My Boracay trip in Instagram

Yes, I have been neglecting this blog again. But I have a very, very good reason: I was in Boracay.

And as much as I could’ve used the downtime to blog, I couldn’t. Any motivation I could muster to open my computer  had to be reserved for work. Yes, I worked a little bit in Boracay. How sad.

So anyway. My trip did not start off well. I got a message that my 7:50 am flight was moved to an earlier time, 7:35 am. But at the airport, both times came and went and we were still stuck on land. Alas, our flight was delayed by 2 hours due to mist that prevented the Caticlan flight from leaving. Naturally, that made me cranky.

But the crankiness just melts away at the sight of this from the plane:

I know, I’ve said it before, but, really.  That shoreline is just. too. beautiful.

I really can’t think of a better, more stunning place to get lost in a book. One of my favorite things to do in Boracay is walk along the beach while reading, as horribly Nicholas Spark heroine-ish as it sounds. I get so caught up in the book, and soothed by the water lapping at my ankles (sorry, again, for the cheesiness) that by the time I look up from the page, I’m a looooong way from where I started walking. And here’s the book the kept me absorbed this time around:

And what’s a Boracay photo post without one of the sunset?

I’m not really the stare-at-the-sunset type of girl (or am I?) but even cynical, sarcastic old me can’t really help but stop and stare at this:

Because, you know, WOW. There are no words, really.

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My Beach Essentials, part 2

In part two of my beach essentials series (natch!), I’m listing down the things that keep me occupied/hydrated/not looking like I have a stomachache in pictures. No, but seriously, I would be very bored and very dehydrated (and very cranky!) without these things in my beach bag in Boracay:

A book – As some of you already know, I love to read. And a trip to the beach is not complete for me without a morning stroll along the shore with the waves splashing just at my ankles, my nose buried in a book. I get so caught up in my book that by the time I remember to take my eyes off my book, I’m a long, long way from my hotel. I just LOVE that. This time around, the book I brought with me is another Elizabeth I biography.

A balance of the serious and the fluff

Magazines – Reading only Anne Somerset’s biography of QE I over a beach holiday is like only watching movies like Inception or Black Swan all the time. As much as I love the serious and heavy stuff, I need the light stuff every now and then. And TIME Magazine’s Royal Wedding and 100 Most Influential People special editions are the literary equivalent of When In Rome. Just like the movie, you can start watching/reading it at any point of the movie/magazine, skip through scenes/pages, leave it and get back to it later and still know what will happen in the end: Kristen Bell ends up with Josh Duhamel (their characters anyway), William kisses Kate Catherine and Blake Lively’s inclusion in the TIME 100 still befuddles you as much as it did before you read her write-up. Perfect non-committal reading for the hungover lazy beach bum.

A girl needs options, even on the beach

Sunglasses – Not only is the sun bright, but as I mentioned earlier, the white sand and the water reflects A LOT of light back. In my photos where I wasn’t wearing sunglasses, I was squinting. And smiling + squinting = not a good look for me.  So shades are a must for me if I don’t want to look like I’m wincing in pain in all of my pictures. I brought both my Ray Bans with me (no, I didn’t buy them from the beach vendors) because I couldn’t decide which would be better for the beach. Yeah, laugh all you want at me for thinking of things like this. But I figure, if there’s one place where you can justify bringing two pairs of sunglasses for a four-day trip, it’s Boracay.

Water – It’s always important to stay hydrated, all the more so when you spend your hours baking under the sun. My cousins and I always had drinking water around with us on the beach, at some point we had a 4 gallon bottle in our cabana. The annoying thing, though, is that it’s so hot out that even ice melts and becomes lukewarm water in a span of minutes. I resorted to leaving my water bottle in the hotel room fridge and hauling my ass up two flights of stairs to drink from it whenever I was thirsty. Although the cold water was worth it, I found it tough to peel myself off my lounge chair at times, so I would resort to the next item on my list…

Cold, light, refreshing, cold, sweet and did I mention cold?

