Baby and Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Albay

I’ve always loved traveling and exploring places. I vowed that I will take my kids with me traveling around too. It was easy with my first born, we started going around when he was already five years old. But it was a different story when you have to carry around a bundled baby to explore too. There are lots of doubts about safety and comfort of transportation, dining options and of course the places to visit.

Before we jump off to far off destination, I’ve decided to try exploring home base sights with my tweener, my baby and my friends. The opportunity came when the Sadullo family came to Albay for a visit.

Having a car is a blessing when you are travelling around with kids. It lessens the worries about transportation and going around. We had a simple itinerary for 3 adults, 2 kids and 1 baby. We had to content ourselves with spots that are not too perilous and convenient for both kids and adults. Here are a few spots you can find around Albay 360 (Around Mt. Mayon).

Albay’s Black Beaches in Sto Domingo and Bacacay, Albay

Having an active volcano in the province means we have an abundant supply of sand. All of these comes down and are carried off to our beaches. The Albay gulf is known for it’s black sand beaches and tame waters. You can take a dip with your kids while you enjoy a view of the perfectly cone shaped volcano that is Mr. Mayon.

The Mayon Skyline and Planetarium in Sabluyon, Tabaco City

Mayon Skyline and the Planetarium is a great place to visit with the kids. It is situated on the slopes of Mt Mayon. The elevation will give you a breath-taking sight of neighboring Mt. Masaraga and the Albay gulf. The planetarium also showcases large print photos of the outer space, planets and heavenly bodies. There is also a small theater where the legend of the Magayon is shown.

Kawa-kawa Hill in Ligao City

Situated in Ligao City, this place is a favorite destination for both young and old. The steep climb to reach the “Kawa” (bowl-shaped top of the mountain) can be challenging but even oldies manage it slowly. The place is also popular during Holy Week as it has life-sized images of the Stations of the Cross.

Quitinday Hills and Sumlang Lake in Camalig, Albay

Everywhere you go in Albay, you get a view of Mt Mayon. In Quitinday Hills in Camalig, you can get a fresh view of the famous volcano amid green hills. It will require a short but fun climb and the kids will surely enjoy this. On the other hand, Sumlang Lake gives visitors an unobstructed view of Mt. Mayon and its reflection on the lake. There are now activities you can do on the lake and the local government has put up stores around the area to display products of the residents. Best to come in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Our Lady of the Gate Parish in Daraga, Albay

This Church is very accessible as it is situated atop a hill in the midst of bustling town of Daraga. It is one of the country’s Heritage Sites and gives visitors amazing view of Mayon and the City of Legazpi.

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This can be your last stop after your 360 Degree trip around Mt Mayon. The place has views of the sea and Mt Mayon. Most people come to here to run, jog, walk and bike during morning and late afternoon until evening. The sea breeze is said to be good for kids health and here you can enjoy a pollution-free seaside. There are also restaurants you can explore to satisfy every craving.

In Bloom: Dermcare and Belle La Peau Opens Branches in SM City Legazpi

The much awaited opening of Bicol’s grandest mall, SM City Legazpi also heralded the opening of various establishments that are new and excited the Bicolanos. Dermcare and Belle La Peau Waxing Salon, the country’s leading skin, hair and wellness center, were in bloom as they celebrate their Blessing and Ribbon Cutting on September 13, 2018.

 

The event was graced by Ceo Ma’am Zenaida Palisoc, Belle La Peau Managing Director Sir Solo De Venecia, Ms. Tess Alzona, Area Manager and by the whole staff and personnel of Dermcare SM City Legazpi and Belle La Peau.

VIP Guests included Ms Sweet Gases Valerio, Hon. Al Francis Bichara, Governor, Province of Albay, Hon. Noel E Rosal, City Mayor, Legazpi City and City Officials, Atty. Melissa Abadez, Hon. Beth Munoz-Dimaculangan, Hon Alfonso Bariso and Hon. Lilian F Ramirez. A Toast to the successful opening of Dermcare and Belle La Peau was given by Governor Bichara and Mayor Rosal. The Provincial Government of Albay and the City Government of Legazpi, warmly congratulated the team and gave sincerest thanks for investing and opening new branches in Legazpi City.

