Category Archives: Places I Visit

A Well-Deserved Break… in Baguio! :)

The past few months have been a struggle for me. For some reason, I felt exhausted by everything that’s been happening at home and in my personal life. I wanted a break, even for just a week or so, and thankfully, I was given a chance to take a much-needed vacation… and what’s amazing about this is I’m on my second week now in Baguio – one of my favorite cities here in the Philippines. Woot!

I’ve been feeling depressed lately, especially because of financial concerns and other issues at home. I wanted to pause and not think about everything that’s been making me sad, so I was desperate to take a break. I didn’t know I’d be given a chance to stay here in Baguio for 2 weeks, let alone in a cozy hotel right smack in the middle of the city of Pines. 🙂

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Potipot Island is Love! (Day 40 #100HappyDays)

We all woke up early today to prepare to swim at Potipot Island. We booked a beachfront room at Isla Vista, so this is the view from outside.

Our nanay and her BFF Tita Beth went to the nearest market a few hours earlier so they can buy meats, seafood and grilling tools we need since we found out we have to cook our own food at Potipot Island (Ken initially thought we can hire the boat guy to grill for us – realized I shouldn’t let him research and plan our next vacation 😀 ).

We took a quick swim at the beach in front of Isla Vista while we waited for our nanay to return. After a light breakfast, we headed out to Potipot Island aboard a boat.

On our way to Potipot Island

There were a zillion people there (okay, more like a thousand perhaps, but you know what I mean 😛 ). After I went with Ken and some of his online gamer friends (who happened to be taking a vacay there too) to check out a camping site around the island, we headed back to the area where we left our nanay with our bags, only to find out they were lucky enough to reserve the table right in front of the boat unloading area. Hahahah 😀

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Bloggers Fest 2011 in Thunderbird Resorts Rizal – Fun, Fun, Fun!

Last April 16th, I was scheduled to attend the Bloggers Fest in Thunderbird Resorts in Binangonan, Rizal with over 200 of my fellow bloggers.

Bloggers Fest and awarding of winners in Thunderbird Resorts ExtraOrdinary Online Video contest -

It’s a yearly event spear-headed by Azrael where we get to meet-and-greet with other bloggers and learn from various speakers covering topics that range from blogging basics to more technical discussions like DNS and domain management for blogs.

It was my first time to go on an out-of-town blogger event and with that many attendees of people who have the same interests – blogging.

So, as early as 7am (I was supposed to leave earlier, but my bed won’t let me leave LOL), I left and headed to Makati to take the bus that’ll take us to Thunderbird Resorts.

It was fun seeing a lot of very familiar faces, especially people whose blogs I’ve been following and those that I’ve met through our Facebook Group Pinoy Bloggers (join now if you’re not a member yet!).

Here’s a photo I took while onboard the bus. I’m seated at almost the middle of the bus so there are more bloggers in front of me.

On-board the first bus going to Thunderbird Resorts in Binangonan, Rizal -

We left Makati a few minutes past 9:30am. I knew the program will start really late ‘cause there’s no way we can be at Rizal in 30 minutes, as the schedule said we’ll begin at 10am. The traffic on a Saturday morning is still crazy so we arrived almost at 12 noon.

In front of Thunderbird Resorts Rizal -

After registration, we proceeded to Thunderbird Resorts Rizal Events Center. It’s HUGE! I love the lighting and the comfy feel of the whole place! It was the perfect venue for the Bloggers Fest.

The stage at the Bloggers Fest -

We learned that there were 2 other buses that we have to wait for before everything starts. We were all very hungry ‘cause I only had coffee for breakfast. So, here’s Divine passing the time while playing The Idiot Test on my iPad.

Divine playing The Idiot Test on my iPad to pass the time -

Finally, the program started with Herbert Williams of Thunderbird Resorts telling us a brief background on their resort, their facilities, and how they’ve decided to tap into blogs and social media to further promote their resort.

Herbert Williams of Thunderbird Resorts -

After his speech, we were informed that the buffet is now open. We intentionally sat right beside the buffet line on the right side of the events center. They had various dishes prepared for us, and we all noticed that they kept it at healthful food like vegetables, chicken, pasta and fish.

Buffet food at lunch -

There were also fruits and flan for dessert. In the photo below, you’d see there’s a longggg line of people waiting for their turn at the buffet table. There were 2 buffet lines, the other one on the left side of the events center.

Fruits and Leche Flan for dessert -

As I mentioned, we were just a step away from the buffet line on the right side of the Events Center. So, we saw the longggg line of people waiting for their turn to get food. We know how hungry everyone else were too. So, we were a bit ticked off by someone who kept on going back to the buffet, cutting in line, without considering that there are others who haven’t even had any food on their plates yet. Seriously? I hate inconsiderate people. Wait, “hate” is too strong a word to use in this situation. Well, it’s how we felt at that time. Okay, okay. ‘Nuff said!

By the way, aside from the Bloggers Fest, that day was also the awarding of the winners of Thunderbird Resorts Extraordinary Online Video contest. So, after our very late lunch, we were presented with the videos of all the winners.

Here’s a photo of the grand prize winner Randolph Longjas when he was awarded with a big check of Php 100,000.

The grand prize winner in Thunderbird Resorts Extraordinary Video Contest -

We were actually a bit surprised when we saw him stand up ‘cause in his video, he featured someone on a wheelchair living and enjoying his life. He explained that it was actually his brother’s story.

I believe that out of all the entries, he truly deserved to win because of his amazing answer to the contest’s question – What makes you EXTRAORDINARY?

His answer? We make ourselves extraordinary. In everything we do, whatever happens in our lives, whichever path we choose to follow, it’s all up to us if we’re going to let a bad day ruin our lives or to make something good out of a bad situation. So, if you choose to be “normal”, not that there’s anything wrong with that, then, it’ll be all of your own doing.

Yes, I only got to contemplate on the message of his video now that I’m writing this and looking back at his video entry. I was too busy looking around. LOL

Here are the rest of the winners:

The winners of Thunderbird Resorts Extraordinary Online Video Contest -

And here’s a photo of the attendees. Most of us brought our wifi-capable gadgets (laptop, phones, iPad, etc). Free wifi was provided at the Events center.

The bloggers who attended the Bloggers Fest 2011 in Thunderbird Resorts Rizal -

The presentations started with Azrael discussing about blogging basics. I observed some of the attendees writing away on their notepads (we got some free along our tote bags). I figured those are non-blogging people and came to the event to learn more. Good luck to them! 🙂

Azrael on Blogging 101 or blogging basics -

Micaela Rodriguez of MicaMyx was next. She gave tips on sharing stories through personal blogging, including avoiding sharing too much, etc.

Mica on sharing your story through personal blogging -

Jonel Uy of Blogger Manila was next and he discussed about blogging with SEO in mind. He explained how spiders and search engines work. Very informative. It was also pretty surprising that I already know most of what he was saying. Good job, Mhel! 🙂

Jonel Uy on Blogging and Writing with SEO in mind -

One of my favorite presentations was from Anton Carranza of Pusang Kalye. He discussed about photo blogging. I was intently listening to him when he explained why we should start photo blogging. Oh, yes. He’s convinced me to start photo blogging. But, I’d probably do that by next year. I need a DSLR!

Anton on Photo Blogging Essentials -

After every other presentation, they open the floor to questions and answers.

Question and answer portions after every other talk - 

We had another break after the first set of presentations. We were supposed to join the Photography Workshop by the Young Photographers Club of the Philippines. But, that didn’t push through for some unknown reason.

So, Eihdra and I decided to join the bloggers who were entering the photo contest. We headed out to the resort proper. Funny that we had to ride a van going there when it was just at the back of the events center, something Eihdra and I found out when we decided to head back after we got tired of taking photos and taking in some fresh air outside.

Thunderbird Resorts Rizal -

I was awed by Thunderbird Resorts. We were at the poolside. There’s a bar at the side. The view of the Laguna de Bay is pretty relaxing. The sun was starting to set so it was the perfect timing for us to take photos.

The pool at Thunderbird Resorts overlooking the Laguna de Bay - Entrance at the resort -

By the way, I saw an old officemate at the resort. He was with his family. I was pretty jealous and I’m hoping to celebrate my birthday or my bro’s at Thunderbird Resorts this year. Weeh.

Not only is the resort relaxing and enjoyable for adults, but there are school playground equipment at the end of the grassy area of the resort where kids can play.

Eihdra taking photos of the moon, and the surroundings at the resort, poolside -

When Eihdra and I decided to go back to the Events Center, we used the resort entrance and she posed for a photo at the reception area. The guard indulged us by handing out an unused room key so she’d look like she booked a room. ^_^

At the reception area of Thunderbird Resorts - The lounge area at the reception in Thunderbird Resorts - A view of the hallways in Thunderbird Resorts -

After some more roaming around the resort, we returned to the Events Center with Vin Ello already about to start his presentation on beating writer’s block.

Vin Ello on beating writer's block and the importance of revision -

Next was my favorite presentation of the day – Fitz Villafuerte giving us tips on how to write awesome blog posts. Some of them were…

  • Writing short paragraphs to keep your readers attention on what you’re writing.
  • Using Flickr to search for images with Common Creative License that you can use on your posts to make them more attractive to readers.
  • Sharing personal insights on your posts to make them more conversational and, well, personal.

Great tips, Fitz!

Fitz Villafuerte on how to write awesome blog posts -

Next is the very animated presentation of JP de Leon of Kampeon ng Pag-ibig. I only know him from Plurk and I was pretty surprised that he was really amusing. He also showed that he knows what he’s talking about. He discussed about DNS and domain management for blogs, by the way.

JP de Leon on Domain and DNS Management for your blogs -

Lastly, Marlon Guzman from Solid Hosting shared some very helpful tips on protecting your blogs from hacking, including downloading plugins like WP-Security-Scan and encrypting login page for WordPress bloggers, etc.

Marlon Guzman of Solid Hosting on How to Secure your Blog from Hacking -

Oh, by the way, I want to commend the hosts Flow Galindez and Omar Itay for keeping the whole event fun. They cracked me up! Actually, everyone who presented and went on-stage were really amusing! Kept my not-a-morning-person self up the whole day.

They also raffled off prizes from the sponsors. I won hosting from Solid Hosting. I wish I won a shirt or the UCB gift certificates though. But, I decided to use the hosting as a prize for Eihdra’s contest.

Hosts Flow and Omar, raffling off prizes at Bloggers Fest -

By the way, the winner of the photo contest was Robbie of The Creative Dork and his partner Crizalie Olimpo.

The winners of the photography contest - Robbie of TheCreativeDork and  Crizalie Olimpo -

I thought the photo was of him with the sky as the backdrop. But, I thought to myself there’s no way they could’ve gotten a photo of the sky that blue when the sun was already about to set.

I really didn’t know what the photo was all about ‘til Robbie blogged about it. Go read his post to know the story behind this winning photo. By the way, I’m a fan of the dork! 🙂

The winning photo for most creative - Robbie of as the model - Photo courtesy of The Creative Dork

At around 8pm, we were starting to pack up. But, not without this panoramic photo taken by Azrael. I’m on the far left side of the photo. Hehehe.

Bloggers at the 2011 Bloggers Fest in Thunderbird Resorts in Rizal - photo by Azrael -

We all got some freebies from the organizers and the sponsors, including this tote bag…

My Thunderbird Resorts tote bag -

…and these blogger pins.

Blogger pins I got from Bloggers Fest -

And, of course, here are photos of my blogger friends who attended the event with me:

Me and Eihdra at the Bloggers Fest 2011 -

Our photo booth crazy pictures LOL -

We had NO IDEA that the last will be printed as the main photo. So, pardon the weird posing. 😀

Me and newfound blogger friend Divine -

My new blogger friends -

Overall, it was a tiring, but very enjoyable day. Eidhra, Divine and I decided to eat dinner at McDonald’s in Buendia. I arrived home almost at 12 midnight. Whew!

Too bad the last few speakers had to hurry. But, we still learned a lot. I’m also very glad to have met a lot more bloggers this time. I’m looking forward to next year’s Bloggers Fest. Woot! 🙂