End of the Month Roundup – August 2014

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The month of August is finally over! This means that Pinoy radio and TV will be starting their countdowns to Christmas tomorrow. Before I get engulfed by the very early Christmas Season in the Philippines, let us look back to what happened in the blogs this month.

After many months of writing, I finally ended the Wedding Prep blog series. It was good to recall the fun and frustration during our wedding preparations. I learned a lot with this series and I hope that you learned a lot too. If you are one of the many soon-to-be-wed couples, I highly suggest that you read our wedding prep adventures. If you don’t have the time for the longish posts, then this summary of our wedding preparations is recommended for you.

Vows that are not Meant to be Broken


In front of the altar of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Villamor, Pasay City

Our “I do” started our forever. It is not meant to broken (contrary to those who wish to legalize divorce here in the Philippines or those who toy with annulment (hello Kris Aquino)).

For those who are wondering, we exchanged our marriage vows in the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Villamor, Pasay City.

A Once in a Lifetime Event with Family and Friends


Our wedding reception at Gold Bay Restaurant


Weddings are very big events for Filipinos. In fact, weddings mean eating (lots of it), drinking (lots of that too), party, and the never-ending selfies. Well, we did those too sans the drinking.

We had our wedding fiesta at the Golden Bay Fresh Seafood Restaurant. We had a good time because of the good food and good service. It was truly a once in a lifetime event for me and Lei.

For those who are looking for wedding reception venues, I suggest Golden Bay Restaurant. You should also check my list of some wedding reception venues around Metro Manila.

Special Vacation after the Special Day


Underground River of Puerto Princesa
(Source: Puerto Princea City)


We reckoned that the best way to start our life together is by going to a special place. So, we go to one of the country’s last paradise: the island of Palawan. Our first night in Puerto Princesa City was great. We enjoyed the good food during our dinner date at Haim Chicken Inato.

Our dinner date is just the beginning of our adventure in Puerto Princesa City. I will be posting about our vacation in September. So expect to see beautiful places and good stories from Palawan. If you want to know more about this city, I suggest that you read the 7 interesting facts about Puerto Princesa.

The Baby Update

I couldn’t explain my happiness when I felt our baby move inside Lei’s belly. He/she “kicked” twice. Lei’s belly is getting bigger and bigger. Her nausea is gone (which is good) but she’s feeling other aches (which is not good) as her pregnancy progresses. I do hope that everything will be alright for Lei and the baby.

The Sad News: Persecution of Christians (and non-Muslims) in Iraq


We are Nazareans, we are Christians
(Source: Veooz)

I hope that you saw the news of gruesome activities of the self-proclaimed Islamic State somewhere in Iraq and Syria. These terrorists murdered hundreds of Christians and non-Muslim people like the Yazidis. There were even reports of captured women being sold off as sex slaves. Blood of Christians is being spilt in Iraq as I write this post.

What’s alarming is that wrong-minded Muslims are inspired by these acts of terror. A former Philippine president revealed that some Filipino Muslims went to Iraq to train as jihadists. Even the Buddhist temple of Borobodur were threatened to be bombed.

What can we do in the face of this evil? My answer: pray, donate to Christians in Iraq, and petition your government to stop jihadists from invading your country.

Earthquake Info: Marikina Fault Line in Alabang, Muntinlupa

Marikina Fault Line in Alabang, Muntinlupa

I sometimes write about the West Valley Fault (a.k.a. Marikina Fault Line) to inform people. I believe that I could help save lives by the information that I share. So, for this month, I posted the map from PHIVOLCS that shows the location of Marikina Fault Line in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

I hope that I will be able to post more Marikina Fault Line maps next month.

I guess that’s all the updates for this month. May we have all have a happy September. And no, I will not say any Christmas greetings this early.
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First Night in Puerto Princesa: Dinner Date at Haim Chicken Inato

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It was evening when me and My Beloved Wife Lei landed on the Puerto Princesa Airport. It was too dark and I didn’t see what Puerto Princesa looks like from the sky. That didn’t dampen my mood, however, because we will be exploring our dream destination soon. In fact, I was excited and I couldn’t contain it.

Welcome to Palawan
I know we're welcome here.

Our dream destination to Palawan came true after we booked a deal from CashCash Pinoy. The package that we got includes 3 days & 2 nights’ accommodation in Marianne Home Inn, airport transfers, and Honda Bay tour. We paid a total of 12,000 pesos for this deal.

