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BREAKTHROUGH: Castles in the Air turns 2 + My Blogversary Giveaway [Closed]

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
It has been a good two years since I first started my humble blog. What originally started out as a personal blog slash contest junk became my public comfort zone. My husband and friends would frequently ask me, "So anong nakukuha mo dyan?". And I would effortlessly answer with, "Self-actualization". Hahaha! But seriously, I cannot find any other sound answer than probably that. I am more than happy that I get to document my life through blogging and at the same time share my story, adventures, and the like to everyone.

Anyway, if you have been a faithful reader or even just a follower, you would know that for the past years I've been celebrating milestones, basically blog anniversary and year-enders with giveaways. I guess there's still a lot of sponsors, these days, so much willing to give or maybe lady luck's always on my side that I am able to share with you guys some good stuff through them. So what better way to celebrate another milestone by giving back to you guys. 

For the past weeks, I've worked hard to share with everyone my grandest giveaway yet on my blog. Yes! You've read that right. This is my biggest by far. 

Two (2) lucky winners will get the chance to take home a loot of the following awesome prizes. Let me first take you to a tour of what's in store for the winners.

1) Bracelets and trinkets from Beads For Keeps 

2) One (1) iPhone 4/4s and Two (2) Samsung s3 cases from Dexter Ian Photography

3) One (1) Php 1000 and two (2) Php 500 worth of E-gift certificates from Mom and Me Bows

4) Two (2) Fiber supplement packs (includes a thermal lunch bag, C-lium 30's sachet and 3 C-lium 50's capsules) from C-lium 

5) Two (2) Ride-all-you-can tickets from Fun Ranch

6) Personalized scents and beauty bar from Sophia Love PH 

7) A set of doodle notebooks and a canvas bag from Happy Poppy Shop

8) A gift pack (contains Ooh-la-lash Mascara, Subtle Shine Girl-Next-Door lipstick, Re-everything Cream Primary treatment sample, Cosmeceutical Booster GC and Inskin Magazine + discount coupons) from VMV Hypoallergenics Philippines  

9) A pair of shoes of your choice and size (depending on availability) from Shoes by Kai

10) Two (2) Free make over GCs worth 3k each from PAC Philippines

11) An 80 piece day to night Palette from Lipstick All U Can

12) A phone case of your choice from Paperplanes Manila

13) Php 5000 worth of GCs from Racks PHL

14) Two (2) Php 1500 worth of gift sets from Barenaturals Mineral Cosmetics

Set 1 includes Bikini and Underarm Salve, Peeling me softly spf 80, Herbal Wonder Cream, Natural pink- lip and nipple gel spf15, and Seaweed Beautifying and Contouring Mask 

Set 2 includes Hair Mask, Lulur Scrub, Body Butter, Concealer, Cheek tint and Solid BB cream 

15) One (1) Traveler's gift pack from Mustela Philippines

16) Two (2) sunblock sets from Beach Hut Sunblock 

17) A pair of IVA shades (in purple) from Fly Shades

18) One (1) Smitten for baby Kangaroo Organizer and accessory scarf

Grand Prize
(2) Beads for Keeps Bracelets
(2) Samsung daisy cases from DIP
Mom and Me Bows E-GC worth Php 1000
(1) Fiber supplement gift pack from C-lium
(1) Ride-all-you-can ticket from Fun Ranch
Personalized scents from Sophia Love PH
Gift pack from VMV Hypoallergenics PH
RACKS PH GC worth Php 2000
Set of doodle notebooks from Happy Poppy Shop
A pair of shoes from Shoes by Kai
Set 1 Gift set worth Php 1500 from Barenaturals 
Make over GC worth Php 3000 from PAC PH
A pair of IVA shades (in purple) from Fly Shades 
(1) Beach Hut SPF36 Clear Spray Sunblock 180ml and Hair & Scalp Sunblock
 (1) Smitten for baby Kangaroo Organizer

1st Prize
(2) Beads for Keeps Bracelets
(1) Phone case of your choice from Paperplanes Manila
Mom and Me Bows E-GC worth Php 500
(1) Fiber supplement gift pack from C-lium
(1) Ride-all-you-can ticket from Fun Ranch
Soap bars from Sophia Love PH
RACKS PH GC worth Php 2000
Canvas bag from Happy Poppy Shop
Set 1 Gift set worth Php 1500 from Barenaturals
80-piece palette from Lipstick All U Can
Make over GC worth Php 1500 from PAC PH
(1) Beach Hut SPF36 Clear Spray Sunblock 180ml and Hair & Scalp Sunblock

(1) Smitten accessory scarf

Consolation Prize
(1) iPhone 4/4s case from DIP
Mom and Me Bows E-GC worth Php 500
RACKS PH GC worth Php 1000
Trinkets from Beads for Keeps
Make over GC worth Php 1500 from PAC PH 
(1) Traveler's gift pack from Mustela PH 
(1) Beach Hut SPF36 Clear Spray Sunblock 75ml

For a chance to win these wonderful prizes, simply follow the mechanics below. Mandatory entries should be strictly followed so you won't get disqualified. Contest is open to Philippine residents only.

Mandatory rules  
1. Like the Facebook pages and following Polvita (my friend's blog) using the Rafflecopter App below. 

2. Leave a comment below with the following details:
Email Address:
GFC profile name:
URL of your Facebook profile:
Twitter username:
Instagram username (Please indicate if you followed the sponsors or not):
City/Town of residence:

Optional entries (Remember that the more options you do, the more chances of winning.):

1. Using the same Rafflecopter application, follow the Twitter accounts of the sponsors.

2. Tweet about the giveaway or share it on your FB page. You can do this once a day. 

3. Follow me on Google Friend Connect, Twitter and Instagram. (Note: Unfollowers will be disqualified in my future giveaways so please be fair.) 

4. Follow the Instagram pages of the sponsors to gain more entries.


Mona Verdida  
(Grand prize)

Luningning Arabiran  

(1st prize)

Joselma Rom Gumapac 
(Consolation prize)

Congratulations to you guys! Please wait for my e-mail on how you can claim your prizes and do respond within 48 hours. Thanks to everyone who joined!

The 3 winners will be announced on this same blog post and my twitter account. I will also notify them via email. Failure to respond to the email notification within 48 hours will invalidate the win. 

For Metro Manila and Cavite winners: Winners should claim their prizes from me personally. I will advise you of the time, date, and venue in the email notification. Strictly no shipping for MM and Cavite winners so please don't haggle with me. 

For Northernmost and Southernmost Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao winners: Items will be shipped via Xend. A flat rate of P250.00 (for the grand and 1st prize) and P100.00 (for the consolation prize) must be deposited to my bank account to cover the shipping cost. The prizes are quite bulky and may exceed 1 kilo. Anyway, the amount you have to pay for courier will surely be worth the prizes.

And just before this blog post ends, I would like to acknowledge these generous sponsors and people who have made this giveaway possible: Ms. Sheen of Beads for Keeps, Mr. Dexter of Dexter Ian Photography, Ms. Eufrocina and Herminia of Mom and Me Bows, Ms. Cathy of C-lium Fibre, Ms. Ana of Fun Ranch, Ms. Roma of Sophia Love PH, Ms. Abby of Happy Poppy Shop, VMV Hypollegenics PH team, Ms. Sheryll of Shoes by Kai, PAC Philippines team, Ms. Jessie of Lipstick All U Can, Ms. Alexangela of Paperplanes Manila, Ms. Joy of RACKS PHL, Ms. Aislinn of Beach Hut Sunblock, Ms. Lami of Barenaturals Dermaceuticals, Ms. Roberta of Smitten Accessories and the Fly Shades Team. THANK YOU so much for all your support! =)

Finally, an MD!

Saturday, May 17, 2014
As I've told you guys once before and although this post has long been overdue, I cannot let 2014 pass without acknowledging a lot of people who have been there throughout my difficult road to having that 2 letters fixed after my name. Like in any other race, I feel like a celebrity being cheered and dragged towards the finish line by the best training coaches in my life.

my OOTD during the Hooding Ceremony
MUA: Daphne Valmonte
Hair: Amber of American Touch Salon

I am probably the most sheltered eldest child in the world and it's all because of the unwavering support and unconditional love of my parents. To Mama and Papa, thank you for all the sacrifices you made for me-- from washing and ironing my clothes and cooking my meals, up to this time, to watching over my little Nathan as if he was your own. The comforts of our home have never been such a relief since I went to med school. I promise that I owe you back the service you have given me for the past 26 years of my life.

