Turning Over A New Leaf

All my life, I have lived with an extended family. Well, almost. My parents were given their own apartment unit when they were starting their married life until I was in my primary school. Then my grandmother invited us to live with her when I was in secondary school until last year. Similarly, my uncle together with his kids lived there too. There were nine of us in total in a house with five bedrooms.

When a consensus to sell my grandmother's property happened, I had second thoughts and a fair bit of anxiety. The location was very ideal - it was situated in a central business district. We lived very close to banks, wet markets, groceries, offices, malls, schools, churches. I've seen the development in this area, know the people very well in our neighborhood and transportation is excellent.

Living in an extended family is not always a bed of roses. But the relationships are better these days. I just miss the laughter between shared meals and the fun conversations. But from time to time, we meet up and enjoy these things again.

We have settled in our new home, my haven which is definitely far better than the older house though smaller. My mom and I have personally chosen every furniture and detail, exemplifying a minimalist home so I and my wheelchair can move freely minus the unnecessary clutter. Let me share with you  bits and pieces of our house.

This is one side of our living room. The throw pillows can dramatically change the "look" of the furniture. Mix-matching these can also spice up the room and make it exciting each time.

This accent chair with a huge round mirror above it is part of the living room.

The dining room with the red and white focal wall sits eight people. The white wall decor on the red wall is a seeming conversation piece among our visitors.

The L-shape modular kitchen we try to keep clean and hygienic at all times. My mom adores cooking and the dishes she prepares make everyone happy.

The lanai is one of my favorite places at home where we hang out and chat while sipping a cup of coffee. The breeze in this place is always good. I can doze off at an instant as I hear the birds chirping and the gentle swaying of leaves in my environment.

We love how the house has transformed. My parents muse that they prefer just staying indoors, enjoying the peace and quietness of the surroundings as we start to create wonderful and lasting  memories. I intend to have an organic garden soon by planting tomatoes and bitter melon. How about you, what is your favorite place in your house? 


Liliw, Laguna: Home of Quality Footwear and Comfort Food

I love nature! As a ManileƱo, the congested streets and the sight of harried people everywhere are but a common occurrence since I remember. And I feel blessed that my family and I have transferred to a community way better than our previous because the air is definitely fresher, the environment  more peaceful where I can beautify the haven we call our home.

Last Friday, I was able to cajole my parents for another impromptu road trip to Liliw, Laguna via Teresa where I enjoyed viewing the lush and prolific environment I cannot see in the city. Though the route was farther than in SLEX (South Luzon Express Way); it was definitely more relaxing and enjoyable!

A long stretch of an entire street is replete with stores filled with a variety of local shoes, slippers and bags! Liliw, Laguna is known for this product that are sold all over the country. Surprisingly, the items are very affordable! You can get 3 pairs of slippers for only P100. I was also able to get a braided silver body bag for P170 and mind you, the material though synthetic is soft and looks like the genuine leather. More so, the  quality is excellent.

While going around, we found this interesting building - a restaurant with magnificent facade. Because they served food on the second floor minus an elevator, we opted to take a picture instead. And have you observed the contrast between the stark dark sky against the pristine house? Amazing, right?!

Cafe Arabela, known for their pizza, pasta and steak is another restaurant that is quite famous in this vicinity. Despite its low ceiling, the guests will truly go out of the place with a smile and a feeling of contentedness. The crew are hospitable and amiable. The food appetizing and visually appealing!

Chicken galantina

Baked ziti


Chicken pizza

They were generous with the senior and PWD discount as we presented our IDs to them. Thank you! On the contrary, their prices were quite steep and is comparable to the food establishments here in the metro. Then again, we don't visit Liliw, Laguna everyday. Splurging once in every while to make myself and my parents happy is not a bad idea after all.

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Ca Phe Saigon: More Than Just a Vietnamese Restaurant

I will never get tired of hearing inspirational stories first-hand. They are not only encouraging. The recipient of the story may conclude that our gracious God continues to work in the lives of others despite its mundaneness.

Similarly, we don't get to meet people everyday who are happy and triumphant even after their uncountable obstacles that may hinder them to see the glass half full. And I was delighted to meet Mr. Sonny and Mrs. Hynh Thi Huong (Mary Rose) Bonifacio, the owners of Ca Phe Saigon.

(L-R) Mr. Sonny Bonifacio with my parents

Mrs. Hynh Thi Huong (Mary Rose) Bonifacio who later exchanged pleasantries with us

Healthier Food Choices
After the evening service, my parents and I bravely explored the streets of San Roque, Marikina to try the Vietnamese dishes this hole-in-the-wall restaurant offered. I was personally magnetized to this particular place after reading a mixture of good and unpleasant reviews from Zomato. Even the rain did not hinder us from our intent!

Pomelo Salad P220. Chunks of sweet pomelo tossed in shredded cabbage and carrots topped with shrimp and lean pork

Spicy Tamarind Pork Ribs P270. Slow cooked fall off the bone tender pork ribs basted with tamarind sauce. Served with side salad and rice.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup P160. Vietnamese beef pho noodles served with a side of sprouts and basil leaves.

