Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

“It has taken awhile but I certainly do know it now – the most wonderful gift I had, the gift I finally learned to cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.” Katrina Kenison

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nirwana Gardens

Almost this same time of year Me&MyGirls went to Angsana Resort, Bintan. Four years later (last week actually), we revisited Bintan and made Nirwana Resort Hotel our home for three days.

It’s Ashrie’s school break and we want to reward her and ourselves with some relaxation. We also haven’t been out-of-town since our Davao trip last year so it was really a well-deserved trip for all of us. Not to mention that things are going to be stressful and hectic as her story-telling competition date draws near. So before the chaos, let there be peace first.

We tried our best to keep our cool and I think we have managed well inspite of the challenging task of keeping up with our itinerary when our daughter has her own. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable vacation with a few delightful surprises along the way.

We opt for the economy class for our ferry tickets since there is no VIP Lounge (and treatment) for passsengers leaving Singapore. We left at 11:10 AM from the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and reached the Bintan Ferry Terminal at around 10:55 AM. The 55-minute ferry ride was smooth and in no time, we were away from the hustle of city life, welcomed by the calm and soothing sea breeze of Bintan Island.

Immigration was fast and straightforward. We boarded the shuttle service and after 5 minutes or so, we reached our destination, Nirwana Gardens. We had lunch at the restaurant and a little siesta at the lobby, got our room keys and the island holiday officially begins!

Nirwana Gardens lived up to it’s slogan “where variety comes to life!” There are a lot of choices for restaurants and activities to do during one’s stay. Aside from the usual watersports, there are other things to do such as bowling, archery, shooting, elephant and horseback riding, paintball, flying fox among many others. But what we love most about the resort was their swimming pool. It was designed with mounds of rocks dividing the varying depths dotted with jacuzzis here and there. It provides privacy to swimmers and elicits an overall casual feel. We even had one mini-pool all by ourselves one afternoon. The beach on the other hand, did not dissapoint. The sand's fine and the view was superb. Ashrie of course, brought her sand toys and with mom’s help built her castle. Although we got our swimwear (and legs) stained by spots of crude oil from the beach, the important thing is that we, especially Ashrie enjoyed the experience.

The room is modestly furnished, it has a bathtub which is a major consideration since Ashrie loves the dip. The mini fridge however is empty, which is a good thing because we had ample space for our foodie stuffs. Overall, the hotel experience is nice, but they can do better with customer service. The lobby would also look more inviting and welcoming if it is brighter with more soft lights and the cushion seat covers re-upholstered.

Going back we opted for the Emerald Class for our ferry trip. Not only were we saved from queuing, had free refreshments at the VIP lounge and while in the ferry, boarded and got off the boat first, but our passport were processed and handed to us stamped in the comfort of our seats at the lounge. What convenience!

We will plan for our third trip to Bintan and hopefully our next visit will be sometime soon.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Bible

The Bible is History Channel’s newest primetime television mini-series. It is aired on Sundays for the whole month of March 2013. The 10-hour series is divided into five 2-hour episodes weekly and the grand finale will be on Easter Sunday. It will tell the whole bible narrative from Genesis to Revelation capturing stories of the Noah’s Ark, The Exodus, The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ among others. It is based on The New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with advisors comprising of well-respected biblical scholars, theologians pastors and academics.

The Bible is produced by Mark Burnett (producer of the hit reality TV series Survivor and The Voice) and his wife Roma Downey (actress in the successful American TV series Touch by An Angel). This is Mark’s first “scripted” project. Roma on the other hand, played Mary, the mother of Jesus in The Bible TV series.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Free Egg McMuffins!

This coming Monday, 18 March 2013, in accordance with McDonald’s National Breakfast Day, they will be giving away 100,000 Egg McMuffins islandwide for free! This aims to encourage the habit of having a hearty breakfast everyday. Each participating restaurant will be distributing 1,000 Egg McMuffins to customers on a first-come, first-served basis. In total, five million Egg McMuffins will be given away in Asia, the Middle East and Africa!