We were informed that Marianne Home Inn was full that night so they have to transfer us to Balay Inato. This little “inconvenience” was actually a blessing in disguise because it gave us the chance to taste Puerto Princesa’s best chicken barbecue.

Balay Inato, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Our travel from the airport was quick thanks to the complimentary transport courtesy of our hotel. The hotel clerk immediately ushered us to our room and then they gave us two glasses of iced tea to quench our thirst. Too bad there’s no complimentary dinner. :-P

Balay Inato is both an inn and a restaurant. We were actually greeted by the delicious odor of food when we entered their place. Their restaurant sure made our stomach grumble. Since Balay Inato is far from the city proper (and other restaurants) and Lei is really hungry, we decided to dine in their restaurant: the Haim Chicken Inato.

Haim Chicken Inato, Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Established in 1999, Haim Chicken Inato is dubbed as the best chicken house in Palawan. In fact, this restaurant is in TripAdvisor’s top 10 Puerto Princesa restaurants. What draw people to this restaurant is its version of Bacolod’s chicken inasal, which they call as chicken inato. Aside from chicken inato, they also offer authentic Filipino dishes thus making this restaurant a perfect place for foreigners who want try Filipino dishes.

Native lamp in Haim Chicken Inato

Haim Chicken Inato has that native Filipino ambience. Their dining areas are composed of small bahay kubo (cottages) that are complete with sawali and Filipino ethnic designs. These are perfect places to dine in privacy so we made sure that we snag one bahay kubo for our dinner date.

We ordered sinigang na hipon (230 pesos), and their specialties: chicken inato (90 pesos) and inafish (150 pesos). We also ordered a glass each of iced tea (35 pesos) and mango juice (50 pesos).

Chicken Inato of Haim Chicken Inato

The chicken inato came with a cup of rice and atsara. It really looked like the chicken inasal of Bacolod. I am not sure which is better between chicken inato and chicken inasal. What I am sure about is that the chicken inato tastes better the grilled chicken of Mang Inasal.

Inafish of Haim Chicken Inato

It was Lei who ordered the inafish because she wanted to try the seafood dishes of Palawan. Inafish is just grilled tuna with a cup of rice, atsara, a slice of pipino, and two slices of tomato. Lei and I agreed that that this dish tastes good.

Sinigang na hipon of Haim Chicken Inato

The chicken inato and inafish may be Haim Chicken Inato’s specialty but the star of our night is the sinigang na hipon. Lei really enjoyed eating this sinigang, specifically the hipon. I think that the shrimp are fresh from the sea that’s why Haim’s sinigang tasted really good.

Shrimp in sinigang na hipon of Haim Chicken Inato
Yummy fresh shrimp.

Our dinner date was not the last time that we dined in Haim Chicken Inato. The next morning, we ate our complimentary breakfast in this restaurant. They just gave us the normal breakfast meal of rice with omelette paired with tocino and dried fish.  Nothing much to shout about.

Our breakfast in Haim Chicken Inato

I have no complaint since this is a complimentary breakfast. Actually, the breakfast was enough to fill our stomachs as preparation for our Honda Bay tour.

Cottages in Haim Chicken Inato

We enjoyed our dinner at Haim Chicken Inato. The ambience is really good. Their “bahay kubo” gave us the privacy that we want. Best of all is the food, especially Lei’s favorite sinigang na hipon. I guess we might come back to this restaurant because of the sinigang na hipon. We might do that IF we return to Puerto Princesa.
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7 Interesting Facts that Every Tourist Should Know about Puerto Princesa

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I bet a million pesos that the first things that will pop up in your mind when you hear “Puerto Princesa” will be pristine beaches or picturesque dive spots or the much touted Underground River. These places, though very popular, are just portions of this beautiful city of Palawan. There are more interesting things to see and hear in the less known places and the lesser known history, and here are 7 of them:

1. Puerto Princesa is in Palawan Island but outside of Palawan Province

Map of Palawan showing the location of Puerto Princesa City
(Source: Google Maps)

Contrary to common notion, Puerto Princesa City is not under the jurisdiction of Palawan Province. This means that the Palawan governor cannot control (in theory) Puerto Princesa even though the city is the provincial capital of the province.

