The Designers Chic

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cancelled future mini-travels

Sorry that I have been slacking off with my travel blog lately. I didn't have the inspiration to blog about travels anymore. If you've been reading my other blog, you probably have been aware of my current condition. I couldn't spend too much time on the computer anymore as I feel sick most of the time. Since we're expecting our first ever angel in our lives, I think we would not take a lot of vacations this year. As a matter of fact, I could forget about our plan to celebrate our 3rd anniversary in Florida in October. Yes, we made plans about going. I've done some research on which beach to visit. But by that time, hopefully I'd be around 7-8 months preggo already and I don't think it's wise to travel at that point. So that has been cancelled. However, come Memorial Weekend though, we plan to drive to Branson or Springfield, Missouri and probably do some maternity clothes shopping along with a brief mini-vacation. Another trip that has been cancelled as well was my supposedly visit to my sister in Illinois in June for my nephew's 5th birthday bash. Jeff couldn't go with me because of work so we originally intended to just have me catch a plane to Chicago and my sister will pick me up there, but in my condition, I don't want to fly alone. I need all the rest I could get for my baby. I'll probably just see them some other time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Paradise Away From Home

It's pretty funny that some of my Facebook friends thought that we own Hisoler's Beach Resort located in Bogo, Cebu. Everybody was asking for some discounts, hehe, so I had to correct the misconception. Though, I wish we have a small private vacation place by the sea in the province to relax and unwind but for now, it'll remain as a dream, lol! Maybe someday when we're nearing retirement, haha! Well, anyway, we happen to be related with the respectable owners of the said resort. Our last name Hisoler is not very common so when you know somebody sharing the same last name with ours, they got to be related with us someway, somehow.

Even way back then, I have already heard of Buddy and Evelyn Hisoler from my Dad and his relatives. The couple has been successful with their business ventures in their own right in Cebu City and Bogo. They own and manage several businesses which includes public transportation, money exchange service, beach resort and probably more that I'm not just aware of. There had been several occasions in the past that my Dad and some of his siblings got the chance to meet the couple either in their vast house in Maria Luisa village or in Samboan province. I've always been shy about the idea of meeting them in person. So I only hear stories from Dad of how graceful and kind this couple are. I never thought I'd be able to get the chance to meet them myself until we have the opportunity to get them as one of the principal sponsors at my wedding.

Jeff and I personally handed our wedding invitation to them at their residence. They were such gracious hosts. We were served with yummy chocolate cakes and some "boongon" that they've insisted to take home with us after we told them we couldn't eat more of it because we're already so filled up, hehe! We were glad and honored that they took the time to be at our wedding. It was a privilege to have met two affluent but very down to earth individuals during our vacation last year.

As I've mentioned above, they own the newly-built Hisoler's Beach Resort in Nailon, Bogo. It is situated 3 hours North of Cebu City. We were invited to visit the resort but things got hectic after our wedding. Besides, we've already made reservations at Plantation Bay several months before I arrived in the PI. But on our next visit to the Philippines, we would definitely take the time to visit Bogo and relax in this cozy resort. Although we have not been there yet but the pictures themselves speak of a paradise away from home. I love the blue skies and crystal clear seawater. I just thought of sharing it with you just in case you need a new place to chill out in Cebu.

Sometimes, stress from work and life itself can take its toll on you. So if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, forget the negative vibes and just bask in the beauty of nature, take a vacation at Hisoler's Beach Resort in Bogo. Bring your family and friends and have some clean fun at this haven by the sea. You don't even have to worry about your budget since the room rates are very affordable. The big rooms that are good for 8-10 persons only cost Php3,000.00, while the small rooms good for 2-4 persons cost Php2,000.00 only. They also have kiosk (cottages) for those who do not want to stay overnight. The big and small ones cost Php700 and 300.00 respectively. The amazing deals does not end there. If you're thinking of group, company outing, or even an intimate wedding reception, Hisoler's Beach Resort is also the way to go. They accept catering service in their spacious and clean Function Room. Depending on the menu, the rates per head ranges from Php250.00 to 300.00 pesos. Amazingly affordable, isn't it? If you are interested, you can call these numbers 032-516-2187 / 032-416-1117 / 032-346-1200 / 032-344-3641 and look for EVELYN.

