Stories

Going Minimalist – How I found peace by owning less

I saw an Instagram story of a social media influencer about how the documentary “Minimalism” changed her life. I had an idea what minimalism is all about, but I wasn’t sold on the idea of adopting the lifestyle. It’s not because I have an emotional attachment to my stuff, it’s just I had an impression that minimalists are a bit extreme. I heard some of them live with fewer than 50 clothes and I’m like how is that even possible? Even so, my don’t-knock-it-till-you-try-it attitude overruled my skepticism. I wanted to truly understand what this is all about and if in the end, I decided that it’s not for me then so be it, it’s not like I would lose money over this. So one day, I found and watched the documentary on Netflix and schooled myself on minimalism for 1 hour and 18 minutes. I was never the same again; I think I found the answer to my discontent.

The documentary that inspired it all

Minimalism is a documentary created by Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus, two highly successful young professionals who were, just like everybody else, used to buy into the thinking that the more money they get, the happier they would be. The film is about self-discovery, their journey into living with fewer possessions but not necessarily living a less-fulfilled life, and educating people on what minimalism is all about.

So what exactly is minimalism? One of the film creators, Joshua has a better definition.

“Minimalism is a tool we use to get rid of the excess stuff in our lives to make room for the essentials. Minimalism allows us to focus on what’s important in life—health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution—so we can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

Joshua Fields

In simpler words, if you don’t need it, get rid of it.

The “why” or the reason I wanted to become a minimalist

In the film, Ryan shared that he had everything he had ever wanted and yet he felt miserable. There was a gaping void in his life and tried to fill that up with consumer purchases. Unlike Ryan, I don’t have everything that I have ever wanted, and yet somehow, his monologue resonated with me.

A few years ago, I met new friends who can afford to buy the nicest things. There is one who is so rich, I stood in awe of the privileged life in which she is living. She flies first class, lives in a multi-million peso condominium in BGC, owns several Chanel and Hermes bags, which I’m guessing, I could only afford if I stopped eating. When I was a kid, I fantasized a lot about being rich. Then suddenly, I have a rich person for a close friend, it was like a dream come true. I learned that when you start hanging around with these people, their lifestyle will rub off on your one way or another.    

I am not what you would call an ambitious type, hence my not so stellar performance with work. But when I learned more about this friend of mine and how she worked hard to be where she is now, it got me thinking that maybe I can do it too. I wanted to be just like her, the one who can shop without checking the price tag.

Little by little, I began to acquire a few things. I always updated my wardrobe, bought signature perfumes, and got myself three designer bags, albeit second hand. I’m a woman from humble beginnings and I used to be penniless all the time. Now all of a sudden, I own bags that are more expensive than my monthly due for my apartment. Boy did I feel so invincible, and my brain interpreted this as a sign of success. I remember a friend being highly impressed when he saw me carrying the Bottega Veneta bag, which he mistook for Prada. I was so proud that I immediately corrected him, “This is more expensive than Prada,” I said. Now that I recall the incident, I cringe and want to hit myself in the head. Since when did I become this pompous? This is not me, I love fashion, yes, but I was never brand conscious. What the hell is wrong with me?

I was happy, but just as everything else in life, it was rather fleeting. The Maslow’s theory kicks in, the wanting never goes away, it only gets replaced once the need has been met. Now I look at this stuff and I don’t get the same euphoria that I felt the first time I got my hands on them. This forces me to reassess my priorities in life.   

In hindsight, my friend’s influence is not entirely bad, I mean, she inspired me to achieve greater things, to work harder, and become a better version of myself. There is nothing wrong with that and there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to have the best things in life. After all, we all deserve to be happy and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But that is the thing exactly, I was in bliss, yes, but the moment I got what I wanted, I wasn’t happy anymore. Does it mean I should buy more to chase that feeling? Surely, there is gotta be a better way than this.

This my first “why”; the things that I acquired that I thought would make me happy didn’t really give me the satisfaction that I was expecting. I find myself always going back to where I started; waiting to have something to get excited again. If I don’t find the ultimate satisfaction from material possessions, then what will?

My second “why” is to clear my head because prior to all this, my mind, much like my home was in a disarray. In the last moments just before I drift off to sleep, my head is filled with pessimistic and dismal thoughts. I fear death, I fear for my future, I fear that I would grow old alone. Moreover, I was unapologetically lazy, not expending the slightest of energy to put away my effects where they belong.

My absolute dependency on the Internet doesn’t help the case. Every waking hour was spent on Facebook or Instagram, watching small clips, reading hate and troll-riddled comment threads, and waiting for virtual validation on my latest posts. I simply felt miserable, that I have made myself this vulnerable, this dependent on people on the other side of the digital screen. I used to be the person who gave little to zero f*cks about what other people think, yet now I have reduced my self-worth into this persona that I made to cater to the superficial world of social media. I knew I gotta do something.

The de-cluttering project begins

Still high on the new learnings that I got from the documentary, I went home and spent rigorous hours cleaning the under sink cabinet of my tiny apartment. That night alone, I took out 5 garbage plastics. In just a few days, I was able to either throw or give away stuff I no longer need, which include but not limited to, bags, clothes, travel souvenirs (e.g., fridge magnets, keychains), accessories. Was it hard? I thought it would be, but I find myself flowing into the motion smoothly once I had put my mind to it.

Just to give you an idea, let me show you the chaos that is my apartment pre-minimalism period.

Before all this, I have already been living some sort of a minimalist life. I only have 4 appliances in my house, a floor fan, an a/c unit, a rice cooker, and an electric kettle. I don’t have furniture, not even a single chair, and I sleep on a mattress. The reason is that I had been delaying the purchase of things until I move into my own house by the end of this year. Right now, I am renting a studio room unit in Makati. I wanted to make the move as painless as possible.

What I lacked in furniture I more than made up for on smaller things. Now that I’d taken them out, I cannot justify why I had them in the first place. I can’t explain why I had 6 pillows or why I kept 3 stuffed toys and travel souvenirs when they were not even on display. I’m not sure why I stored my contracts with my previous companies. And why did I hold on to this dress that used to fit me at my lowest weight because I was at the peak of my depression? It’s not like I’m aiming to be Olive Oyl thin again. Most of all, why did I retain all of those books in my possession when I don’t even like reading the same book twice?

The more I looked at my stuff and assessed their usefulness or lack thereof, the easier for me to get into the rhythm. Most of these I thought I was saving for future use, until “that future” has come and still they remained unutilized.

A little family background

Minimalism is not in my blood, I was raised by a family of hoarders. When my father died, we had a hard time disposing of his items because he has accumulated a lot of stuff. My father was a man of varied interests, he was an electrical technician and a handyman, he knew how to play four musical instruments, he always took home newspapers from his place of work, and just like me, he kept many objects that he didn’t need thinking that one day, he would find a use for them; he never did. Therefore, our modest house was cramped with tools that he used for work and objects that catered to his hobbies.

My mother is a different story altogether. At least I can rationalize Papa’s stuff, but Mama, oh boy, she likes to display things. You give her a fancy thing, she would either keep it or use it as home decor. For example, when I was a kid, I wanted to have my own Barbie doll. One Christmas, my godfather gifted me with a doll clad in a pretty purple gown. It wasn’t Barbie, that b*tch is expensive, nevertheless, it’s the closest thing I could have to a barbie, I ain’t about to complain. Guess what happened to the doll. Well, it remained in its pristine condition because I never got to play with it. Mother dear probably thought it was too good for me that she decided to put it on display.

And there’s the case of the hand-me-down sweaters from a wealthy relative. Back then I only had 2 siblings, we were all girls. The wealthy relative took it into consideration and gave each one of us our own sweaters so you know, we didn’t have to Battle Royale for them. My sisters and I were looking forward to wearing those, they were so colorful and pretty, the kind that would make us look cool. Mama had other plans; the next time we saw these sweaters, we couldn’t fit in them anymore.

Thus, in the two decades of my life, I grew up to be a hoarder. I kept my test papers, my school cards, my textbooks, and letters from friends. I had books, lots of them and I also used to write on diaries. When I moved out of our house in Manila, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I had so much stuff, it’s a wonder how I managed to fit everything in this little dorm room that I rented in Makati. Every time I moved from one place to another, it was always such a pain. And the worst part is, I had been needlessly hauling these things with me for years when I don’t really use them.

Search and destroy

We all have them, billing statements, medical certificates, receipts, business cards, work or school-related files, among others. I am not questioning the importance of these documents in our lives, but give it a couple of years and their relevance would significantly diminish. This is especially true now that many companies have made paperless transactions possible and preferable. 

I gathered all of my papers and did the painstaking task of reviewing them one by one. This is the part of the decluttering that took some time to finish. Just because they are not needed anymore, doesn’t mean I can just throw them away. These documents, oftentimes contain personal information (e.g., address, credentials) that must not be disclosed, hence they must be destroyed. The easiest way is to burn them, but it’s illegal so I had to destroy them manually. When I say manually, I mean cutting them with scissors because I don’t happen to have a paper shredder lying around you know. Then I transferred my important documents in clearbooks because they are harder to find if they are kept inside envelopes or folders.

