Done it + Seen it

How we saved up for Travel

This is our Travel Money Jar. Today, it is nearly empty but there is no reason to be sad. After all, this empty Travel jar means that our travel memory banks are full!

You see, it’s nearly empty because we used its former contents to fund our recent trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan. And what an amazing trip that was!

We got a really good deal on airfare for this trip back in November 2017. As soon as I learned of PAL’s seat sale, I let Mom know right away so we can take the trip together. Just a couple of months prior to the trip date, I reached out to an old classmate of mine from grade school who is in the Tourism Industry in PP. She hooked me up with a local travel agent to make arrangements for the hotel and tours.

52 Weeks Money Savings Challenge

A couple years ago, the 52 Weeks Money Savings Challenge became viral.

The concept: Save an incremental amount of money weekly, and enjoy your lump sum savings at the end of the year. One can start with a small amount that increases each week (50 pesos on the first week, and increase the amount by PHP 50 increments weekly), or start with the biggest amount, and work your way down.

It’s our second year now of doing this challenge. We chose to specifically allocate the savings for our Travel fund, and physically stash cash in a repurposed jar of Mayo.

The husband and I are both doing the challenge, so we started with 50 pesos each at the very beginning. If we miss one week, we make up for it on the next. To stay on top of the challenge, we use the 52 Weeks Money Challenge App.

Both the husband and I have the app on our phones, so every week, I enter the actual amount we each deposit. If we needed to borrow cash for emergency spending in the house, we record it through the app too.

To start off, you will need to enter the following:

  • Motivation/Goal – Travel, a new TV, or Downpayment for a new house, or whatever you fancy
  • Saving Method – Start low, or start high
  • Base Unit/amount – we chose 50 pesos, to get a substantial amount for our travel goals, but you can choose a lower amount depending on your end goal and capacity.
  • Reminder Time – This is my favorite feauture because you can set a day and time at which the app reminds you to save weekly!

Every once in a while, I count the actual cash in the jar to make sure the totals tally with what the app tells us we should already have. It’s been a real good way to keep track of things and not rely on just memory – Did we put money in the Travel Jar this week?

Doing this challenge, and physically seeing the money stack up inside our Travel Jar, has really kept us on track with saving money for our travel goals – without necessarily taking away from our regular budget.

As a couple, we haven’t done that much travelling – it just wasn’t a priority in the past. But it is also something we are changing.

How do you save up for your travel goals?

Are you also doing the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge? How is your experience, so far?

Good Friday at The Infinity Tower Suites

The Guevara-Apitanas have a family tradition – spending Holy Week at the Guevara home in Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte and participating in the Holy Wednesday procession of saints with their very own San Andres dressed, lit up, and surrounded by a sea of flowers. I had the privilege of taking the trip with the family and spending the hot but happy few days of Holy Week the summer before we got married, but I have yet to go back. We thought it would be this year, but we weren’t so lucky. Work obligations didn’t permit the husband to take a long vacation so we had to make our own plans. My side of the family also couldn’t get away, so it was really just the two of us. 

Thanks to Deal Grocer, we found a discount voucher for a night’s stay at a one-bedroom suite at the Infinity Tower Suites. All our asks checked out – a pool, separate living area and bedroom, fully equipped kitchen. The hotel is in Makati, which we could reach traffic-free on a Good Friday. I called the hotel before purchasing the voucher to confirm availability on our check in date. I wouldn’t have had to do it normally, but we had a very specific date in mind (Good Friday), and it was four days away when I made the purchase. As soon as I got my voucher number, I called them back and made the reservation official. 

On our way to the hotel, we realized that the vet where we leave the dogs to room and board while we go on vacation was closed for Lent. Even another pet hotel we checked out wasn’t available anymore. The website showed no pet policy so I called the hotel and was gladly informed that they can make an exception for us jut this visit – we could definitely check in with our two dogs! Though we didn’t have to bring our pets after all, it was nice to know that the hotel could make such accommodations for us. That’s a huge plus for the establishment. 

Waze showed us the way to Infinity Tower Suites, although I had to ask the staff out front where the parking entrance was (on the other side of the building). Check-in was a breeze. We were instructed to bring a print out of the voucher but I had no access to a printer and they accepted the digital copy I showed them off my phone. Our suite was at the 12th floor and though the furnishings were quite dated, we loved how spacious the rooms were. Just like every other time we are in hotels, we kept imagining what we’d do with the space if it were our home own home. There were double sliding doors that led from the living room to the bedroom. There was plenty of space for a craft area and computer area before you reach the bed. They could also convert an area to a good-sized walk-in closet. It was really just a very big room. 

