Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grad Gimmicks for Batch ‘12

Now that school's out and summer's in, it's time to celebrate with good food and the good company of your friends.
By Ana Valenzuela, · Wednesday, April 4, 2012 · 9:09 am

Nothing in life can be as memorable as the day one walks off that stage, the dean shakes your hand, moves the tassel to the other direction.  You’ve finally made it through the four years of college and it is all encapsulated in this one memory of graduation.
To cap off that day and moment, celebrate with family and friends with style. Here are our suggestions.
Dine out with the gang
Resorts World in New Port City, Pasay City offers discounts and freebies at selected restaurants especially for newly grads through April 30. Get a free White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for every single receipt purchase worth P300, free dessert over at Café Republiq for a single receipt purchase worth P1,000 , free Pannacotta from Parmigiano for a single receipt purchase worth P1,000 and many other perks from participating establishments. Bring a school ID or any proof of graduation to avail of this special offer.
Most schools hold commencement rites at their own hall, but there are countless others who hold their graduation rites in PICC or CCP. This is why most graduates like to party at the SM Mall of Asia in Bay City, Pasay CityThere are countless restaurants and bar just by the sea side waiting for you and your friends to come and drink cheers to a new chapter in your life.
But if you prefer a more cozy and even more laidback get-together, then you and your friends could opt to go to Dampa at Macapagal Avenue instead.  Find the best deals as you haggle with the selection of fish over at the seafood market and have nearby restaurants such as Aling Tonya’s, Aling Mahsya’s and many others cook the dish that you have been craving for.  
Whether you are with your family or friends, Eastwood City in Bagumbayan, Quezon City provides the perfect backdrop as the place to celebrate that momentous occasion. Treat the whole gang to a fun celebration at Agave, Sizzlin’ Pepper Steak, Bedroom, or Distillery at Eastwood City Walk or go family style at Eastwood Mall’s many restaurant options such as Chuck’s Deli, Dome, Flying Pig, and many more. You’ll definitely find more than one way to enjoy yourself in one of the most important days in the academic life.
Venice Piazza Mall in McKinley Hill, which has been called as the metro’s gourmet oasis, in Fort Bonifacio would not be last in toasting to our newly grads. Sumptuous meals and exciting freebies can be found in establishments such as Carlo’s Pizza, Dencio’s, Old Vine Grille, Little Asia, My Thai and others provide quick fillers, full meals, and desserts. Enjoy the premium offers with a minimum purchase requirement.
In Makati City, at Hotel Intercontinental Manila, enjoy a five-course set menu especially catered for newly grads at its Prince Albert Rotisserie. The set menu is priced at Php2,350++ per person and school graduates can dine for free when accompanied by at least three persons partaking of the said menu. They could also choose to partake of Café Jeepney’s lunch or dinner buffet as it entitles a free buffet meal to newly grads when accompanied by least three adults partaking of the lunch or dinner buffet at regular price. To avail of the offers, the graduate must present his diploma. For reservations and inquiries, (+632) 793-7000.
Have a sleepover
Book an overnight stay in a suite in a hotel with your friends and enjoy the night that says ‘you made it.’ Instead of your previous sleepovers where you diligently finished your term papers or had a study group it’s now time to relax and reward yourself. That is, just before you start hitting the want ads.  There are good deals you can get from group buying sites that would get you discounts from top hotels.
Have yourself a little get-together in the comforts of Discovery Suites' two-bedroom or three-bedroom suites. Photo from suites.
At Discovery Suites at the Ortigas Center in Pasig City, chat and bond with your barkada in the comforts of your suite complete with its own dining area and kitchen. The hotel offers free WiFi, the better for you to check your e-mail greetings or post your grad pics on Facebook. The hotel’s amenities also include a fitness club, swimming pool, and various restaurant outlets. But if you want a bigger celebration, the hotel also provides function rooms with feasts prepared by its renowned culinary team. For reservations and inquiries, call (+632) 719-8888 or 914-9888.

Go beach!
This would probably be the last break you’ll ever be granted before you join the world of minimum wages where vacation leaves need to be requested and scheduled. So enjoy and have fun.  Check out different beaches such as Boracay and Palawan. Find out for yourself why these top beaches are getting all the raves and and enjoy the night life that this top tourist spots have to offer.

Don’t have enough money yet to book a flight to Boracay? Then go instead to nearby beaches inBatangas and Zambales. Your best bet would be Puerto Galera, as the beaches there offer a variety of lifestyle—whether you’re game for watersports activities or partying at night.  White Beach’s resorts often start at P700 and up, depending on room type.
Travel and have fun in the Philippines
If all you’ve been doing the past year was go to school, home, and back again to school, then start the new chapter of your life by explore the Philippines.  Go camping with a group of friends, or go mountaineering. There are a lot of offers online that provide guides in Bicol, Zambales, and others. Go trekking in Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga or even to Taal, Batangas .

Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting over the VDay Blues
By Ana Valenzuela · Tuesday, February 14, 2012 · 12:11 pm

February 14 is day of the year that singles shun the most. Comments such as “why celebrate, it is not even a holiday?”, “everybody’s got somebody but me,” and “kapag ba single malungkot, bakit lahat ba ng taken masaya?” would fill social networking sites.
After all, what makes this day so special? Why spend your hard earned money on roses, chocolates, and what not’s just to profess your undying love for someone. Isn’t Valentine’s Day supposed to be a saint’s feast day not a commercial hype to promote love and couples? According to research, $1.7 billion have been spent on flowers on Valentines Day in the US alone and $116.21 is the average money spent on a Valentine’s dinner date in 2011. Couldn’t you say that you love them each day and make those memories memorable?
Hey, I’m not being bitter. Even though I’ve been single most of my life, I get to enjoy Valentines Day with a date. Since high school, I’ve been spending Valentines Day with my barkada. It’s just us girls, the four of us together.
I remember the first time we spent Valentines together at my friend’s house, our usual tambayan. We cooked pasta, carbonara, and had chicken, and a bottle of wine. Last year’s date had a little bit more of tweaking as we were already working. We met early as we decided to do something special—feed and take care of children at the House of Joy in Tayuman. Afterwards, we had some pork-silog at one of my friend’s favorite carinderia at the University Belt, and got all made up and headed to Cloud 9 in Antipolo, to get a view overlooking the city.
There we were surprised by one of my friend’s partner. She had with her flowers, not only for my friend, but for all of us. She gave Mela a dozen hand-tied bouquet of roses, and to each of us, a single long stemmed rose. Now, I wonder, what is it that made this day so special that Doris would go out of the way to track us down, wait for the right moment to surprise us, particularly Mela, with flowers?
Especially since flowers cost more than a movie ticket or two on the day of hearts. On Dangwa Flower Market, a bouquet of assorted flowers, ranging from Malaysian mums, gerberas, and stargazers, would cost from P200 to P450. A bouquet of roses would run from P300 to P650 depending on whether you would like a teddy bear and a balloon to go with the flowers. A bulk of roses, usually two dozen, would cost P200, however the vendor did warn me that the price would increase by night and as Valentines day approaches. Apparently the cost of the flowers rises up three times the regular price.
If you are the type who does not like to haggle and order from a flower shop like Paraiso flowers, which has a store at Waltermart Makati or online through, a dozen flowers cost about P2,500 to P8,000 depending on the type of flowers and the arrangement.
People go all out and spend thousands of money on Valentines Day and they make it so special like it’s their anniversary. (Heck, some people don’t even celebrate their anniversary.) A great tasting chocolate bar lik Machiavelli costs P125 per 25 grams. A room at the Manila Hotel runs between P7,250 to P18,250. You could also buy an airplane ticket to a local or Southeast Asia destination with that.

Khay, one of my barkada, spent her Valentines a week late last year. Her boyfriend of more than four years gave her bouquet of assorted flowers. Then, she and her boyfriend went up to Tagaytay and enjoyed the food and also each other’s company at the Greek Taverna. Although the celebration for the day of hearts was delayed, they still made the effort to do so.
It might be more than the smile that you see on your loved ones’ face. Couples would not save their money and look for the best gifts, reserve in the best restaurants so as to have a memorable evening together. It’s more than the cliché-ish answer: love, or to be more exact, part of that is.
Even though you are single, you are still expecting something out of February 14. Maybe from a secret admirer or maybe even a smile or a “hi” from an office crush. If not, then why bother with all the fuss about Valentine’s Day.
I may not feel the way couples feel on Valentines—so much in love with their pupils dilating. But, at least I feel special without having the need to spring for a high cost bouquet of roses or a Valentine’s gift for anybody. I maybe the only single person in the group, since time immemorial; still I thank my friends for making me feel that Valentines day is not all about the couples, but also a day to spend single blessedness. Who knows what we would do next this year?