The disposal goals

I have three clearance goals; dispose of, sell, give away. I was only able to sell a few things because I wanted to get rid of the unnecessary objects immediately. I think I cleared 25% of my clothes that I handed out to my sister and cousin. I operated with a question in mind, Am I going to use this in the near future? If the answer is yes, then I keep it, otherwise, they must go. If I threw away something that I would be needing someday, I can just buy it again. There is no reason for these items to stay with me if I cannot use them.

While going through my stuff, I thought of the people who would appreciate some of the things that I have. For example, I have this former colleague who loves to collect fridge magnets and I happen to have a lot of them from my previous travels. Instead of throwing them away, I decided to just give them all to her.  

For the books, I posted on a Facebook group that I would be giving away my books for free, they only need to shoulder the shipping fee. The response was overwhelming that out of the 20 books, I was able to give away 12 of them. 

My apartment, after

I completed the general cleaning of my unit after 2 days. It was both tiring and therapeutic and I absolutely love how it looks now that I’ve gotten rid of the junk. 

My closet is now much more spacious, so is the under sink cabinet.

Quitting Facebook… sort of

I have extended my minimalism effort to my major source of stress, social media. I commenced by deactivating my account to the one I don’t frequently use, Pinterest. Pinterest is where many girls spend most of their time imagining their future weddings. Maybe I’d use it again once I start planning my actual wedding, but for now, it shall be closed.

Next, Twitter. I was actually a happy Twitter-user; I had fun sharing my random thoughts and I liked how Twitter peeps don’t really seem to care whether I had been oversharing the mundane details of my life. 

However, when I asked myself how important is it for me to tweet, the honest answer is “not really.” Thus, 7 years and 15.8k tweets later, I bade adieu to the bluebird.

The ultimate decision of them all is to quit my number 1 addiction, Facebook. I thought about this for quite some time given the fact that I am a blogger. Although I have a Facebook page, not all of my contacts follow it, thus, I get most of my page views from the link that I shared on my FB account. As a blogger, the numbers are important but at the end of the day, I had to ask myself what really matters; is it the blog stats or my peace of mind? Well, we all know the answer to that. 

But leaving Facebook was a lot harder than I thought. I didn’t realize just how dependent I have been on this social network until I decided to delete it. Apart from the fact that it is connected to my blog and Facebook page, it is also linked to the other apps that I use, such as Spotify, Instagram, Shopback, Goodreads, etc. Facebook saves you the trouble of logging in to these accounts just by linking your profile to these apps. I didn’t have much of an issue with some of the apps because I can always sign in to them with my email address, but this is not the case with Spotify. I got 2 weeks left before my Spotify premium expires for renewal. I also have hundreds of playlists in there that I built up in the last 2 years. Am I willing to give these all up and just create an account that is not connected with Facebook? The simple answer is yes.

Next point of consideration, my Facebook page. Now this one is easy. I signed up for a new Facebook account, added it as a friend, then set it up as the Admin of the page. I then changed the role page permission of my original account to Editor. The sole purpose of this new account is to manage my FB page, I have no intention to add people in it. With these steps, I was able to do something that I once thought I’d never be able to do, delete my old Facebook account.

For the next 14 days, it is important that I do not, in any way, open or use the old account again or else the deletion won’t take effect. This is one of the reasons I decided to just let go of my old Spotify account. 

Final thoughts

The effect is immediate. As soon as I got rid of the unnecessary, I was able to think more clearly. What you are reading now is one of the positive aftermaths. When before I found myself struggling to find the right words, now they flow freely, so much that my hands couldn’t keep up with my thoughts.  

Another good thing that came out of this is that I was able to make people happy. It’s the biggest surprise really, how the things I no longer need are being useful in the hands of others. 

Lastly, by lessening my social media accounts, I now have time to do what truly matters. I can write, study French, read, and watch other inspiring documentaries, and do everything else that helps me improve myself. And isn’t that the point of minimalism? To remove what doesn’t matter and live with the essentials?

Minimalism slows down life and frees us from this modern hysteria to live faster. It finds freedom to disengage. It seeks to keep only the essentials. It seeks to remove the frivolous and keep the significant. And in doing so, it values the intentional endeavors that add value to life.

Joshua Becker | becomingminimalist.com

What about you? have you ever thought about checking out the minimalism lifestyle? Or are you a minimalist? I am quite interested to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comment below.

guisi-lighthouse-faro-de-punta-luzaran
Philippines Travel

Visiting one of the oldest lighthouses in the Philippines – Guisi Lighthouse

The ruins make for a beautiful background for an OOTD. Had I known it would be this beautiful, I wouldn’t have listened to my friend, Cai, who told us to pack light. Though I do not bring my entire home with me, I don’t identify with light packers. But in Guimaras — I’m not sure how I did it — I stuffed everything inside my small backpack. Needless to say, I wasn’t ootd-ready when we visited the oldest lighthouse in the Philippines,Faro de Punta Luzaran, better known as Guisi Lighthouse.

Getting to Guisi Lighthouse

From Nature’s Eye Beach Resort, we traveled the 6.3-km road that goes to Guisi via tricycle. The road conditions are one of the worst that I’ve seen; it was filled with potholes, wheel ruts, and mud made the journey quite troublesome. Even so, a visit to Guisi is high on my recommendations, whether you want to do it for the gram or not. 

To get there, here’s what you should do. First, you need to go to Iloilo and from the airport, do the following:

  • Take a shuttle to SM Iloilo (alternatively, you may hire a cab to get you to Parola).
  • From SM Iloilo, take a cab that goes to Parola.
  • Ride a ferry that goes to Jordan Wharf. 
  • Take a jeep to Nueva Valencia and stop at Dolores Crossing.
  • Hire a motorbike (called locally as habal-habal) and ask the driver to take you to Guisi.
  • From Guisi, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the lighthouse.

Guisi Lighthouse

The first lighting up of Faro de Punta Luzaran was in 1894. Its materials were exported from different countries; France, Portugal, and England. It used to provide navigational aid to mariners passing through the Guimaras Strait. The lighthouse may just be the shortest I have ever seen. It is no longer operational, it’s metal frame eaten away by rust. But somehow, it’s dilapidated state makes it all the more alluring especially to tourists.

guisi-lighthouse-faro-de-punta-luzaran

It is surrounded by the ruins of an old building, which reminded me of the Diplomat Hotel in Baguio and the ruins of Intramuros. Plants and trees grow from the cracks, the vines wrapped around the walls. The place looks hauntingly beautiful.  

While we were there, I kept blaming Cai for advising me to pack light. The ruins are so beautiful, I was quite disappointed that I missed the chance to do an OOTD shoot. Yes, I know, I’m being melodramatic, but it’s not like I get to visit Guimaras everyday you know. 

But Cai was camera-ready, with his elephant pants and willingness to climb on the walls, he got the Instagram shots that I wanted for myself.

Guisi Beach

Just a short walk from the lighthouse is Guisi Beach. We didn’t plan on taking a swim, but looking back, I think we should have taken the opportunity. The beach is clean, not crowded and it looks beautiful. So if you ever visit the lighthouse, you might want to bring in your bathing suit and enjoy a swim here.

Travel

Feeling fat on the islands of Guimaras

Did you gain weight?

My friend, Cai, asked after taking my picture as I lie down on the hammock. I kind of suspected that I did, so there goes my confirmation. I looked at my photos and frowned; I had a double-chin, my jawline barely visible, my cheeks are too plumped, and my tummy protrudes from my shirt. Holy cow I am fat!

I think I am skinny fat, which according to an article means, “looking slim and fit dressed, but dreadful naked.” I have been doing weight training at home for several months now, but my dream muscles are still just that, a dream. And I have unsightly fats in some parts of my body like my back and my tummy. Having confidence in my body is one of my long-standing battles ever since I started gaining fats in my midsection. And because Cai reminded me of my biggest insecurity, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of myself when I went island-hopping in Guimaras.

Island Hopping Activity

Staying at Nature’s Eye Beach Resort includes an island-hopping adventure. On our second day, we had to be up early, eat our breakfast, before proceeding to our day’s activity. Thank god I brought a monokini, imagine if I wore a two-piece, oh the horror!

According to Cai, who by the way, is now the manager of Nature’s Eye, the island hopping is scheduled once daily, at 9:00 a.m. We had to go down the slippery muddy hill to get to the beach where the boat was waiting. My friend, Alchris and I, were joined with a couple who were also guests of the resort.  

The boatman is quite talkative and made an effort to give us a background of the islands that we are passing through. Some of the islands are resorts, some are shaped like animals, and there is one that has a grotto. Most of the time, I couldn’t hear the boatman through the noise of the motor. I just nodded, feigning comprehension. 

Bacuan

A few minutes into our travel, I moved to sit at the foredeck of the boat so I can take better pictures. We passed through a mangrove forest, called locally as bacuan. The view of these shrubs and trees is simply fascinating.

The weather was cloudy and the waves were slightly strong. There were times when the boat would pass through a big wave and I was there in front of the boat feeling like I was riding a roller coaster. It was both scary and thrilling at the same time. I’m insecure with my body yes, but not suicidal. I held on to the rope that was tied on the foredeck so I won’t fall off the boat.   