Check out the resort photos below courtesy of Britz Hisoler and May Colina.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Peek of Spring

I've been through a tough time last week. My uncle passed away and it gave my mom so much heartache that it pains me so much to hear her crying and sobbing over the phone. As if it's not enough to dampen my spirit, Jeff came home one afternoon so upset and troubled about something his co-worker said about me. It was meant as a joke but if you ask me, it was a stupid and disrespectful remark towards somebody you have not even seen in person. It shouldn't have bothered me since the opinion came from an unrespectable asshole himself with obviously no respect on women, but unfortunately when Jeff told me about it, I was hurt too. It felt unfair to be judged by someone you have not even met personally. Jeff works with jerks and as much as possible he tries to tolerate most things that goes around at work so he'd get along fine with the group as long as it doesn't have anything to do with his personal life. Things will have to change on how he deals with his co-workers starting tomorrow. He does not want to distance himself with the other guys at work but after what happened last Thursday, he feels that he has to set a wall once again in order to protect me and our relationship against racial discrimination and unfair judgments from idiots who think lowly of foreigners.

Because of the drama that's been going on with my life, I thought about canceling an out-of-town trip that has been decided few weeks ago. But Jeff feels that taking this trip to get out of the house will somehow help us not dwell on the bad things too much and will give us fresh perspective on things. I'm glad we pushed through with the trip. It rejuvenates me to see the undeniable beauty of spring around us. We were invited to go to a family gathering to celebrate April Genevieve's 1st birthday. On Good Friday, we thought of stopping by Pinnacle Mountain to do some reflecting, soul-searching, nature exploration and picture-taking. The weather was fantastic. We sure had a great time. I felt better. I thank God for the beauty of nature and for a wonderful husband. I decided to leave the bad things behind and move on to greater things in life. For life is indeed beautiful!

The birthday celebrant with her Mom

Brad and April

April Genevieve Lord turns 1

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The New Look

As you may have noticed, Exploring America and Beyond went through a blog makeover, courtesy of The Designer's Chic. I was very happy with the design. Ivy, the designer, was very keen to my requests. She also did the layout of my first blog, My Sweet Haven. I'm really thankful that despite her busy schedule, she managed to take time to sit down and discuss with me how would I want my page to look. She's truly artistic and creative. I love the new look. See you around! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back to its rightful owner!

Yes, after 2 months, finally we had our luggage back. I almost lost hope. The waiting and hoping for its return were stressing me out. Nobody from United Airlines called to update us with the status of our misplaced luggage, until Friday of last week. We've filed the necessary forms that would supposedly help for the effective search so we didn't think there's really anything else we can do about it but wait. At some point, I thought we're probably just waiting in vain, but we just couldn't give up the tiniest hope that we could still have it back. Until we were awakened by a call on a Friday morning. It was around 9:00 o'clock, we were still asleep because hubby doesn't work on Fridays.

The call was from a United Airlines Claims Representative, basically informing us that they've found our luggage but it's currently in the hands of a 3rd party baggage contractor. In the event that the contractor won't deliver it to us, UA would be willing to compensate us. I didn't know the whole conversation until hubby hung up the phone and relayed everything to me. I was upset, of course! If they had found it, why can't they make sure it's being delivered to the rightful owner? I mean, isn't it their responsibility to do that regardless if there's a 3rd party contractor involved or not? I just can't seem to shake off the nagging thought that they might not deliver it simply because they don't feel like doing it, anyway the airline would pay for it. Hubby made himself clear to the other person on the line, that the luggage was irreplaceable, we need it back so they should give it back to us. The lady told him she'll do everything to help us get our luggage back. That's it? Great! This could be another months of waiting, I've thought. I got so upset that somehow I was guilty of taking it out on hubby. He didn't do anything wrong but I just wished he had raised his voice a little bit, be assertive and maybe cussed out a little to show his discontent to the airline representative. Yeah, I was playing devil's advocate, lol. But knowing hubby, I know he wouldn't do that. He didn't think it was necessary. Besides the person on the other line was not responsible for the mess. In fact, she could help fix it or if hubby hadn't handled it well, she could screw it up all the more than it had already been screwed. But of course, I didn't come out of this logic on my own, lol. He had to point it out to me. I was too bothered to even care if my thoughts are sensible or not. As always, hubby had talked some sense into me.

