March 22, 2013

Museo Pambata

I was chaperone to my son in his last school field trip and found myself inside  a children's museum along Roxas Boulevard, after an hour or so of travel. 

Alone I would not brave this museum's location.  There were so many hawkers and bystanders outside, the streets heading to the museum was busy and traffic so bad.

Having said that,  Museo Pambata was still a worthwhile travel.

This museum is like a huge play ground, where kids can learn, while having fun. They are sure to enjoy the many interactive exhibits the museum has to offer.  And it is not just a museum - summer art programs, various play activities are also offered here for free or at minimal cost.

The museum has eight (8) theme rooms.

(1) Kalikasan
(2) Old Manila
(3) Career Options
(4) I Love my Planet Earth
(5) My Body Works (which my son enjoyed a lot)
(6) Pamilihang Bayan (which was my favorite, the kiddie size stores and shops  were so cute) 
(7) Global Village
(8) Karapatan Hall

Word of caution: Be ready to answer lots of questions from your kiddos!

what is a finger print? 
why is this mouth so huge?

is that fart i am hearing? how come it doesn't smell?

can i be a driver when i grow up?

how do i cook sinigang?

can we bring this bahay kubo home?

You should allot at least 1 1/12 to 2 hours to fully appreciate the tour, however, if you are in a hurry and don't have the luxury of time - I suggest you head straight to My Body Works or Pamilihan Bayan. As we were on group tour we rather pressed for time and never got to make the most out of your trip.
No worries... we will be back :P
Museo Pambata Foundation, Inc.
Roxas Boulevard corner South Drive
Manila, Philippines
T: (632) 523-1797/98, 536-0595
F: (632) 522-1246
M: +63 918-382-2212 (for Booking and Reservations only)

March 20, 2013

The Crocodile Park Manila

I found this field trip to the Crocodile Park (CP) surprisingly entertaining!
The park runs bird shows and exhibition stunts (with live huge crocodiles) Wednesdays to Sundays at 4pm - so make sure you are on time for the show schedules before heading to CP.
The location is dusty and quite run down, but the shows were A+.
In fact, I found the CP's Super Bird show more engaging compared to the Ocean Park HK bird show I have seen.  I honestly enjoyed my Manila bird show more (then maybe it could  be because, the Manila show was in Filipino - figures!). 
After the bird show the group was led to the crocodile breeding area and treated to a stunt exhibition of a dancing tight rope artist (did I mention that the rope was suspended across a pool filled with crocodileS?). 
I can't hardly breathe, while the poor man crossed the tight rope doing various stunts in between!  The closest I have seen such a stunt was when we went to Thailand and a crocodile handler placed his head inside the crocs mouth (crazy!). 
So scared Manong Tight Rope Artist would fall and end up as chow for those sharp teethed crocodileS, in front of the kids!
(I was so afraid to death watching, I forgot to take pictures!  But instead of checking out the pix, I suggest you just go there and see for yourself what I mean)

Oh and the park also houses a mini-petting zoo, which the kiddos enjoyed totally
(I really can't get over Manong Tight Rope Artist!)
Bravo for the staff of Crocodile Park Manila!
Crocodile Park Manila is located at Boom na Boom Grounds, Pasay City
Contact Number (02) 833 5680

March 19, 2013

Subic Bay (the Beach)

A stroll along Subic beach by the Waterfront Road, together with the mandatory Post Exchange (PX) goods shopping are agenda regulars, whenever we visit Subic.
It has been a while since our last trip here and I was honestly a bit sad to see how dirty the beach shore line has become
(visitors have been literally trashing the beach - bad! bad!).  
On the east side of the beach now rise restaurants and establishments that has taken away most of the beach front, previously meant for leisurely beach strolls.  Visitors would have to cram on whatever is left of the beach (or pay extra to get a good view from one of the expensive restaurants along the beach shoreline...haiz!)
There was a sign that says "NO SWIMMIMG".  Obviously we know why.
My boys managed to get a cleaner portion of the beachfront and striked Ninjago poses to celebrate.

Sorry, no swimming guys :(

March 17, 2013

Paradise Ranch Clark Pampanga

Paradise Ranch is a perfect family park located at Sacobia Valley.  It shares the same entrance as the Zoocobia Zoo.
For a little over P450 you get to enjoy both Zoocobia and Paradise Ranch.
The inside of the park was a feast to our eyes.  Trees and plants everywhere with garden beautifully manicured and maintained. 
We took a raft going to the middle of a man made pond and fed fishes.  My boys were ecstatic to see all the fishes get excited over fish food.

