Pensive moments via The Bluebird of Happiness

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Due to a spontaneous decision to accompany my sister to Ortigas and just wait for her until she finished watching The Bluebird of Happiness, I found myself inside the Meralco Theater as well on the chance that I might still be able to purchase a ticket on the spot. I did, and it was experience. The lessons in the story felt like a reminder for me as well, and I found myself reflecting on my life and current goals (like an original LV Bandouliere or Speedy. Oh, I know, I know) while watching the play. It was disconcerting, especially since I watched to be entertained and to be transported from my usual thoughts. In fact, I was just quiet afterwards since I was still feeling a bit disturbed by my decision to veer away from a dream that I held to my heart since I was in high school (which is like a decade ago).

The Bluebird of Happiness is actually an original Filipino musical play, but the songs were purely in English. This was my first time to watch a play by Trumpets, so I really didn't know what to expect. Actually, my sister watched it because she's friends with Tracy Santuyo, who is one of the chorus. But what I didn't expect was to be blown away by certain performers in the play.

I'm not sure who the lead kids were in the show we watched (8PM last Saturday), but their voices blended quite well together. However, I was a little sad with the girl lead because there were times when her voice would truly shine and I would hear the beautiful quality of her voice, but that was not shown throughout the whole three hours. The character I liked the most is Night, played by Joel Trinidad. I thought he was a different Filipino theater actor, and this is actually the first time I've heard of him (sorry, no offense) but I am now a fan! His portrayal of Night as this devious character was just amazing and totally enjoyable. His delivery of his puns were just spot-on, and the adults definitely laughed at every perfect punch.

The costumes and sets were very nicely made, and the performance by the whole cast made me see why Trumpets shows are very notable in the theater scene. However, I felt every minute of the latter two hours of the show after an hour has passed. By the end of the show, my butt felt like it was stuck to my seat. It felt like there were too many songs, and maybe it was just me, but I did not clearly understand the lyrics of all the songs.

The Bluebird of Happiness is a show that reminds everyone, both kids and adults, to be content with the material things you have and that the thing that matters most is family, and that having more material things won't necessarily make you happy. It definitely made me a little pensive by the end of the show.

It was my first time to watch in the Meralco Theater. While waiting for the show to start, I enjoyed looking at the walls with the lights behind them, which gave a soft glow to the walls. I don't know if it was just the sound system but there were times when the sound would overpower the performers. Also, the seats were not very comfortable. However, I like that it's closer to the stage and even if we just sat on the balcony side, we were still able to see the entire stage.

Aside from the required plays we had to watch for school, this was my first time to watch a local play, and it was an eye-opener. Despite the few misses, I feel like our local theater scene has a lot to offer and I'm looking forward to catching more local plays.

Till the next musicale. :)

The Legends and The Classics Encore

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Seeing them so happy in the box, and I know the cost was worth it. :)
One day, I suddenly had the urge to watch Cecile Licad perform. I don't know why she suddenly popped into my mind. All I know is that one minute I was thinking about her, and the next minute I was searching online if 1) She's actually in the Philippines, and 2) If she's going to perform anywhere any time soon. I soon stumbled into Ticketworld about her upcoming concert, The Legends and The Classics Encore, with fellow multi-awarded, internationally recognized Filipina performers, Lea Salonga and Lisa Macuja.

I know my parents also want to watch them perform, so I started begging them to watch the show with me. Since the show is scheduled for 8PM, I needed a safe ride to and fro CCP. Luckily, my parents and sister agreed to watch it with me. I was so excited, especially since I've never seen Lisa Macuja perform as well, and she's retiring this year already! It was my last chance.

Due to the death of my uncle last week, my dad flew to Davao, so we had one extra ticket. With some time management, we managed to get my eldest sister, ate Apple, to free up her schedule and watch with us for free.

Since watching The Phantom of the Opera from the balcony seats (it was one thing I sorely regret until now), I have decided that I will watch future shows somewhere closer to the stage. Because the tickets were a bit pricey, my parents and ate Mako only wanted to get the lower balcony seats, which cost P2000. I then offered to upgrade our seats to Upper Box seats instead, which was my hitting two birds with one stone moment: ate Mako and I once pledged that we will watch a show in the Upper Box seats, and I'm now nearer to the stage. Hurrah! My mom said that instead of paying P6000 for my ticket and their upgrades, I should just purchase the P6k orchestra seat for myself, but I thought, where's the fun in that?

