That’s Beautiful.

It’s been a tumultuous, adventurous, exciting past year and over the weekend Aidan and I decided to celebrate by doing something different from the usual… something luxurious (okay Aidan decided… I had just been nudging and suggesting the past couple of weeks).

Saturday afternoon we drove up to the Sofitel (the Philippine Plaza) and checked ourselves in for sunset watching in bathrobes and drinking Bloody Mary’s by the bay.

I hesitate to put a lot of personal stuff online, because I used to find the blurring of personal lives and public living kind of alarming in our society. But in the past few months I’ve gotten to know some really spectacular human beings online, and had they not shared their personal lives on blogs, online businesses, and social media, (kind of the necessary trinity to get people to connect with you on a global scale) I would never have been blessed enough to know them.

So, not to say that I am as influential and life-enhancing as they have been, but I want to set up an online community for myself, and to do that, I need to share some things with others no? So that these people that I love to follow and communicate with might have the chance to communicate back with me too.

So, that’s my litte rationale.

Ok, back to the Sofitel.

Sofitel Manila Hotel Lobby

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Was greeted with those amazing orchid arrangements in the lobby, followed by this little gift in our room. Surprisingly, it actually tasted as good as it looked, like whipped chocolate mousse (basically my favorite kind of cake).

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Ignored these little guys for the time being:

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And hit up this list instead:

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Bloody Mary for me and what seemed to be the drink of the month at the hotel for Aidan – something served in a martini glass that required a spray of some sort of juice. I was distracted by my Bloody Mary at the time so didn’t realize how interesting all that was until too late.

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Wandered over to this bar on the way back to the room. I love the old world feel in this hotel, it somehow made it more acceptable to be so languid and luxurious, drinking martinis in poolside hotel bars. They definitely got the vibe I wanted for the weekend. To be, old-world makes luxury feel classier :).

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Afterwards Aidan ended up passing out for a few hours and I watched what was left of the sunset from the balcony.

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The beautiful Manila skyline – still one of my favorites no matter what people say about pollution and over-construction.

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And then withdrew inside.

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Spent the rest of the early evening reading a book inside and basically just basking in the quiet of it all, I finally woke Aidan up and we got ourselves downstairs for the Spiral buffet. I don’t think either of us was prepared for what we were about to feast upon!.

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First came this beautiful drinks cart with all the old-world charm I love.

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And then I pretty much ran around the huge buffet spread with Aidan, plotting between us how on earth we were going to do justice to the immensity of the spread!

First off: the cheese room!

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And then the salad bar. Note, this photos were taken as we were circling, devouring had not yet begun. I like to approach any buffet with a keen eye and a solid strategy. Especially one as epic as this. IMG_1567

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And the chefs at every stand ready to serve up your pickings:IMG_1571

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Raspberry vinaigrette to go with….IMG_1576

The bottomless foie gras. To be honest, after the second piece I was a little over it but Aidan loves the stuff so he ate most of mine and then his own plate. Delicious when really hot in my opinion.

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And then the seafood section:IMG_1579

Ended up really falling for these california rolls. Not normally my thing (I like raw fish in sushi. Nothing full of vegetables or mayonaisse, and helllll no to chicken). BUT – there is always the exception and these were it. Intrigued by the candy-colored crisp wrapping I went for it. It was by far one of the better sushi’s in the house. Crispy on the outside with a clean and tasty filling. Really great appetite teaser :)
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Bacon-wrapped deliciousness!
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The noodle section. Yup, bowls of hot steaming, vegetables and noodles!

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And of course, dim sum on the side.

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We skipped out a few of the other sections like the indian section, the duck section, the remainder of the huge asian food spread, and I’m sure much more, but there is always next time I say, and I was STUFFED.

But not so stuffed I couldn’t delve into these:

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And of course, the chocolate fountains.IMG_1590

After that insane spread we were slightly comatose. Deciding against wasting the evening and heading up to the room to collapse, we ended up doing a little nightcrawl around the hotel. Ended up back in the beautiful bar and chatting up the bar man.

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Ended up heading up to the room at about 1am and basically just spread out on the bed and thought about ordering room service but I think we fell asleep before the thought came to fruition.

Woke up the next day with a not-so-happy-to-get-out-of-bed camper:

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But managed to cheer both of us up with this incredible breakfast room service:

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Left the hotel verrrrry late (probably after 4pm) and met up with Ade who organized the booking for us. I don’t think I’ve had such an “us” focused weekend in a while and I walked out of there feeling so excited to continue with everything we’ve been up to. In the past year it’s been a lot of beach trips and out of town trips, and then frankly, just a lot of weekends spent in the city and working, so this weekend really meant a big change for me (even if it seems kind of like the ubiquitous anniversary weekend). I’ve never had an anniversary weekend in the first place, and the fact that we spent it like this, in a place that to us was so isolated from our usual friends and social scene made it so much more meaningful.

All in all, a pretty glamorous, delicious weekend.

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Something for the weekend

Photos from my weekend: There is something so basic and life-affirming about spending time on a farm.  IMG_0841

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Basic, comfortable living spaces:

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Bright flowers attract beneficial insects (and keep them off the crops). Apparently insects only see yellow, so they prefer to hit the yellow flowers than head to your green beans.

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You can pick (or pretend to pick) your lunch.

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And scavenge for french beans. Apparently these are the only type that don’t cause rheumatism. If that’s something you’re concerned about… nom nom.

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Our friendly tour guide, Fred :) Any hobby organic farmers (balcony farmers?) out there – Fred’s your man. He answers any questions you have and will give you advice and tips on whatever you’re trying to grow. I’ll just assume all the guides are like this, because a lot of the time other staff of the farm would chime in and give a few extra pointers.

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LAND! Those of you who know me personally know that I have a fixation with “vaaaahhhst (‘vast’ in a posh accent) amounts of laaaaand”.

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Getting to pick your own produce is one of life’s simplest, yet greatest joys. There’s a feeling of abundance and feeling-provided-for that can’t be replaced by good ol’ Mickey D’s.

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Peking Duck anyone?

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And the hut in the midst of it all where we sat for organic spearmint tea and lunch.

Big, beautiful, organic purple cabbage.

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And shocking red organic chillies sun-tanning (ok drying).

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It just feels good to see the process of how things are made into your lunch, and it’s satisfying to eat something you know just came from the energizing, drying sun.

And you also get to take out and play with these furry little guys.

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Each are named and none of whom bite. Must be their diet of organic cucumber and TLC.

I love Costales Nature Farms because I think there can be a lot of distorted ideas about ‘eating organic’. I am really passionate about getting organic food out to anyone and everyone and normalizing this type of eating. We didn’t eat raw, vegan or fad-diet-y food (not saying that those types of eating are! It’s just a notion I know gets around). We ate chicken tinola, rice, lumpia and tea – using all organic produce. And when calculated, the amount we spent for organic food is not much more than a typical lunch in any restaurant. Think of the extra 100php or so as an investment in vibrant energy and bouncing health.

I visited this farm in July last year for one of their organic farming three-day workshops. Since then I have been so inspired by Mr. Costales’ work that I’m now starting to market and sell their products here in Manila (it’s early days). If you would like more information on the organic produce this farm supplies, or want to take a tour for yourself, leave me a comment here or email me at rhi.halley@gmail.com.

Filipino Living

A blog on Manila lifestyle, living in the ‘pines and oftentimes, getting away from it all.

This is a late post (was originally posted in February 2013) but I’ve been reorganizing my different blogs lately and decided to make this the one-stop shop. I imported all of my tumblr posts and am adding this from my blogspot page as there was only one relevant post, and I can’t figure out how to import from blogspot into wordpress.

Just a weekend in Matuod:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekends are a very precious thing to me. My favorites are the ones when I can get in a car and drive anywhere, and find something worth acknowledging, whether in writing, photography, or even just spoken words. Living in Manila is exciting and definitely rewarding but there is something so crucial about the regular getaway to gain some perspective and stand aside for a bit just to let nature wash over you.

 

A favorite place of mine to do just that is in my family’s beach house, Matuod. Whenever I need to calm my mind or whenever I feel lost or confused, I let my mind drift to this place and nothing soothes me more.

 

The memory of this place is a balm for all troubles, and actually going there is medicine for all mental, physical and spiritual ails.