Kuya asking for more fish food from our tour guide.
There were few butterflies inside the butterfly sanctuary, I wish there could be more.

Atleast they have this cool bench, good for picture perfect moments.  Cheers! 

The garden heading towards the butterfly sanctuary.


One of the beautifullly kept gardens that surrounds the park.

My boys did not mind a little bit of hiking.  They were so enthralled by the beauty of the park.
Peacocks freely roam the park
 Just lovely....

Zoocobia Fun Zoo

Our side trip to this fun, family zoo (tucked on top of Sacocia valley, housed inside Paradise Ranch in Clark Pampanga) is money well spent.

It was an honest to goodness interactive zoo-trip that my family enjoyed.

The valley is about 15 minutes rough road, uphill drive outside the Clark Economic Free Zone (CFEZ) so it is ideal that you bring your own car. 

Entrance to Zoocobia Zoo
The entrance to the zoo was a little unassuming, but the inside of these gates was a totally different story.

We were greeted by a personal tour guide that comes free with the entrance tickets we paid for  (although a well earned tip, after a friendly tour won't hurt). 

There were plenty of things to do once inside. 

I have enumerated suggested activities below.

(1) Birds feeding.  There are about a 100 parakeets/love birds inside this huge cage and you get to feed them on the palm of your hands. Since I am on the ticklish side, I stood by the corner and decided to leave this activity to my hubby.

Ticklish pala si Paps!!!
Now for the brave of hearts, try feeding those huge beaked ostriches!  Again an activity definitely not me.
Yummy :P

(2)  Zoo tour.  Fun and educational to see those animals upfront and so close.  Most of them were sleeping though :(


Well, hello there Mr. Parrot!
It was a perfect day to laze around... zzzzz....
(3) The Barn was a hit with my kiddos.   They got to experience bottle feeding the baby animals.
Camera shy :P

This kid finished 2 bottles of milk!

(4) The Zooc Ride was the highlight of this tour.  Although I lost to my boys, it was fun racing downhill :D

(5) My eldest braved the the miniature horses and had swell fun playing cowboy.

My handsome cowboy!

Go drum-drum before going home!  My boys were all good sports.

Ingenious deco! This bird's nest is made of paper mache.

Love Zoocobia!  
A recommended MUST see, in your next family vacation if you are heading to Clark Pampanga.

March 12, 2013

Hello "Millie's" at Microtel Hotel

Buffet breakfast at Millie's came free with our Microtel Hotel accommodation.

The restarant was quite small and the hotel staff had to put up additional chairs and tables in the lobby.

Food options were plenty, however,  nothing really stood out for me. 
There were no complaints from my family though. 

Overall just okay! 

Seafood by the Bay Restaurant Subic

The Seafood by the Bay Restaurant is stone throw away from the hotel we are staying in, so it was a no brainer that the long sunset beach stroll would lead us to this well recommended restaurant.

The bayfront seatings were quite enticing (really wanted a table beachfront), however, my kids are aircondition peeps!  So I had to be contented with view from inside the restaurant. 

Price may be quite steep for the normal Juan, but I guess that is expected. Given the ambiance and the quality of food served the price was just about worth it.

We ordered, honey walnut shrimp, seafood hotpot, hongkong fried chicken, yangchow rice, banana split for dessert and ended with a bill just a little over P1,000.
Not bad at all!

Verdict: Seafood by the Bay is recommended!  It tops our list of must visit restaurants in Subic!

March 11, 2013

Pyro Olympics 2013

Now that I have seen it first hand, it is no wonder, why the annual
My family and I were mesmerized by the colorful and spectacular fireworks display.  The cost must have been astounding for such a splendid show.
And we had best, unblocked view of the show on the top floor of Microtel Hotel.
View from the hotel room at sunset (equally a magnificent sight)!
My son enjoying the show!  He was so excited and clapped his hands countless times.

Various fireworks, most of which first time I have seen in my life.
Imagine the bay glowing red at night.

I want to see more :P

More, more!!!

The day after - greeted us with a fun run along Seaside Boulevard!!!
Can't wait until next year.

Bayfront Hotel Subic

We initially made reservations at the Grand Hoyah Hotel (given the very good net reviews 4/5 it has received) for this unplanned Subic trip. Ordinarily we book trips way ahead of schedule, however, this one was quite a last minute decision (booked on a thursday night for a saturday trip).