Right away, we felt like throwing a party! I messaged my friends saying they were welcome to drop by. I even extended the invite to our family in case anyone could make it. As expected though, everyone else had their own plans and we had the place all to ourselves. 

We reserved the visit to the pool and gym area until after dinner. Good decision, the place was deserted!

Just like the room though, the pool area could use some updating. The pool was only 4 ft deep and the water was very cold. They also probably prepared for a lot of guests because it smelled heavily of chlorine. The water in the jacuzzi was a bit warmer than the pool’s but it too was cold. 

There seemed enough equipment at the gym and both the hubby and I went on the bike and treadmill for a few minutes each. Mostly though, we just had fun. 

The hotel didn’t have a restaurant so there was no room service, but overnight accommodations included breakfast the The Wholesome Table located at the ground floor of the building. Food was good. There is a separate menu for hotel guests so be sure to ask for the regular menu if you’d like to order additional dishes/drinks. The pancakes I had wasn’t enough to satiate my hunger (we were considering it brunch) so I asked if they had fruit or fruit shakes but I guess the waitress misunderstood me because she said no. I asked for a regular menu and ended up ordering a grilled cheese sandwich. I would have just been okay with a fruit shake though, which were apparently available but were on a different beverage menu. So I ended up being very full having had the pancakes, grilled cheese sandwich, and a fruit shake. The husband had a rice meal plus his own refreshing fruit shake. The restaurant deserves its own review. The decor felt very organic but my phone had no battery so sorry, no photos. We also had celebrity sightings!

Overall, it was a good overnight staycation. Just what we needed after months of focusing on just work. We spent the rest of the weekend with friends at another staycation as if one was not enough to recharge for another long stretch at work. 🙂

Mont Albo Massage Hut

Alfred and I are trying to establish Mondates – Dates on a Monday. We’re both off on Sundays and Mondays, and after sleeping through the better part of Sunday, it looks more and more like Monday is when we could actually go out and have our date. Not that we don’t always eat out.

Last weekend, Alfred went on a Boracay trip with his colleagues. They were due back on Monday afternoon so I was assured that I would still have plenty of date time available, hehe. When he came home though, I was still in a sleepy stupor (Monday Snooze Fest). But I still suggested a movie date – Safe Haven is showing and it seemed interesting enough. While getting ready, I realized there may be other things I want to do instead.

So off to dinner we went, with plans to see the last full show of Safe Haven at Robinsons Magnolia. We ate at Chocolate Kiss, Roces Avenue branch because I wanted some pesto pasta (it was the fault of Carlos of Kitchen Boss who prepared yummy pasta on his show). During the course of dinner we decide instead to get a massage.

Mom purchased these coupons for discounted services of Mont Albo Massage Hut, so we decided to swing by the house to pick them up en route to the spa.

Photo Feb 19, 6 00 50 PM

We called the Tomas Morato branch and asked if we could avail of their services right then. It was already 850PM when we called so it was nice that they didn’t refuse considering that terms of the coupons include calling in to make an appointment. Well, we did call in, technically, 10 minutes before we arrived Smile

The place isn’t so big. I didn’t notice how many beds they have but we were led to the last two that were adjacent each other. There was a male therapist for Alfred, and a female one for me. We both got the Hilot – traditional head to foot massage. It lasted an hour (or so) and was very soothing. Because I had a nagging headache, I actually wanted more, but it was enough. As with other massage sessions, I told the therapist not to go too hard on my left back side because of my slip disc. All was good though and I don’t feel any negative effects of the massage.

They also placed heated leaves on our backs at the end of the session. I think those are supposed to suck in the cold from our bodies.

The place smelled nice and clean, and the music was calm and soothing. The curtains were thick enough to give us privacy. I didn’t notice though that they had anything for sale (website says so), not even at the front desk. Maybe I was just too sleepy by the time we left to notice anything else.

At the end of the massage they brought in hot teas and hot towels. Nice touch.

Alfred liked the experience and prefers it to our Nuat Thai massage from several months ago. He wants to go back next week, and with the savings that mom’s coupons gave us, we probably will go back. We used the Buy 1 Massage, Take 1 Massage coupon, and there are four of those left. So for this pampering session, we only had to pay P380 pesos.