I'm glad I chose to upgrade their seats instead. It was truly a night to remember!

First, because having our own box was just fun. There are six seats per box but the two seats remained vacant throughout the whole 2.5-hour continuous performance. My mom had quite a jolly time switching from seat to seat as she tried to find the seat that would enable her to see the stage the most (we're all pretty fun-sized).

Second, it was incredible seeing all three spectacular stars in one show! Us four were just in awe the whole time, listening to Lea's amazing voice, and we were entranced by Cecile's total performance on the piano, and Lisa Macuja's emotion-inducing performances.

I've seen Lea before in Miss Saigon (we won orchestra F6 seats!), so I already know that she's an incredible performer. But it was such a treat to see Cecile Licad, oh I can't even describe how much! I recalled my music teacher in college once told us that if we ever have the chance to watch Cecile Licad's performance, we should do so because she's truly something. Cecile Licad just intrigued me. She looked like this awkward, beautiful, soft woman (and sometimes, she seemed unsure if she should join the two other ladies at the center of the stage), but as soon as she sits down, by golly, she transforms into something else. As she played, her fingers racing across the keys of the piano, she would look at Gerard with huge eyes, as if daring him to battle with her. You can see her (well, I was aided by binoculars the whole time) say "pam pam pam pam" as she pressed on the keys. And no matter how she hard or scary she looked like while performing, the notes sounded so melodious. And after the performance, it seemed like all that confidence would just drain away and she'd be this awkward woman once more. She seemed so shy, but put her in front of the piano and you cannot find a more confident pianist. There were times when I would just sit back, relax, close my eyes, and simply listen to the music. At that moment, while listening to Cecile Licad perform, I truly felt that music is one of the greatest blessings in life.

Watching Lisa Macuja was like a dream come true. I've always been interested in her, more so since I watched Giselle, and I just kept imagining how it would be like to watch her perform. She seemed so lithe and she made it look so easy, spinning on her toes and doing all those leaps like she weighed nothing. It was enjoyable to see her end each of her performances with a proud and strong lift of her arms like the letter V. The most surprising treat was when she danced the swan song from Swan Lake, one of her most famous performances. I wanted to cry when I realized I will never see our very own (and sole) prima ballerina take to the stage as the black swan (or even the white, cause she's awesome like that).

Lea, Lisa, and Cecile only performed together a few times, to a few popular Filipino songs (at least popular to the older generation). As I mentioned, it was a continuous 2.5-hour performance. I didn't time them but each star had her time to shine without overshadowing the other. I didn't feel like I wanted to see more or less of one of them, which speaks for the good management of the show's director.

It was so energizing to see all three of them on stage. Lea, despite just standing by the corner most of the time, could certainly hold her own and project a presence even without moving much. I enjoyed hearing her lilting voice. My mom was very happy when Lea sang one of her favorite songs, Memories, from the Cats musicale. Lea performed songs from her various Broadway roles, and I was so happy that even if I never got to see her perform in all her shows, I was still able to hear her sing her pieces.

It was also my first time to hear the Philharmonic Orchestra (choirmaster: Gerard Salonga) perform live. They were the main musical background of the three ladies, except for the times when Cecila Licad would do her solos. One of the violinists, Tito Rodel, is my sister's ex-choirmaster, and he was surprised to see us there. It felt nice to surprise him, too :)

I'm so grateful that I received so many blessings this year - and getting to watch The Legends and the Classics Encore is definitely one of the best so far.

Fifty-foot Divine Mercy statue at Divine Mercy Hills in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental

12:24:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

The 50-foot statue of the Divine Mercy at El Salvador and its surrounds.

One of the things my sister said we must do in Cagayan de Oro is to visit the Divine Mercy Hills. The Divine Mercy Hills is located in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental. It has a 50-foot statue of the Divine Mercy, which is recognized to be miraculous. There are specific schedules when people can go up the stairs to visit the very heart of the statue. (*Note: The photos in here, aside from the watermarks, are not processed or edited.)

To make the most out of our limited time, I decided to schedule us to attend the mass at 8am in Divine Mercy and hopefully get to go up the heart right after the mass. We left CDO by 7am after having breakfast at Missy Bon Bon, and just made it a minute before mass started. We woke up later than we were supposed to, but if traffic was really bad we wouldn't have made it.