Floating Cottage

Our first stop is the Floating Cottage. The boatman asked us for our permission if we wanted to go there because it has an entry fee of ₱50. We all agreed, besides, as Cai mentioned, we wouldn’t be visiting a lot of islands.

Our boatman said that the floating cottage was donated by Gina Lopez, the incumbent Chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. We saw three cottages in the area, one is non-operational. And because it’s the off-season, there aren’t many tourists around. 

There are several flags mounted on the sea circling the area where people can swim. Alchris skipped swimming so I went to the water alone. I’m not sure how deep the water is, just to be safe I used a life vest. 

Taklong Island

Taklong Island is a national marine reserve covering an area of over 1,000 hectares of coral reefs, mangrove areas, and seagrass beds. There is an entry eco fee of ₱60.

This is where you can find what the locals call as The Tower, a 5-story steel building that offers an amazing view of Guimaras islands.

My friend was having fun using his new mirrorless camera, sometimes using me as his test subject. Whenever I caught him taking pictures of me, I’d reprimand him, “Stop taking my photos, I look fat.” If I use the same line with my other friends, they’d be quick to tell me that I am not fat, but this friend of mine is different. He loves fitness, he knows when I gain extra pounds and be the first one to tell me so. I used to be offended but I have learned to appreciate his honesty. 

It started raining when the island trip ended. The waves have become stronger that Alchris was slightly agitated. I told him that these waves were nothing compared to the ones that I experienced in Romblon several years ago. It seemed to have calmed down his nerves a bit.


I know I may be hard on myself, there are people who have it worst yet here I am complaining about my body. But I think with body issues, being heavy or being skinny are not mutually exclusive. We all have it, one way or another and we have different ways of dealing with it.

When we went to Guimaras in July, I didn’t restrain myself from eating, which is what I usually do when I travel. Sampling the local cuisine is part of traveling and I don’t want to skip it. But every time I let go, I feel the guilt. And then I’d hate myself because I have deliberately let myself pushed myself further away from my body goal.

The battle between the will to be fit and the lure of the food is still ongoing. Until I reach the time in which I am fully confident about my body in whatever state it may be in, I will keep taking pictures of myself to a minimum. And for now, we call all just enjoy the view, of the places I go to, that is.

Food

Toni & Sergio brings your favorite Italian-Spanish dishes in Eastwood

For quite some time I had been rejecting invitations to attend food blogging events. I got two reasons for this; first, I narrowed my niche to traveling and coffee, second, I am watching my diet and stopped eating pork and beef since the year started. Imagine if I’d been invited in a food event and most of their dishes are meat, what would happen then? I don’t want to be the diva that tells the business owners my diet restrictions. My last food review is in January 2017, that long ago. Soon, I stopped receiving invites and I was fine with that. I only wanted to receive travel-related sponsorships, I love traveling more than eating anyway. Then one day I got an email from Toni & Sergio, an Italian-Spanish restaurant that I reviewed back in 2016. They opened a branch in Eastwood Mall and invited bloggers to sample their dishes last August 1st. I didn’t think twice about accepting it for 2 reasons; I work in Eastwood, I would have no trouble getting to the venue, second, I know Toni & Sergio’s food, they are legit delicious.

The Event

I was expecting there’d be a lot of guests because there were over 50 people in the e-invite. But I came to an almost empty restaurant with the servers outnumbering the bloggers.

There were 4 other guests and I saw them sharing tables, chatting with the owner. I didn’t want to interrupt so I stayed at another table. I introduced myself to the waiter who approached me. After we’ve established that I am one of the bloggers, he asked me what do I want for a drink. He offered their sodas and cocktails, I chose the latter. I went for his suggestion, Sangria.

Drinks

Nope, it wasn’t too early for Sangria

The Area Manager/OIC for Operations, Andrew Pangilinan explained to me briefly their promos. Apologies that I wasn’t able to publish this post early but they had a grand opening last August 4, in which they treated the first 50 tables to a 20-peso 10-inch pizza of any flavors. They have another flavor, but I am not quite sure if it’s still ongoing, but I’ll mention it anyway just in case. All guests have a chance to win discounted or free food if they get lucky with the spinning wheel. 

When it was clear that no other guests would arrive, the food started coming in. They served more than we could handle but of course, nobody is complaining, not even me. That week, I had been dieting like crazy, it was the first time I put something heavy in my tummy. 

Starter

We started off with Gustoso Chicken Poppers. This is Toni & Sergio’s version of chicken poppers and you can choose from their 3 flavors, Sriracha Spicy, Honey BBQ, and Truffle Aioili.  We didn’t get to try the honey bbq, but I was fine with what they served us particularly the uber spicy Sriracha. I am used to spicy food, but even I had to reach for a glass of water whenever I pop a piece in my mouth.  

