One of my greatest luxuries is going on a hotel staycation. It’s like leaving your ordinary life behind and stepping into a world where you can walk to your favorite shopping destinations, order room service, have a great view of the city, and have a heater in the shower. Some of my favorite assignments are staycations (travel, too, because it means holing up in a five star hotel), and I go on my own dime every now and then.
I’ve known about the Ayala Triangle Garden’s Lights and Sounds Show for a while now, but I haven’t been there yet. So when Conde Nast Traveler recently announced that it’s one of the seven most spectacular places to see Christmas lights around the world, I decided to check it out this year.
I love room/linen sprays. The sense of smell is a very powerful memory trigger and can bring back memories upon encountering smells associated with that event. I also like fragrances because pleasant ones are very relaxing. I always have a few candles and room sprays, which I light up or spray every night and when I need to relax.
The people around me know my obsession with smell, and they usually buy me fragrances to add to my collection. I have lavender (my all-time favorite scent), aloe, dalandan, flowers, and green apple.
This week alone, I added two more to my collection: citronella and lemongrass. The citronella is from my publicist friend, who gave me a bottle of Wild to Mild’s organic room spray after working together for one of her clients. My mother gave me Essencia’s lemongrass room and car spray, which she bought in the bazaar at the Cuenca Community Park in Ayala Alabang. I strongly support locally-made products and was glad to know both are made in the Philippines.
Citronella has a refreshing citrus scent. It’s a great way to start the day with this in the air because of its light aroma. Citronella doubles as an anti-depressant because it fights anxiety, sadness, and negative feelings. I’m also prone to mosquito bites so it helps, as the oil repels the insect.
Lemongrass, on the other hand, has a heavier scent. It reminds you of Thai food, but I love Thai food! The smell is strong when you put your nose near the bottle, but it gently dissipates when you spray it, leaving only a faint and pleasant aroma. I like spraying it on my pillows a few minutes before lying down, because by then, it would have absorbed and what’s left is a delicious scent that makes me want to relax. Or eat Thai.
Strangely, Wild to Mild’s online presence listed on the bottle doesn’t exist, but if you want to know where to get this, just leave a comment below. You may read more about Essencia’s lemongrass room and car spray here.
I first heard about IKEA’s catalog when a video went viral of a Swedish man showing off his new gadget: the IKEA bookbook. According to chief design guru Jorgen Eghammer, “Once in a while, something comes along that changes the way we live. A device so simple and intuitive, using it feels almost familiar.” It was meant as a parody of everyone’s obsession with tablets, and as someone who is averse to technology, I thought it was hilarious.
I was excited to get a copy because my man and I were flying to Hong Kong for a few days, and there was an IKEA there. I make it a point to visit an IKEA because I love their showrooms, the distinctively Scandinavian design, and of course, the price points. On my solo trip to Hong last year, I got two bags of potpourri and floral-print paper napkins.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have the free catalog in Hong Kong. They only had a buying guide which you had to return at the counter.
But my man being the sweetheart that he is, he ordered a copy online and got it for me on our seventh month together (I got him a blow dryer because he always blow dries his hair whenever there’s one around). Shipping took longer than expected, so he only got it right around the time we were marking our eight month, where he got me a copy of Wallpaper City Guide: Manila. I gave him an origami otter, his favorite animal.
So the catalog is IKEA’s lookbook of their 2015 collection. It’s divided into rooms, with styled looks (similar to what they do in their showrooms) and individual items at the end.
It’s so beautiful. You have to admire IKEA for their ability to create pieces that marry both form and function. Scandinavian design is known for its simplicity and functionalism, but IKEA adds that special fun touch while keeping in mind the living space. I bet IKEA is popular in Hong Kong because space there is at a premium (as of 2012, Causeway Bay has the most expensive rent in the world, overtaking New York City).
Pieces are affordable because designers usually start with a price point and design around that. They deliver the furniture in flat packs for you to assemble yourself, lowering the price even further. They are also environmentally conscious and sustainable, making each purchase guilt-free.