2. A Saint's Mission Ground

St. Ezekiel Moreno
(Source: Order of Augustinian Recollects)


Before becoming a bishop, St. Ezekiel Moreno did missionary works in the Philippines. The Catholic saint was sent by the bishop of Jaro (Iloilo City) to Puerto Princesa as its military chaplain. St. Ezekiel’s sojourn in Palawan was very short – merely 6 months (from March 4, 1872 to January 10, 1873). He was forced to leave Palawan after he contracted malaria. Some of his achievements in the 6-month stay are the founding of the Aborlan town and Barrio Inagawan. The saint also dug the Balon-Pari, which is a spring that is said to heal illnesses miraculously.

3. Refuge of Vietnamese Boat People

Vietnamese boat people off the coast of Malaysia
(Source: UNHCR)


Located in Barrio Sta. Lourdes is the unique settlement known as the Viet Ville. This village was formerly meant as a temporary refuge for the Vietnamese boat people, who escaped the repressive government of Communist Vietnam. At the time when other Asian countries were deporting the refugees back to Vietnam (due to United Nation’s decision to stop funding the boat people’s refugee camps), the officials of Puerto Princesa did the opposite by requesting President Ramos to give the refugees permanent settlement in their city. Ramos approved their request. Thus, the Vietnamese boat people were able to live freely in the country.

4. Philippines’ First Line of Defense

Philippine Navy ship in Oyster Bay
(Source: Phil. Daily Inquirer)


Puerto Princesa is the home of the military’s Western Command (WESCOM). Their base in Oyster Bay, which is still part of Puerto Princesa, is being improved to accommodate large warships. Naval ships, fighter aircrafts, and soldiers stationed in Puerto Princesa are tasked to defend Philippine territories in the West Philippine Sea and the Kalayaan Island Group.

5. Puerto Princesa Official Seal Features a Threatened Bird Species


Palawan Peacock Pheasant or Tandikan
(Source: Puerto Princesa City website)
 
The bird featured in the city’s official seal is none other than the Palawan peacock pheasant. This bird is indigenous to Palawan. However, due to destruction of habitat and illegal hunting, this bird is projected to be extinct in the next century.

6. Puerto Princesa was Named after a Controversial Princess

Princess Eulalia of Spain
(Source: Wikipedia)


There were conflicting stories on how Puerto Princesa City got its name. One version tells of a beautiful but mysterious lady who only appears at night. Another is that name attributes to the fact that Puerto Princesa Bay provides ships with natural protection against storms – thus a true princess of ports. The correct story, however, is that Puerto Princesa was named after Princess Eulalia of Spain.

Princess Eulalia was controversial during her time because of the books that she authored. She was very outspoken about royalty, politics, and social issues, which enraged the King of Spain at that time.

The statue of Princess Eulalia, located across the city’s Rizal Park, marks the spot where the decree of foundation of Puerto Princesa was “read by Governor Don Jose de Sostoa y Orduñez, head of the Spanish expedition, on March 4, 1872.”

7. A Gruesome Massacre Happened in Puerto Princesa

Monument commemorating the World War 2 massacre at Plaza Cuartel, Puerto Princesa
Monument commemorating the massacre of American POWs at Plaza Cuartel.


Puerto Princesa was not spared of Japanese soldier’s cruelty during the War. The most gruesome atrocity is their massacre of American POW on the evening of December 14, 1944 at Plaza Cuartel. The Japs burned to death their prisoners using gasoline and grenades. Those who tried to escape were mowed down by machine guns. Only 11 out of the 154 prisoners survived to tell the tale.

Read my post about Plaza Cuartel to know more about of the gruesome wartime massacre in Palawan.

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This list contains just few of the many unheard of stories about Puerto Princesa. I’m sure that there are more hidden gems out there and now it’s your turn to search for them. Go to Puerto Princesa and learn.

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This blog post was completed after hours of research in the Internet. The following are this post's information sources:

1. Biography of Infante Eulalia from Wikipedia
2. Conservation status of Palawan Peacock Pheasant from Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCPSD)
3. History of Puerto Princesa and information about the WESCOM, massacre at Plaza Cuartel, and Viet Ville from Puerto Princesa City website
4. Vietnamese Boat People from Wikipedia
5. Balon-Pari from watchamacallit and
6. Sojourn of St. Ezekiel Moreno in Palawan from Louie Nacorda's Flickr, HodgePodge, Wikipedia, and CBCP Online
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Mr. and Mrs. Ahab’s Very First Husband and Wife Trip to -------

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So where did Mr. And Mrs. Ahab went after the wedding?

Hint: Philippines’ last frontier.

Do you need another clue? Well, here’s another hint: New 7 wonder of nature.