Pizza

The Creamy Spinach Pizza has strips of chicken (the only meat that I permit myself to eat) for toppings. Spinach is one of those vegetables I am not quite sold on. It really depends on how it is cooked for me to like it. Fortunately for this pizza, it works. I loved it so much I helped myself with 2 slices. It’s cooked in a brick oven, thin-crust, and chewy, just the way I prefer my pizza. 

Risotto

I hereby give Toni & Sergio the award for having the Best Risotto. Their Creamy Baked Risotto is baked in a brick oven and is made with corn, Italian bacon, mozzarella and mushroom topped with bechamel. It was delightful and probably sinful, but I didn’t care because it’s so delicious. I had to pick the bacon bits off my serving though but it’s ok. I am not a very strict vegetarian, well not yet.  

Pasta

We tried two of their pasta, Aglio & Olio Salpicao (garlic and oil stirred pasta, topped with hint of spiced beef salpicao) and Fried Chicken Pasta in Aurora Sauce (tomato cream pasta topped with fried chicken marinated in mojo sauce). The other guests preferred the latter but I found myself leaning towards the Aglio & Olio because it’s light but has a more distinct flavor. I know Aglio has beef so it might be the reason it tastes better, but I just stick with the pasta.

Paella

They served us two paellas, Paella con Pollo (paella topped with chicken chorizo, eggplant, black olives, baguio beans, and marinated Italian roasted chicken), and Paella Negra. Because these were served a little late, I was already full that I barely touched the paella con pollo. The Paella Negra was not as good as I remembered it, to be honest, it was a little dry. I think I mentioned this to one of the staff just so they are aware and maybe improve on it. The Toni & Sergio McKinley has the best-tasting paella negra, so I’m not sure what happened here.  

Dessert

I am Marjorie, I always have room for dessert. They offered us four kinds: tiramisu, panna cotta, apple crumble, and another one, which name I wasn’t able to get. Out of all of these, my number recommendation would be the panna cotta, it is just as good as the one that I had at the McKinley branch. Creamy, smooth, almost like a flan, I love it.  

Toni & Sergio can be found on the second floor of Eastwood Mall and it is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Accommodation Philippines Travel

Nature’s Eye Beach Resort [Unplug and reconnect with nature in this Guimaras resort]

“We do not have Wi-Fi. Talk to each other. Pretend it’s 1995.”

If Nature’s Eye Beach Resort’s house rules were written on a piece of paper, I imagine that this particular line would be underlined. We have come to the time when we have to be reminded to engage in real human interactions. Just when communication became as easy as breathing, people have become more distant from one another. Meeting but not really talking, fully absorbed in the life pulsing on the other side of the digital screens. As Alanis says, “Isn’t it ironic?” I am no exception, my relationship with social media is bad, like Brokeback-Mountain-I-wish-I-knew-how-to-quit-you bad. How does a social media addict see a place with a no-Wi-Fi rule? A rehab, that’s what, and it might just be what I needed.

Where is Nature’s Eye Beach Resort

Nature’s Eye Resort is located in Nueva Valencia in the province of Guimaras. The resort is perched on a cliff overlooking Panay Gulf. Years ago, its owner, Ms. Rowena Amancio went on an island-hopping activity in Guimaras during her holiday vacation. Back then, she was working for an airline company in Switzerland where she has been living for decades. Their boat passed by a precipice blanketed with thick foliage and trees. Curious, she went on to explore said area with some locals. Up the mountain she climbed and into the forest, she found the spot in which she envisioned to build her retirement home.  

In 2014, her vision was realized. With the help of the locals, her new home was built, far from civilization with a beautiful view of the sea. Later on, she turned her private sanctuary into a rustic resort and called it Nature’s Eye.

Last July, I had the chance to stay in this resort by invitation of my friend, Cai Dominguez (Travelosyo). In the middle part of this year, Cai quit his corporate job to become the manager of Nature’s Eye.

How to get to Nature’s Eye Beach Resort

Traveling to Guimaras to visit Nature’s Eye is an adventure in itself, be ready to hustle. Here’s a guide on how you can get there.

Note: As soon as you arrive at Jordan Wharf, you will be approached by tricycle drivers. If you don’t mind paying ₱500 ($9.41), they can drive you directly to Dolores Crossing. Travel time is only 45 minutes.

What rooms are available

Nature’s Eye Beach Resort has 5 villas that were intentionally built, away from each other to offer privacy to their guests. During our stay, we were able to try two of these, the Sunset Room and the Ocean View Upper Deck.

