Step Back in Time at the Filling Station

Classic cars, retro posters, and… lifesize action figures? If you dig the old school vibe and love good food, there’s a quaint restaurant in town you sure would want to check out! Get ready to get swept back in time when you step through the doors of Filling Station!

Rock n’ Roll with The King Himself!
Filling-Station-Elvis

Elvis Presley would be the first to greet you on the second landing, along with other legendary icons.

Check out my hot date! 😂
Filling-Station-Batman-Figure

This thing looks like it came straight out of Back 2 the Future.Filling-Station-Retro-OldSchool-Restaurant-Manila

Wanna take a ride?Filling-Station-Makati-Retro-Cars

They’ve got some old school wheels in the house, quite literally! Make sure to dress up in a pin-up chic outfit for the perfect photo op.

Getting some dark Riverdale vibes here….Filling-Station-Retro-Posrers-Setup

Speaking of Riverdale, did anyone see Archie?Filling-Station-Retro-Interior-Makati

Oh there he is! Look at all those old school posters. Even the logos go a long way back! Cadillac classics, retro gas pumps, and everything in between – it’s quite hard to imagine how much work it took to put this whole place together.

And of course, what’s a restaurant without good food? 🙂Filling-Station-Brazo-de-Mercedes-Cake

Choosing this melt-in-your-mouth brazo de mercedes cake for the feature because I’ve never tasted dessert this good! It’s layered over vanilla ice cream and the whole thing’s not to sweet but really, really good! Enough for one, but trust me, you can never go wrong with a second serving 😉

 

Little Islands, Pocket Beaches, and One Big Paradise

I’ve always had this deep-set desire to travel solo. So when I had a window for vacation before life got busy again, I did not hesitate and grabbed the opportunity to book a 3-day vacation in El Nido, Palawan, said to be the most beautiful beach our country of beautiful beaches has to offer.

Breakfast by the beach? All day =)
So this is the beach front view at the inn where I stayed. The moment I got down the transfer van, I heard the waves and ran to the back without even checking in yet! Doggo is happily getting a tan here! 🙂Beach-Front-Hotel-View-El-Nido
And of course, my getaway won’t be complete without having breakfast by the beach. Got my favorite “Tito” beer to go with the chow! El-Nido-Breakfast-by-the-Beach
That’s just me doing the obligatory “touch-down El Nido, Palawan selfie.” Gezzy-Aurell-Twelve-Moons-Blog-El-Nido-Palawan

Endless Ocean of Endless Wonders
As per popular advice, I booked Tour C and got to spend a whole day hopping from island to island in the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Though if you decide to head to El Nido without any itineraries or tour packages, there are several agencies in there that offer customized packages.
El-Nido-Palawan-Waves
Getting here to the hidden beach was quite tricky for me because I don’t swim and there were sharp corals. But luckily the tour guides had earlier suggested that I get those aqua shoes that came in really handy. What’s more? The currents were pretty strong, and our kind kuyas were happy to drag me along on a lifebuoy to get there! Hidden-Beach-El-Nido-Palawan
They call this the Helicopter Island. I am not quite sure why! El-Nido-Palawan-Islands
I even got to snorkel and see beautiful coral reef communities  that took two decades to develop. I’ll make a mental note to take Go-Pro with me next time so I can also take photos of the underwater community.

Great food, great ambiance.
I didn’t quite feel like going back to my room when the trip ended. I wanted to take in everything this amazing paradise has to offer. So I sat myself down on a random bar restaurant, on a table by the beach side so I could face the sunset while I got me a couple glasses of margarita.Sava-Beach-Bar-El-Nido-Palawan
This was the lunch buffet that was included in the trip package, prepared by tour guides themselves! We couldn’t quite get ourselves to eat the watermelon. It’s pretty obvious why! Lunch-Buffet-El-Nido-Tours-Palawan Back at the dormitel, I sat outside my room for some quiet time in the evening. It happened that my trip coincided with the full moon. It felt like everything was taken straight out of a storybook. In that moment, I felt like never wanting to leave this place again. EcoHotels-El-Nido-Palawan
Kitty taking comfort like she’s mine =)IMG_8243

On the morning on my flight back to Manila, I got up early (something I hardly do) just so that I could take in more of place. I’ve gone to several places, but I’ve never felt this sad about leaving a place all my entire life. I wished that I had booked more days so I could have seen more beaches and done more snorkeling. 