Popsicles – Okay, so I don’t really carry this around in my bag. Although I would if I could, as I can’t think of a better thing to cool me down in Boracay’s heat. Water is just, well, water. Ice cream actually makes me thirstier. Same with soft drinks and most fruit shakes (although I do love Jonah’s). A popsicle is cold, light and really refreshing. They aren’t so sweet that you’ll need to wash it down with water right away. I had at least one every day and probably would’ve had more if the vendors came around the hotel more often. If only there was a way to be able to actually carry them around in my bag…

So there you go, the things I would be very cranky without on a trip to the beach. What are the things you can’t live without on a beach trip? Let me know in the comments!

My Beach Essentials, part 1

Walking along Boracay’s shore from my hotel to Jonah’s I realized that I lug around more stuff in my beach bag than I do in my handbag on a regular day in the city. You’d think that since I was taking it easy, I’d be carrying around less stuff, that my bag would be less cluttered. But taking it easy requires accessories, too.

So here are is part one of my Beach Essentials list, a.k.a. the list of the stuff that I dumped into my bag during my trip to the beach. Let’s start off with the stuff I rub, apply, spritz and spray on my body:

I know this caption should be about the sunblock, etc. but look at the clouds behind the bottles... WOW.

Sunblock – this is a no-brainer, of course. Sun damage is the number one cause of skin ageing, so in case you want to grow old as wrinkly as a raisin, lather up, even if you plan to sit in the shade all day. That white sand and the water reflect so much more sunlight back than darker sand. My minimum SPF requirement is 50, I actually wear SPF 50 on my face every day, beach or no beach. This was the first time I tried Nivea sunblock, as my regular one, Hawaiian Tropic Ozone (SPF 70) wasn’t available at the drugstore. It did the job quite well, was not sticky at all (another requirement) and was practically odorless.

Tanning Oil – Despite my aversion to sun damage, I couldn’t resist getting trying to get a bit of a tan. Thankfully, I didn’t have to resort to pouring Coke all over my body or smelling like biko because of coconut oil. My tanning oil of choice for the hours before 11 10am and after 3 4 pm is Beach Hut’s Tan and Protect . It has the highest SPF of all the tanning oils I’ve seen (if you know of a product that comes with a higher factor, let me know, please) is not greasy at all, and you only end up smelling like a coconut macaroon for a short while after application. In other words it’s almost perfect.

Hand Sanitizer – Ok, this is more like a life essential for me. I carry one every day, everywhere. If I leave my bottle at home or misplace it somewhere, I make a beeline for the nearest Bench/Watson’s/Mercury Drug to purchase a replacement. I suppose all the lotion application, the seawater and the dubious lounge chairs and beach pillows just make me spritz on the sanitizer more. Eh. Who am I kidding? Simply put, I’m just as obsessive compulsive on the beach as I am on dry land.

Mosquito Repellant – For some reason, when I’m out with a group of people in a place with mosquitoes, I would be the first and/or the only one to get bitten. ALWAYS. So in Boracay where we mostly dine, drink and hang out outdoors in the evenings, this saves me a lot of itchiness, scratching and unsightly bite marks. And Messy Bessy’s repellant is all natural, non-sticky and has a surprisingly un-unpleasant minty scent. Plus, you get a discount from Messy Bessy when you recycle your plastic bottle with them. So not only am I mosquito-free, I’m also environment friendly. Natch.

Lip Balm (not pictured) The sea air, sun exposure and swimming are sure to wreak havoc on my already chappy lips, so I always have my favorite lip balm handy to stem any damage. I’ve sang praises of the Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm before, but I was still surprised at how well it held up in the intense heat. It never became greasy and didn’t make my lips look like I was eating lechon all day.

Did I miss out on anything you think is a must for the beach? What are your favorite beauty and body products for the summer?

For part two, I’ll be talking about the beach essentials I wear/eat/drink/read.

The Mañana Habit

There were a few things I was looking forward to on my trip to Boracay. Obviously, I was looking forward to lounging around on the beach and taking a dip in the water. But I was also looking forward to the food. And by food, I don’t mean the longgaburger. I mean Mañana, the Mexican restaurant.

I love Mexican food and, unfortunately, it’s not really that easy to find in Manila (Taco Bell doesn’t count and there are only a few branches anyway). The most popular Mexican chain in the metro doesn’t really satisfy my palate and is expensive to boot. I’ve heard good things about Ristra’s and TJ’s (and I plan to try both soon), but neither are easily accessible to me. So, with only a short walk from my hotel to the restaurant, the reasonable prices, the spectacular views from the dining area and of course, the great food, Mañana is Mexican food heaven for me.

