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    This one made me weepy this morning. Girl finds out her bestfriend and roommate -- a 160-lb English Mastiff has terminal bone cancer and only has a few months to live. So armed with a bucket list of adventures she would like to share with her dog, they go off on canoe rides, road trips, visits to both busy spots and quiet spaces and, finally, spend a last day together by the ocean in Maine, where she finally finds peace and acceptance. This is real love, people.


    I still keep a journal despite having a blog. No matter how spill-all-my-guts-out open I may seem, there are many things I do and think that I'll just never tell. I've always thought it kept me sane to be able to express myself without fear of being censored or criticized. Whenever I pick up an old journal, even one from my 13-year-old self I realize that as much as I've changed so much is still the same. I just know how to dodge bullets faster and better. From: HUFFPOST Healthy Living, 01/20/15


    Which is why I've decided to keep this blog around, at least for a little while longer. I've always picked up a pen (or sat in front of a keyboard) any time I needed to make sense of my world; writing allows me to get into my head and get all my thoughts out without having to worry about how ridiculous I sound (that's where the editing comes in). From: The New York Times, 01/19/15
    This was lovely. The post is by a novelist who was asked how to encourage a young writer. It sounds eerily like the story of my life -- now all I need is to keep reading and keep writing (and, okay, start submitting). From: M Molly Backes' blog, 07/12/11


    Every day at work I see all kinds of female bodies: athletic, boyish, curvy, voluptuous, natural, enhanced, preteen, post-baby, postmenopausal -- thousands of different bodies I've seen up close and personal in my lifetime. This infographic shows that the description of the ideal female body changes every decade or so, going back hundreds of years. I hope that soon we define the "perfect" body as one that is simply healthy and functioning; that what matters is that we're comfortable in our own skin. From: Greatist, 01/15/15



    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
    The Normal Bar: Where Does Your Relationship Fall?
    All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost
    Gun Dealers' Daughter: A Novel: A Novel
    Crazy Rich Asians
    The Undomestic Goddess
    The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

    Gigi's favorite books »
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August 09, 2005


sistah #1

just tell arnel that you need a large suitcase to carry all the food you're supposed to bring back for me :)

as for what clothes to pack, just remember what it was like when we went home last september. my guess is that the weather will be about the same -- just as hot, just as humid :(


It's rainy here, so bring your umbrella! Also, come prepared for bad traffic.

Places you should go: Greenbelt in Makati, because it's courtyard-y and open and full of trees. There's a zen garden sort of place behind the chapel - a pleasant surprise after the mess of cafes and chattering yuppies that inhabit the rest of Greenbelt.

Greenhills in Ortigas, because stuff there is cheap and it's always on sale. Go on a weekday because it's PACKED on weekends.

Gateway Mall in Cubao is a pretty place - it's the only mall I've seen so far that has trees growing inside it. I swear sometimes I go there and just walk around the little atrium in the middle of the mall because trees in the city are such a sight for sore eyes.

Baywalk - you may or may not like the place, depending on whether you can stand the smell of Manila Bay. I still have a weakness for the place, though, because I love how windy it gets during the rainy season.

I hope you have fun in Manila :D


Excellent suggestions above.

If you need a quick get-away from Manila, I suggest going to nearby Lipa and get pampered at The farm at San Benito ( This is always my last stop before flying out of country. Well, I use it to detox. Ha ha. But seriously, it is worth the drive.

If you want some serious beach retreat, dont go to Boracay. It is tired. It's like Greenbelt with sand. You'll see the exact same Makati clubbing crowd that you want to get away from anyway. Instead, check out Bohol. Diving is great there too, if you're into that.

On food. Check out Sentro (Greenbelt 3, 2nd floor). It is a good modern Filipino cuisine. Check out Sinigang na Corned Beef and Boneless Crispy Pata. Bizu across the way at Greenbelt 2 for Dessert (they have one in Greenhills too).

Music. Check out Tavern on the Square. The same Tavern from the 70s-80s but updated and now located just a few doors down from Sentro. Excellent bands every night (Side A every Wednesday, etc.).

Shopping. I have a feeling that you'll find them even blindfolded. Ha ha ha.

BTW, I'm flying to Manila from here later this month. But only for 3 days to do a scuba article for a magazine. Maybe I'll run into you.

Have a nice trip. Enjoy!