If you still don’t know the answer, here is the last hint:

Puerto Princesa Underground River
(Source: Puerto Princesa website)


Since it’s our very first trip as husband and wife, we decided to go to one of the best tourist spots of the Philippines.

This trip was a sort of an afterthought since we first decided to be frugal since we already spent a lot of money for our wedding. Fortunately, we got a good deal from Cash Cash Pinoy so our trip became a reality.

Expect stories about our trip in the coming weeks. Enjoy my posts about the beautiful island of Palawan.
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How We Started Our Forever

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Ishmael & Lei at the altar of Shrine of St. Therese

Priest: Lei, do you take Ishmael here present, for your lawful husband, according to the rite of our Holy Mother, the Church?

Lei:  Yes, I do.

Priest:  Do you give yourself to him as his wife?

Lei:  Yes, I do.

Priest:  Do you accept him as your lawful husband?

Lei:  Yes, I do.

Priest: Ishmael, do you take Lei here present, for your lawful wife, according to the rite of  our Holy Mother, the Church?

Ishmael:  Yes, I do.

Priest:  Do you give yourself to her as her husband?

Ishmael:  Yes, I do.

Priest:  Do you accept her as your lawful wife?

Ishmael:  Yes, I do.

Priest:  Now, please recite this prayer:

Lei & Ishmael:  Grant us, O Lord, to be one heart and one soul, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Priest:  And I, by the authority of the Church, calling on all those present here as witnesses, confirm and bless the bond of marriage which you have contracted.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

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This is how we started our forever, by sealing our fate with the simple “Yes, I do”.

In those fleeting moments, we affirmed to God and to the public our love for one another. In return He showered us with His blessings.

Our “Yes, I do” didn’t end there. The truth is that we continue to utter those words every single day.

When problems started cropping up and the hardships are mounting, we say “Yes, I do”.

When petty arguments are brewing, we say “Yes, I do”.

For all of the good things and all the bad things that we will face, we say “Yes, I do”.

“Yes, I do”
“I love you”
And forever will be true
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Finally Revealed! Our Wedding Church: Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

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There is a church that always catch my attention whenever I go to NAIA – Terminal 3. This brown-painted church stood out from the condominiums and commercial buildings fronting the terminal. I never expected, back then, that that church will be the place where me and My Beloved Fiancée Lei will exchange vows and start our forever.

My Beloved Fiancée once said that she wanted our church to have the image of the crucified Lord to be at center. She saw the altar of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and she immediately fell for it. She decided from that moment that we will get married in this church.

Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

A Little History of the Shrine of St. Therese


The Shrine exists even before condominiums and commercial buildings (like the Resorts World) started popping up in Villamor. It started as a chapel dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel (patron saint of Filipino soldiers). The Philippine Air Force chaplains developed and expanded that chapel and re-dedicated it to St. Therese of the Child Jesus on December 16, 1983. The church was spared from destruction during privatization of some parts of Villamor Airbase through a memo by President Erap.

The church underwent major reconstruction from 2005 to 2007. The church transformed from a humble church into a grand Shrine dedicated for the promotion of the spirituality of St. Therese to the members of the Military Ordinariate.

Location and Contact Details of the Shrine of St. Therese




The Shrine of St. Therese is just a stone’s throw away from NAIA – Terminal 3 and Resorts World Manila (see map above). Soon-to-be-wed couples who don’t have car can easily reach this church by riding the Nichols jeep near the MRT – Taft Station and then alighting near MMDA’s hideous looking globe. The Shrine can either be reached on foot or by riding a tricycle.


The Shrine office is only available from 9 Am to 5 PM, Tuesdays to Sundays. I made a mistake of going to the Shrine of St. Therese on a Monday. I wasted my time because no one was there to entertain me.

The Shrine of St. There can be contacted at telephone no.: 854-3024. You can also visit their website.

What We Saw Inside of the Shrine of St. Therese


Inside the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


What immediately caught my attention during our first visit is the immensity of this church. It can easily seat around 2,000 people. It is so big that the church seems to look empty even with my 100 guests.

Altar of Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


The altar doesn’t have the intricate design as in the old Philippine churches. It only have a big (as befits this cavernous church) image of the crucified Lord with the dove (symbolizing the Holy spirit) at the top. I am glad that the Military Ordinariate didn’t follow the trend of placing the tabernacle at the obscure places.

Stained glass in Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


The side walls of the church have (again) big stained glass artworks depicting the life of St. Therese. These stained glass artworks are good background for wedding photos.

Garden of the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


The gardens at the side of the church are also good for wedding photos. Many our “dramatic” shots for the AVP were taken at the garden.

Door of Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


For the brides who are concerned about the church door, I can say that it is beautiful but not as intricate as the ones in Manila Cathedral. The good news is that the Shrine allows the door to be closed for the bride’s dramatic entrance. Actually, My Beloved Bride had that “dramatic” entrance.

Door of Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


The Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is impressive because of its size. If you have a small number of guests, make sure to instruct the photographer to focus his shots on your guests to avoid the empty pews.

The Shrine’s Wedding Packages


The shrine of St. Therese offers two wedding packages which costs 40,500 pesos and 27,500 pesos. Both packages have basic flower decoration, officiating priest, commentator, royal-blue carpet, soloist/pianist, and use of the Shrine for 1 and a half hours. The only difference between the two packages is that the more expensive one is aircondtioned. We chose the 27,000-peso package to save money.

How We Booked the Shrine of St. Therese


The Shrine of Therese is getting popular for weddings. According to the Shrine’s brochure, more than 300 weddings are celebrated in the Shrine every year. That’s almost one wedding per day!

Due to this popularity, the dates that we initially wanted were already booked. Good thing that we managed to book a perfect date, which is 10 AM on a Saturday. We paid 13,500 pesos as down payment to block our chosen date. The full payment was given on our wedding day.

If you want the Shrine for your wedding, I suggest that you be flexible with your wedding date. It is highly probable that the date that you want is already booked. This is true especially for Saturdays and Sundays.  Pencil booking is not allowed. Paying the down payment is the only effective way of blocking off the day that you want.

Everything went well with our preparation for the wedding ceremony. Reverend Smith, the Shrine secretary, was very patient in answering our questions. As for the florist, we just told them that we only wanted the basic arrangement (to save money). We also contacted the soloist/pianist to inform him of the music that we wanted to be played during the wedding ceremony.

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I can confidently say that the Shrine of St. There is a great place for weddings. The church’s interior is beautiful. The altar, with the big image of the crucified Lord, is the perfect background for wedding photos. But more than physical structure of the Shrine, my positive comments goes to the people who runs the place. They were very very helpful during our wedding day. Their help made our special day more special.

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So what happened during our wedding day? Please read the next blog post.

For those who are inquiring about our wedding reception venue, please read my post about Golden Bay Restaurant.

The history of Shrine posted here was referred to the plaque posted on the wall of the Shrine.
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Our Wedding Experience in Golden Bay Fresh Seafood Restaurant

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I read (or heard) somewhere that wedding reception is more memorable than the (more important) wedding ceremony. Having experienced attending weddings as a guest and a groom, I can say that that observation was correct. This is the reason why we spent a lot of time searching for the best wedding reception venue.

My Beloved Fiancé Lei and I wanted our reception venue to be classy and affordable at the same time. We realized that renting the venue sans the caterer is more expensive than booking to a restaurant. So, instead of renting venue-only sites, like SM MoA’s The Venue, we decided to hold our wedding reception in Golden Bay Fresh Seafood Restaurant.

Golden Bay Fresh Seafood Restaurant


Golden Bay Restaurant is located along Macapagal Boulevard (see map below), which makes it very accessible.




I remember being impressed during our first visit to Golden Bay. Lei, on the other hand, immediately liked the big stairs. Lei told me that she want our wedding photos taken on those stairs.

The stairs of Golden Bay Restaurant
(Source: Golden Bay FB page)


In short, Golden Bay Restaurant already got our approval at our first visit.

The Reception Set-up

Golden Bay Restaurant has one of the largest banquet halls in the country. Located on the second floor, their banquet hall can accommodate up to 1,200 persons. It is too large a venue for our wedding reception with only about 100 guests. Good thing that they can accommodate us in the restaurant area on the first floor.

Golden Bay Restaurant
Golden Bay's restaurant area. (Source: Golden Bay website)


Since I was busy being a groom, I was not able to take photos of the food and the whole reception area. But I can say that the place looks good. Our wedding coordinator friend and our florist made an excellent job decorating the place. Ms. Dina Araneta, Golden Bay’s assistant marketing manager, was also present to make sure that everything is flowing perfectly.

Our venue is at the inner end of the restaurant. Golden Bay just placed a divider between our venue and the rest of the restaurant. Thus, other patrons heard what’s happening during our wedding reception. What’s horrible is that they heard my sintonado voice when I “serenaded” My Beloved Wife. I hope that my singing didn’t ruin their dining experience.