Documented miraculous events happened here.

How to go to El Salvador from CDO:

1) Ask your hotel how to get to Bulua (Bull-wah) Terminal. From our hotel, we took a cab because we were advised that we would need to take several jeepney rides to get to the terminal. We paid the cab about P100+. Cab drivers also give receipts if you ask them.

2) From Bulua Terminal, go straight to the nearest bus liner you will see and ask if they will pass by the Divine Mercy. There will be a lot of barkers asking you where you want to go, but to be on the safe side we just went straight for the bus. We also wanted to avoid unnecessary fees. We paid P78/person for the bus fare.

3) The bus driver/conductor will drop you off at the highway. Cross the road to where you'll see men in motorcycles. You can walk all the way to Divine Mercy (which can be quite tiring as it is uphill) or you can ride the motorcycle for P20/person per ride, if you're only one passenger. If there are two passengers, the fare is only P10/person per ride. If you think you can't fit in one motorcycle, then just tell them you want to take two motors. Do not take chances and don't insist on having three people (fourth, if you count the driver) riding one motor. Better to be on the safe side.

4) The motorcycle driver will drop you off at the entrance of Divine Mercy Hills. Ask him for his number so you can text him to get a ride back to the highway when you're done.

The altar at the Divine Mercy Hills.
The church at Divine Mercy is simple on the outside, but the altar is very beautiful and befitting Christ. It actually reminded me of the altar in Opus Dei schools/chapels. There are no electric fans or air con inside, and the air doesn't quite get inside the chapel (or maybe that's just part of our luck during this trip), so we kept fanning ourselves the entire time. It didn't help that we sat in the middle of the Church, right below the center of the roof, which had this huge hole and was just covered with a canvas, which probably added to the lack of air in the Church.

There is a place to the left of the entrance where you can light up candles. Kids will swarm you and sell you candles for P5/piece. Each candle has a different color and supposedly have different meanings. Choose a kid from whom you will buy and the other kids will usually desist. Or you can do what my friend did which was to buy a candle from each kid, which took a looong time. When you're lighting a candle, don't take photos or selfies anymore. Other people who light up candles get distracted or might even be offended.

Skirts galore.
Wear/bring a skirt to Divine Mercy if you're female. You can either wear it over your jeans or just really wear one on your visit. It's hard when riding a motorcycle so I just sat sidesaddle (which is not recommended if you're not used to riding that way or riding a motorcycle). If you don't want to wear a skirt or if it's too hassle for you to bring one, there are ladies at the entrance who will loan you skirt to wear and you cannot remove while inside the premises. But my sister and I wore skirts because the skirts were not very fashionable and we might not look good in the photo ops! I mean hey, you're on vacation, might as well look good in every photo, right?! Chichi just brought a skirt sarong and wore it over her jeans. I don't totally agree with the Divine Mercy Hills' dress code and think it's unfair to females (some men were able to get in just wearing shorts) and I don't know why we have to wear skirts, but I respect their rules and I wanted to get in so I complied.

One of the things that I found striking during the mass is that the priest who held the mass (and the other priests who assisted him) are foreigners. He said the mass in Bisaya but his homily was in English. While I was grateful for that, I don't know how well that works for the locals. After the mass, there's a short orientation for those who want to go up to the heart. Unfortunately, due to lack of time, we had to leave already and we didn't get to go up to the heart. But we still enjoyed the view and we felt at peace and calm just by being there.

The "rays" are actually the stairs to go to his heart.
Aside from the 50-foot miraculous statue, there is also free water available that is said to have healing properties. People actually bring bottles of water (one had like a 1 gallon jug with him) to have a drink and take it home with them. Since I'm little miss OC traveler who researches the place for several months prior to a trip, our trio each had a 1L bottle. There are several faucets so you don't have to wait too long if you want to have a sip. Just a warning: there's a taste to the water, which my sister said was the taste of mountain water. I have a sensitive stomach, but I decided to trust the Lord that I won't get sick and drank almost the whole bottle. I saved a little for my parents in Manila. I told the security at the airport that it contains water from the Divine Mercy and they didn't confiscate it (I think they're used to people like me because there was a huge box of confiscated bottles at her feet). For the record, my tummy stayed bug-free!

And when you're done staring in awe at Jesus or enjoying the serenity of the place, the view right before you go down is equally gorgeous. I definitely felt doubly blessed standing at that place, looking over the sea and cluster of trees, with Jesus at my back.