Fresh Rolls P180. Rice noodles with lettuce, mint leaves, lean pork and shrimps all rolled up and served with peanut sauce.

Vietnamese Iced Tea (tamarind and winter melon) P60 per glass and Vietnamese Iced Coffee P100

Fresh basil served for your pho and other condiments at the back

Humble Beginnings
Mr. Sonny Bonifacio, the owner of Ca Phe Saigon took his chance to find his luck in Vietnam with only $100 in his pocket in 1965. For three months, he only ate one meal per day and eventually landed a job. As a Christian, he vowed to the heavens to help other individuals for a year to repay the goodness he had reaped. He worked hard. I remembered him saying, I was from Tondo. I don't want to die poor."

In 1968, Mrs. Hynh Thi Huong (Mary Rose) Bonifacio lived in the Philippines  after Mr. Sonny captured her heart and the rest is history. They have three admirable children. Their youngest is the brain behind Ca Phe Saigon who happens to be the owner Sweet Apple Creations. The cupcakes she baked were also sold in the restaurant that used to be the family's garage while the bakeshop is located on the other side of their house. Nonetheless, the entire place was very decent, clean, brightly lighted with amiable staff ever ready to answer our questions (regarding their food).

I was also surprised to receive a recycled notebook from Mr. Bonifacio. He shared to us that he used to be the supplier of National Bookstore and had a workshop, enabling his family to earn Php1.5M every year for more than a decade.

The recycled notebook: A thoughtful gesture that touched my heart

Ca Phe Saigon has been in business for more than three years now. I only wish them the best in this industry after meeting how genuine and pure the hearts of the owners were.

I enjoyed the pomelo salad. I could eat it for days without getting tired because of its simplicity and fresh ingredients. Their spicy tamarind pork was truly tender; the flavor and level of spiciness were just right. On the contrary, the iced tea (winter melon flavor) was way too sweet. It tasted like the alatiris fruit.

I am excited to try the other salads and fried noodles. More so, I was blessed to witness what hard work, steadfast faith in our Father and passion in life can do. Ca Phe Saigon is not merely a Vietnamese restaurant. My heart was touched after meeting the Bonifacios! I hope you get the chance to meet them soon.

Ca Phe Saigon Zomato link
Ca Phe Saigon Facebook page
Address: 14 Red Cedar St. New Marikina, San Roque Marikina City1800
Contact numbers: 02 6461438 | +63 9178016411


Dapitan: A Haven For Your Decorating Needs

A home will never be complete without the decorations we see on the wall, on the console table or on every nook and cranny imaginable that adds "life" to the environment. These are pieces of items that may signify a milestone, a collection of sort you have been purchasing through the years, or simply a decor that blends with the rest of your furniture pieces.

In this time and age, the term, minimalism seems to be the trend in interior design. Even with this concept or theme in mind, one has still to incorporate the kind of light, furniture or even room color to achieve the "look." Dapitan is absolutely the place for homeowners where you can find all the  knick knacks you may need to call your place a home. Enjoy the various photos of stalls I have captured with interesting items. Oh, you may want to enlarge the photos too to clearly see how lovely they are!

Crystal lights and mirrored vases

Porcelain vases and plates, Chinese ornaments

Christmas decors for the coming season

Glass vases

3D wall decor, lamps

Wooden posters, clocks


Plates and glasses

Ceramic decorations

Map of the Dapitan Arcade


Road and Food Trip at Real, Quezon

An impromptu outing is always the best. Though short and brief, my senses were exceedingly satisfied with the breathtaking sceneries I rarely experience in the metropolis, including the change of the weather from fine to stormy on our way home.

Because it was National Heroes Day last August 28th, we decided to go to the East for a short drive. My dad, brother and nephew tagged along and savored the beauty one cannot see and smell in the urban jungle.

This body of water is close to the Pacific Ocean. It is now getting famous especially to the surfers who are in their happiest status when the tide is high. Similarly this is closer to Metro Manila too so it means lesser travel time and more time to bask under the sun and enjoy the high waves.

As we lowered the windows for the fresh breeze and the saltiness of the air, one cannot help but to be mesmerized at the sereneness and tranquility of the blue water. At an instant, I was recharged from the renovation anxieties.

Garlic and buttered sugpo, spicy ginataang sting ray and spicy adobo pusit were the highlight of this adventure. With all sincerity, the food were extremely delectable not because we had a very late lunch or early merienda at past 3pm. All of these were fresh! You choose, they cook while you wait and serve it piping hot. Unfortunately, we discovered that the cooler was missing so we weren't able to bring home affordable and fresh seafood that were in abundance.

I was stunned to witness a wide variety of ornamental plants my mother and I would love to have for our house along the roadside! They were wild; in green, red, purple and yellow colors. I was tempted to get out of the vehicle and gather as many plants I could possibly bring home but I was as happy to just see them swaying and waving their leaves at me, awaiting for someone to keep them.

On our way home, we were happy to view the majestic sunset despite its melancholy. Our somewhat weary bodies reached our home safely yet, our souls were revived from the beauty of our Lord's creation we have once again witnessed!