With Mama, Papa and Nathan at our Hooding Ceremonies

With Mama at PICC

 Post-hooding ceremony lunch at Mann Hann MOA

Post-graduation day dinner at Buffet 101

To my siblings, I feel like the youngest of us 4 because of your love. Thank you for becoming Nathan's 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on parents and for raising your nephew as if he was our 5th sibling. Special mention to my sister, Ella, who has tried her best to spoil me with everything I ask of her even if her meager salary is just enough for her own family. 

To my husband, Kelmer, having a wife in med school must be a tough one for you and only you and I know how difficult it has been. It came to several points where we almost throw in the towel and screwed up as a parent but our love-hate relationship toughed it all out. Thank you for providing for my needs and sometimes my 'luho', for driving me to and fetching me from school even during your most tiring hours, for being that great listener and shock absorber and simply for loving me truthfully. 

 With the love of my life <3

 Taken at PICC

My extended family present during my hooding ceremony

To my little angel, Nathan, your presence is probably one of the sweetest energy bar that kept me going. I could still remember all those nights I've cried not being able to sleep and be with you at night and how I felt terribly sorry that you had to suffer. I hope that one day, when you're able to read this, you could be proud of me. 

My little kiddo

To my best of friends in med school, Ceri, Juria and Ivy, I will always feel blessed to have met and known you, guys. Thank you for all the talks, shifting and finals reviews, 'gala', meals and chismis we've shared. Thank you for making me feel that I could still fit in a group and for listening even to my not-for-your-age stories. Hahaha!

With Ceri Kristine Talan, co-iska; taken at the Hooding Ceremony

With Juria Lilia Tanchuling during Graduation Day

With my girls

To I-D and II-D, I can still remember every funny scenario whenever a professor would ask, "Sino dito may asawa na? or may anak na?" and none of you would answer. Hahaha! I wanted to tell you all sometimes, "Okay lang naman sakin if you disclose." You guys would never know how much it means to me to be accepted and be respected of my privacy and for that I had the highest respect of you. Thank you sa pagtitiis niyo sa pagyaya ko sa Brooklyn's, don't worry sarado na siya (*sniff). To my forever groupmates (Diane, Diandra, Sheen, Claud and David), thank you for the inputs and unavoidable stresses. We made a great team for the past 2 years. You guys enjoy internship, see you all soon!

 II-D incomplete (photo grabbed from Claudine Ramos)

I-D taken during the Graduation Day

With I-D girls + Christian and Joseph (photo grabbed from Monique Salud)

My forever groupmates with our epic saan-dapat-tumingin-photo (grabbed from Aivee Sison)

To my Clerkship group C, the past 365 days had been bearable because of all of you. We made bonds through fitting ourselves in the narrowest of the rooms, harshness of the system and the littlest of bloopers. Pag sobrang pagod nalang, I'm happy that we could just spontaneously pig out to relieve the stress. I know that some of us might have been leaving somewhere along the road but it doesn't matter what road we take or when we do  but how we gracefully finish the race.

With my clingy groupmate, Jeriz Anne Natividad (Hahaha!)

To the mentors (professors, residents and consultants) who have shared their knowledge, skills and precious time with us, thank you! I feel like a child humbly raised by parents wanting her to be the best physician she could become. Thank you for inspiring us to become our best self and give our best shot (daming best, sorry)-- special mention to Doc Onofre O' Connor, Doc Victoria Catapang, Doc Marion Patricio and Doc Karla Trinidad. And simply for making our loads lighter with your care and little acts of kindness -- Doc Ina Montesines, Doc Anju Amado, Doc Sheena Feliciano, Doc John Canlas, Doc Ian Mendoza, Doc JJ Patricio, Doc Ina Sombrero and Doc Rhona Recto. At sa favorite resident ko na hindi niya alam, Doc Jo-an Aguedan. Hahaha! 

 With Dr. Collao, inspiring FCM professor since freshmen days

Batch 2014's top ten (photo grabbed from Dineth Gutierrez)

Lastly, to my GREATEST COACH who is up there watching over me, I couldn't be grateful enough for this wonderful journey you have led me into. My life surely had been crazy without your guidance. Thank you for sustaining me with all the energy I could ever need while jumbling myself into being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a student all at the same time. 

