Saturday, February 18, 2012

Abe's Farm

The weekend leading to Valentine's Day, we found ourselves heading to Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga. We intended to watch again the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and then have a foodie trip to Abe's Farm. 

I opened this blog with a quote from one of my favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien because for the first time in many years, we treated this short trip as a raw adventure. We didn't have tickets yet to the show, no confirmed hotel accommodation and no itinerary. Ha, the hotel was an adventure in itself. Will write separately, about it. It was furiously hilarious!

Now, going back to our food trip. From Clark, we took the Angeles exit which was just about 10 minutes away. Then, following the sign, we took the right turn towards Barangay Ayala in Magalang, Pampanga. The moment we entered the road though, I started dozing off. Can't help it, we woke up so early for the hot air balloon!

Minutes before we arrived, our designated driver, Tyrone who happens to be my fiance nudged me. He thought we were close to the farm already but we found out that it was still a good 15 minutes or so. However, I didn't mind because the barrio was so quaint and serene. There were rows of pine trees on both sides of the road and there were vegetable and organic farms that we passed by. The scenery was really calming... and making me woozy again. Ha ha ha. But I fought off the sleepiness. I want to be in the moment. 

Awhile later, this greeted us. 
Don't get dizzy! Hard to shoot from my phone because there was already a car behind us.
The farm opened to a spacious parking on the right and a generously planted flower garden to the left. In the middle of the property is the pebbled path towards the restaurant. 
Welcome to Abe's Farm.
This is how the restaurant looks like from the outside. Going in, there's a small reception area furnished with local furniture. I assumed they were all vintage. I gave my name to the receptionist then, we were led to our table -- with a view of the back property. 
There's a small pool behind us. Great for frolicking with a small of group of family and friends.
Tyrone and I. Whee!
Once seated, and ordered, might I add, we explored the different parts of the restaurant. Just a caveat, don't go there on an empty stomach. It takes a while for the food to be served. Yes, really quite a long while. 

While waiting, we admired the character of the place. 
the loft.

at the main reception hall. there are photographs of JGC's ancestors on the banquet table.

When the food was served, it was just right on time. We were dying to eat and savor the freshness of farm-produced vegetables. And it did not disappoint. 
Nilagang Baboy (P300+). Had the right texture. Ah, mouth-watering.
Baby Squid in Olive Oil (P150+). The softest I've tasted. Delish!
We finished our sumptuous meal with coffee with caramel bars that we brought for the road trip. Takot magutom sa daan.

To fend off sleepiness generally associated with full meals :-) we walked around the property and admired the view some more. And took some pictures, some more. 
it'd be nice to watch the stars at night here.
this is a huge open space. can hold garden weddings.
And for those who would want to sleep here, they have very lovely huts and family rooms. There are only a few, so privacy is really guaranteed. And it would feel like you actually own the place. We wanted so much to stay here the night before but it was fully booked! So book early, if you intend to sleep over. 

Family and friends can play in the game rooms and even tennis in their small courtyard beyond the grassy open space. And one can choose to be pampered as well for they have spa services. 
the spa room. very resort-like!
The hut (for accommodations) is amazingly beautiful. And for a rate of P2990 for 3 persons, it's a steal!

 So, if you're looking for a quick getaway, check out this place. We had a grand time, you would, too. Check out its website here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine!

It is the things in common that make relationships enjoyable, but it is the little differences that make them interesting.- Todd Ruthman

A little over midnight, I received these cute stuff from Tyrone. I shrieked in delight because the gift isn't just practical, it's fun. Then, I read his card. I almost wanted to cry. He's a man of few words but always it's simplicity in form more than make up for the fireworks. 

Today, as I stepped into the lobby of my floor, I saw rows and rows of red roses. Ah, some vendors have officially made it to our office. Thoughtful, eh?
We brought the store to your doorstep!

As I walked towards my cubicle, I saw that there were pink balloons taped on the door of each cube. 
Avon Loves You
And a personalized note and a cute bundle await me on top of my table. 
A sweet note, a lipstick and a small bottle of fragrance for V-day.
Clap, clap. Don't you just love it? When no one seems to care to give you anything, at least you won't go home empty-handed. Avon has thought of you. Whee!

Around 10 o'clock, we were called to gather near the lobby. Ah, there are two musicians there already poised to serenade us. 
They played two songs. Not bad.
And while they were playing, our yellow boys started distributing cupcakes. 
Hello, Becky's Kitchen.
And so Avon just made our Valentine's Day a little more fun. Thank you, Avon. Thank you to all our loved ones and friends. To everyone, may your day be just as fun as we have had today.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Malaysia, Truly Asia

I opened 2012 with a luggage in tow. Since I always spend the Christmas holidays at my hometown in Davao, I have always opened the year with my travel back to Manila. January 1 is such a dreary day to travel as generally, travelers are still smarting from the loneliness of going away from family and friends. 

Yes, am one of them. Leaving home never fails to tug my heart :-( Yeah, yeah am a wuss. Yet, I always get a kick out of traveling especially if it's not long-term. Third week of January, Avon brought us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our 2012 Field Team Conference. 
Tallest Twin Tower in Asia.
I've already managed my expectations knowing that we will surely be on a tight schedule as we are there for business. Yes, day and night, we are on a schedule. Plenary. Recognition Night. Fellowship Night. Then, last night. Ha ha ha. 

In spite of the time constraint though, we were able to have a glimpse of Kuala Lumpur. I've observed that they have longer days. The sun sets at eight in the evening! At six in the morning, the sun is still hiding from humanity. Quite the opposite in Manila where at 5pm, the sky starts to darken already. 

Upon arrival, the first thing we did was look for a hawker's place. Naturally, we rode their public transport. Act like a local, is our mantra. We rode the Mono Rail Transit. 
My friend, Josette at the train station.

And ate authentic Malay food. 
At the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel. Laksa, Papa Dom, and Roti are the best here.

Back at the hotel, we saw from a distance the magnificence of this structure. So, we promised ourselves that the next night, come hell or high water, we shall see it. And we did!
Petronas Twin Towers from afar.
Of course, no travel abroad is complete without the requisite shopping. Did I mention that our schedule was tight? Yes, because all the malls were already close every time we dash for them. So, we opted to take our pictures on their facade. Fun, eh?
And as promised, the following night, we raced to the KLCC. Lo and behold, we only had 30 minutes before the tower lights were shut off. So, this is what I was able to capture from my phone. 
Hello, Petronas. We had to bend several ways just to get a good shot.
Then, we found a platform. Afterwards, we learned it's prohibited to be up on this ledge. Ha.ha.
Malaysia has so many Public Banks. Yes, it's called Public Bank.
On our last day, we had a mini-city tour. We went to the King's Palace. According to the tour guide, there are seven kings right now in Malaysia but only one is elected to represent the OPEC. 
One of several palaces. Here with beauties Erika and Gemma.
View from the top.
And here are the conference delegates. 
These ladies are the last batch of Train-the-Trainers training I handled (2010) before I transitioned to the Operations Development Team.
The field Sales & Operations team with the Head Office Support and the Executive Team.
Thank you, Avon! Go for More in 2012.