Sunday, January 18, 2015

Paras Beach Resort (Camiguin)

What is ideal about Paras Beach Resort is its nearness to White Island. In fact, we can see the island or sandbar from the resort. It has its own boats that can ferry guests to White Island before that amazing sunset.

When we arrived in Paras, we felt relieved seeing a resort that is simple and clean. Its hammock was an immediate resting place. After a less than an hour of air travel and seeing Camiguin with all its simplicity, this resort complements that feeling of arriving to a place away from the chaos that is Metro Manila.

Paras Beach Resort is just a few minutes away from the only airport in Camiguin which at this time is exclusive only to Cebu Pacific. Getting here from the airport in Mambadjao is without the horrendous traffic common in Metro Manila. We thus arrived without much hassle.

The hammock is not only the place where it is good to relax in Paras. The whole resort facing the sea gives a very relaxing ambience where guests can just sit down and look at the horizon and rest. There is a swimming pool, a view deck and a restaurant.  However, the resort lacks a beachfront ideal for swimming.

We were booked only overnight and time seems to move fast. Everything feels like to be moving at a fast pace. We wanted more time to enjoy this resort. But we don't have the luxury of time. We are on a schedule to tour Camiguin Countryside and be back to this resort to visit White Island. 

The strategic location of Paras Beach Resort is perfect for travelers without the luxury of time. Its proximity to White Island is enough for a quick trip after visiting Camiguin's Countryside and its places of interest such as the Sto. Nino Cold Springs, Ardent Hot Springs, Sunken Cemetery, Old Church Ruins, Katibawasan Falls and a lot more. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

City of Dreams Manila (Paranaque)

The name is intriguing itself "City of Dreams Manila" is somehow synonymous with the fulfillment of everyone’s heart and desires.

This “City of Dreams” is actually a newly built shining building with a golden facade within the vicinity of Paranaque in Asean Avenue Corner Roxas Boulevard near the Department of Foreign Affairs, Solaire and SNR Shopping Center. It rests on the reclaimed portion of Manila Bay together with other hotels, condominiums and one of the biggest malls in the Philippines.

The golden color of the building immediately evokes grandeur, richness and of being world class. From the road, the golden façade of the building cannot be missed. At night, most of the building glows showing varied color of illumination.  As I look outside the City of Dreams, I thought of Macau. I imagined what it would be like if the whole reclaimed area is transformed to a “Macau like” place. Just like Solaire and Resorts World, City of Dreams ushers in a new level of entertainment not only in Paranaque but also in the entire Philippines.

Several posh restaurants, high-end stores and entertainment venues are set to open or are already in operation in the City of Dreams such as Ruby Jack's Steakhouse and Bar, Roberto Cavalli, Chaos Bar, Rolex, Piaget Hermes Montblanc, Rimowa Luggage, and a lot more.   

Sunday, January 11, 2015

King's Indian Defense (Four Pawns Attack)

Larry Christiansen vs. Garry Kasparov
King's Indian Defense (Four Pawns Attack)
Moscow, 1982

It is very intimidating to face the Four Pawns Attack of the King's Indian Defense. Once White is able to set up four pawns to occupy the center of the board,  he undoubtedly gains space and often the advantage. Control of the center squares is very important in the game of chess. It is the center squares (e4, e5, d4, d5, c4, c5, f4 and f5) which are often the center of contention. It is said the "centralization" is the key in winning a chess game.

During the early stages of the game, white was able to gain control of the center squares. But, Kasparov was able to ingeniously create favorable situations for his pieces and suddenly something strange appeared on the board where three black pawns occupying a single file.  In high level games such as this, it is extraordinary to see such a formation.  At first, white gains full control of the center but as the game progresses, Kasparov was able to conquer the "d file" with his pawns move by move.

After 28.__Rfe8.  After Black's 28th move,  an unusual position appeared on the chessboard. 
The game is a very good example on how to play against the four pawns attack of the Kings Indian Defense. It is worth the time to re-play this game. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Azumi Boutique Hotel (Alabang, Muntinlupa)

Azumi Boutique Hotel is walking distance from the Alabang Town Center - around five to ten minutes walk depending on the pace. It is very near a Shell Gasoline Station at the Madrigal Business Park - a quaint and dark painted building almost behind the gasoline station.

The hotel is just right for its size.  It is small compared to other hotels but it has demonstrated an intelligent use of space both in design and use of colors. Its walls are painted white mostly accentuated by dark colors creating an apparently much bigger space.

The lobby manned by friendly staff desperately attends to the need of the guests at Christmas Eve.  We were asked for a P1,000.00 deposit refundable upon check-out and we were required to sign a “waiver” releasing the hotel  from responsibility in the event of any untoward incident at their infinity pool located at its roof deck.

We booked a “Queen Room” overnight priced at P3,117.80 [USD 69.87]. Mirrors on the wall have made the room looked bigger than its actual size.  The wood design of the floors and the orange color of the pieces of the furniture complement the entire room giving assurance of a relaxing stay.  The floor to ceiling glass window gives a view of the outside world making the room ideal for a little sightseeing. Blinds can be pulled down for more privacy.