 

Dermcare and Belle La Peau opened their doors to welcome VIP guests and gamely presented vintage and elegant decors. Statement pieces like the chandeliers and floral chairs accentuated the lobby area. Clients could really feel the salon’s professional and caring vibe soon as they get inside. The facilities were likewise impressive, clean and comfortable. They have waxing rooms, massage rooms, hair treatment area and skin treatment area. They even have a sauna and bath tub which clients can use for specific skin care services much to the delight of the guests.

As a career mom, I’m really looking forward to my next visit. I usually overlook taking care of my skin, but the warm response of the Dermcare team made me realize that I should pay more attention to my skin care regimen!

 

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Freedom of Movement and Travel: Babywearing Savannah

After 10 years of raising a kid on and off, we had another bub and the internet is filled with wonderous yet scary stuff for new moms. I feel all these are new because there is an overwhelming amount of information that you have to validate whether it’s gonna work for your baby or not. One of which is babywearing.

 

What in the world is babywearing? Well basically, it just means wearing your baby with you– like kangaroos do. There are cultures where babies are kept in pouches, slings or whatever cloth that can hold them. Women can work as they please even when they have the baby with them. The recent generation has also placed a lot of emphasis on the benefits of having these babies close to your body especially during the first few weeks or months after birth.

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We tried babywearing using an improvised sling called “Saya.” It is a local brand of slings which encourages parents to wear their baby. Saya sizes are according to its wearer. It comes with a manual, a bag and you can also watch “How to” videos on wearing and adjusting the Saya.

For me, Saya was pretty convenient while Savannah was still small. We can walk around the neighborhood effortlessly, travel explore and go on road trips, and use it as a breastfeeding cover too. She can also sleep peacefully even when we are at the Mall just as long as she is inside the Saya.

When she started walking, Savannah disliked being held close. She refused being inside the Saya anymore so we let it go.

Ergo Baby Carrier

Baba, on the other hand, preferred to use the structured baby carrier. We ordered one for him to babywear Savannah as well. I thought we can use it to carry Savannah on our back while we travel, but she didn’t like that position very well. She preferred to ride facing front at Daddy’s chest. Our Ergo carrier was also a great gear for Daddy to take Savannah on rides on the motorcycle. She loves waving to people while riding the Ergo. But it was only for a more months before she finally gave up on it as well.


2017: On Nesting and Domestication

After having Savannah last July 2016, everything became a blur. Sleepless nights, sweet coos, diaper changes, breastfeeding journey to going back to work, adjustments to new bosses, new work assignments, and more.

Although we already have a big boy, having a new baby is tough for the whole family. Everything is challenging and there are plenty of sacrifices. We are all learning the ropes of having a little human to care for in our midst. All things, time, finances, trips are planned and done with her in mind. Our lives seemed to revolve around her.

More time was spent at home. More time was spent talking, laughing, cooking, organizing stuff, cleaning, serving the whole family and eventually watching the children grow. Baba decided to postpone working overseas for this and he is reaping the rewards of hearing his daughter call him “daddy” at 15months.

As we welcome the new year, we are expecting more changes and challenges. Baba is planning to return to work and so I’ve asked my first born what he thinks about traveling and exploring with a toddler. So let’s wait and see what 2018 has in store for us.

Travel Bites: Luca Cucina Italiana

After leaving our bags with the staff at Amami Beach Resort, Ate Karen, Teloy and I decided to explore more of the quieter side of Puerto Galera – Talipanan Beach. Passing through several beach resorts such as the Infinity Resort and others along the way, we ended up at the far most corner where Luca Cucina Italiana was located.

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Ate Karen and I settled on some seats in the restaurant veranda while Teloy take a dip and socialize with the other kids. The view from the restaurant is quite gorgeous as it faces the sea and the rock formation on the far side of Talipanan. We ordered a chocolate shake for me and Teloy and Ate Karen got herself some beer. We decided to eat there next day for lunch.

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I have read about Luca when I was  still planning for this trip and we were anticipating a delicious treat when we dine. We were in for a big, really big surprise. It is true that Luca Cucina Italiana serves mouthwatering Italian meals, but we were overwhelmed with the serving size! We ordered a pizza and carbonara. It was the first time that we ate carbonara made with egg and we won’t forget how good it tasted.