Anyway, we got our luggage back. So I guess, all's well that ends well. I'm going to put all the bad things behind. I won't deny that this whole experience had somehow traumatized me. If only there's another way to go to the Philippines than flying, I would gladly try it, hehe.

So here's the luggage that I've been missing for 2 months

Trust me, we took a great deal of effort to pack this nicely back in the Philippines. I was appalled with how messy everything seems to look when I opened it. I had a bad feeling about it.

My fears were true. I was halfway through digging out my stuff when I noticed some bronze colored chips on top of my red shirt.

This poor little jeepney didn't make it through the whole ordeal. It's supposed to be a gift to Phyllis, the only woman in the Information Systems Dept. other than me, who I worked with at Bank of the Ozarks before I went to the Philippines. It's a jeepney-designed pen holder made of plated bronze. Obviously, I can no longer give this to her. I'll remember to get her something else when I go back to the Philippines next time.

This wooden carabao for my DIL didn't survive as well. Look at its poor chipped horn and obvious scratches on its head.

This cute bamboo made wind chime has its share of misfortune. It's from our guest at the wedding. We like this thing that's why we brought it with us. Despite its condition, I still hang it outside the door and as I was typing this, I can hear it chiming against the wind. Cool!

Aaah...Hopia. How I miss this so much! I love hopia so I made sure I brought a box with me, unfortunately, it has reached its expiration date so I had to toss it out.

While some of the contents apparently are damaged, the rest made it home okay. I was just so glad to have my clothes, footwear, canned corned beef, food seasonings, and personal items back. Some of the gifts for friends and previous co-workers appear to be fine, so I'll start sending it out tomorrow.

I wish I know what to tell my friends who would also travel in the future so as not to experience what I've experienced, but to tell you the truth, I don't know if there was really something that could have prevented it from happening. It happens to a lot of people. Airlines incur losses because of thousands of lost, damaged and misplaced luggages a day. Maybe just a piece of advice, don't put anything valuable in your checked in suitcases. Label your luggages. If you won't find your luggage in the claim area, report it right away. Be patient and don't lose hope. Lastly, pray that your luggage wouldn't be part of the random physical baggage inspection done by Transportation Security Administration. Because ours was and we believe that may have caused the mess up. We found a Notice of Baggage Inspection inside that misplaced luggage of ours. The other 3 checked luggages we had didn't have a TSA note inside. We believe they dug through our stuff one by one to look for suspicious and hazardous items. I know it's part of their job and it's a very excellent security measure, but we just hope they'd be more careful and responsible for those inspected luggages. After all, they have owners that consider the contents valuable regardless of the price value.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For the love of a good picture together!

This is what happens when two people travel together, desperate to get some good photos as a couple but couldn't muster the courage to ask other people to take pictures for them and obviously do not know the significance of a tripod! The results...blooper shots...and a possible accidental strangulation of the hubby, unbeknownst to the wifey while she struggles very hard to get herself to a comfortable position so they could have a sweet and loving pose together.

It was a weekend and we thought of driving to Petit Jean state park to breathe some fresh air and get smitten by the breathtaking view of nature. We wanted to have souvenir pictures of ourselves in that place, but as pointed out earlier, we haven't thought of getting a tripod so we made use of the limited resources we had at that time. We picked a good spot a little farther from the crowd of tourists, then decided to sit on a narrow bench for the actual shot which we thought was great since across from it was a concrete table that served us a perfect place for us to lay our camera on. Once hubby finally figured out how to use the self-timer feature of the camera, we tried to settle in and hope for the best shot. We had 10 seconds to achieve the perfect couple pose but I had so much trouble lifting myself up on that narrow bench, not from lack of trying as you can see in the photos. We're just glad we didn't seriously hurt ourselves in the process. We had fun though. The photos speak for themselves.

After all the hardships, this is the closest to a good one that we could get.

