Euro Trip 2017: Imperial Highlights

Time to take a break from all the #hugot posts you’ve seen and read on my blog! I’M BACK, FRIENDS!!! Back to my beloved Manila. Back to reality. Back to my travel-loving single self (MWAHAHAHAHAHA!). And most especially, back to my own kaloka and unapologetic blog writing style! That was evident in my posts from early 2012 and before! Love it, then thank you! Hate it, I. don’t. care! 😛

So what’s the topic for this one? If it wasn’t obvious enough, well, I’ll spell it out to you: E-U-R-O-P-E. Yes! Two years in a row! Even I was amazed at God’s provisions in my life despite the setback I’ve encountered later last year/earlier this year. After my UK-Ireland trip last year, I thought I’d be seeing Europe again in, say, five years? But no, obviously, God’s plans are always better and THIS TRIP was just another testament to that! I’m claiming, though, that my third Euro trip will already be my honeymoon! So future husband, you better be reading! I want to go to France and Italy for that! Don’t worry, I don’t expect it to be next year (but who knows?! haha). I won’t even expect it the following year. In that year though, I’m claiming that I’ll be in Panama for World Youth Day 2019! Maybe you can come along? Haha! 😉 After that, then I think I can start to think about settling down. “Start” being the operative word! Char!

Rambling aside (serious muna ulit!), I went to Central/Eastern Europe — the “heart” of Europe they say because this region used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not just a kingdom, but an EMPIRE!!! Did you know that the last “empire” remaining now is Japan? I went there, too, in June, and I’ve yet to write about it! Hehe! Anyway, this entry will serve as a “teaser” of what you can expect to read and see on this blog in the next few months. Since pictures paint a thousand words, I’ll let them do the “talking” for me for now until I can finally write separate blog entries for each country. In summary, I traveled with two of my sisters in a tour group to the following countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria.

GERMANY

Munich

Regensburg

Bavarian Alps /
(Adolf Hitler’s) Eagle’s Nest

Berchtesgaden

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prague

SLOVAKIA

Bratislava

HUNGARY

Budapest /
The Danube River

Szentendre

Gyor

AUSTRIA

Vienna

Salzburg

To be honest, my pictures don’t really do justice to the actual beauty of each place we visited. And that’s what I’ll try to capture through my words in the coming blog entries. Until then! ❤

Friendly Desserts :)

Brownies. Cakes. Cookies. Cupcakes. Macarons. The dessert list evolves and goes on, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll always love ’em all! Haha! I actually credit my love for sweets to my late mother who was so passionate about baking. In fact, our Christmas season equated to “fruitcake season,” and I grew up to the smell of freshly-baked whatnot all year round. What started as a passion, then turned into a business. In 2001, my mother eventually pursued opening an actual bakeshop just near our house. Unfortunately in 2003, we lost her to cancer. And as much as we wanted to, we couldn’t continue the business anymore. But that was THEN.

I still plan on resurrecting my mother’s bakeshop in honor of her. Someday, the world will once again be able to taste her pastries and sweet treats through her recipes that we, as a family, treasure.

But since I’m still in the process of acquiring baking (even cooking) skills (ahem!), I just made it a personal advocacy to support people I know who share the same passion as my Mama.

So in this entry, I’ve included three of my friends who found their passion for baking, and I hope you also get the chance to taste heaven through their creations! 🙂

Tiny’s Desserts

My friend Tiny (or Tinah as some call her) and I go all the way back to high school. Now, we’re workmates! Of course I’m talking about our day jobs (which is my dream job, btw! hehe!) because as I’ve mentioned earlier, I can’t bake nor cook to save my life! At least not yet! =))

Anyway, even before Tiny decided to make her passion an actual business, I was already lucky enough to sample some of her baked goodies.

From her eggcheflan (yes, it’s leche flan inside an egg shell!) to her brownie cupcakes, I know that I’ll order for some more!!! 😉

Moist Chocolate Brownies

Moist Chocolate Brownies

For more information on how to order from Tiny’s Desserts, click here.

Gracefully Sweet Blessings

Stock analyst by day, baker by night (or during the weekends). That’s my friend Grace.

I met Grace through my Light Group from #FeastMakati, and I’ve witnessed how her passion slowly turned into a business. She specializes in customized cakes, but I’m pretty sure she can bake anything! I can’t wait for what’s in store for her and her budding cake business!

THE Blueberry Cheesecake that Grace shared to our Light Group! #happytummy

THE Blueberry Cheesecake that Grace shared to our Light Group! #happytummy

For more information on how to order from Gracefully Sweet Blessings, click here.

True Riches Cupcakes

Ah, don’t let the name fool you. True Riches Cupcakes don’t just serve cupcakes, they serve anything and everything under the sun that can be baked! They can even provide desserts for parties and whatnot. And the interesting part? My friend and former officemate Cha (the owner) is actually a software developer by day! O diba?!

Aside from the cupcakes, I recommend you try TRC’s flavored Cookie Shots and French Macarons:

Cookie Shots

Cookie Shots

heart-shaped French Macarons

heart-shaped French Macarons

For more information on how to order from True Riches Cupcakes, click here.

And those are just three of the people I know who are using passion as fuel to their own successes. I’m sure you also know people who do the same. Let’s all support them together! 😀

Papal Visit 2015: How It Felt, Feels, and Will Forever Feel

Pope Francis finally arrived in the Philippines and as a Filipino Catholic, I can’t help but be in awe of everything. After all, the last Papal Visit in my country happened 20 years ago with John Paul II as Pope (now Saint John Paul the Great). I was only five years old back then, and I can’t even remember the exact details of that event. All I know was that my family and I tried to catch a glimpse of him at Taft Avenue in Manila. And we did (though from our vantage point, the Pope’s head was comparable to the size of a dot. Hehe!).

Fast forward to today, I suddenly found myself being one of my parish’s volunteers to act as a “human shield” when the Pope makes his way from the airport to his home at the Apostolic Nunciature — again, located in Taft Avenue.

At first, I was actually nervous about being a human shield. We were required to pass complete volunteer forms with pictures for background checking (not that I have anything to hide, but I realized security’s very strict that those with “records” weren’t allowed to volunteer anymore). The weekend before the Pope’s arrival date, we even had a briefing given by the archdiocese and the police. Of course it was all about what to expect, where we’re going to be assigned, and the things NOT to bring (which include umbrellas and opaque bags/backpacks), etc. Having said that, I was nervous because you know, I’m naturally an overthinker! Hahaha! So given the security measures being taken, thoughts of stampedes and whatnot entered my mind.

posing beside the standee before seeing the real one :) (and oh, only see-through bags allowed!)

posing beside the standee before seeing the real one 🙂 (and oh, only see-through bags allowed!)

But of course, my longing to see the Pope in the flesh was stronger than any of those doubts. 🙂 Our call time on January 15 (Thursday) was around 2PM, but we saw the Pope around 7PM. Yes, we waited for a little over five hours only to wave at the Pope for a second (literally!). But you know what? IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!!!

I FINALLY SAW THE POPE IN PERSON! And just a few inches away at that! I was so speechless, I wasn’t even able to say Viva Il Papa... naging woohoo nalang! :)) And to top it all off, kudos to the crowd for being well behaved. When the Pope made its way to where we were, it’s like everyone was glued to where they were standing and all they could do was shout their welcoming cheers. 😀

our parish's volunteers, on the way to Roxas Boulevard-Quirino

our parish’s volunteers, on the way to Roxas Boulevard-Quirino

worth the wait :)

worth the wait 🙂

That’s just the FIRST DAY. As of this writing, the Pope is still in my country spreading his message of “mercy and compassion” to ALL people — rich or poor, Filipino or not, Catholic or otherwise.

I know that for some, they’ve been lucky enough to go to the Vatican and see the Pope closer (case in point: my two older sisters!). But even they agree with me that nothing compares to seeing the Pope in our home country, where we can all feel the power and unity of the Filipino faith. It really is both a blessing and a privilege.

As you can see, I wasn’t able to take any pictures or videos of the Pope while he was in front of me. How could I? I was a “human shield” and my hands and arms were looped around the arms and hands of the people to my left and right. Hashtags #hawakkamay at #kapitbisig. Haha. All I’m left with now is that awe-inspiring memory, which I know can’t be “deleted” easily.

So yeah, I was in awe. I am still in awe. And I know that I’ll forever be in awe of this historic religious event in my country.

And despite the number of people criticizing the Catholic faith, I’ll strive to continue to defend (and strengthen) my faith and promote what it means to “be like Jesus every day.” Sure, we’re all humans. No person’s perfect. So whatever our religions are, let’s just strive to learn from our mistakes and be better every single day. Aside from that, give LOVE (and not just on Chistmas day! Hehe!). But if you can’t give love, at least give RESPECT. I respect my brothers and sisters from other religions. So please, also respect me when I say that I AM PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC.

For I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. 😉

How about you? What can you say about the Papal Visit 2015?
Sound off in the comments section below!