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Luca Cucina Italiana is great for groups because of the huge serving size of their food. Ate Karen, me and Teloy could not finish the two meals we’ve ordered as we easily became full so we just asked the staff to pack them for us. We have a refrigerator in our room in Amami so we were able to keep it for dinner.

 

Journey to Savannah: A Birth Story

It’s been a while since I posted here in our blog. I slacked for a few months, enjoying yet experiencing pain and the difficulties of having a babe on the way. Last year, when we discovered that we are expecting, we are ecstatic. Baba and Kuya Teloy has been waiting forever for another little one in the family. Kuya wanted to have a little brother but if we get a little girl its okay with him.

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A week after discovering my pregnancy, we have a scheduled trip to Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Singapore. Back then, I was only five weeks, our doctor gave us a go signal so I was confident to backpack for eight days with Kuya Teloy. We were extra careful but during our trip home, I had some spotting which signaled a bad sign for my pregnancy. Soon as we got back, we consulted with the doctor and I was ordered to bed rest for two weeks.

The next couple of months went by in daze. I was constantly sick and throwing up even at two in the morning. My weight dropped and I look haggard all the time. Baba had to leave for another country and start working in the midst of all the horrible pregnancy symptoms that I was going through. But finally, I started feeling better on the fifth month.

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We discovered we are having a girl on the sixth month and our excitement grew even more. It was quite challenging now to have a kid and be pregnant but Kuya Teloy was very sweet and has become very responsible for mommy and the baby. As weeks passed and we neared the D-day, we all became restless and impatient with waiting.

It was a Friday on my 38th week when something weird happened. I woke up at 5AM with wet pajamas and underwear but I shrugged it off thinking I just peed on myself. After changing I went back to sleep and I woke up again at 7AM with the same dilemma. I shrugged it off again, prolly just some discharge. But I called the office to inform that I cannot go to work and I will have the ultrasound which my OB requires for my check up the following day.

It was already 10AM when I arrived at the Ultrasound center and the receptionist informed me that the Sonologist would no longer accept another patient that morning and I should just come back at 3PM. I decided to go to another hospital with UTZ facility and was again advised to return at 1:30PM. So I went home, had my lunch and commuted back to the hospital for my ultrasound. The sonologist confirmed the baby’s gender and assured me that she is just the right size for her age. My bump looked quite large for my petite frame because I have a lot of water which is kind of good news too.

After the ultrasound, I decided to go to my OB to ask about the “wet pajamas” earlier that day. It was already three in the afternoon when I arrived at her clinic, and she was instantly worried after hearing my story. She said it must already be my water bag that’s leaking and if it had been continuously leaking all day, I might already by drying out. I showed her the ultrasound result and she checked my cervix. I was already three cm dilated and Doc said I should be admitted.

There was no pain nor contractions felt since that first leak at five in the morning so I never thought I was already in labor. I told Doc I have to go home first to get my things and make arrangements with my mom, sis and house help with regards to Kuya Teloy and my companion to the hospital. I was back in the hospital at five in the afternoon.

Soon as I was admitted, Doc immediately give orders to the nurses and ensured that I was attended to. She wanted to have me inside the delivery room ASAP because she is worried that my water might change color already and distress the baby. She asked again if I was feeling any pain or contractions, which I answered none. She said she will induce me to hasten my labor and dilation, so I should brace myself for the pain.

At 5:30PM I was already in the delivery room, they gave me some test shots of the medications that they will use. At 5:45PM, I was given something that will induce labor and the pain and contractions started. Doc seemed to have a calming effect on us because every time she comes near and touches my belly, the contractions and pain would subside. She decided to take her dinner at around 6:45PM and asked one of the nurses to attend to me. While Doc was out, the contractions kept coming in and the pain was becoming unbearable. I was already writhing in pain when she came back at 7:15 PM.

Doc asked if I feel like pooping already, she said I can start pushing if I do. She became excited when she checked and I was already 9 cm dilated and coaxed me to push. The room suddenly become noisy with Doc giving orders to the nurses and then to me on how to push properly. She seemed very excited with the baby that is about to be born. And with one long push and a yell, the baby came out like a slippery fish. Savannah Therese was born at 7:30 PM of July 8, 2016.