Sunset Room

This villa has a traditional Bahay-kubo design (nipa hut), situated right in front of the beach. It has one queen size bed, fan, native bathroom, and a balcony. The waves on this part of the beach are often turbulent and raucous that I am not recommending it to light sleepers. There were times that it sounded a lot like we were under a storm. It can be a bit unnerving if you are looking for some peace. In my experience, however, the cacophonous sound of waves was distinctly comforting that I had no trouble finding sleep.

The bathroom is unlike any I have ever tried before. Half of the flooring is made of thick planks of wood, the other half is of pebbles. It has a huge sliding door, too heavy to close that I sometimes had to ask my friends to open or close it for me. 

But inside the bathroom, there is a pair of saloon-swing doors and it gives you a wonderful view of the sea. It gave me a little apprehension taking a shower there knowing that it is not completely closed, but this part of the beach is empty and there were no boats passing by to risk being seen by anyone. Showering in an almost open space can be quite liberating, never have I showered with such feeling before that I felt sorry we had to move to another room on our second day.

For something that is made entirely out of indigenous materials, I was expecting to find bugs or insects particularly in the nook and cranny of the rocky floor and walls of the bathroom; but no. The entire room was remarkably critters free, no ants, no termites, no roaches. Cai said that this villa is subjected to a quarterly pest control procedure to keep the insects at bay. During this time, they close it for 3 days.

The room is located on the lowest part of the resort that it entails a lot of patience and stamina to go to and fro to it. The room rate is ₱2,115 ($39.84) per head for a 2D1N stay.

Ocean View Upper Deck

The Ocean View is a 2-story villa with more spacious rooms. This is where they usually put guests in large groups. We stayed on the upper deck, it has a king-size bed, a private bathroom, AC, and a balcony with a hammock that looks out to the sea. The room has a modern design with some native accents like the handwoven wall on top of the bed.

A 2-day stay in this room is ₱2,700 per head ($50.86).

The Cliff Room

We didn’t stay in this room but I think it’s worth mentioning. The Cliff Villa, as the name indicates, sits on the top of a cliff. The most interesting part of this room is its open shower area. It has no roof and low walls, the only way you can be seen by people while showering is if anyone used a drone. Having said that, this room is recommended for couples.

Note: These are off-season rates and only valid until the 30th of September.

A 2D1N stay at Nature’s Eye is inclusive of meals; breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a 3-hr island hopping activity. Their island adventure is scheduled once per day at 9:00 a.m. You will be taken on 2 islands, the boat fee is already included in your payment at Nature’s Eye Resort, but you have to shoulder the eco fees.

They serve homemade Filipino food and every meal that we had was fresh and delicious. Guimaras is known for having the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines so don’t leave the resort without trying it. You may request the staff to prepare this for you for dessert.

Nature’s Eye Beach Resort sits on a hilly landscape, be prepared to use your climbing skills to good use. During our stay we had to ascend and descend their rocky steps all the time so even when I was eating a lot, I was comforted by the thought that at least I’m burning the calories.

The resort is continuously improving, constructions of more rooms and other facilities are ongoing. My friend and I were there for 3 days and 2 nights but I wish I could have stayed longer. I loved being surrounded by nature, away from the noise of the city life and all the stress it brings. Nature’s Eye Beach Resort may be a bit hard to get to, but I can understand and appreciate the owner’s decision to choose its location. 

I also respect the no Wi-Fi policy even when it was a struggle given how social media-dependent I am. But when you want to have time off, do a detox, find your soul if you will, you need to limit your exposure from the source of your stress. And that’s one of the best things that this Guimaras resort can do for you. It will make you forget even for a short time your daily concerns. It will give you that moment of peace that you might have been longing for. It offers a venue for reflection, rest, and to the romantic couples, intimacy.

Miss Rowena designed the resort with the wellbeing of her guests in mind. It is secluded, private, and lush with nature. 

Here’s a video of our Guimaras trip.



Where to book Nature’s Eye Beach Resort

You may send them a private message on their Facebook page or reserve a room via the following booking sites: 

Book Nature’s Eye Beach Resort via Agoda

Book Nature’s Eye Beach Resort via Booking.com

Events

Travel goals within reach at Solaire

Solaire Resort & Casino welcomes AirAsia to the Solaire Rewards Program, to make the dream of traveling within reach. Traveling is a way to enrich the mind and understand the numerous cultures of the world. For many, checking countries off from their bucket list is a life-long dream. Fortunately, the developments in the travel and tourism industry have paved the way for loyalty programs to reward its members with travel miles in every purchase made.