Our stage during our wedding in Golden Bay Restaurant
Our "stage" during the reception.


The space given to us was ample enough for 10 tables with one extra table, photobooth, a space for Lei’s especially-requested chocolate fountain, and a stage for me and Lei.

Ms. Dina was generous enough to give us one of their function room that served as our holding room where we relaxed and retouched before facing the guests again. Good thing that no one was using the function room and another good thing is that they allowed us to use it without charge.

Menu for Our Wedding Reception

Dining table in Golden Bay Restaurant


With the help of Ms. Dina, we managed to get a customized menu that almost fit our budget. I said almost because we went above our initial 60,000-peso budget for the food. Ms. Dina convinced me to upgrade to 72,000-peso customized menu because the food is much better.

Golden Bay charged us per table and each table can accommodate 12 persons. This means that even if less than 12 people are occupying the table, we still have to pay for the whole table. They allowed us, however, to squeeze excess guests (of up to 6 persons) to other tables.

Our menu for Golden Bay Restaurant


This is our menu for the wedding reception: Steamed Suahe, Minced Fish with Three Treasure Soup, Beef with Broccoli Flower, Yang Chow Fried Rice, Steamed Fish Fillet in Garlic, Sautéed Sze Chuan Diced Chicken, and Patatim with Bun. The dessert is Almond Fruit Cocktail. This customized menu already has Bottomless Iced Tea.

Steamed suahe of Golden Bay Restaurant
Steamed suahe


We also ordered one set meal for a guest who couldn’t eat pork because of religious restrictions. Ms. Dina also helped me to arrange set meals for the florists, photographers, and our make-up artist.

The comments made by our ninongs and ninangs, and all of our guests warmed our hearts. They liked all of the food in the menu. Everyone enjoyed every dish but star of the day is the Sautéed Sze Chuan Diced Chicken.

Patatim with bun in Golden Bay Restaurant
Patatim with bun (Source: Golden Bay website)


Golden Bay allowed us to bring our own wine without corkage fee. The same goes with our wedding cake and the chocolate fountain.

Commendable Service

Our wedding reception became great not only because of the delicious food but also due to the good service provided by the Golden Bay crew. The wait staff were always on their toes during the whole event.

Most commendable, for me, would be Ms. Dina who helped me since day one. She gave good suggestions during the planning stage, which made our wedding reception more enjoyable not only for me and my wife but, more importantly, for the guests.

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A ninong told me that he’s impressed that I was able to hold our reception in an “expensive” restaurant. I am very happy with that compliment. It means that Lei and I were successful in our plan to book a classy reception venue that still fits our budget. Well, I guess I have to thank Golden Bay Restaurant for that.
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Our Experience in Themes and Motifs Bridal Fair

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Following the advice of my office friend and kumpare, My Beloved Fiancé and I went to a bridal fair hosted by Themes and Motifs.

The fair area, located in World Trade Center, was crowded with suppliers and inquiring couples. The fair was almost like Divisoria because of the haggling that occurred all over the place.

Themes & Motifs logo
(Source: Themes & Motifs)

We spent the whole afternoon walking to each booth searching for best deals. Of the time that spent in the bridal fair, we managed to book only our photographer. Other suppliers seemed to offer steep priced deals.

Our visit to Themes and Motifs bridal fair was not that fruitful. This doesn’t mean, however, that I dissuade any soon-to-be-wed couples from going to any bridal fair. There are benefits in going a bridal fair like:

1. Ideas – bridal fairs are events where wedding suppliers showcase their best ideas. We saw plenty of creative ideas for invitation cards, wedding gifts, cakes, gowns, and even photography. Lei’s wedding gown was actually copied from the gown that we saw during the fair.

2. Meeting the Best Suppliers – bridal fairs are events where the best wedding suppliers get together in one place. This set-up is very convenient for couples because it is easy to compare offers because suppliers are few steps from one another.

3. Discounts and Freebies – Since competition is stiff during bridal fairs, wedding suppliers try to outdo their competitors through discounts and freebies. You can take advantage of this and get the best deals out there.

Going to a bridal fair is not vital but the ideas, the discounts, and the convenience offered by such event should be enough reason for you to go. Take note that our Themes and Motifs bridal fair experience was not fruitful but we managed to book and photographer and saw and inspiration for Lei’s wedding gown.
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15 Essential Activities for Your Wedding Preparation

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On the 30th of July 2013, I posted the first wedding prep post which is about SM MoA’s The Venue. After more than a year of writing about our wedding preparation, I amassed plenty of information that are useful for you and others like you who are preparing for the Big Day.

This list summarizes our activities that we gone through as we prepared for the Big Day. I am sure that these activities will be applicable to your wedding preparation as well.

I suggest that you read each of the Wedding Prep blog posts one by one. But if you’re in a hurry then this list of 15 essential wedding prep activities will do:

Choosing the Wedding Church


Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus


Finding our church is our first step in our wedding preparation because other aspects of our wedding depend on the location of the church.  We checked the most-sought-after San Agustin Church (the church where my friend and fellow blogger Tin K got hitched), Binondo Church, and St. Peter’s Church located along Commonwealth Ave. But what got My Beloved Wife Lei’s approval is the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She immediately liked this church when she saw its beautiful altar.

Read my post about the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus.

Looking for the Wedding Reception Venue


Golden Bay Fresh Seafood Restaurant


The venue for our wedding reception is the next big item on our list. We wanted the venue to be as affordable as possible but still with class. We first checked out SM MoA’s The Venue but we were turned off by its steep price. The Philippine Air Force (PAF) Aerospace Museum is awesome but their cancellation policy (and the possibility of last minute cancellation) scared us. We also went to Enderun, Park Metro, and Villamor Golf Club.

Of the many venues that we visited, it is Golden Bay Seafood Restaurant that gave us the best deal. Read about our wedding experience in Golden Bay Restaurant.

Processing Church Requirements and other Required Documents


Kumpil or Sacrament of Confirmation
(Source: Wikipedia)


We spent many days to fulfill the requirements asked by the Church and the government for our wedding. The most important of these requirements is kumpil (Sacrament of Confirmation) that I received in Quiapo Church. We attended two pre-wedding seminars: one in our church and the other in the munisipyo.

If you are planning your wedding then makes sure to allot time and money for these requirements. To avoid the long lines, I suggest that you request your birth certificate and CENOMAR online. For the baptismal and confirmation certificates, you have no choice but to visit your parish church.

Finding the Ring(s)


Suarez wedding rings
(Source: Suarez Wedding Rings)


Our wedding rings are important items for the wedding ceremony. So went to the malls and to Binondo Chinatown (where we encountered matapobre jewellers). I even inquired through email. After the long search, we found our wedding rings in Suarez Wedding Rings in SM Mall of Asia.

Our wedding rings are just simple bands but it symbolizes our “forever”, making it more precious than other fancy wedding rings with big precious stones.

When looking for wedding rings, I suggest that you visit as many shops as you could to compare their prices and design. Remember that the more shops you visit, the more choices that you will have.

Hunting Down that Wedding Gown Couturier


Wedding gown from Divisoria
Lei's wedding gown from Divisoria


We just scoured Divisoria for Lei’s wedding gown, my suite, and attire of the whole entourage. We talked to couturiers in 168 Mall and 999 Mall but we hired the one in Yangco Market. Unfortunately, our couturier made a bad job for Lei’s wedding gown (imagine the added stress to my bride!). My Beloved Wife had no choice but to fix the gown by herself.

If you decided to have your wedding gown made in Divisoria, I suggest that you choose your couturier well. When you canvass for wedding gowns, you must consider both the price and quality. Low price usually means that the quality is sacrificed.

Searching for the Best (and Affordable) Wedding Cake


Wedding cake from Salazar Bakery
Our wedding cake from Salazar Bakery.


The wedding cake is the centerpiece of the wedding reception. That’s why we did our best to find a very good but affordable wedding cake. We visited Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Goldilocks, Bakerite, Bakers’ Fair, and Salazar Bakery. The winner is Salazar Bakery and I am confident to say that their cake was delicious.

Asking for Wedding Invitations in Divisoria


Wedding invitation card from Divisoria


We tried to make wedding invitation cards but we realized that it will take great effort (and creativity), and plenty of time to make 50 pieces or so. So, we decided to just ask a shop in Divisoria to make our wedding invitation cards.

Canvassing for Flowers

 

Flower catalogue in Dangwa


We had a great adventure to Dangwa, the flower capital of Manila. A fixer became mad at us when he couldn’t convince us to order flowers from him. Our visit to Dangwa was fruitful because we got our florist (and avoided that dubious fixer).

Dangwa is great place to search for florists. There are plenty of flower shops, which will give you the opportunity to compare prices and offers. I suggest that you visit at least five shops so you can have plenty of options. As for the fixers? Avoid them like the plague.