To get back to Cagayan de Oro:

1) Text your motorcycle driver to fetch you. The way back is another P10 or P20.

2) If you see a bus bound for CDO (or ask the conductor if they're going to drop you off at CDO. If not, there might be a jeep right at the motorcycle terminal that's bound for Bulua Terminal. I forgot how much it was but it's definitely way cheaper than the bus.

The gorgeous vista just adds to the charm.
3) When you get to Bulua Terminal, find your jeep/cab/bus to take you to your destination in the city. What we did was ride a jeepney that dropped us off along the main road, and from the main road, we just took a motorela to our hotel, which cost us P7/person.

I think that throughout our whole Camiguin-CDO trip, this was the only trip that went off almost without a hitch. This was our one true adventure because we were able to go there despite little knowledge on how to actually go there and gamay knowledge of Bisaya. We didn't have a local tour guide and just had to believe that we'll be safe throughout the trip. Despite having very little sleep and almost boneless bodies, we made it. And when we got there, we knew it was worth it.

Have a nice day :)

One fine discovery in CDO: Missy Bon Bon

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A cozy nook in Missy Bon Bon
One of the things my companions and I have agreed that we must do in CDO is to eat in a place that is exclusive to the city. Because of its proximity to our lodgings, Discovery Hotel, we ended up in Missy Bon Bon. It looked like a quaint little place that was bustling with people, and we decided to have breakfast there on Sunday morning.

Missy Bon Bon had different types of chairs and couches, which just added to its charm. Since the morning sunlight hits the window, they have blinds to keep the place from heating up. My friends and I found the temperature and the overall ambiance definitely comfortable. At first, we were wary of eating there because the food seemed too pricey, and we were afraid that we would still be hungry. But since the dining places available at 6am were very limited, we decided to give it a try.

The place opens 6am daily, and my friends and I were there by 6:30am. We were surprised to see different age groups - from teens to yuppies to elderly (and I mean senior citizens) - eating at the place. I think they take note of their repeat customers, because Ate Mako's friend who met us there was greeted by name by the staff. I like that part of their customer service.

We were also amazed with the range of food offered by Missy Bon Bon. They have all day breakfast meals like pancake; American-type breakfast fare like bacon, ham, sausage; Filipino fare like bangus, tocino, tapa; and other dishes like pork chop, eggs benedict, sandwiches, and even pasta. They also offer hot and cold drinks, soup, shakes, juices, cakes, salad, bottled water, and even gelato. The only thing I didn't see there were cookies and pizza. This seems like an ideal place for friends and even family members who are on a diet, or even just to hang out. They also have magazines available for you to read.

We ordered the bacon breakfast (P150) and the tapa breakfast (P125). The food was nothing remarkable, but it was fit for the price and the place. However, if you're super hungry, do avoid getting the bacon breakfast in the morning. It felt like a snack to me. Chichi and I also bought bread, thinking we might get hungry on our way to El Salvador and back. They have really delicious looking bread on the display. And if you're into the cronut craze, they also offer it at P75/piece, and they have about four different flavors (Strawberry Frost, Chocolate Dazzle, Sweet Missy, and Blueberry Burst). They had plenty on display in the morning but they ran out when we were there for lunch. (When we passed by the night before, we were told that their bread was at buy 1 take 1 and their cronuts was at 30% off - I'm not sure if this is a nightly discount).

Their bread display filled with their delicious bread.
For lunch, we went back to Missy Bon Bon because it was near the shuttle, Glorymer (it's just right outside), that we were going to take for the ride to the airport. Chichi and I wanted to eat the bread we bought in the morning for lunch, thinking the food we ordered might be insufficient for what could be a long wait at the airport. I asked if they would kindly reheat the bread we bought from them and they agreed and even served it to our table.

Chicken turnover
I was delighted to find their bread tasty and delicious. Their pastries are reasonably priced, and if it wasn't for my limited budget, I would have bought more bread. I had the chicken turnover (P39, I think?), and I liked it so much I ordered another one to eat at the airport in case our flight was delayed. Chichi had a tuna turnover and she enjoyed it too.

