Just to give you an idea, my boyfriend and I tried to buy our tickets when we got back to Baguio from Pulag at 5pm but the available ticket is for 5am already. So our only option was as chance passengers and we got accommodated by the 7pm bus.

It will be hard but it will be worth it. Watching the sun rise high above a sea of clouds (literally!), is really a unique experience. I can't wait to try  the Akiki trail (aka, killer trail) next time. I promise to be more prepared then.