Celebrating our Happy First in Macau-HK

March 15, 2014 | The start of something new

March 15, 2014 | The start of something new

Celebrating our 1st year anniversary as Mr. and Mrs. San Miguel, yehey! Time indeed flies when you are having fun! A year ago when we were 10 lbs. lighter, Gel and I got married and my world has dramatically changed. I am praying and hoping that like wine, we will get better with age.

Happy anniversary to us Gel! You continue to make my world exciting in ways I cannot imagine possible. You are the crazy to my chill, the OA to my NR, the extrovert to my introvert, the competitive to my steady. I can name so much more but like what you always say, we complement each other perfectly. I love you my forever partner and ever so responsible husband! Thank you for loving me the best way you can. *ants, ants*

Now, on to my post… 🙂

We made our anniversary more fun with an out of the country trip we’ve been cooking since December. Apart from a vacation and opportunity to be with Gel, it was also a much needed break from all the hullabaloo that is work. Ohhh, how we wish to just get away on a whim. This is actually a 5-day trip wherein we landed in Macau and exited through Hong Kong. I’ll share with you what we did in these 2 places but do note that as travellers, we aren’t really the type who runs from one attraction to the next. We actually like taking our own sweet time and explore the streets, to the point of going off-grid from famous landmarks. So yes, let me write that soon on the blog.


Behind the Scenes: Pre-Nup Shoot + Save the Date

It pays to have an Art Director friend during moments like this one. Here’s a video that my super talented and insanely creative friend did for us! Thank you, Markie Mark! 🙂

Photographer: Manny and April Photography

HMUA: Carisa Magno

Location: El Hogar, Manila

Planning our Pre-Nup Shoot

Being an ad woman, shooting is a way of life for me. That’s why when I had to plan our pre-nuptial shoot last year with the awesome pair of Manny and April Photography, I was so excited! 🙂 I dubbed it as my biggest, most important project to date.

The account manager in me settled in. First things first, I had to do a pre-production organiser. True that it is an advertising thing but it was very helpful! It is the single source of truth that will make the actual production a breeze. To give you an idea, these are the important items on my Pre-Nup Pre-Production Organiser:

1. Concept: The Godfather

It’s very important to choose one since from it, everything else will follow. Often, it’s something that will suit your personality as a couple (like the girl and boy next door, rockstar lovers, etc), but you can also go a little creative and portray characters that you both like.

I’ve always wanted a black and white wedding. Although The Godfather isn’t necessarily black and white, I can associate the mafia and the mob with these colours. That’s why our pre-nup was peppered with the Corleone’s class, wine and guns. This was our peg.

Don Corleone approves of it!

Don Corleone approves of it!

2. Location: El Hogar, Manila 

Choose a location that will bring your concept to life. You’ll never know how much wonders a good location can do.

Such a beauty, this one.

Such a beauty, this one. Photo from: archondigital.tumlr.com

As described in Wikimapia, it is a beautiful beaux-arts building, designed by architect Irrureta Goyena and set by the Pasig River on Muelle dela Industria in Binondo, was built as a wedding gift for the union of a Zobel daughter and a Peruvian count back in 1914. It housed the offices of the lending company El Hogar Filipino (hence its name) and the original headquarters of Ayala Life Insurance Company.

I loved the architecture and the character of this place. The beauty might not be well intact but it’s not yet gone. You can definitely hear it whispering beyond its empty corridors and ageing staircase. An Art Director friend recommended this place and I’ve also done a TV commercial shoot here so El Hogar it was for me!

3. Wardrobe: Old Hollywood

Plan what you’re going to wear. You don’t want to look like you’re just running out on errands, right? Make it special! It need not be expensive! Borrow, get a rental, go to a thrift shop, what you’ll find will surprise you.

You'll never go wrong with Old Hollywood. Holly Golightly, come on!

You’ll never go wrong with Old Hollywood. Holly Golightly, come on!

So for Gel, it was just a suit, a white polo, suspenders and a bow tie. Pretty much what he’s going to wear at our wedding haha! As for me, I just had to snag that little black dress. Easy peasy!

4. The Look

Envision how you want to look, hair, make-up and all. Although your hair and make-up artist can be talented beyond measure, the best person to judge if a certain look is good on her would be you. So feel free to search for a peg. This will also make it easier for both you and the HMUA. No surprises! Trust me, not on this one.

