Tag Archives: Reminiscing

Namaste

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“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

When I was in college, I lived in a dormitory run by Catholic nuns.  There, I came to know Sr. Lourdes who would greet me by clasping both her hands to her chest and bowing her head while saying, “Namaste.”  I knew Sr. Lourdes is from India so I did not give her greeting much thought as I saw it as her way of greeting me the traditional Indian way.

One day, we bumped into each other in the foyer.  She greeted me in the same way and I greeted her back by smiling.  She then asked me, “Do you know what ‘Namaste’ means?”  I nodded and said, “I think it is the traditional way of greeting  in India, Sister.”  She smiled and nodded.  “You know,” she continued.  “It is more than that.  It means ‘I see God in you.’ ”  Simply put, I was dumbstruck.

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Revisiting Alegre Beach Resort

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I had my internship in this resort in 2004 and it was one of the highlights of my college life. Here, I enjoyed being “out into the real world” and applying everything I learned in school. Truly, experience is the best teacher and my exposure in this resort’s five (5) departments (Front office, F & B Service, Kitchen, Aqua Sports, and Housekeeping) laid the groundwork for my career in the hospitality industry. It was thus with great fondness that I visited Alegre for a day tour last April 9.

We were lucky to avail of their Php 9,000 7 + 1 promo so this cost us just Php 1,125 per person.  What more, it already included pick up and drop off to and from Alegre and lunch sans the drinks. They even agreed to pick us up at Plantation Bay instead of at their usual pick-up place of SM or Ayala.

The place is just as I remember it. Though the water did look inviting, I opted to tour the place first and take photos and just swim after lunch.

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Here’s a shot of a boat among bamboos.  One of my favorites in this set.

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I roamed the whole of Alegre that I even passed by a mini-aviary and reached an undeveloped part of the resort.

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Lunch time came. Since it was a holiday, there were many guests on day tour so they served the food buffet-style. Here’s my plate.

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The only food I liked here were the humba, chicken, and longaniza. The burger patty was bland, the pancit was salty and overcooked, the shrimp was also overcooked and the squid was rubbery. They also did not prepare enough food since most of the dishes run out. Their fresh fruits (mangoes, pineapple, watermelon) also ran out. I also did not like the desserts. I was so disinterested I did not bother to take a photo of their rhumball (?) and bread pudding (?). I actually didn’t know what the food was because there were no menu labels!

After lunch, I still wasn’t keen on swimming so I opted to go to their Dive Shop. Going there, I passed by these views.

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And by their rooms, one of which I took a picture of.

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As I passed by it, I had memories of me being assigned in Housekeeping and spending almost an hour with a buddy to clean a room. Thankfully, my buddy was so nice he never asked me to clean the bathroom or bathtub and only assigned me to clean the bedroom, do the dusting or replenish the amenities.

I finally arrived at the Aqua Sports / Dive Shop and was greeted with these views.

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Some of my fondest memories of Alegre are the moments I spent here. Our main task then was to rake the beachfront free of seaweeds and assist guests during their activities e.g. sunset cruise or island hopping, but whenever we’re free, we would kayak, snorkel, jet ski, and parasail. We even got to dive for free!

On my way back to the Cove from the Aqua Sports, I passed by these flowers.

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After going swimming and bonding with my friends, the resort’s Executive Chef who was also the acting Duty Manager that day invited us for some snacks at the Pavilion, the resort’s only restaurant.  We opted to dine al fresco to enjoy the view.

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When I saw their Ube Ensaymada, I was surprised because the size was almost half (maybe even just a quarter) from what I remember, and the ube was barely discernible (It’s that little!). They also got rid of the Macapuno-flavored ensaymada, which was too bad since it was so yummy. The coffee was just okay.

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Their day tour was supposedly just from 8 AM (pick-up) to 4 PM (drop-off) but the Executive Chef was so nice he allowed us to stay until 7 PM.

After freshening up, I went to the bar by the beach.

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I ordered Tropical Slurp. Its description says, “This smooth, thick drink has style and substance-it can’t help but be good for you, a mixture of pineapple, orange juice, banana and mango fruit.”

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My verdict? It was delicious, but a little pricey at Php 220+.

After enjoying my drinks, I enjoyed walking around the cove to capture the place at dusk.

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Then it was dinner time and while waiting for our food, I walked around the pools to capture these night shots.

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My order of Australian Angus Rib Eye Steak with Sautéed Forest Mushrooms, Peppercorn Sauces and Sliced Potatoes was already served when I came back to our table.

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This was the most expensive item on their menu but it failed to impress me. It was fatty and bland to my taste even when I smothered it with sauce.

After our meal, it was time to leave. As I settled our bill, I took this shot of the lobby where I had fond memories of us assisting their Front Office staff during check-in and checkout, preparing orchid bouquets for couples and honeymooners, etc.