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I saw her back and butt as they placed her in my tummy. Everything was blurry now and I was willing myself to drift off to oblivion after the pushing ordeal but I couldn’t. I felt everything then, the stitches and the cleaning up which I think was worst than the labor itself! How I wish that I was unconscious when it was all happening like when I had Kuya Teloy years ago.

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I was awake until I was wheeled to my room, til the nurses check on me and until baby was brought to my side. I was awake until Baba called to ask if it was painful. If I had the energy I could have had a row with him to tell him exactly what “painful” is!

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I looked at how perfectly beautiful she is. Us three decided on calling her Savannah, like the rich land of the Safaris, the treeless plain where a river flows and life flourishes. She’d sure remind us of soft sunrise and fiery sunsets, of wildflowers, of being young and carefree.

Every birth story is different, but yes it is always exciting, infectious and encouraging. I could not help but compare my birthing experience with Kuya Teloy’s to Savannah’s but each one is special. The pain was momentary but the joy of receiving life’s miracle is endless.

 

Travel Bites: Sweet Treats at Tampuhan Cafe, Taal, Batangas

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After our exploration of the St Martin of Tours Basilica, the largest Catholic Church in the Orient and Our Lady of Casaysay Church, we walked down the cobbled Calle Marcela Agoncilio and admired the Old Hispanic houses we passed by. The sumptuous lunch we had earlier at Feliza Cafe seemed to have vanished and now our throats are feeling parched from the heat.

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While walking, we passed by a lovely street art depicting how life was lived in 19th century. We took pictures but we were mostly enticed by the seemingly cool interiors of the adjacent cafe called, Tampuhan.

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The word “Tampuhan” basically means lover’s quarrel and as unique as it’s name, the cafe has a lot of quirky stuff going on inside. They seem to encourage free-form art and you can find many interesting pieces on display. A freedom board also invites guest to share and leave something significant in this quaint cafe.

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We ordered three cold drinks and a small pizza and took our time scrutinizing the place. They only had four tables though the place is very cozy and inviting. Teloy gamely drew something on a paper so that he can post something on the freedom board. We decided we had enough exploring for that day and that we should leave anytime soon to get back to Sto. Tomas.

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Before leaving the cafe, we noticed the stairs going up and asked if we can check it out. There were more memorabilia and antique pieces upstairs on display, but the kid is getting quiet restless so we decided to move on.

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Taal, Batangas: A Haven for History Buffs

It was scorching hot with the summer sun beating down on us, we look back at Cafe Feliza and longed for it’s cool and comforting interiors. But it is already afternoon and we still haven’t explored the famed heritage town of Taal, Batangas. So we walked on and headed towards the massive St Martin of Tours Basilica.

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St. Martin of Tours Basilica is awe inspiring in real life. It is huge and can accommodate thousand churchgoers in one sitting. We decided to explore more of the church by going up to it’s bell tower which then gave us a bird’s eye view of the town.

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Right outside the church is the Escula Pia which is currently being used for a community meeting. Walked on and the side of the Municipal Building and wondered where we can find Our Lady of Casaysay Shrine. Tricycle drivers seemed hesitant to direct so we just asked them to take us there. I have no idea what we will find there but learning about the story of Our Lady of Casaysay gave us goosebumps!

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After praying at the shrine, we headed at the back of the church and found the St. Lorenzo Ruiz Steps. We decided to ascend, now knowing where we are headed but we were quite surprised that at the top of it was the same spot where we hailed a tricycle and asked for directions to Our Lady of Casaysay. Instead of pointing us to these steps, he told us to ride his tricycle because he can take us there and took a long and winding route to reach our destination.

Miffed but still enthused about roaming around Taal Town, we headed down the street without much knowledge of what we might find. We passed by Galeria de Taal and Villa Tortuga which are just some of the lovely heritage houses that draw tourists to this charming town. We also passed by the Leon Apacible ancestral house and was quite taken by the story written on it’s marker. But we were not able to see inside because it was closed for some renovations.

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A few more steps brought us to a quaint street art beside a cafe. It did not take a second thought for us to enter and try out Tampuhan Cafe’s cool refreshments. The cafe has a number of artwork on display. It also allowed visitors to leave a bit of something on their freedom board.

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After our meryenda at Tampuhan, we decided it was time for us to head back to Sto Tomas. I find myself and my son very lucky to have visited this Heritage Town and we hope one day we’ll be able to explore and learn more of it’s historical nooks and spots.