Be sure to check this link for schedules and non-participating outlets here in Singapore.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Beloved Bintan, Indonesia, Me&MyGirls are looking forward to see you again this month!
Photos from the Nirwana Resort Hotel website.

The Drafting Room

It was nearly 20 years now, since I first visited this room. It was our highschool drafting room. A classmate took and shared this photo a few days ago in Facebook and my mind was flooded with nostalgic thoughts of our days in higschool. The place where it all started…

Photo Credits: Arch. Diomar de Castro

I had my Secondary Education in the former Bulacan College of Arts and Trades (BCAT) which is now the Bulacan State University (BSU). Actually, it was the same university where I took my Bachelor’s Degree, Architecture. If I memory serves me right, during freshmen and sophomore years in our laboratory highschool, we were randomly assigned to different “Shops” varying from Handicraft, Drafting, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Sheet Metal, Wood Working, Electronics, Foods, and a few more.

When it was time for me to be assigned in the Drafting class, the July 16 earthquake happened. And for almost the entire time of the drafting sessions, classes were suspended. We barely had a few days to learn then it was time to be transferred to another shop. I promised myself to take Drafting as my specialization course in the two remaining years of highschool. And so did I.

I was not the best in class, but definitely not the worse. I enjoyed every class and tried to learn as much as I can. And most of the basics that we were trained in this room, I still use today – sketching, lettering, isometric drawings, calligraphy, painting. I earned money with the certificate letterings, personalized mugs, and T-shirt printing that I did way back in the 90’s. I even had an free art workshop during college in the secondary school in my hometown. And it sure came in handy during my first years in studying Architecture.

Most of my classmates here are now Architects, Engineers, Professors and other professionals. I am sure, like me, they are thankful to our teacher and mentor, Mr. Nestor Adriano. Sir, thank you for your legacy. Your painting of the parting of the Red Sea which I am privilege to have viewed in the Borlongan’s residence is still vivid in my mind, as well as your steady hand while lettering for school streamers.

I don’t know if I could ever see this room again. Maybe someday, one day.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Butterfly Kisses

That’s just another painting by Ashrie. She made a watercolor painting featuring six colorful butterflies, and each one is uniquely-rendered. I’m so glad that she is venturing into doing more and more graphical illustrations, although I have to admit that she has created the most beautiful abstracts in the past. And here’s the painter while at work.

Jane’s Menu

“Coming home from a tiring day at work is one thing, but coming home to have a special dinner with your family in four consecutive nights is really something!”

Every night upon reaching home, I was amazed by the amount of time Jane has spent on preparing our dinner. Every night was different, every night was indeed special. Thank God she’s inspired to cook (and cook a lot) lately and you can see it in the love that she put on her dishes.

Monday, 25 February 2013.
She prepared an eclectic mix varying from Singaporean, Filipino and even Australian dishes. It was her first time to do a Fried Carrot Cake- one of our local favorites. Pancit Canton- a very common pinoy dish adapted from the Chinese and she also made a Pavlova- a light, meringue-based dessert named after the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Both Australia and New Zealand claim to be the dessert’s origin. I happen to know a lot about it because, as you know, it’s one of Jane’s Kitchen products.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013.
It was Filipino Delights Night. Jane served Arroz Caldo, a pinoy-style chicken congee complete with necessary condiments- calamansi, fried shallots, and fresh onion chives. She also made Lumpiang Prito or fried veggie rolls with matching dipping sauce of soy sauce with chopped onions. And she baked her first Puto- a pandan-infused, buttery cake with cheese and/or salted egg topping.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013.
Turning Japanese. Or should I say, Serving Japanese! For midweek, Jane simply prepared a tasty Udon Soup and Tempura, varying from prawns and different veggies.

Thursday, 28 February 2013.
It’s Taco Night, baby! She filled crisp tacos with a flavorful mix of ground beef, chilli peppers and spices. Ooh la la! She paired it with Carrot Ribbon and Green Peas Salad. For dessert, we had a melts-in-your-mouth Flan.

I do not know how long will this thread of delectable spread will last. But one thing is certain, I am going to enjoy every minute morsel of it!
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