Mom got the coupons for around P350 from a sales agent that visited her office. It comes with one free Hilot with Bentosa, 5 buy 1 take 1 massage coupons, 5 buy 1 take 1 body scrub stubs, and a 50% off on any body treatment (1 coupon). A lot of good value – as long as you actually use them.

Where do you get your regular massage?

The Mont Albo branch nearest us is located in:

186b Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City.

(02) 416- 41-54 / 0908 863-0252

They have other branches too and you can check them out at their website:

Brunch at Pan De Amerikana

I’ve been to Pan De Amerikana twice this month already. Last week, I took my team there for breakfast, and just this morning, Alfred and I had brunch at the restaurant famous for its Pandesal, and upside-down fun theme.

Photo Feb 13, 2 26 35 PM

We had a full brunch, and it was very sulit! They serve Pinoy everyday food. Snacks, breakfast, lunch/dinner, even dessert. Each dish is priced very reasonably so we actually bought a dish each, plus a plate of sisig to share. I also ordered pumpkin soup, and we both had dessert of ginataang bilo-bilo. The melon shake was also very refreshing, but it comes in a small glass. To take home, we got their big pandesal and ensaymada. All the food we got only cost us 622 pesos.

The food wasn’t exceptional, but it was good enough. And for the price, it’s really no wonder people keep coming back.

The décor was really something. Outside, the place looks like an upside down house. Inside, you’ll see the baby grand piano, dining and sala sets up hanging above your head. I bet everyone who comes for the first time cracks a worried joke about the entire thing falling straight at you. But it looked like they were fastened securely by bolts. It’s like you need special tools, or delrin levers, to take them down. We were definitely safe sitting right under them Smile

It’s a one-floor affair with a high ceiling so it was quite cool inside even with just a few industrial-sized fans. The place looks really good, it made us think about what we would love to replicate in our future home.

Before leaving I used the comfort room and was delighted at the Gramps and Granny figures they used to mark His and Hers CR (see Granny on the collage above). Behind the beautiful colored glass door, you’ll find a clean functioning CR with an interesting wall! They put old plates or dish covers as a design element. Fun and whimsical. Smile

Anyhoo. I just thought I’d share a restaurant post, and not have a bunch of food photos to go along with it for a change. Winking smile

What did you have for breakfast/brunch today?

Road trip

As I write this, we are 3 hours into a 12-hour road trip home. Perhaps it was about 6 years ago or so, my colleagues from Asia ACTs and I took a road trip across the Cordilleras. We rented a van, and wove our way through Banawe, Sagada, and then Baguio. Then back to Quezon City. On the way home we stopped by Joy’s family home in Tarlac.

I don’t remember now how long it took, probably 3 or 4 days. It was fun because we took our time and there was much chatter on the road.

For this trip, we’re taking public transportation and you either entertained yourself with your own gadgets, or sang along whatever music the drivers and their conductor played. On the way up to Sagada, we slept for the most part of the trip. That was easy, the bus left QC at 830pm and we hasn’t slept since the day before. Now going down the mountains, the trip starts at 3pm. So it’s not so easy to fall asleep, or to stay so for long.

Most people would rather do something else than travel 12 hours to the mountains. I say it’s time well spent when the destination is Sagada. 🙂 Besides, 12 hours of sleep is a gift! Now the time it takes to get back to life, hmm. Well, it’s another gift of time. One can read, or watch movies.

So that’s what I’d been doing the past 2 hours – I watched a movie! That means that this weekend I’ve done quite a lot really:
1. Witness a childhood friend’s wedding
2. Cover a wedding as official photographer
3. Give my niece Shanti another memorable experience before she turns 18
4. Watch 2 movies: The New Adventures of Alice in Wonderland and Rachel Getting Married
5. Get a massage (which I said I should have weekly or at least twice a month)
6. Tried a new diner in Sagada (as opposed dining at all the old familiar places only)
7. Walked everyday in the past 3 days until I lost breath.
8. Met a charming little boy (I must share a photo of little Seth)
9. Say hi to old friends
10. See some of my favorite Baguio boys

And the weekend’s not even over yet!

What have you been up to? 🙂

Time check – it has been about 20 mins since I started writing this post and just when I was about to attach a photo of the mountains taken when we were on our way up, I lost network connection. When I do get to post this it will still be thanks to the mostly excellent Globe 3G signal on my iPhone. No, Cable Tours does not have wifi on board.


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