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In summary, here are my pros and cons of visiting Alegre:

Pros: a picturesque place with a private beachfront; the best room I ever saw here in the Philippines would be Alegre’s

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Cons: too far as it’s 3 hours from Cebu City (though those who want to get away from it all will find this a con); mediocre food (I don’t mind paying a lot so long as I get my money’s value); staff were not helpful (I saw guests dragging the loungers by themselves while the staff looked on); service is intrusive (they would greet even when I was talking to someone or taking pictures); the place is showing signs of its age e.g. paint peel-offs in the buildings; the female restroom in their wash-up room got clogged up and it stank of urine; the same wash-up room (both male and female) also did not look well-maintained; come low tide, seaweeds would wash up on the beachfront

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I actually felt sad when I realized that Alegre Beach Resort had somehow deteriorated in terms of service. I even spoke with someone who said that the time when I had my internship here was the good old days of the resort. Sigh.  No wonder almost everyone we knew then already left.

I will end this post by sharing my Evaluation Forms during my internship, which I found in my college memento box.

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To quote a few,

She has an exceptional quality output at work as a service staff; A very good service provider and at the same time, a sales person; Willing to handle guest complaints; Shows good camaraderie to her supervisors and colleagues; Smart; A self-starter; The moment you see her, a big smile greets  you; Very friendly, courteous, and with a positive outlook in life; I am very positive that she will be a good leader someday

Amazing how words like these can make me dream and believe in what I can become.

Baguio on my Mind

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It’s officially summer here in the Philippines and though I have always loved the sun, the sand, and the sea, the sweltering heat of the sun these past days was just too much. I want to be back in San Francisco where it’s cold even at summer, but since SFO’s too far, I’ll settle for Baguio, the country’s summer capital.

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Baguio, I am so missing you right now. And I’ve been missing you more since I saw some Baguio photos I took way back in 2009.

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Photos touched up via Instagram.

Revisiting the University of the Philippines Diliman

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I got the chance to revisit my college alma mater when I was in Manila last December.  It’s been almost a decade since I graduated and being there brought me a lot of fond memories.

As the jeepney traversed the University Avenue, a vivid memory of me and my mom passing by the same route came into my mind.  I was just a wide-eyed lass of sixteen then and it was my first time in the big city.  Mommy was worried about me so she accompanied me from our province to Manila to enroll.

I alighted at Quezon Hall and took in a closer sight of the Oblation, which is an  iconic symbol of the university.  The statue depicts a man facing upward with arms outstretched, symbolizing selfless offering of oneself to his country.  I was there only over a week before Christmas thus the Oblation had this star lantern decoration behind it.

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As I stared at it, I remember being that provincial lass who left her province and went to the big city to pursue a degree and make her dreams come true.  And at that moment, I thought I’m now halfway through it and I have my education to partly be thankful for.

I then headed to the Arts and Sciences (A.S.) or Palma Hall and on the way there, I remember my thrice-a-week jog at the Academic Oval.  It was always a joy to jog or walk around the university because of these shady acacia trees.IMG_6926

The Sunken Garden which was one of my favorite spots in the whole 400+ hectares of the university, was my next stop. We used to have group discussions here and this is also where I spent most of my free time writing my papers or studying for an exam or quiz.

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But my most poignant memories of this place would be the ones I wove with my best friend. Many times, these trees became the silent witness to our sharing of our joys, dreams, and fears.

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The Main Library was visible from the Sunken Garden and looking at it made me remember the countless hours I spent poring over its books just so I can finish my papers and research. But there were times I slept there too. Ha ha!

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Now hungry, I went to the Shopping Center and specifically looked for Rodic’s, which is famous for its silog meals. I was never a tapsilog person so I ordered my favorite hotdog silog (hotdog, fried rice and sunny side-up egg) meal.

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It was as delicious as ever but it’s now more expensive as what used to be a student-friendly meal worth Php50 is now priced at Php75.

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As I relished my meal, I remembered my Rodic’s moments with either my friends, dormmates or blockmates. There were just too many.

Afterwards, I revisited my favorite dessert shop and thankfully, it was still there. Fruits in Ice Cream (FIC) has this really delicious range of ice creams and my favorite had always been the nangkasuy (jackfruit-cashew) flavor.  Yummy.  As all commodities, its price has also increased from Php15 a scoop to Php23.

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Now done for the day, I hailed a taxi so I could head home. And as I glanced back at the Oblation on our way out of the university, I had these parting thoughts:

UP Naming Mahal (Our Beloved UP), so much had changed since I graduated in 2004 but you still kindle in me that same feelings of awe and pride I since felt when at the young age of perhaps 10, I made you my university of choice for college.

I will always have fond memories of you and walking around your grounds today brought back those memories.  I couldn’t help but smile as I remembered my friends and professors and realized the life lessons that only you could have taught me – Independence. Freedom. Responsibility. Love of country.

What I am now is partly (and perhaps mostly) because of you. And I cannot thank you enough for that.