Heya heya! Check out the new 168 Mall in Divi for cheap cheap CHinese knock-offs of designer goods and other cheap items of questionable quality!


Hi Sistah - Oh yeah, I forgot I have to bring food back for you and the kids too. :)

Hello Rei - I've been wanting to check out the last three (I'm always at Greenbelt when I go home -- and they still keep adding new stores and restaurants!). Everytime I think of the Baywalk now, I think of the Baywalk Beauties (or is it Boldies? :) ) -- but I'd love to check it out. Manila Bay has sentimental value for me, after all.

Hi John - I LOVE Sentro and Bizu! I'll check out the Tavern as well (thanks -- I'd forgotten about the place). I'd read about The Farm in some glossy, but since you're recommending it I might just have to go (hmmm...I'll check out their website and see if a trip is feasible).

Thanks for the recs all!


168 Mall in Divi. Check! Might be a great resource for pasalubongs, 'no? Thanks!


Silly Gigi, for future reference, there is NO such thing as a Filipino parent of toddlers/newborns who will not appreciate U.S.-made disposable diapers. I kid you not. The local ones just don't absorb as well.

It IS very rainy, so don't bring sandals unless your wardrobe utterly requires them--remember that many places here still have terrible pipe systems and are prone to flooding. Pack a light sweater or two as some indoor places have their airconditioning turned up to Arctic and the dampness will make you freeze. The outside temperature these days is around 77 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit.


Directions to 168: From C.M. Recto Ave. (if you're coming from Legarda Ave.), make a left turn to Reina Regente St. Then, you can either turn right at the first corner to Soler St. (you can see the mall on your left at some distance away but it only has a narrow frontage here so it is easy to miss) or turn right at the next street - Meisic St. I think - the mall at the corner is not 168 but it may be worth a visit). A short distance and you will hit 168 smack dab in the face.


Hey there Gigi!
Have a happy trip to Manila!


Hi Gigi! If you have time to go out of Manila, I suggest Bohol. Far but worth your time.
If I see you there - Greenbelt or Tavern, I'll know who you are (but you won't know me :)).
Happy trip and enjoy your vacation.


HAVE FUN! and if you can, throw me a pair of shoes when you get back..LOL

that didn't solve your suitcase problem now, did it?


hi gigi!

try the open kitchen buffet in Makati Shang or the Mandarin. A little bit on the high end but it is quite a good buffet..
If you are in the makati area and is interested in museums, you should take a peek at the new ayala museum. very nicely done as well.

and of course Greenhills and Divi for all the bargains.

enjoy the trip.

bon voyage!


hi gigi!

if you're in to the whole mediterranean food experience, i can suggest ziggurat, it's a 24 hour place that specializes in mediterranean cuisine. my friends and i love it there, and it's not that expensive. =) you get to sit on the floor with matting and colorful pillows.

it's located on (you won't believe this) tigris cor. euphrates avenue, makati city. it's near the rockwell area, behind sunette towers. enjoy!


Well, when you want to take a break from malls, come to Arroceros Forest Park on a Sunday, when all the artists come and see what the big deal's about. It's a very pretty park in the city and the mayor is doing a good job in trying to destroy it. See it before it becomes part of the concrete jungle that is Manila.


how's your vacation going so far, gigi? i hope you're having a grand time!

if you love seafood (especially crabs), try the seafood club in greenbelt 3 (makati). last time we were there, we had a great time feasting on their delicious deep-fried crab, which we dipped in spiced vinegar. heavenly!

they also have branches in tomas morato (qc), ortigas, malate, and rockwell power plant, but the only one we've been to was the one in greenbelt.


Just enjoy your trip and don't forget to visit Quiapo Church - not a very safe place but it's a place to be thankful for visiting the Philippines once again.


Oh, bring some dried mangoes for me if you happen to stop-over here in HK. *kiddies*

Happy TRIP!


Hello all from Manila!

Hi Nikki - Every time I enter airconditioned restaurants/stores/etc., people I'm with complain about the cold -- as I hold my arms up in the air trying to figure out where the nearest vent is so I can sit right underneath it! My poor sister (whom I'm rooming with) says I'm trying to freeze her to death because not only do I have the a/c on, but a fan blasting directly at me as well. :)

Hi Paul - Thanks for directions (my sister thanks you too because she's been wanting to go)!

Thanks Luchie!!!

