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Duplex Hot Springs Resort: Laguna Outing Venue

Looking for an outing venue not too far from the city? I’m sure that Laguna comes to mind. Even back when I was a child, Laguna has been an in-demand place for group outings due to two main reasons: (1) affordability, and (2) proximity.

Just last February, our project team decided to have a team outing, and one of the developers suggested Duplex Hot Springs Resort in Los Banos. I volunteered to take care of venue reservation and it was such a pleasure to do!

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Website

Their website is very user-friendly, though I’d ditch the background music. Seriously. People should stop placing auto-play music in their sites. Another improvement suggestion: It was not that intuitive for me to assume that the rates would be in the “Book Now” page. I’d usually think that it would direct me to a contact form once I’m ready to book, but for this case, the page also had the rates. Maybe they could make a separate page for the rates?

Reservations

I had a pleasant experience working with their booking specialist. In a span of two hours, I called her for about 10 times (no kidding!) since I had to check every now and then based on my friends’ questions. The booking specialist was accommodating and friendly–never showing irritation or annoyance with a very makulit customer. She was able to answer all of my questions, and was even kind enough to accommodate a special request to adjust the check-in and check-out time. They were kind enough to offer that we do not do a downpayment and just pay when we arrive — though we decided to do a 50% down for security :)

Facilities and Value for Money

Their rates are a little steeper than most places in Laguna but it was definitely worth it! We paid Php12,000 for 22 hours for about 14 people, as we booked Villa 1. There were three bedrooms — all air-conditioned and all could accommodate about 5-6 people. They had a huge space for cooking and grilling, which we loved! There was a fridge, a water dispenser (with free 5 gallons of water) and a gas range. Oh, and there were also LOTS of bathrooms! No need to wait for your companions to finish with their business before you get your turn.

And, our favorite feature was their outdoor wide screen, where we got to play our videoke songs! It was literally above the hot spring pool so even though people wanted to do their own thing (sing, eat, swim, play, etc), there was no feeling of being left out. You could easily take a few steps or look down/up and you’d see the rest of the people you’re with. This was mainly because there were stairs from the main activity area that led directly to the pool! There was also a basketball ring and a ball–the guys would surely have a good time :) If you don’t feel like using the outdoor screen or if the sun is already up, there’s also an LED TV that you can use. For a party atmosphere, there are also some disco lights ;)

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Would we go back? Yes, definitely! Even though I had my first ever bone fracture experience because I slipped (they need to improve on the flooring; it’s slippery), the place was perfect for a team/group outing!

Hello 2015, Goodbye 2014

(photos to follow ’cause my Internet connection is sucky today)

Photo from We Heart It

Photo from We Heart It

Aaaaaah 2014. I will forever remember you as the year when I did not use a planner. It’s quite crazy how many things happened this year. I look back at times thinking that a certain event was from two years ago, only for me to find out that it was just from this year. Thanks to my great God for sustaining me!

If I were to use one word that I will associate with 2014, it would probably be STRETCH. This is a year where I felt I was a piece of rubber band which was being stretched until its elasticity limit. As I said in a post:

meks

That said, let’s review what happened to each area of my life:

FAMILY

January: New Year – We had a Minute to Win It party with the Oycos to welcome 2014! Split the clan into three groups — Red, White & Blue, while Coy and I were the game masters :) Most hilarious part: we prepared video greetings from special people in their lives to encourage them before playing. Hahaha!

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Also, spent my birthday at Robinson’s Magnolia with the Oyco clan + Kuya Totong to watch 10,000 Hours! One of the best Pinoy movies I’ve ever watched! Also, spent the next day eating at Vikings with Muning!

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February: Nanay Poleng Passed Away – Sad moment for the family, as I don’t have grandparents anymore from my father’s side. That said, I am still glad and joyful that Nanay is now with the Lord!

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March: Mama’s Birthday Pakain – For Mama’s 50th birthday, instead of throwing a big party as planned, she treated people from to a free merienda eat-all-you-can! It was nice to see multiple groups of people celebrating with Mama — Carolino family, Oyco family, churchmates, MMND folks, pastors, even Kuya Bundoy from Bondoy’s!

March: Cousin Dinner @ Tamagoya – Finally pushed through with our “best batch” dinner (me, Lian and Coy) at Tamagoya! I love all my cousins but these folks have a special place in my heart :)

June: Oyco Cousins Bonding – We had a random idea to have a bonding session. It was supposed to be a pool party but we had a change of plans and played bowling and cooked/ate/watched a movie at Tito Roy’s instead. It was our first time to do something like this, which didn’t involve the adults. Hope to have more UBEs (Ultimate Bonding Experiences) with the cousins!

November: Nanay’s Birthday! / Hello Tita Beng! – Had some music games and lots of laughter for Nanay’s birthday. What made it extra special was that Tita Beng was around as she came home from the US!

December: Retreat @ CCT – Had a good time of rest and reconnect with the family and other families (of MMND superintendents and coordinators). Super loved the chilly weather!!!

FROLIC

January: MMND Licensing Service – Organized the MMND Licensing Service at Hotel Rembrandt with the Frolic team! Tiring and sorta stressful but very very fulfilling! It’s always a joy to serve our pastors and workers!

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April: Advirtue Camp! – The first BIG event we handled! Waaaah! 220+ people vs. 10 staff and a HUGE venue (Boso-Boso). Crazy! Yet, God is still amazing! Despite the stress, the camp still turned out great!

August: A Missing Rib – This is the most fun event we organized this year! I think it helped that the attendees of the retreat were mostly people our age. Additional stress relief is the fact that we held it at Emily’s Garden in Baguio, owned by my Tito. Always and forever thankful to God for giving me good friends that I found through this event.

November: Rheg & Ji’s Wedding – Our first wedding! Planning was VERY VERY tiring but it was fulfilling to get to help some friends have a memorable wedding! Add to that the fact that this was held in Tagaytay!

December: Licensing Retreat – Super last minute preps as I got busy with work. I don’t know else how we still managed to do this except by the grace of God! Sitio Lucia people were very easy to work with, which helped us very much! :) It was good to have 2 new people in the team as well — Ferlito and Rachelle.

FUN

TV: How I Met Your Mother, About A Boy, Jane the Virgin – HIMYM ended this year. It was surprisingly an easy break-up between me and my then-favorite TV show. Lots of controversy and discussion due to the ending but I stick by my approval of it :) Also discovered two new shows that changed my life: About A Boy (so freaking adorable) and Jane the Virgin (so freaking brilliant).

Food: Egg Tart and Taho – Got addicted to egg tart (Lord Stow’s) and chilled taho!

Skills: Cooking – Tried my hand in cooking adobo, peanut chicken, panang curry, pininyahang manok, and menudo!

Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past – Aaaaaah!!! Super fell in love with these two comic book movies! GotG is my ultimate favorite of the year!!!! Still can’t get over it!!!!! It’s probably the #1 comic book movie EVER in my list–yes, topping The Avengers, Iron Man, etc!

January: Silent Sanctuary, JTC, Abra, and Ron Henley night – Started the year off nicely by attending a gig with my favorite OPM acts at 70’s Bistro! Brought Kuya Totong, Joisaac and Muning with me. Chill night appreciating music. Always fantastic. It was also the first time in a LONG TIME that I got to see my friends — the Silent Sanctuary boys!

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February: NEVER SAY DIE – Watched a Ginebra game with some officemates from WVI! Suuuuuper fuuuuun!!!!! Can’t remember the last time I watched a PBA game live!

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April: Walkway @ BGC + Gungor Live! – A yearly tradition with my CC! :) Went to BGC for Walkway and to see Gungor play live!!! Waaaah dream come true to hear You Have Me live!!!

May: Firing Range – Spent time in a firing range, which is a very non-Meki activity, with blockmates + Ate Jez and Coy. Very liberating feeling. Bye bye stress! I need to do this more.

 

June: Hillsong United – I love how Hillsong United worship nights are all out on excellence! My heart and mind always feel vulnerable and malleable during HU events. God always speaks to me, and He always amazes me with the beauty of art and music!

 

August: Artifice Unplugged!! – Treated Dem randomly to watch the Artifice concert, and also as some form of support to Josef, Abra and Kuya Chino. Had a great time! Had great seats! Love love love Pinoy Hip-Hop!

 

October: Saved Festival – Answered prayer to finally hear Francis Chan preach live. I want to put this in the “Spiritual” category but I am placing it here ’cause of the “concert” aspect — Israel Houghton and Esterlyn played too! We had good seats thanks to Monik’s OJT stint at Becca! ;)

 

November: Meet & Greet with Gina – I MET GINA RODRIGUEZ!! WAAAAAH! Best moment ever!!!! She was so friendly and accommodating! It was the best meet & greet experience I’ve ever had as we were not treated like trash but as treasured fans :)

 

WVI

January: WVI Yakimix lunch – Had birthday celebration lunch with Ate Cresset, Ate Ana and Ate Ghie to celebrate our (me & Ate C) birthdays!

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February: Shang night! – Very rare night as I joined the WVI RMT folks for ramen and gelato! Thanks to Justin for the Morelli’s treat! BEST PISTACHIO GELATO EVER!

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February: WATCHED STARTING OVER AGAIN WITH WVI OFFICEMATES WAHAHAHA NO PICTURES. BUT I HAVE TO PUT THIS MILESTONE.

April: WVI BOWLING!

April: Vietnam Business Trip – It was my first time to ride a plane alone! Totally fell in love with Hanoi! The food and the general vibe of the place is so Meki-type!

May: RESIGNED! – Finally gathered courage to follow God’s leading and make that tough decision.

FRIENDS

January: Hello, girl friends! – Had a coffee night with the girls! :) We were supposed to watch Bride For Rent but it was sold out (I KNOW, RIGHT) so we ended up at Caffe Bene! A great night of chika-ing about being adults, marriage, and children.

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January: C&G Marikina Food Trip! – Super fun times with the C&G kada! :) Ate A LOT OF FOOD for 500 pesos only!

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February: Uno’s Baby Shower – Had the amazing job of hosting Uno’s Wild Wild West Baby Shower! :)

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March: Kuya Jansen and Ate Cathy Tie The Knot! – Much awaited wedding of our churchmates! Kilig much!

March: Tito Demy Passed Away :( – Very unexpected. Will definitely miss Tito Demy, as we had a lot of bonding moments during our car rides to and from work. Shed tears of sadness and also of joy knowing that he is in a much better place!

May: Babeng Bridal Shower & Wedding – My childhood best friend got married this year!!! #weareold First time to be among the maids of honor, so I had a hand in preps for her bridal shower. Fun & girly times (which I am not used to)! Hosted her wedding as well. Just generally very happy for her! She’s been through a lot and am glad to be a witness to a high point in her life.

July: C&G Goes to Maginhawa – You guessed it correctly. My C&G friends and I bond best over Jesus discussion and over food! Hahaha! Organized a Maginhawa food trip for 500 pesos :) Ate a LOT of food and bonded over board games at Antiteasis :) Super love these friends of mine!

August: Inspire Karaoke – I wasn’t supposed to go since the venue was in Makati and it was already late in the evening, but I persisted since I really missed my Inspire friends. Very glad that I joined! So heartwarming to be with friends who care about the world :)

December: Aizel Wedding – Another close friend got married this year!!!! Ultimate kilig!!!! I am forever a third wheel to their life, and have witnessed various moments of their couple life. It was nice to see them finally tie the knot! :)

FSY: Overnight Reunion, Single Bells, Fireworks! – As mentioned earlier, my “A Missing Rib” friends are among my biggest blessings this year. Other than the actual retreat, we also had a reunion, a Christmas party, and bonded over fireworks sightseeing :) Very thankful for this bunch of awesome people! :) Love these guys!

PPM: Dinner and Videoke! – Am quite sad that I didn’t get to spend more time with the PMO girls (+ AJ and Nin) when I was already back in HP, but we had this one fantastic night (before I even planned to return) at Wildflour and Good Times!

Block: Jam Brodate @ Buffet 101, UPTown Lunch, Zao Lunch, Tagaytay – Always a good time with my block loves. Always. These are the friends who remain friends (as if we just pick up where we left off whenever we meet) despite lack of communication.

Usi: Antiteasis + Gino’s Day! – Formed a random Viber group because of a Twitter thread! Hahaha! So cute to have found a group of co-usi friends hahaha! We had a great bonding activity this December playing Cards Against Humanity and Taboo at Antiteasis + having dinner at Gino’s and coffee at Starbucks. Hoping for more moments with them next year!

Ortigasins: Love Karins and Chich forever! The best Ortigas companions!! Our shuttle queue moments are the most hilarious and not-stressful memories I associate with working in Ortigas :)

SPIRITUAL/MINISTRY

January: Prayer and Fasting 2014 – First time that JCLAM did a 5-day church-wide prayer and fasting! Very wonderful time of reconnecting with the Lord with our spiritual family :)

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January: Church Planning – Had our leaders’ planning seminar at Big Plate in Paranaque! Exciting times \o/

February: Lovestruck! – Fieldtrip to Pasay to join the Lovestruck Convergence kahit half-day lang.

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February: Purity Ball! – Organized by our very diligent FY core team. So nice to see everyone dressed up and put-together ;)

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March: Couples’ Night – Helped out a bit for the couples’ night in our church. Kilig much!

March: Taught Children’s Church – Randomly saw the kids at church without a teacher huhuhu. Got burdened to teach them and play games with them. Love these kids!

April: Arise – Joined Inspire’s event for women which was very empowering! As you know, I am not really a girly girl, but this event reminded me that I am made to be captivating! :)

April: Stations of the Cross @ JCLAM – Inspired by Church Simplified’s Walkway, we brought the modern stations of the cross to JCLAM. Glad to have been used by God to minister to people! A very meaningful holy week commemoration!

May: Pastoralympics – Helped out a bit for the MMND Pastoralympics! I love our district!!!! The people are so hilarious and so game!

May: C1 Summer Party – Malandayers forever! Quite KJ of us not to swim but still a good time to bond with my cluster-mates! :)

May: Foursquare Connection – Mama went to the US to attend the International Foursquare Convention while I got left here to watch the livestream! Hehehehe! Preaching was still powerful, even if I was watching online! ;)

June: S&L is born! – Our youth service is now back!!!!! Super happy!!! Thank you Jesus for helping our S&L Core Team!!!! This has long been a burden of mine ’cause of my love for our youth. Yeheeeeey!!!

June: Hillsong College Info Talk – Ultimate whoa moment with Jesus. I was just thinking about it one day, then I found out that they’d have an info talk in BGC. Learned a lot about my dream school, and more importantly, got reminded that if it is His will, it is His bill.

July: CC Leaders Huddle – A first time for JCLAM! Gathered all CC leaders for a thanksgiving event! :) Despite many struggles, am very proud of our leaders who push through and persevere!

September: Sharing and Learning – Preached about Jesus the Savior, visited Inspire for Hayden Kho’s testimony, attending the Equip & Inspire Conference, bought gazillions of Christian books from the MIBF!

LGG: Did not get to spend much time with my LGG this year but very glad with the few times that we were able to meet :)

HAM: Tried to do some groundwork for the ministry I am leading this year. A lot of room for improvement, but I know that the best is yet to come! Hurrah!

CC: Rollercoaster ride for our CC this year, but forever thankful to God for these brothers and sisters who are able to witness God’s faithfulness in our individual lives! :)

HP

August: Bye Simon – Huhuhuhuhuhuhu. My favorite leader/person/human being left our tower (he’s not my boss’s boss anymore). Such a sad moment for everyone. Huhuhuhu.

October: Trick or Treat – Brought Eeiapot to the office! And I became a marshall…in heels! :\ Such a tiring day, it was. Oh, and also finally got to meet KJ’s wife and kid! :)

November: HP@EK! – Thanks to our generous company for the ultimate treat @ EK! Not only did we get 2 free tickets; we also got wizard money, food, free photobooths, and lots of other stuff!

December: ADSI Year-end – Hosted our tower’s year-end event with a new co-host! Glad that people liked it though I was sabaw during about 80% of the time. LOL!

Project 1: First Time – Had my first ever software/apps dev project this year with a non-virtual team! I will never ever forget the project team, most especially KJ! We spent weeks staying in the office for more than 12 hours to the point that we already started to look alike. My goodness. Hahaha!

October: Project Stressful – Still ongoing. The most stressful project ever. And, for the first time in my 4 years with HP, I had shutdown work. Please. World. Stop na. I’m just glad that I became friends with the project team as it makes the stress more manageable!

PPM Gatherings: Lauriat, B&T, Trattoria, Sentro, PPM Planning – Had various gatherings with the PPM team. Really missed them this year as I do not sit with them (Mean Girls reference) anymore. Huhu. Always a good time ranting about our common issues and problems hahaha! They are among the few people who understand the struggle that I am going through yahoooo!