On Hong Kong and getting old
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When China threatened to impose visas on Filipinos traveling to Hong Kong, it didn’t bother me that much because the last time I went to Hong Kong in August it felt a little different. It felt tired.
My first trip out of the country, I was eight years old. We flew first class to Hong Kong and stayed at the Peninsula.
We don’t always fly first class as a family. It was just that one time. Maybe my parents wanted to make it special, and it was.
I remember buying Monchhichi dolls in Tsim Sha Tsui.


I have vivid memories of bones aching from walking so much at Ocean Centre, trailing family members looking at mainstream stores, and wishing, well, that I knew where the cool clothes were. (Now I know.)
Hong Kong is a Filipino pastime. My late grandmothers shopped there as well. I remember my lola frequenting to Shui Hing on Nathan Road. It doesn’t exist anymore.

Shui Hing

If you’re Filipino, going to Hong Kong is such a treat because of its convenience.
“Five hours door-to-door,” Tita Virgie Ramos once told me. “That’s what I love about Hong Kong.”
Well, five hours for Tita Virgie, eight hours for me. I timed it. From our doorstep in Pasig to our hotel room in Causeway Bay, it took about eight hours.

My husband and I were supposed to go on our annual honeymoon in Tokyo this November 25. But Yolanda happened, and I couldn’t get myself to book the flights and hotel, or get a visa. It all seemed so frivolous, and depressing.
Yolanda took so much energy from me. I did what I could and I’m still doing it—helping people rebuild the roofs of their houses. But then Christmas is coming and so rapidly. I need to put up my Christmas tree for the kids. I need to buy some new parols. I need this and that. I needed a break.

I convinced the hubby to take me to Hong Kong where tickets and hotels can be booked quickly online, no visa required, not yet anyway. I got ourselves free business class tickets through Asiamiles. I booked us at Park Lane in Causeway for its convenient proximity to Ikea, among other stores.
We were lucky to be upgraded to First Class on Cathay Pacific—what a treat!

Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific First Class

I even ate the meal!

Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific First Class

When we arrived at Park Lane, the room wasn’t what I expected, so we got a “free” upgrade to a large, although dated, suite. (You half expect to see Tony Ferrer come out of the wood work).
This is the last time we’re staying at the Park Lane, hubby and I agreed.
We were there from Thursday to Sunday.
On Thursday I passed by all the shops on Causeway Bay—from Ikea, to aesop, Zucca, I.T, Vivienne Westwood, Liger, Droog, Frapbois, a.p.c.
On Friday I hit City Super, Lane Crawford, COS, and had a wonderful date at a hip Spanish eatery called Boqueria in Lan Kwai Fong. (Thank you James Acuña and Apple Mandy for arranging!)

Boqueria, Hong Kong
Boqueria, Hong Kong
Boqueria, Hong Kong

On Saturday I had no more energy.
I feel old, I told the hubby. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t shop till I drop. I feel like a lola.
Hong Kong has lost its luster on me. I have been there 100 times. So if Hong Kong wants to impose a visa, I’m OK with it.

Jer and I in Hong Kong

Despite all of that, we checked in six pieces of luggage on Sunday, when I thought that I didn’t shop enough. Luckily, Cathay didn’t charge us for overweight. Plus were upgraded to First Class—again!
My husband and I were seated at 1A and 1K, right by the nose of the plane.

Cathay Pacific First Class
Cathay Pacific First Class

Someone is happy…

Cathay Pacific First Class

Strangely enough I felt no fear. I prayed my chaplet quietly and read until we landed.

Cathay Pacific First Class

More than anything, however, my body was tired. I had developed a bad cold in Hong Kong and I intend to take it slow this week.

H&M announces opening in the Philippines
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The opening of H&M in the Philippines is no longer a rumor as Swedish retail giant H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB has announced the signing of a contract for its first store opening in Manila, Philippines.
The flagship store will open in 2014 at SM Megamall.


Source: H&M
Unfortunately no other details are offered, but my source tells me the H&M store at the new Megamall Annex C will occupy three floors.
Read also: H&M Conscious Foundation supports typhoon “Haiyan” victims in the Philippines

L’wren Scott x Banana Republic for Holiday 2013
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Banana Republic and L’Wren Scott are pleased to announce the Banana Republic L’Wren Scott Collection—a limited-edition capsule which marks the first time L’Wren Scott has partnered with a global fashion retailer.
The capsule launches at Banana Republic stores worldwide this Holiday season.