The  Queen room is air conditioned, complete with a Queen Sized Bed, a couch convertible to a single bed, a led TV, safety deposit box, microwave oven, refrigerator and a coffee or tea making equipment. The bathroom is clean, with basic amenities, with a glass wall where blinds can be pulled down for privacy.

Breakfast is not included in the price. Guests however can purchase a “voucher or ticket” for a buffet breakfast at P 350 per person. Breakfast is at their “Romulo Café” with a historical feel as the white painted walls are decorated by old photos of the great man.

During breakfast, I think their service may need some improvement.  With the number of guests at that time the hotel seemed to be undermanned. The food is of good quality but not that awesome compared to what is served at Taal Vista Hotel. Of course, it may not be right to compare the two hotels given the difference in their price range.

There were a handful of guests who opted to spend Christmas at this hotel located exactly at 2205 Market Street, Madrigal Business Park Phase III, Alabang, Muntinlupa (Tel Nos. +6328699888; +6323829864). The hotel’s location is ideal for a short walk to various establishments including the St. Jerome Church were we attended mass that evening of December 24.

We never had any problem in the parking. The number of vehicles at that time was well enough to be accommodated at its parking located at the lower floors of the hotel. The elevators however were quite small and we need to wait several times for our turn to ride.

Azumi provides a good vantage view of Alabang and the whole Madrigal Business Park. At the infinity pool, we can see Laguna Lake and far-away areas. The infinity pool is just right for its size and is lighted at night. Guests specially those with children should take extra precaution when using the swimming pool precisely due to its location. It is a shallow pool and we have not seen any lifeguards during our stay.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Nurture Wellness Village/Nurture Spa (Tagaytay)

Nurture Wellness Village 
Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II 
West Cavite, Tagaytay, Luzon 4120, Philippines
Mobile: +63 918 888 8772
Telephone: +63 2 710 9786

There is an easy escape from the stress and hustles of the urban life where everything seems to move fast and existence is as fleeting as time itself. If you live in Metro Manila, the usual escape is Tagaytay where in just about two hours a different world suddenly reappears. The place has its secrets and  revelations. With its famous "volcano on a lake" and crisp cool air, Tagaytay is often considered as an escape from it all.  Why it should not be? Tagaytay has restaurants with relaxing views, hotels for soul resting sleep, flowers for meditation and that feeling of calm after a very tiring endeavor to at least survive the city life.

Nurture Spa is such one escape. It has not that endearing view of the Taal Volcano, but once you set foot within its enclave there is that feeling that finally you found it. A relaxing embrace where stress immediately fades at the mere sight of the reception. 

How I wish I could have stayed a little longer with time frozen on the midst.  
But, sometimes just walking around a well maintained landscape is more than enough to provide that much sought after relaxation...

It is said that food nourishes not only the body but the mind as well. At Nurture Spa, there is no shortage of greens both in the garden and in the restaurant.  The "Kale Juice" was a revelation and a treat. Its health benefits are enormous according to study. The delicious and nutritious juice  is prepared heavenly fresh since this green leafy vegetable is planted and harvested in Nurture Spa's own garden. 

Nurture Wellness Village/Nurture Spa is pampering, relaxation, wellness and a lot more. It is not often that we see a place that actually provides what is sought when the body and mind seeks an escape from stress. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

White Island (Camiguin)

Around 15 minutes off Mambadjao Camiguin, there is an island that immediately captivates and intrigues travelers – White Island.  Not an island really, but an uninhabited sandbar that changes shape and form depending on the tide.

White Island is very accessible from Paras Beach Resort.  It appears to be a shining gem from this resort in the middle of day. As we were having breakfast in this resort’s restaurant, we can see White Island as if inviting us to go and visit. We did, but that was after we have toured the whole island of Camiguin.

White Island is one beautiful spot for a photo shoot. Photos shot on the island appears to be as if you have traveled to an isolated area with the beach all to yourself. With the volcanic island of Camiguin as background, White Island seems to be somewhere in far away Hawaii as said by some who had been there.

Sunset is the best time to visit White Island. Just make sure that rains will not ruin the romantic ambiance.  There are beach umbrellas for rent on White Island that we thought is much better without. Any form of improvement on an island that is expected to be somehow isolated can be considered a nuisance of some sorts yet we came to accept that entrepreneurship is always present where tourists can be found.

White Island is somehow similar to Puka Beach in Boracay without the Puka shells. Its sands are soft to touch, pristine and magically white. The sands composing White Island slips on your hand while you hold them similar to an hourglass reminding of the passage of time. And time does pass unnoticed at White Island.

After a few minutes of snorkeling, swimming and frolicking in the sand – it was already sunset. It was a very beautiful sunset that has to be enjoyed in full. The array of colors are common but the nostalgia of seeing a sunset while on a sandbar is something different from us who lived most of our lives in densely populated Metro Manila.  It is more than spectacular and it is definitely not an exaggeration.

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