We booked via GHH's official website.  Booking via net was a breeze, or so we thought. Grand Hoyah called us friday night to inform us of some airconditioning problems on the room we reserved (although it sounded more as a mix up - double booking perhaps!).

Really traggic, as this is the first time ever, that this happened to us. Normally we would get additional discounts or room upgrades on accommodations! It was really a ngarag moment this time around.
Grand Hoyah did made efforts to transfer us to another hotel.

We were booked at the Bayfront Hotel located facing Subic Waterfront.
As a seasoned traveller, I hurriedly looked up net reviews of this hotel. I was honestly a disappointed to see a 2.5/5 rating.
Well I thought it was too late to fuss now.  I just prayed this doesn't ruin our stay.
True to the reviews on the internet, the hotel is quite small.  There is a pool, but I don't know if its clean so we did not bother swim.

My son at the hotel lobby

We were biletted in a deluxe room. The room is basic with very little area for my boys to run around.

Our small room
The window opens to a terrace with a view of the Seafood by the Bay restaurant (which entirely blocks the view of Subic bay)
Despite the room size, pool issues and blocked bayview, we saw the owner's effort to keep the place clean (I  tried hard to smell the old hotel smell some reviewers mentioned, but nada) and homey.
We also noticed on-going refurbishing and repainting (I did not see the peeling wall paints and the watermarks on the ceiling that netizens complained about, room aircondition working and almost near freezing). 
Breakfast was buffet set up and varied (nothing special really, but we ate well).
Staff were attentive and very nice. Service very efficient.
We were equally happy with the location and its close proximity to the Waterfront Boardwalk.  We went to the beach twice (quite sad that the beach front was littered with garbage though) due to my kids consistent prodding.  The morning beach stroll was the highlight of this Subic rendevous and was a good bonding moment with the kids!
Overall, we were satisfied with our Bayfront Hotel stay (deserving of a second chance).


March 10, 2013

Microtel Mall of Asia

It was a decision between the 18th Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark Pampanga and the 4th Philippine International PyroMusical Competition at the Mall of Asia (MOA) for our family's weekend stress breaker (hmmm...).
We haven't been to either event, so it was a rather difficult decision.  However, since we have just been to Clark for a pre-New Year staycation, we finally decided to do MOA. 
Our first bet for best view of the fireworks display was Microtel MOA.
It is located 5-10 minutes walk to MOA (the hotel also has a shuttle that services guests to and fro the mall) and has a perfect view of Manila Bay.
I am an advance planner and booked the hotel months in advance. And it was a good thing, since my sister who made last minute decision to join us, wasn't able to get any vacancy.  I on the other hand have secured a top floor-bay view room for my family.
We were welcomed by two uberly comfortable double queen size beds.

Bathroom basic but clean.

My boys excited and ready for the fireworks diplay!
My family totally loved our stay at Microtel Mall of Asia! 
Microtel MOA is located at
Coral Way Ave. corner Seaside Boulevard
SM Mall of Asia Complex
Phone Numbers: (02) 659 4233 to 39, (02) 659 4243 to 45,
(02) 659 4961 to 63, (0917) 590 5914

March 9, 2013

Mequeni Cafe and Restaurant (Holiday Inn Clark Pampanga)

After all the wonderful reviews I have read in the net, we just had to try out this 4.5 stars Trip Advisor recommended restaurant. 
We went there for night time snacks. Was happy to see that pastries were sold at discounted prices. I guess we came in just before closing time. 
My husband ordered croissant,sugar-coated donut and carrot cake for sharing. 
My boys had cold chocolate drinks, while me and hubby had coffee (sorry no picture of the coffee).

Can't say anything extra-ordinary about the pastries and drinks.  It was just okay for me.  I think I was expecting something extra. 
After eating, we paid our bill and left for our hotel room.
When we got to our hotel room, my boys got excited over  Belgian chocolates, housekeeping left in our room. 
The kiddos were all smiles as they munch on the token chocolates!  Now this was the extra I was looking for earlier at the Mequeni coffe shop.

Yummy chocolates :P

Buffet breakfast came free with our room package.  The food spread was plenty and varied, unfortunately we were still full from our late night eating.

 The boys instead feasted on fruits and light bread :P 
NOTE TO SELF: "Remember, NO late snacks before an early morning feast :D "