Booking the Make-up Artist


Lei's trial make-up


Lei was the one who hunted the make-up artist. We didn’t visit any boutique because she did most of her search in the Internet.

Lei was impressed with our make-up artist during the trial make-up that she hired her immediately. Her offer was airbrush make-up for the bride and traditional make-up for the other members of the entourage, including the flower girls. The negotiated price for her service is 10,500 pesos.

Booking a Hotel for Wedding Preparations


Copacabana Apartment Hotel
(Source: PCG Auxiliary)


Lei’s house and my house are very far away from our church so we had no choice but to find a hotel where we can do our prepping for the Big Day. After doing some Google search, we decided to visit Heritage Suite in Makati, Avitel Hotel, and Copacabana Apartment Hotel.

We selected Copacabana because of its proximity to the church and the size of its suite. Since Copacabana is an apartment hotel, we got rooms with living area and kitchen. The space was ample enough for the make-up artists and photographers to do their work. The only problem that we had with this hotel is that they prohibited us from taking photos at the hallway and the lobby. We defied this prohibition and our brave photographers took beautiful photos and videos of my lovely bride.

When looking for hotels for your wedding preparations, I suggest that you Google search first before going to the hotel. Ask the hotel staff for the prices, available promos, and restrictions before booking any room. For other tips, I suggest that you read Bridal Book’s tips for finding a hotel for wedding prep.

Shopping for Wedding Souvenirs


Wedding souvenirs from Divisoria


There are only two places where we searched for wedding souvenirs: the shops under the bridge near Quiapo Church and Tabora Street in Divisoria. We didn’t buy any item from those places because I already bought wedding souvenirs from the beautiful island of Guimaras.

Posing for Pre-Nup Shoot


Pre-nup photoshoot in UP Diliman


Our pre-nup shoot is included in the package that we got from our wedding photographer. We enjoyed an afternoon of posing like artistas in my alma mater, UP – Diliman. Our pre-nup photos were shown during our wedding reception and it made our families and guests smile.

When preparing for your pre-nup, I suggest that you create your props. This will not only save you money but will add personal touch to your photos. It is also recommended that you do your trial make-up during the pre-nup so you’ll see if the make-up will look good in the photos.

Shopping for Offertory Items


Mass wine and hosts from St. Paul's


The Church wedding ceremony is included within the celebration of the Holy Mass so we were expected to bring mass wine, hosts, flowers, and fruits as offertory. These items are not hard to find. We bought wine and the hosts from St. Paul’s at SM Mall of Asia.

Organizing the Big Day


One thing that I wish we had during our wedding preparation is the constant help from other people. Other couples have their maid of honor and the best man always ready to be tapped for help. We didn’t have such privilege since the maid of the honor lives in Davao while the best man is a busy man. We also didn’t want bother our families. Our limited budget prevented us from hiring a professional event coordinator.

Lei and I were the ones who did all of the legwork. We personally searched and negotiated with suppliers. We prepared the wedding reception programs. I even acted as the wedding coordinator at the hotel and the church. Good thing that a generous friend (who is a professional event coordinator) helped us for free.  My office friends also helped by acting as emcee, ushers, and event hosts during ceremony and the reception.

 You should not imitate what we did (although we managed to pull it off). Ask help from the maid of honor and the best man because that is their duty. Make your wedding preparation a family affair so that you can rely on plenty of helping hands.

Making Spiritual Preparations



Being busy during the wedding preparation should never be an excuse to ignore the spiritual aspect of the ceremony. God will be present (whether you like it or not) on your wedding day. So it will be best that you personally invite Him. Start praying as a couple. Be serious about the required Sacrament of Confession. Practice the virtue of patience, temperance, charity, and even chastity (I bet you that these will be very useful after your Big Day)

I realized prior to our wedding day that we need God to make our marriage work. Only He can assure us that we can avoid the threat of marital shipwreck (that will haunt us until our death thanks to the unceasing effort by the Devil).

Of the many tips that I posted in this list, I think that last bit is the most important.

Wedding in Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus
The altar is waiting and we're ready.


An office mate said that I will never want to experience another ordeal of wedding preparation. I nodded my head in agreement months before our wedding day. I felt so stressed and exhausted but all of that went away when I heard her “I do”.

So to all couples out there, make the most out of your wedding preparation. Don’t despair when problems start cropping up. The wedding day is just the icing on top. What’s more important is your commitment to love one another till death.
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