L'wren Scott x Banana Republic

The collection includes apparel and accessories for women, ranging from sequin party dresses and bejeweled cardigans, to feminine, tailored jeans, lace dresses and pencil skirts.
Tasteful accents of silk and faux fur complement her look, while an unexpected sparkly chain can be removed from her clutch to double as a statement necklace or bracelet.

L'wren Scott x Banana Republic L'wren Scott x Banana Republic L'wren Scott x Banana Republic

Three original prints, created exclusively for the collection, are featured prominently throughout the capsule.
A dramatic lip print in bold hues of Lipstick Red and Ultra Violet plays across skirts, blouses, handbags, scarves and pajama sets.
A print of romantic peonies—inspired by Scott and Kneen’s mutual love of lush flowers and gardening—reveals itself on blouses, scarves and jeans in varied shades of bold red and pink.
The third—a candy stripe of black, Ultra Violet, Poster Red and Lipstick Red—can be seen on blouses, pajama sets, and accessories including a beret, socks, and a cashmere blanket fun for holiday gifting.

Be the first to shop the Banana Republic L’Wren Scott Collection as it drops in Banana Republic Philippine stores this December.
Banana Republic is exclusively distributed in the Philippines by Casual Clothing Specialists, Inc. (CCSI), a subsidiary of Stores Specialists, Inc. and is available at Greenbelt 5, Bonifacio High Street Central and Shangri-La Plaza.

Trailer and review: “When The Love Is Gone” at Kamana Sanctuary
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First a review.
My boys and I stayed at Kamana Sanctuary in Subic during the last sem break. It was recommended by an expat friend.
The boys loved it! We stayed in two casitas built on stilts on top of the sea.

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

Most of the people were kind during the two nights we stayed there. I encountered only a grumpy maintenance person when I noticed that our bathroom was falling apart, and you know how I feel about that.
The knobs of the shower and bath were simply falling off. (Not the Four Seasons.)
Too bad because the bathroom was spacious and had good design (except for the wood and the sinks).
Wood is simply not a good choice for bathrooms because of moisture.

Kamana Sanctuary bathroom

So Jeroen and I requested to move to another casita.
The aircon in the kids’ room wasn’t cooling very well, and the window shade was falling apart. But they were OK with it.
They loved the chicken tenders and lechon sinigang at the restaurant, while I had the most delicious chicken barbecue fresh off the grill on our second night.
The food is either a hit or miss. You will not appreciate the fancified chicken/pork fusion adobo which they bastarized.
But what’s important is the kids loved the food. Never mind me.

The first thing that hits you upon arrival is a strong stench coming from the restrooms, which look and smell like they haven’t been renovated for years. It is unfortunate that these were placed right by the entrance.
Curiously, the reception is located inside the smelly restaurant. I’m just lucky my boys are not as prissy as me.

I take very good pictures but Kamana needs to hire more people to clean the premises. The sand and walkways were bordering on dirty. Nothing that a good cleaner can fix.
Lots of monkeys come down from the forest up there. Perhaps they can put a “Caution: Monkeys” sign somewhere.

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

This place must’ve been so pretty when it just opened.

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

Our rooms were really spacious. I’m OK with this bedroom, but there were not enough plugs near the bed. Hassle. Then again, it doesn’t matter because there is no wifi! The horror! You need to go to the smelly restaurant to use wifi!

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

We had this gorgeous balcony, but don’t leave the doors open—due to insects (especially at night) and monkeys!!

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

I was shocked to see a big monkey perched on the rail. I nearly died of shock while frantically closing the doors. It was like a nightmare. My husband has the misfortune of seeing this same money screw a female monkey near our casita.
I nearly vomited when he described it. Just so grateful I didn’t see it.
Here’s something we don’t see everyday: This was the beautiful view in the morning.

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

I’m blogging this in hope that the owners (who I am assuming have not visited recently) would take note and renovate all the bathrooms, clean up the premises, and tweak the menu.
Because this is one place that deserves to be kept well and we want to come back!!
That is the sad thing about the Philippine hospitality business. Not enough attention to cleanliness, detail and renovation.
Also blogging this because Grace and I are excited to watch Gabby Concepcion’s comeback + Cristine Reyes’ cheesy new movie called When The Love Is Gone, which was filmed at Kamana Sactuary!!
Watch the trailer and tell me what you think.

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