Each Solaire Rewards Program cardholder starts at the Silver Tier and moves up to Gold, Platinum, Emerald, Ruby and finally the Diamond upon earning the corresponding Status Points needed. Loyal Solaire Rewards members will be closer to their ideal destination when they reap travel rewards from the Status Points that they earn.

“AirAsia’s presence globally allows us to continue providing our guests with memorable experiences that go beyond our property. We are delighted that we can reward our loyal Solaire Rewards members with AirAsia exclusive privileges no matter where they are, and fully enjoy their dream destinations,” said Cyrus Sherafat, Solaire Resort & Casino’s Executive Vice-President for Casino Marketing.

One Solaire Rewards Status Point will be equivalent to one AirAsia BIG Point, making it easier to track and redeem that much-coveted flight upon linking the AirAsia BIG Member ID to Solaire Rewards.

The AirAsia BIG Loyalty Program lets its members earn AirAsia BIG Points through every plane ticket bought, hotel bookings via travel partners and even on purchases from over 160 lifestyle merchant partners. BIG members can fully maximize the value of AirAsia BIG Points and use it just like cash to fully redeem for their flights including taxes and airport fees, making their flight absolutely free. The more AirAsia BIG Points they earn, the more they will be able to save when they redeem with their AirAsia BIG Points.

AirAsia BIG Loyalty Chief Commercial Officer Victor Kaw said, “Solaire Resort & Casino offers their customers a multitude of activities and services to enjoy, from recreation and dining to entertainment and shopping. We are excited that we can now extend the privileges of AirAsia BIG Points that are just as valuable as cash to their customers, taking them further around the world easier, faster and better than ever.”

Make every Solaire experience count and let your loyalty reward you with your big dream. Sign up to Solaire Rewards and AirAsia BIG Loyalty and start earning points to your next destination.

Make every Solaire experience count and let your loyalty reward you with your big dream. Sign up to Solaire Rewards and AirAsia BIG Loyalty and start earning points to your next destination.

About Solaire Resort & Casino

Bloomberry Resorts Corporation (PSE: BLOOM) is a public company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange that develops destination resorts featuring premium accommodations, gaming and entertainment, and world-class restaurants and other amenities.

The company’s flagship property, Solaire Resort & Casino, is an integrated destination resort on an 8.3-hectare site in Manila, Philippines and the first to open in the government-sponsored (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) economic development zone known as Entertainment City.

Philippine-based Solaire Resort and Casino currently operates two distinctive towers, the Bay Tower and the Sky Tower with 800 opulent rooms, suites and bayside villas. Solaire Resort and Casino the first premier integrated destination resort to open in the Entertainment City with luxury facilities and personalized services. Solaire has 15 extensive dining options, bars, lounges, and entertainment venues. A total of 18,500 square meters of impressive gaming facilities. 1,823 seat State-of-the-art lyric theatre. Other facilities are an outdoor swimming pool with cabañas and Jacuzzi, Spa and fitness center. The Sky Range Shooting Club an indoor shooting range for gun enthusiasts and shooting aficionados. 41 retail shops, 2,920 square meters meeting facilities, a grand ballroom, along with full banquet and catering facilities.

About AirAsia BIG Loyalty

AirAsia BIG Loyalty was established in November 2011 and is owned and operated by Think BIG Digital Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of AirAsia Bhd in collaboration with Aimia Inc. As the loyalty program for AirAsia, AirAsia BIG Loyalty enables its members to enjoy the lowest flight fares across AirAsia’s extensive network. More than 18 million AirAsia BIG Loyalty Members can earn AirAsia BIG Points on AirAsia flights to over 130 destinations across Asia, Australia and New Zealand and the Middle East, participating hotels as well as retail, e-commerce, travel and lifestyle partners within the region. The loyalty program makes all seats redeemable by utilizing AirAsia BIG Points. Other member-exclusive privileges include 24-hour priority booking for selected AirAsia sales.

AirAsia BIG Loyalty was named the Loyalty Programme of the Year in 2016 and won gold for Best Regional Loyalty Marketing Campaign, Best Use of Direct Marketing, and Best Use of Social at The Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2016. In 2018, it received the Best Use of Technology Award at the 10th Annual Loyalty Conference and Awards. It also took home a gold for Best Loyalty Programme – Travel/Hospitality at Loyalty & Engagement Awards 2018.

The AirAsia BIG Loyalty app is available for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. For more information on the mobile app plus other updates, log on to airasiabig.com or follow AirAsia BIG on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For reference and inquiries, please contact:

Joy A. Wassmer
Director of Communications and Public Relations
Solaire Resort & Casino
Telephone Number: + 63 2 883 8783
Mobile Number: +63 999 886 1698
E-mail: joywassmer@solaireresort.com

Note: This is a press release.

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