At Missy Bon Bon, you have to order your food at the counter, and if you're dining in, they will bring the food to your table, complete with utensils and water. They have two counters, but for that morning and lunch, only one counter was open. The cashier took quite a long time, and I was getting impatient because we were in a hurry. The kuya before me also asked for an official receipt, which added to the long wait. Thankfully, he noticed my agitation and just told the cashier to ring up my purchase before finishing his receipt, which the cashier was just taking years to do.

Their pastel is also a notable treat, as some of Chichi's friends from Manila, who have already tried their pastel, requested for her to bring them some. People said it's a good alternative to the original pastel from Vjandep (pronounced as Vandep, the j is silent).

Three-cheese pasta
For lunch, Ate Mako ordered their pesto cream pasta (P145). Me, being a cheese lover, tried their three-cheese pasta (P155). Sadly, the three-cheese pasta tasted too bland. I did not enjoy it so much. I tasted the pesto and it was delicious. I wished then that I ordered their pesto as well, or tried their eggs benedict.

But what I liked about this is that the quantity of the pasta was more than what we expected. While the taste was not to my liking, at least the price was justified for the quantity. The meat was plenty, and tastier than the pasta. The bread was also tasty, but then I already expected that from Missy Bon Bon by then. Their pasta dishes, for me, are more sulit than their American breakfast dishes, in terms of price.

Missy Bon Bon has the usual culprits, I mean flavors, with some...unique ones.
One-scoop gelato
We were tempted by their gelato display, and since it was reasonably priced, we decided to give it a try. Their one-scoop in a cup is only P55. In the photo above, the P55 gelati are the ones with the yellow tag. The purple tags cost P68/cup and the blue tags cost P100/cup. Their gelato on a cone are a bit more pricey. I got the plain chocolate gelato (lol, of course, chocolate), but they have the usual other flavors like Sansrival, Roasted Almond, Strawberry, Pistachio, Mango, Biscotto, Cookies and Cream, Ferrero Rocher, and Pistachio Sansrival. But they have other unique flavours as well like Stracciatella (I don't know what that is), Fruit Salad, Melon, Black Forest, Mixed Berries Yoghurt, Bubblegum, and...Love Potion #9! I don't know what the Love Potion contains, I should have asked, but I was too excited to eat my gelato.

I have had my fair share of chocolate gelato (it's the only flavor I actually eat - or with nuts if they're available), and Missy Bon Bon's chocolate gelato has nothing to be shy about. It has this cocoa taste, but instead of it being a detriment, I actually enjoyed the somewhat bitter taste it brought to the mix. It somehow tempered the sweetness of the gelato.

Pastel Gelato sandwhich
One scoop is sufficient to satiate those taste buds, even for a chocolate and sweets lover like me. Looking at my cup, it does not even look like a one scoop but a one cup filled to the brim. But if you really want some more, they also offer two and three scoops servings.

Chichi, on the other hand, ordered their unique treat, Pastel Gelato Sandwhich (P45, I think), which is a Missy Bon Bon pastel with a scoop of gelato in between. The gelato flavor depends on your choice (but I'm not sure if the price will change if you get the purple- or blue-tagged flavors). She said it was really delicious and definitely worth trying out. If you're a fan of pastel and gelato, I think this is a definite must try.

As I mentioned, the cashier takes a long time to ring up the purchases, so when I bought my pasta, I already ordered my gelato. I just told them I will have it after my meal, and they agreed. Did I mention that I really liked their customer service? And oh yeah, to top it all off, they also have a somewhat reliable free WiFi service.

To add to the awesomeness of Missy Bon Bon, they also have a clean bathroom with a separate urinal for the males. The bathroom has mirrors all over, so no matter your height you can check out your reflection. Also, some of their tiles have green plants, which was pretty unique. Missy Bon Bon was just oozing with charm and uniqueness.

If you want to eat al fresco, they also have several tables and chairs available. The seating options are available for two to four people, so you can definitely hang out with your friends and family here.

From the ambiance, to the customer service, to their food, Missy Bon Bon is definitely a gem in Cagayan de Oro. If I ever get to visit CDO again, I will make sure to pass by again.

Missy Bon Bon
LKKS Address: Rosario Drive, Limketkai Mall, Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro 9000
Robinsons: Level 1, Robinsons Place, CDO
Gaisano: Ground Floor, Gaisano Mall, CDO
Tel: +6388 8566852 (if you live in the Philippines, just dial 088 instead of +6388)
Missy Bon Bon Website
Missy Bon Bon Facebook page