The World Wide Web is full of pegs, you just have to look.

The World Wide Web is full of pegs, you just have to look.

5. Props

Complete the whole ensemble with your props. Be resourceful! List down what you need and ask for help. I wasn’t shy when I “assigned” my friends to look for one. Hahahaha! What are friends for, right?

Yes, I am the crazy "Excel" lady

Yes, I am the crazy “Excel” lady

6. Budget

Do the math. You have to consider the cost of everything. See our actual expenses below in Philippine Peso:

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.27.09 pm

That’s it! Everything will come in handy after this.

In as much as I planned, a funny yet heart attack inducing thing happened during the day of the shoot, I asked my then fiancé to bring our clothes to the car. I was carrying so many things so that one time I asked his help. When we arrived at the location, we found out that he forgot to put the clothes in the car!!!

Oh no, you didn't.

Oh no, you didn’t.

Good thing my mom was home and brought us our clothes. Haaaay!

Anyway, on my next post, I’ll share with you some of the photos from the shoot. Teehee! 🙂

Honeymooners in Bali, Indonesia

2 days after our wedding, we found ourselves on board a plane for our honeymoon. Since most of the decisions involving our wedding were mine, I let my husband pick our honeymoon destination. He has always dreamed to stay in a luxury resort similar to that of the movie, The Heartbreak Kid with Ben Stiller. It was shot in Esperanza Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and no way can we spend our honeymoon there. So we went for the next best thing, Bali, Indonesia. A colleague of his recommended this fancy resort called Ayana Resort and Spa and no way did it disappoint.

Ours was an early morning flight and with early, I mean 4am, ergo we had no sleep! This is us at the airport with our sleepy, groggy selves. Thanks to our designated driver, we didn’t have to find a cab to get us to Ayana. They provided one to pick us up!

Selamat Pagi, Bali!

       Selamat Pagi, Bali!


It was a 20-minute ride from Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport to Ayana which is located in Jimbaran. By the time we got there, I can feel my eyes dropping but no, wake up little Susie! This is your honeymoon! From the moment we alighted the car, we were greeted with the warmest smiles, adorned with orchid lei on our necks and given a refreshing guava juice . Wooh, very touristy!



I was beyond speechless when I saw the place. It was a perfect honeymoon venue. Props to my husband for choosing this! 

Inifinity Edged Pool. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

Inifinity Edged Pool. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

Ocean Beach Pool. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

Ocean Beach Pool. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

Rock Bar. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

Rock Bar. Photo from Ayana Resort Website

This is a 90-hectare resort so just staying inside and maximising all amenities can be quite a handful. Good thing there is a complimentary resort shuttle to take you around and enjoy everything that this cliff-top paradise has to offer. There are 15 restaurants and bars including the famous Rock Bar; a private beach; 11 swimming pools; world-class spa and a golf course.

We spent Day 1 inside Ayana Resort alone making sure we tried every pool and every view, plus their highly-coveted Rock Bar which is a destination on its own. 


         Where the sky and the sea meet


I bet you too can stay here forever!


Food and drinks can be served by the pool by their amazing staff.

Dining on the edge

                     Dining on the edge

Dynamite roll and fried to accompany us on a night of drinking.

Dynamite roll and fries to accompany us on a night of drinking.


It was a fun day made more special when we saw these in our room. They truly know what customer service is, not to mention they called us by our surnames every time we dine.

Aren't they the sweetest?

                   Aren’t they the sweetest?


Day 2 was all about the beach, the spa and a little bit of alone time. Teehee! 

The picturesque view of Kubu Beach

    The picturesque view of Kubu Beach


Kubu Beach is a private stretch of beach for Ayana and Rimba guests. Since this resort is perched on a cliff, one has to go down a long flight of stairs to reach the shore. Quite a hike at 197 steps but this is your only access to a beach so by all means, get walking. I’m a girl from the tropics so I’m used to beautiful beaches. The sand in Bali is nothing compared to our beaches in the Philippines but I don’t think it’s that bad as how some other tourists tell me. There are several cabanas for guests to lounge, they also serve complimentary water and one can order food from their picnic menu. 