Breathtaking in all its God-made glory, El Nido is a place you MUST visit at least once in your life.

Keeping the Magic of Something Soulmade

=_MG_6266

_MG_6303One of the biggest challenges of being in the business of handcrafted items is this : if your work is good and it sells good, you’re bound to get duped by copycats. It used to bother me that a merchant in my regular event keeps on copying my work. Everytime I put something new out there and the crowd loves it, trust on her to scout and have the same thing the next week. While I understand that all artists get inspiration from the already existing work of others, it is quite something else when a merchant in exactly the same event who deliberately scouts your booth does it.

But there is something to learn from and be grateful for in this experience. One day a customer came to my booth to check my items, proceeded to check the items of the dupe merchant, went back to me and said, “Yours has a much better quality than hers. It’s obvious that it’s not ordinary work.” After days of having doubts about myself, I was deeply touched by her simple act of complimenting my work and her kindness, and became much more inspired to continue doing what I love.

I realized that while many things can be copied and ripped off, good design included, no one can dupe good taste, passion, and hard work. When you do something with your own bare hands and you pour your soul into it, that’s YOU. When you fly things in from halfway around the world to get your hands on the finest materials, that’s YOU. When you spend precious seconds criticizing every detail of the work that you just did, just to make sure that everything is right and looks right, that’s YOU.

I realized that on that day, that beautiful lady was not seeing a nice pair of tassel earrings. She was seeing a portion me. A part of my soul in every detail of my work. Soulmade.

So, I am writing this to reach out to all artists, craftsmen, and passionate thinkers out there. Bear this mind, you beautiful soul.

Your work is YOU.

There is no substitute for it. So keep going and do what you love best. Where there is passion, there is always good work.

The Dregs have Come

IMG_8719It’s been ages since a book had me gripping its pages and wanting more of it. Quite frankly, I’ve always loved books but was never a fan of the YA genre – until Six of Crows.

Set in a beautifully imagined old-and-mysterious-meets-Victorian-industrial world, Six of Crows is a story of a group of daredevils on an impossible heist. Each character is so masterfully crafted it is easy fall in love with each one. Leigh Bardugo has done such a fantastic job at putting the readers inside their heads, detailing their stories, their deepest thoughts, their darkest secrets – all while keeping the reader thrilled with every twist and turn of the story in fast-paced narrative.

Here’s a sneak peak into who they are:

THE DREGS.

  1. KAZ BREKKER (a.k.a. “Dirtyhands”) – Basically, this guy is a dangerous gang lord with the mind of a genius. Master craftsman of the heist game plan.
  2. INEJ GHAFA (a.k.a. “The Wraith”) – A stealthy badass, dagger-wielding chic who is like the eyes and ears of the group.
  3. NINA ZENIK – The beautiful seductress who is also a gifted Grisha (it’s detailed in the intro).
  4. MATTHIAS HELVAR – The strong and silent ex-convict who is basically the muscle of the group.
  5. WYLAN VAN ECK – The privileged boy who has a crazy talent for making explosives.
  6. JESPER FAHEY – The reckless gunner who can practically shoot and never miss.

But what I love best about the story is that every element of it and the book in its entirety is quite something that I have never encountered before. It’s quite hard for me to say it belongs to any genre at all, because I think it belongs to one of its own.

This is a book that I would recommend to every book-lover out there.

Leigh Bardugo has set my standards so high, I doubt I will find another book quite like this one. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment!