A Equestrian’s Heaven on Earth (or, El Campeon Farms)

This, is El Campeon. It’s an equestrian stable and it is the most impressive and beautiful one I have ever seen. Manila Polo Club–for all its overpriced fees and snooty members– has nothing on this place. El Campeon is a top-grade facility for both its riders and their horses. It is a huge property and it is privately owned. The man who owns it believes in having the buildings be as unobtrusive to the countryside as possible, so everything looks as natural as it can without sacrificing functionality. Have a look:

With my cousin Jonathan and Uncle Greg in front of the stables. Uncle Greg and his wife, my ninang Gina, are both horse lovers. Uncle Greg stables his horse, Otto, at El Campeon. Too bad the structure is half-covered by trees! Isn’t the red and and white exterior just so classic and pretty? Also note the perfectly mowed lawn.

Inside the stables: the flooring is rubberized, the ceilings are very high, the stalls themselves are huge, and there’s a stereo system installed throughout the barn. I say throughout because this is only one section. There are three other sections, just as large. In the center of the main section (boo, why didn’t I photograph that) there is an Italian chandelier. In another section there is a medical room for routine veterinary examinations that is padded on all four walls and is also fit for emergency operations, should there be a need.

What a view and what an awesome place to go on trail rides!

This is the outdoor arena. There’s a covered bull ring as well for when it’s raining, and another large open space for eventing. What’s cool about the outdoor arena is that the drainage is embedded into the ground, so that it never floods and the flooring is always level.

Cute little sign! This was inside a small cabin.

This is a natural lake, but there’s a man-made stream somewhere on the property, too. You’ll see ducks, bunnies, and other random animals walking about.

Rubber horses made out of old car tires.

An unexpected sight! Kate the ZEDONK! Yup, she’s a cross between a zebra and a donkey! She may look cute but she actually has quite the nasty personality. She kept snapping at me. Haha! The little one behind her is a miniature pony.

And here we are with Ottograph! A bay, standing at 15 hands, he almost reminds me too much of my Empire. Sigh. What a beauty, isn’t he? El Campeon is an olympic training centre. They’ve bred two horses that have competed in the olympics already.

I had such a great time touring the (very private) facility that my Uncle mailed me an El Campeon polo shirt in my favorite color and with my name on it. So thoughtful! Now aside from dreaming of stabling a horse there in my sleep, I can day dream while awake and wearing this shirt. Haha! I love it.

El Campeon has a website, should you like to see more pictures or read more about them. They have a beautiful hay barn with an American flag design on the roof, and you can read about their participating riders for the 2008 Olympics. Sigh, it really is a dream. In case you haven’t gathered, it’s located in America. In a place called Hidden Valley, between LA and Santa Barbara.

Subic Tree Top Adventure

Before the break ended, Greg and I made it a point to head out of town together for a day trip. After going through our options (which were really just Tagaytay and Subic), we decided that a departure from the usual food-centered date would be a good idea–and so the destination was set for Tree Top Adventure in Subic! Since both Greg and I are afraid of heights, it promised to be extra interesting, as the place offers activities like zip lining and rapelling from tree to tree. We went on a Monday so the drive was pretty quick and really pleasant. :)

I have to say: we were really caught off guard by the toll prices. I could have borrowed my tita’s pass thing, but I totally forgot about toll gates. We must have spent around 500 pesos on toll fare alone! Insane, haha. But again, the drive was really nice and it was a beautiful day.

Tree Top Adventure briefing area! There are six individual activities offered, as well as packages that combine the activities for a more sulit price.

We picked package C which includes a hike, a canopy ride, and “superman.” The hike came along with a short survival demo and some informational tidbits about the local flora. The canopy ride is a chill, seated ride that takes you from tree to tree (at one point we were 100 ft. off the ground–or maybe it seemed that way), and the superman ride is sort of like a zip line where you’re harnessed in so that you “fly” horizontally.

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Spring in NY– I’m In Love

They say that you belong to New York as much if you’ve been there for five minutes as if you’ve been there for fifteen years. Before going to NY, I wasn’t expecting much, which only made me fall faster and harder when I got there. It’s not even difficult for me to admit– I love New York in a cliche and excessive way and I can’t wait to go back.

For the majority of my stay I had work on weekdays, so I didn’t have nearly enough time to be a tourist. If I write about my internship (and I’m pretty sure I will), that will be in a separate post. In the rare moments that I had to myself, I took few pictures. I remember one of the other interns at Stella who was also a tourist asked me “Have you looked up in NY?” and I was like “Huh? Of course!” and she said “Ok good, because it took me a whole month to realize that I hadn’t been looking up, and I was missing about eighty percent of the city.” That only made me look around with even greater attention–there’s just too much to miss if you aren’t paying attention, which is one reason why I think it’s impossible for anyone to really dislike NY. There’s an area/place for everyone: whether you like the snobby upper east, the busy (shopping haha) Soho, cozy West Village, or even Chelsea (if you swing that way). It’s pretty easy to find your own little nook. Anyway, here are random photos that I took:

Tulips- There were so many all over the place. This particular patch was on an island in the upper east side right beside the Loyola School. My personal faves were the orange ones because they almost looked fluorescent in the sunlight. No picture of those though.

One Sunday in Central Park.

More tulips by the signage for the Boat House :)

Water Taxi coming in to Battery Park from Ellis (I’m assuming)

Manhattan. Pictured from the ferry going to Ellis Island.

 The statue of Liberty

And I suppose that’s it for now. I have a backlog of photos I want to share. I’ll probably just make one album on Facebook for all of them. Hehe, lazy! But my point is that New York was amazing, and I know no better way to embellish that statement than with photos.

Easter at Westchester

A week and a day after, I finally have time to publish my Easter post!

I’ve never spent Easter (or Holy Week) away from my parents, so this was very different for me. I went out of NYC with my cousin and her friends to a weekend home at Westchester. The property, as you will see, is huge and very, very pretty. There’s a view of a lake, a tennis court, and loads of space for the dog to run about–and the dog is huge, you will see. The whole weekend was just really relaxing. Engelbert, my cousin’s friend, made home-made pizzas for us on the first night (white truffle, pepperoni, and cheese) and then made steamed fish and steak for lunch on Easter day.

This is the view looking towards the house with the lake behind me, but that isn’t the main house. That’s the barn, which is approximately 200 years old. They use it as a summer house and it overlooks the pool and the lake.

View from the balcony of the barn. Too bad the pool was covered. Even if it was sunny, that weekend was a little on the cool side. Not unpleasant but definitely not swimming weather either.

The guest house and my cousin, who’s giving me the tour. Behind the guest house is the tennis court.

Our Easter Sunday meal! Of course we had rice, since Engelbert’s also Asian I guess he understands. Haha! The cheesy looking bowl is the mashed potatoes. YUM.

Everyone getting ready to eat!

Rabbit ear table napkins– Easter appropriate and tres cute!

That’s Liger! He’s huge but really gentle and sweet.

Of course I have to include a photo of this beautiful machine. Mercedes Benz SLS gull wing! Not the best picture, I apologize, but it’s a difficult car to get at a flattering angle unless the doors are up and open. It looks amazing in person though. The upholstery is red. Love it. They also have an F1 car but I didn’t get to see that. Boo.

New York

As was expected, my goal of blogging regularly about my trip has been a bust so far. I’ve been in New York since April 13, and this is a condensed update of what I’ve been doing since then. The first few days were just about getting settled in and being a tourist with my mom. So of course, there must be tourist pictures! Above, I’m in Central Park. It’s not the prettiest part of the park, but my mom and I were just walking through. I haven’t had the chance to go back for a day of relaxing in the sun yet (boo), and it would be perfect with the weather lately. Sigh. Been so busy.

This is me at the Rockefeller center! I’m a pretty big fan of the Today show… but not the type who’d buy cheesy merchandise or anything. It’s just fun listening to Kathy Lee and Hoda talk as I walk around my room either studying or just doing other random things. I wanted to wake up real early and be one of those people who walk by in the background as they tape the show, but again, I haven’t had the time. Sad. Oh and aren’t the tulips beautiful? There are so many of those all over the city! They’re especially gorgeous in the sun–gives them a bright orange glow. :)

I really haven’t taken as many pictures of the city as I could and should be taking. Bad, Iana!

I also got to meet up with some old friends! :) Guido, Mela, Liaa (who I haven’t seen since high school), and Ange! Mela and Ange are at FIT, Guido came in from Boston for the weekend, and I forgot where Liaa goes (hehe). They’re all so American now! HAHA. This is us at some Korean place near St. Mark’s Square. Haven’t seen so many asians and college kids since I got here. It was loads of fun catching up and being the newbie!

Earlier on the same day I met up with friends, I had lunch with Greg’s tita Ann who was sweet enough to commute in from Long Island to take me out. Here we are at Dean & Deluca where we had yummy desserts, coffee, and smelled the yummy breads (she likes to bake). I made this picture the last because with it, I will talk about the first of many things that I find interesting, irksome, or weird about NY/America so far:

(going to use bullet points, I’m lazy and I want to sleep)

  • NOT hot coffee! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s cold, but my gosh, you can’t get a really good HOT cup of coffee here! Maybe they’re afraid of being sued for selling coffee that’s too hot? That Starbucks story from a few years back was really weird. Even when I ask for “extra hot” coffee at Starbucks, it comes out normal at best. Irks me for sure.
  • Paying for taxi rides with credit cards. Or paying for anything with a credit card! Interesting in a good way, because back home paying with a card is not the norm. I suppose it’s indicative of the economy and how things work in the country. Systems here are just better in general, whereas in the Philippines it’s just an extra hassle to take out your card and go through the process.
  • People are wasteful. This one is weird, since it seems to (not directly) contradict their obsession with organic things and electric cars. I’m really not in the mood to get into it because it makes me sad. I feel like saving everything they never even think to save. I really don’t care how rich you are, it just makes so much more sense to save. Sigh.
Anyway, next post will be my late Easter post, featuring a Mercedes Benz SLS gull wing. Ooooohhhh. :)

Singapore: RW Sentosa

Just got back from a four day trip to Singapore with my family. There were 32 of us all together: four generations from my lola down to the great grand children. The trip was a sort of prize for putting on a good program for my lolo’s 100th birth anniversary late last year. It was only my second time to be in Singapore, and the heat always takes my by surprise. I keep forgetting that it’s closer to the equator than the Philippines! Haha. Since we had little kids with us, we stayed at Festive hotel at Resorts World, Sentosa. Last year my parents and I stayed at the Mariott and then the Sands, which are closer to Orchard Road (though nothing is far from anything in Singapore) and I must say that I like non-Sentosa Singapore much better, but this was fun in its own way too. We mostly ate and walked around. Picture-heavy post, here we go!

Festive Hotel lobby @ Resorts World Sentosa

Pretty aqua chandeliers! Beyond the arc is the invite-only club. Went in the casino–for the first time in my life! No pictures of course but it’s crazy huge in there. Kind of dark and depressing too, haha.

The shops at Festive. Small but all high priced–for the gamblers of course.

Huge covered outdoor area leaving up to Universal Studios (which we didn’t go to)

Night time picture. That’s my lola in the wheelchair, hehe.

Water cranes show. Very nice and entertaining especially since it was a free show. Hehe! :)

SOUP DUMPLINGS. The best. Aside from Hainanese Chicken, this is one thing you have to try.

Very random German lunch at Vivo City. Good beer, sausages, and salad!

Yum yum yum. That mozzarella salad had SO many mozzarella balls! Love it when restos are generous like that!

Cheers to good beers!

There’s no other city that knows how to be a modern city quite like Singapore does. With so little space to spare, they really do develop every square foot with amazing practicality and they manage to make it beautiful too. This is, of course, speaking as cities go. If you aren’t a city person I can imagine it might be hard to find the charm in Singapore. From what I hear though, Malaysia is a very common escape for Singaporeans. They most definitely have more greenery over there. I personally like Singapore because it’s a huge inspiration when it comes to discipline –from being the city of thieves, they completely turned themselves around. Of course a ton of social conditioning went into it, and man that isn’t easy to employ. They (the people) can be a bit brash at times because they’re so aggressive, but it’s nothing terrible. The biggest down side to Singapore is the expensive shopping. Huhu. Which leaves one with only one good activity left: eating. And I suppose I’m not complaining. :) Cheers to Singapore!



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