After our Kubu Beach trip, we decided to get a massage. One cannot be in Bali and not try their Balinese massage, right? Since the massage in Ayana costs an arm and leg, we hired a cabbie to drive us to a nearby spa. So off we go to Kubu Bali Spa, around 10 minutes away from our resort. A body massage costs Rp 400,000, half of the cost in Ayana. We were asked to put on our robes and then came the best 60-minute massage I’ve ever had. It ended with a hot shower, a no-no if it’s a massage in the Philippines. Oh well, to each its own.


We also asked our cabbie to bring us to a seafood restaurant where we had a seafood feast costing us a million rupiah! Yikes! After which, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit. When night time came, we decided to hit the jacuzzi to drink wine like real adults do. 🙂 This is a little jacuzzi near Ayana’s spa and it is a pretty secluded area so it was nice to have it all to ourself.

Because a honeymoon ain't complete without popping a bottle of wine.

Because a honeymoon ain’t complete without popping a bottle of wine.

We also visited the newly built Rimba Jimbaran to claim our complimentary drinks. Who are we to say no to free drinks? While Ayana was villas, Rimba was hotel rooms but it didn’t lack its share of luxury. Room rates are of course, cheaper but you get to have access to Ayana’s amenities. Quite a steal! So next time we visit, I’ll definitely try this place. By dinner time, we were too tired to eat outside so we opted to get room service and snooze early. 

Rimba Lobby. Photo from RImba website.

Rimba Lobby. Photo from Rimba website.

The following day, it was time to say adieu to this place that became our little home for 3 days. It was quite a lavish one at Php15,000 or USD300+ per night but for an amazing resort with an equally amazing staff, I feel that it’s definitely worth it! We’ll never forget the great experience we had here and if you are looking for a honeymoon destination, I’d recommend this place. 🙂

Terima kasih, Bali! 



My Big Fat 2013

2013 was quite a year of many bold moves for me. Looking back, I feel that I’ve actually conquered a lot of fears. Let me tell you about it.

Enrolling in a Swim Class

Growing up, a lot of my really close friends didn’t know how to swim so I didn’t feel I was missing out anything. Come college and eventually the adult life, I was beginning to feel like a loser who couldn’t go way past the pool’s stairs. My fiancĂ©, who is usually adamant to get things done, kept on volunteering to teach me whether be it in a public pool or tucked in an island far away. Being the proud person that I am, it was humiliating hahaha! Imagine the old fart that I am being asked to float by Gel in front of everyone to see? Que horror! So when I learned about the swimming lessons being held near our house, I knew I had to enrol.

Bert Lozada, here I come! It was a 10-day package for an hour every week. Since their classes already started, I had to do a 2-hour session for 5 days instead. The lessons cost P4,500, not bad if you want to learn from the Pros. So every Saturday morning, I had to bring my lazy bum to Elizabeth Seton’s pool to learn. Equipped with new gears — a Speedo one-piece bikini, swim cap, goggles and kick board, I was all so giddy to learn. The first day was all about proper breathing but it ended on a high note, us diving on a 6-feet pool. What the heck!

I finished all 10-sessions and mind you, it wasn’t easy. For one, my classmates were kids, as in toddlers from 4 to tweens. Good thing I look young so some kids asked If I were in high school. Hahaha! Also, there were a lot of parents, some whose age are probably already close to mine so yes, I was kind of shy. By the time the program ended, I knew how to breathe, do a few strokes (though I still can’t do a graceful freestyle) and the most important thing, to not be afraid of water. I still have a lot to learn but I guess this is a good start.

Driving on My Own

I always knew I can do it but I didn’t know it would be this year. Perhaps Gel being away made it happen. I had no choice but to do it myself. The first day I brought the car to the office, I actually hit the gutter in the parking lot. The second time that I did, the engine overheated. I drove frantically in EDSA on a weeknight rush hour just to get to a gas station and put water on my engine. After that, I felt I can conquer the world. The next thing I knew, I was going places. The expressway became a way of life, EDSA was point A to B and the one thing I feared most, Quezon City Circle was an achievement unlocked.

Driving is such an empowering experience! Once you start driving, you will never want to take public transportation again even if it is such a pain in the pocket, parking and gas combined! I didn’t like it the times when I felt sleepy or my legs got numb from the traffic but the times when it made life convenient were definitely more.