On my trip to Hong Kong this year with my man, I bought a clip-on reading light (which I have yet to install because I need to add a shelf first over my desk), a glass bottle, four white roses, a tin pail, and a fake shrub. I love the idea of putting greens in my room because it makes it look alive. For those who are too lazy to maintain actual plants (or do not have access to regular sunlight), I advise you get the synthetic kind. But make sure you get the ones that look halfway real, because there’s nothing sadder than obviously fake plants.
I plan to redecorate my room little by little in the coming weeks, and I have a small guide with me for inspiration. The catalog is free in (some) branches, but you can also view a digital version using the IKEA app.
I was part of Philippine cinematic history as I was one of the first to experience the country’s first 4D cinema at the Bonifacio High Street Cinema. I got watch The Amazing Spiderman 2, and it was a mindblowing experience that sets a new standard in movie viewing.
Last week, I watched Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel in Greenbelt, Makati. It was the kind of film I felt deserved to be seen on the big screen, and besides, I was too impatient to wait for the torrents to be made available online (I found out that they released the torrent the same week they released it theatrically).
A shrub of bougainvilleas along Puerto Azul
I wrote about my stay in Puerto Azul in the links above, but I’d like to also talk about the bougainvillea plants I saw all around Ternate, Cavite. Most of them I saw in Puerto Azul’s residential village, and I was struck at how beautiful and majestic the flowers were.
Some of the bougainvilleas that pepper Puerto Azul
I see them all over Metro Manila, but I only got to appreciate the ubiquitous flowers on my Puerto Azul staycation. It was growing in intense heaps all over the village. Trees, shrubs, and flowers grew wildly, and the greenery was dominated by this simple yet colorful foliage.
More of Puerto Azul’s bougainvilleas
Bougainvilleas are native to South America, but also grow in countries with warm climates. Bougainvilleas grow in Brazil, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba, Venezuela, and of course, the Philippines. It is known by many names, but bougainvilleas are known as bonggang villa in the Philippines.
Switzerland’s Locarno is famous for its bougainvilleas.
The house we stayed at in Puerto Azul also had its own bougainvilleas
They are known for the colorful flowers they grow, from pink to magenta, white, purple, red, orange, and yellow. Bougainvilleas can instantly brighten up a simple garden, but the bougainvilleas I saw in Puerto Azul lit the streets with its vibrant colors. Bougainvilleas are best appreciated in large clumps, when the sheer abundance of grandeur can overwhelm the senses.
Bougainvilleas are low-maintenance flowers because they are drought-resistant and versatile. They can be planted along walls, on fences, in baskets and containers. And best of all, they flower all-year round in equatorial areas! I plan on filling up our garden with bougainvilleas.
Last week, I was at Puerto Azul in Ternate, Cavite, with the folks for a staycation and to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. Puerto Azul is notorious for its crumbling facade, which was once described as Asia’s Paradise Resort. It was an exclusive resort complex that catered to rich locals and foreigners, especially golfers. Its 3,3oo hectare land holds a a golf course designed by legendary golfer Gary Player, a beach, and a hotel with 340 rooms in 17 clusters. In fact, Leandro Locsin designed the main clubhouse, which still stands today.
Today, Puerto Azul is a shadow of its former self. The golf course is now dry and barren due to lack of irrigation. A shame, considering that it was designed by one of the greatest players golf history, and plays host to the important Philippine Open and Richard Gomez’s Goma Cup. Its Hole 17 has golfers playing with the dazzling Manila Bay in the background.
Its facilities are rundown and infrastructures aging. But my story takes place in a different location.
The residential area of Puerto Azul takes up only one street with lots of greenery
I had my staycation at the residential part of Puerto Azul. It’s right across the golf course, and is hidden by lots of greenery. It looks undeveloped, but the houses are huge. The house we stayed at had five floors.
The owner of the house has a funny connection with my family. She is friends with my mom, worked with my uncle (whose birthday we were celebrating), and her daughter was once my classmate in high school. I think it is their summer house because they occasionally rent it out.
The house is a pleasant shade of yellow
We had the space for two days, and I was impressed by the size of the place. The house is Asian-inspired and though I am not a fan of that architectural and design movement, I still loved the house for its size and devotion to large windows, seats, bathrooms, and greenery.