Graduation day get-up
Hair and MUA: Amber of American Touch Salon

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground." - Brennan Manning

The Grand L Square Hotel and Residences: A Hotel Review

Saturday, May 10, 2014
I was never really the backpacker type. So when my husband, Kel, and I decided to register the Mabuhay Pilipinas Cycling League's duathlon relay (no, I was rather dragged. Haha!) in the, my urgent question was: "Where do we stay?". He knew I was persnickety when it comes to staying in hotels. I can seem to sleep and bathe well in even the slightest unkempt rooms.

Our less than 24 hour-stay was spent in The Grand L Square Hotel and Residences located in San Rafael, Tarlac City. The hotel is a good 10-minute drive to Hacienda Luisita and just good because our race starts early the following day.

The parking area is located just in front of the hotel. Not too many vehicles parks at the same time so parking was never a trouble for us. It's along the highway, though, so it's pretty like parking at your very own risk.  

As we came in, we were ushered by their friendly attendants who greeted us all the way to the information desk. The lounge is small yet welcoming. Our check-in was fast and organized.  Since, we already had our reservation prior to coming, we were immediately given our room keys and stubs for complimentary welcome drinks and breakfast buffet.

Our room is a Zen-themed superior double room furnished with a queen-sized bed, a pair of couch and a small living room table. The room, although a bit modest, was equipped with conveniences just right for the price we paid. As for the air-conditioning, the thermostat was a little bit warm in our room even if it was set at maximum. I think they need to fix this because the weather's definitely hot these days.

A cable LCD TV was installed above the dresser horizontally to our bed, which is definitely a score for me. There's also a tea and coffee maker provided for guests.

Wifi has a bad signal in our room. There are only specific corners where we can have a connection. But the signal in their lounge and cafe is good and browsing is fast.
Although a bit small and except for the few stains on the bathroom tiles, the rest of the bath was kept neat. I noticed, however, that the water was kept warm at all times -- there's no cold water! Of course, I would prefer the warm water when taking a bath but I would have liked it better when there's available cold water especially when I'm washing my face.

The interior also looks nice to me. I liked these blinds because it gives you the impression that the lines are embossed but they are just 2 thin materials placed over each other. See, you can just pull the one on top so there can be space in between if you want the light from outside to reach the room.

After leaving our things in the room, we went to the A lounge at the 4th floor to claim our welcome drinks. Note: The hotel has no elevator so you'll need to take the stairs. Doesn't matter though, 'coz exercise is good for your heart and you'll love the rooftop when you get there. 

There were few choices on their menu but only two (2) drinks were available that time. I was a bit saddened because I would have loved to taste their Mojito for the night but then, we settled for these cocktails. Although full from our dinner, I felt that we need to taste at least 1 of their appetizers so we ordered their cheesesticks. It's really cheese from inside and out. Loved it! After a few minutes of stay, we left and called the night off.

We left a bit early the following morning for the race and came back just in time before their free breakfast buffet time ends, which is at 10:00 am. To my dismay, the serving plates were almost empty but it was a relief that they were willing to cook available viands for us but of course, we need to wait. We were served with bread and butter and their signature tapa dish on our own table in 10 minutes, not bad.  

For a small breakfast buffet, the menu during that morning includes buttered garlic rice, scrambled egg, fried bangus, chicken tinola and tapa. They also served bread with jam and for drinks, you can choose between juice and coffee. They did not serve us any dessert, though.


The hotel also houses a business center, currency exchange, hair/beauty salon and a small gym. Sadly, I was not able to take pictures of them since we were too tired after the race and took a quick nap before leaving instead. But it will be nice for you guys to know that they have these facilities just in case you soon need a place to stay in Tarlac City.

So here's my final verdict on our overnight stay:

Value for money:  3/5
Location:  4/5
Sleep quality: 4/5
Staff performance:  5/5
Hotel cleanliness:  3/5
Food/dining:  3/5

Finding a place to stay in the provinces is a bit challenging sometimes especially when you're running on a tight budget, but I'm happy to chance upon The Grand L Square hotel for a comfortable 17-hour stay.

The Grand L Square and Residences
Km. 120 Mc Arthur Highway
San Rafael, Tarlac, Luzon
(045) 491 0714/ (045) 491 0710