Mentoring a Blank Tablet

I’ve had numerous trainees assigned to me from my previous to current job. However, this is the first time when a fresh graduate will be under my tutelage for an actual job instead of an internship. The experience is quite a refreshing one! I’ve always been a firm believer that your first job is a very critical part of your career. It builds you and helps you become the person you will be a few years from now. Hence, it was a weight on my shoulder that I welcomed. I feel like I’ve always wanted to mentor someone. Good thing that 6 years in the industry was not a walk in the park. It taught me to be smart, snappy and tough and this is what I want to pass on. So when I learned from my trainee’s mom that her daughter feels I’m good with what I do, it was such a relief for a novice trainer that I am. Perhaps, I was born for this job? Let’s see what the future holds!

Setting Our Wedding Date

Since 2009, Gel and I have held a pact that we are in this relationship together for the long haul. Like what Queen B said, he put a ring on it. Sing with me! Although marriage has always been the long term goal, we have never pinned down the date until this year. I cannot remember the exact day, moment when we nodded in agreement to do this. The next thing I knew, we were attending a Wedding Fair already. Seems very apt for quite the unconventional couple that we are. One thing’s for sure, I’m going to be Mrs. San Miguel next year! WOAH.

Enduring a Long-Distance Relationship and Planning a Wedding on My Own

You know how everyone gets so excited with the thought of an overseas job opportunity? I confess that I was one of those but I never thought it was such a double-edged sword. My fiancĂ© has always wanted to work in Singapore. I guess it’s the new “American Dream.” When he got the call last July about a job opportunity in SG, he was beyond ecstatic. This means so many positive things not only for him but for us. The bottom-line was a hefty pay check, after all, how hard can it be? Singapore’s just an hour of plane ride away.

As the days went by, we realised that it really was kind of tough. You’ll never know unless you’re there. No one prepared us on how to cope up with the lonely nights and the simple fact of having one steady companion around. It was hard on my part but I knew it was harder for Gel. Thank God for mobile data, we were able to keep tabs on each other through Whatsapp and FaceTime. If I think about it, this set-up actually made us appreciate and love each other more. Absence made our hearts grow fonder instead of being out of sight, out of mind.

Since it’s wedding planning season, I also had to do most of the work myself. I am not complaining since he’s probably going to pay haha! Before he left, we’ve already crossed out a lot of the big items like Church, Reception Venue, Catering and Photographers so I was left with just the details. I know I thrive on these little things, as they say, the devil is in the details. It would have been fun to scour on suppliers, go on meetings with my husband to be but I had to do what a girl’s gotta do. Thank heavens I learned how to drive. I can’t imagine going to Silang, Cavite, our wedding venue, via bus!

2013, you have been a great one. I am excited what 2014 holds for me!

Preparing Your Wedding Requirements

Just when you thought all you need to get married is a groom and the Church, you realize that the road to forever is a work in progress. And it all starts with your wedding requirements – both legal and Catholic Church documents. I tell you, there are quite a lot! I have been in your shoes and I had to skim through various websites and call numerous hotlines just to help me get everything done. Apart from the checklist and the cost, be sure to note the validity of the documents because timing is really key.

Here’s my attempt to make it become more bearable for you, lovely bride. Good luck!

Oh, these crazy fools.

Oh, these crazy fools.

Legal Requirements:

1. Birth Certificate – Thank God for the Internet! Documents you needed to line up for before are now available with one click and will be delivered right at your doorstep. I think it’s more expensive to have it shipped but I would rather pay than go through the hassle of going to NSO since I live in the South.

For online application, go here.

For payment, go here.

You will receive your document 3-9 working days after payment, depending on your address

Cost is at P315 per copy.

2. Certificate of No Marriage Records (CENOMAR) – Another walk in the park if you have not been married in the past. For online application, payment and delivery, refer to the links above. Cost is at P415 per copy. Fees are inclusive of processing, delivery and government taxes. To be safe, get this 6 months prior your wedding.

3. Marriage License – A Marriage License is different from a Marriage Contract. (I wish I’d known that back then!) You apply for a Marriage License so you will be granted permission to get married while the Contract gets signed during the ceremony which will then be submitted to NSO for certification. Your Church will take care of your Marriage Contract. The Marriage License is valid for 120 days so make sure to get it 4 months prior your wedding date.