It looks like a happy place to eat, doesn't it?

And it looks pretty good, too. From the outside, the façade is bright and eye-catching but not tacky. And inside, they stuck to the Mexican theme. The table cloth and upholstery on the chairs are made of the striped fabric you associate with Mexican ponchos. You’d think that that would clash with the wooden furniture and the main wall that’s painted Pepto-Bismol pink with orange accents. But surprisingly, it works. It’s fun and vibrant, never garish. Even the waitresses’ off-shouldered, ruffled uniforms-slash-costumes are cute.

But enough about pink walls and ruffled dresses. Let’s get to the food, yes?

Just staring at these is making me hungry

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill nachos. Mañana’s Nachos with Beef and Cheese may not look like much compared to the usual fare with salsa, bland beef and orange Cheez Wiz, but they pack a lot of flavor. The star of the show is the beef: salty, smoky and just really, really yummy. This, with a little (or a lot) of their pico de gallo and Mañana’s very own hot sauce (not from a bottle!) gets me clapping my hands in delight.

In fact, Mañana’s pico de gallo and the various other dips (I was so busy eating I couldn’t be bothered to ask what they were) are so good, that they take even with their plain nachos or totopos to the next level. And rather than go on and on about how yummy the dips make the nachos, I’ll just tell you this: for a single order of plain nachos, my cousins and I ordered THREE refills of the dips.

We didn’t fill up with the nachos, of course, as there were other Mexican treats to be had. We had the chicken fajitas, and as with the beef of the nachos, the chicken was really flavorful and perfectly spiced. We had tacos as well and they were really yummy, too. 

Sizzling Chicken Fajitas

But the best thing on the menu for me would be the burritos. We had both the chicken and the beef combination platter and both were absolutely delicious. They’re a little pricey at ₱360 for two burritos (but you can order per piece) but they’re really heavy and filling and that’s still cheaper than Mexicali in Manila.  Plus, unlike Mexicali, there was no rice or refried beans filler in the burrito (I don’t like rice in my burrito).

The best thing on a menu filled with really, really delicious dishes

As with the nachos, the fajitas and the tacos, the meat (both the chicken and the beef) make the meal. I know that I’ve used the word “flavorful” a lot in this post, but I really can’t find a better way to describe the meat that Mañana uses in their dishes. Both the beef and the chicken in the burritos have a bit of heat and have a smoky quality to them and a lot of spices my palate is not sophisticated enough to identify. Add that to the cheese, lettuce, the onions and the juice from the meat in the burrito and I’m practically drooling.

No fillers. Just the really, really good stuff

I love this restaurant so much I actually ate there twice over a four day period. And so Mañana gives me one more reason to want to go back to Boracay ASAP, as if I didn’t have enough reasons already.

Mañana is located at Station 1, Boracay, beside Starbucks and at the main road behind the hotels, beside the basketball court (but why go there when you can eat beachside?). Budget for ₱250-350 per person, more if you want margaritas or any other alcoholic beverage.

And I’m back

From paradise.

I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed (fishing… Hahaha), but I’ve been away from my blog for about a week. That’s because I went on a little trip to Boracay with my cousins. And I enjoyed EVERY. MINUTE. OF. IT.

I already want to go back

I’ve often hear/read complaints about Boracay nowadays, about how it’s too commercialized already, how it’s become a tourist trap, that it’s dirty, blah-blah-blah-blah. But personally, all I ever remember about Boracay is that breathtaking, jaw-dropping shoreline.

While it’s true that the men offering island-hopping or helmet diving every 10 feet is a bit much, that tourists do get charged more than the locals and that there really is no need for vendors hawking fake Ray-Ban sunglasses, none of these things are enough to stop me from going back to Boracay. I mean, look at the place:

There are no words, really...

As long as it stays this beautiful (and I’ve noticed an improvement on the cleanliness of the shore), how can I not want to go back? Like, tomorrow, if I could.

PS: More Boracay-related posts (including a food post!) coming soon. I just need to deal with the pileup of work first. Uggggh.