Hello Bugsybee - I'll be at Greenbelt again tomorrow (Fri night) eating...again. If you see me, please say hello -- because the only picture I have of you in my head is your schoolgirl photo. :)

Hello Dexie! I was SO good this time, I only picked up three pairs of shoes. My sisters are shocked, and my husband will be happy. But with still two days to go here, anything can happen (hehe).

Hi Duke - I tried out the glorious buffet at the new Grand Hyatt. But Circles has been calling out to me and I might just yield. When I got here I gave my sisters a list of all the restaurants I wanted to try, and they said I'd have to eat five full meals a day to get the job done. :)

Sarah - Grrr...only got to a computer today and read your rec. So I mentioned Ziggurat and heard a resounding "yes, ang sarap diyan!!" I have lunch and dinner plans tomorrow -- but I might need to fit in a post-dinner/pre-breakfast meal I think (my poor stomach's absolutely overwhelmed).

Hi Chiqs - I was talking to my sister about extending my stay by one more day. If I can get this done, I'm headed for the park for sure (will I see you there?).

Hello Petite - Uhu uhu uhu...I think I've run out of mealtimes to fit all these restaurants in. But I'm on a mission to try!

Hi KnOizKi! Hey, nice to see you again! Dried mangoes huh? That reminds me, I think I have to seek them out here too. They used to sell these wonderful Cebu dried mangoes at Costco -- and then they replaced them with this yucky brand. So I need to stock up while I'm here as well. Come over -- it's just an hour trip!!! :)


you should send costco your what for re the dried mangoes. one of the head buyers is a former atenean.


Hi GiGi! Oh heaven you're in The Philippines now. I'd thought about that after I posted my comment the other day.

I think they have now this mango-balls in individual candy wrap, bring a big box of that.

It's nice to know you're having fun and you still had the time to answer the comments here.

ENJOY and BLOG-FREE for weeks.


hi gigi.

sorry i was not able to call before you left. we were still trying to figure out how to make things work in our apartment. but were doing a lot better and by the time you get back, we'll be ready for you.

enjoy manila. jet and i are certainly enjoying orange county. this is a great place to live.

sistah #1

don't forget to bring home munchies for your US-based sistah! fresh-baked cookies are good, especially buttery and/or fruity ones. and you can't go wrong with anything chocolate. oh, and mango and/or tamarind stuff too. just make sure it's not stuff you can get here :)

see you when you get back!


Yes, I'll definitely be at Arroceros Park this Sunday. Hope you can extend!!! Come at around noon or before so you can join us for our picnic. If you go to Megamall (but I'm sure they have them all over), go to the stall of House of Pulvoron (with a name like that...) and get their ones with pinipig. Yum. Forget the other flavors (like cookies and cream -- di bagay). Pinipig's tried and tested. Good pasalubs.


that's what i intend to do as well. pack light but bring a huge suitcase and then fill it full when we return. hahaha... i guess, we are all in the same page. i didn't know you're ala imelda marcos. hihi...


Hi BlueEagle - Do you know this particular buyer? Because -- really -- they need to bring back the old brand. My friends and I used to buy boxes of the "other" dried mangoes. Now, we just ignore the new ones -- I'm even tempted to spit on them sometimes. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if the decision makes sense numbers-wise: COSTCO's king for a reason, after all. Even if their dried mangoes do suck.

Hi KnOizKi - I bought boxes and boxes of stuff from Bizu, one of my most favorite places in the world. So much so that I had no more space for more shoes and bags. Yep, I still can't get over the shock. :)

Hello BatJay! I'm baaackkk! Let's get together soon. I'm thrilled you're enjoying OC -- there's even more I want to show you and Jet.

Hi Sistah - I got you a whole box of QuickMelt ensaymadas and a few bags of Maltesers (I was going to keep them all for myself but Sistah#2 insisted I give you a few -- so make sure to thank her). Dad gave me a box of magnets -- which you can keep if you'd like. And he also gave me $$$ for you -- which I can keep instead, if you'd like. :)

Hello Chiqs! I didn't make it to Arroceros, but I'm really hoping it's still there when I go home next year. Let's plan a picnic then! PS: Too late -- I bought a bag of the Cookies 'N Cream flavor, even if I did think "hindi bagay."

Hi Evi! I was sooo good, my bags weren't full to bursting. Just three bags and three pairs of shoes. I didn't have to hide anything from the hubby this time around!!!

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