Where to get it:

Both you and your partner should be present. Go to you or your groom’s municipal hall and get an application form from the local registry office.


– NSO Certified Birth Certificate

– Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR)

– Cedula

– 1×1 ID Picture for the groom and bride

There are instances when you still have to undergo a family planning seminar before you are granted a license. In our case, the city hall of Las Pinas honored our Pre-Cana Seminar Attendance Certificate in lieu of this. You will get your License after 10 working days.

Church Requirements (patterned from San Antonio De Padua, Silang Cavite):

1. Baptismal Certificate and Confirmation Certificate stamped as “For Marriage Purposes” – Certificates are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. These should be submitted to your Church 2 months prior the wedding.

2. Pre-Cana Seminar Certificate of Attendance – Ask your church if they will allow you to get a Pre-Cana Seminar elsewhere. There are a lot of parishes holding this seminar but I think the most famous is the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) Discovery Weekend. It’s a 2-day seminar which costs P6,000/couple. I would’ve loved to try this out but since my husband-to-be is an OFW, time really is of the essence. Know more about CEFAM through their website.

We had our seminar in San Agustin, Manila. It costs P1,500 for a half-day session (8am-12nn) with snacks. 🙂

3. Canonical Interview – This will be done by the parish priest. These are questions on your values, plans as a couple and as future parents. It lasts for around 10 minutes only since most of the time, other couples are lining up as well.

4. Marriage Banns – The church where you’ll be getting married will give you forms which you need to give to your respective parish. Lucky for us, we lived in the same village so our marriage banns were posted in the same parish. The banns will be up for 3 consecutive Sundays. The banns serve as a community announcement to make sure that nobody comes unannounced at your wedding and ask the priest to stop the ceremony. Haha! 🙂 After this, you will get a certificate from your parish as proof that the banns have been posted. You need to give this to your wedding church after.

5. Certificate of Registration. Authority to Solemnize – This is applicable if you will bring your own priest to officiate your wedding ceremony. This basically grants the priest the authority to wed couples. Check its validity since this document has an expiration too.Make sure that it is beyond your wedding date.

6. Confession – To be done ideally a week before your wedding. Check with your Church if they allow you to get a confession elsewhere.

For requirements alone, the couple needs to shell out this much:

Birth Certificate (for groom and bride) 630.00
CENOMAR (for groom and bride) 830.00
Cedula 10.00
Marriage License Application Fee 100.00
Marriage License Fee 50.00
Baptismal and Confirmation Certificate (Bride) 100.00
Baptismal and Confirmation Certificate (Groom) 100.00
Pre-Cana Seminar 1,500.00
Marriage Banns 500.00
TOTAL 3,820.00

Now, you can get legally married! 🙂 Hooray!

GelLovesEu: 5 months to go!

A few tumblings away ‘til our wedding and thank God it’s slowly coming to life! 🙂 Thanks to my account management training, getting things organised is easy peasy – for now! This feels like one major production and I’m preparing for the biggest campaign of my life. 

The Church: San Antonio de Padua in Silang is all set! 

The Reception, Pre-Wedding Preparation Venue and Caterer: The Hills in Silang — booked!

My Mood Board: Done since time immemorial.

Gown and Suit c/o Mitch Desunia: Designs are ready but we’ve yet to fit. I am reminded to diet, diet, diet. Kaso ang tagal pa naman eh! 🙂

Pre-Nup Pictures: Winner! Will share on a different post. It’s one of the best things I’ve prepared in life, of course, with our awesome photographers and multi-tasking friends, plus the fact that I have the most game, most spontaneous husband to be. (Ermm… Did I just say husband?Haha)

Pre-Cana Seminar: It was quite a struggle to find one but hooray San Agustin Church for being a lifesaver! 

A couple more things to book:

1. Mobile Bar

2. Wedding Band

3. Wedding Coordinators

4. Invitation

5. Entourage Gowns

6. Paperworks! 

Luckily, I’m not yet stressed out 🙂 YET being the operative word. I’m actually enjoying the planning! Much more because I have a load of friends helping me out. Whew, thank God for friends! 🙂