Animal Encounters At Baluarte Zoo, Vigan

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It was our last day in Ilocandia and we are to explore Vigan City today. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about visiting a zoo, but Teloyskie had a grand time inspecting all the animals that we saw here.

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Baluarte Zoo in Vigan is own by the famed politician, Chavit Singson. There is no fee for visitors here and they are open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can find a wide selection birds, deer, camels, ponies, snakes and other rare animals. There are animal shows that visitors can enjoy watching, these are very entertaining and kids like our tot are pretty much amazed.

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Although the sun is blazing, we tried to walk around and cover much of the park as we could. We went to find the tigers and tried really hard to get a picture with him but when I went out to get something from the van, I was surprised that there we tigers in cages near the gate of the park!

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Much to Teloy’s delight, ostriches and some sheep where roaming around the park like it was the most natural thing in the world. He also loved reading the signboards around the cages specially those about the reptiles. Among the places and activities we’ve visited in Ilocos, this is one of the best for him.

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And so I learned to really consider his ideas when I’m working on our travel itinerary. While he’s not the kind that throws tantrums when he’s bored or when he doesn’t like something, his lack of interest in some “grown up things” can really scrape on what could be an amazing travel experience.

Glimpses of Ivory Coast from the Expat Dad, and the Uncle

When Baba announced that he had accepted an offer to work in Ivory Coast in West Africa, in the midst of the the Ebola Outbreak, I was truly horrified. I kept on checking online about the development and improvement on the diseases and kept praying that he will be moved to another project. When we explained to Teloy about his impending departure, he seriously said no.

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Slowly we began to accept it. I began reading more about the country which will be his home for a year and tried to understand more about. Of course I am interested in exploring that side of the world but, at the moment, I relish the spontaneity and misadventures of being a mom to the school kid plus it’s tooooo expensive to go there!

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When asked where Baba is, our friends and family were also horrified that he is going to Africa. I have to convince them that he is going to a safe place and so on, it was tiring but soon their worries faded.

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I have read about Ivory Coast on history books before and most of it were just about the illegal Ivory Trade. Baba would tell me stories about the locals, the places and the things he saw around the Abidjan – the country’s capital. Their building is located near Coco Beach and beside the office of the United Nations. Ivory Coast is still recovering from civil unrest so it is another factor that takes my worries into overdrive.

Baba said that he had always wondered why the UN is always set on having humanitarian missions to Africa and how that he can see the situation he understood. He always thought that the Philippines is so poor and that we also deserve aid from the UN, but nothing has prepared him on the things he saw.

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Slowly, he also become accustomed to the things around him. He and his companions were eager to feed the children whenever they can. They also asked some locals to do their laundry and cleaning, but most of them are hesitant about letting them prepare their food. The locals were more than willing to take on these simple jobs and will sometimes take their children with them while they work so Baba and his flatmates provides food for them.

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Eventually Baba also requested to have his brother hired through his agency, so Jason joined him there last February. Having a familiar face nearby lessens the homesickness that they felt. It was Jason who seemed to have explored much of the neighborhood than Baba.

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On several occasions, Baba was also able to visit the city which he said looked like Makati or Ortigas. His contract is almost over but he has yet to visit the Basilica he said because it’s too far from their place. Ivory Coast is a French Speaking country and he is worried that he might get lost and not communicate effectively on his own.

Food and commodities in Ivory Coast are also very expensive even for expats like him. He would compare prices of the same items here in the Ph and there and find them 2x or 3x more expensive, so no wonder many locals can hardly afford basic food and clothing.

Lately I’ve been urging him to explore Abidjan and maybe Yamoussoukro, but he declined. Talk about fellow working being robbed and mobbed by locals gangs made him weary. According to some of his Ivorian friends, hold-ups and even a scenario like the Pinoy “Hulidap” is common in the country.

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Africa brings up diverse images from safaris and wild jungle adventures, to scary diseases and malnutrition, to civil unrest and continuous need for humanitarian intervention. But Africa is a continent and it has many different countries -each with their own government, culture, climate and terrain. Like many other countries around the world, they have their own struggles and issues. My dream of exploring the continent does not diminish with the discoveries of Baba or the things I’ve read about it.