We finally gave up on the idea of me on a bench behind him since obviously my hubby is tall even when he's sitting down and without having to point out the obvious (that I'm short), therefore I can't give him a nice loving hug without choking him. Arrgh! So there you go...

We moved to the end of the bench and settled on this for the final pose. Pretty much better than the previous shots, isn't it? We both looked very relaxed and happy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Anxious and hopeful for its return

While I had so much fun from my last vacation in the Philippines, my trip back to the U.S. on January 21st was a nightmare. It's because one of our 4 checked-in luggages got lost. It has been almost two months since then and still they have not sent us our bag back. We've filed Claim Baggage Report immediately at the airport in Arkansas and Baggage Tracing/Claim Form for the United Airlines. They say the forms would help them trace effectively the lost luggage but how come until now we still haven't gotten it back. It's ridiculous! The last time we saw it was at the Customs in Chicago airport so we assumed it's not going to take this long to trace it but we were dead wrong. I tell you it's so frustrating. More than anything else, most of the contents in that luggage have so much value to us since those are supposed to be "pasalubong" or gifts to our friends and Jeff's family here in the U.S. I guess we can claim compensation for that but that wouldn't bring my new clothes, souvenirs and wedding gifts back. I am really sad and disappointed with United Airlines. The last word we got from them was an email last week saying that they are still effectively tracing for our luggage. I'm hoping that we can still get it back but something tells me that I should not keep my hopes up or I'd just end up disappointed. Customer service in this company really sucks! You can't even get a hold of a real person on the phone. It's really such a stressful predicament. Whatever may be the outcome of this whole search, I would never consider flying with United Airlines again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If Animals Could Talk

Have you ever been to the zoo? I guess most of us (if not all) have visited the zoo at one time or another. Sad to say, the memory of my first zoo experience was quite vague. It was in Cebu Zoo, that part I was sure of, but I couldn't remember what animals I have seen. So, despite my age, I still enjoy a visit to the zoo like any kid would. U.S. has lots of entertaining, numerous variation of animal exhibits and well-maintained zoos in the world. I've been to St. Louis Zoo a couple of years back, it was said to be the 3rd largest zoo in the country. That was amazing! I never thought that I would enjoy it but I did. So on our mini-trip to Memphis last Valentine's Day, a visit to Memphis Zoo and Aquarium was part of our itinerary.

The zoo was very spacious. The habitats are well-designed and well-maintained. They have thousands of animals with over 500 different species. You could easily spend hours checking out the whole place. There's so much to see and appreciate. It was definitely one of the best zoo in the U.S. Every time I see an animal that I only used to see on T.V. or read from books and magazines, I turned into a giddy 7-yr. old kid, lol! Hubby got a kick out of my reactions. I kept on exclaiming "Wow, Oh, Look at that! That thing looks amazing! I wanna go there!" and all sorts of expressions that really showed how excited I was. The whole time, our camera was wrapped around my neck and I was snapping photos here and there. The staff tried their best to mimic the animals' natural habitat but I couldn't help but wonder if the animals somehow felt trapped, claustrophobic and unhappy with their artificial environment. If animals could talk, I wonder what would they say to all the people (me included) who stared, took photos and even tried to get their attention by talking to them as if they care to listen, hehe! I'm pretty sure something is going through their minds, don't you think? Look at the photos and be the judge!

*Scroll down to view more photos*
The Entrance
I just thought the writings were interesting so I took a picture.
First animal?!? Errr..that's me!
Animals native from China are found in this area
Chinese Tower
Tetron Trek
Habitat of young grizzly bears
Pelicans...famous for its distinctively large pouch under their beaks.
Pink Flamingos...they are such pretty creatures
An elephant
This rhinoceros thing looks weird, isn't it?
The face does not make any difference, still weird!
Polar Bear
Panda Bear...that's all he does, chew bamboo sticks.
I find the black and white stripes on Zebras so pretty.

I forgot the exact name but lemme just call this a turtle.
Komodo Dragon
Multi-colored Bird...(OMG, I wish I could remember the names of these animals)
Tiger habitat
Huge Tiger
White Tiger

I haven't seen anything like this before. See the shape of its body?