Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Getting to know my heritage at Villa Escudero

For the readers who may believe that I am Japanese blogger who has lived in America and Japan and loves to blog about food, beauty and fashion, I have to say . . . that's partially correct. 

Believe it or not, I am actually of Filipino descent.  Well, half.  My mother immigrated from Gifu, Japan and my father from Manila, Philippines.  Funny and yet so contemporary how they came to meet here in Hawaii in the 70s.  My father charmed her at a disco, they got married and had a kid and the rest is a long history that I would not want to blab about on my blog.  

Currently, my parents are retired in the Philippines and I am trying to make annual visits to them.  This past February was my second visit and the more I visit the Philippines, the more I fall in love with the country.  Not because there are more things to do--including casinos & large shopping malls--but because I love the culture.  I love the people.  I feel as if the people there are so in love with life regardless if they work a 10-hour long job for little pay.  They really know how to have fun, enjoy and appreciate what they have.  Materialism is something you'd rarely see there and it's such a breath of fresh air for me.

Going forward with this post, I really wanted to share my experience at Vila Escudero which is one of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines.  I stumbled across this place while scrolling on my Newfeed on Facebook and found an article about "unusual" restaurants around the world.  Villa Escudero was one of them.  It's a beautiful restaurant that is built along a river by the waterfall.  Yes, way. 

The drive here was amazing.  Great to stray away from the concrete life sometimes :)

Adorable little souvenir shop near the ticket booth.

So, the tickets which cost about $35 bought us a ride on a Carabaw (water buffalo), lunch by/in the waterfalls and a show at the villa.

Here's our carabaw for the ride, Madonna.

The crew and singers in the back row.

Walking down towards the waterfall

A precaution for anyone who plans to visit is to bring a pair of flip flops because you will get your feet wet.  Also, the ground can be quite slippery so keep your electronics in a safe place!

It was basically a buffet lunch with the most authentic Filipino food you could ever find.  What's more authentic?  You eat with your hands.  I goes that would be another warning for those who plan to visit. Either bring your own utensils or suck it up and be one with the people. haha!

Now, isn't this a beautiful family portrait.  This was definitely a kodak moment that I couldn't pass up on!

It was a fairly slow day since it was on a weekday which was not a problem for us since that meant more food.  Although, the fresh coconut juice was out when we got there.  Boo.

Philippine Experience Show

I love halo halo. I love you.

Postcard worthy!  This is the river that flows down into the waterfall restaurant shown earlier.  Isn't this just beautiful?  You could also opt in bamboo rafting as you can see in the photo.  I didn't have the proper clothes so I had to pass :(  Next time for sure!

Monkeying around

 I had such a wonderful time and I would really recommend everyone to visit this place.  Please add it to your bucket list!  If it weren't for my camera, I would say that this whole day was like a travel back into time and I felt as if I got more in touch with my roots that I should've probably done a looooong time ago.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Street Photoshoot in Downtown Honolulu

Blogging has became a semi-annual affair it seems.  Are any of you still out there? haha

This is a pretty late post but back in January (which isn't technically forever ago) a friend of mine invited me to model for him and his crew in Downtown Honolulu.  It was such a great experience having 5 cameras pointed at me in one of the areas in Hawaii that I rarely visit.

To say the least, I am not a night person.  Although it was a different story when I was living in Tokyo where you could karaoke all night long, explore the beautiful city lights and have a pleasant conversation at a chic bar without being approached by creepers.

However, during the photoshoot, it's as if I had found something fun to do at night in Hawaii instead of getting wasted or grinding in the club.  Thanks for the experience, guys!

Photo by: Eric Baranda

Photo by: Eric Baranda

Photo by: Eric Baranda

Photo by Julio Uyesugi

Photo by: Eric Baranda

Photo by: Julio Uyesugi
Photo by: Julio Uyesugi
Photo by: Julio Uyesugi

Photo by: Levi Viloria

Photo by: Levi Viloria

Photo by: Levi Viloria

Photo by: Levi Viloria

-Contact info-

Julio Uyesugi: Camera Bear

Eric Baranda: Facebook

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Semi-annual update: Koko Head Cafe

Uh, wow.  

Has it really been 6 months since my last update?!  

I'm sure most of my readers have migrated their attention to my Instagram.  I must say that between the period from March until now, A LOT has changed for me and I have attempted to update my blog for a while now but I still question how popular is blogging these days? 

Nonetheless, I've found time during my sick day to share one of my favorite new spots to have brunch in Honolulu.

I may have jumped on the boat too late on this one but this place still is raving all over town. Koko Head Cafe opened last year by brilliant Chef Lee Anne Wong who is heavily experienced in culinary and has been exposed to many cultures, making her dishes a wide range of awesome-fusion.

This is the first thing you see when you enter the restaurant.  Alcohol for breakfast? Why not. 

My boyfriend and I sat right in front of the kitchen where we could watch the cooks prepare all the dishes within all the mayhem of orders after orders.  The restaurant was packed! 

Per recommendation by our waiter, we ordered their Kimchee Bacon Cheddar Scone. Say what?! 

Yes, this was the miracle scone.  Amongst the creamy cheese, crispy bacon was the best balance of richness, spice and a pinch of salt.  Maybe not the best scone to pair with your cup of joe, but definitely a tasty snack.  

For some strange reason my boyfriend loves to order loco mocos at ANY breakfast/brunch place we go to.  He says that it's a "safe" choice because they can never go wrong with a meat patty, gravy and sunny side up eggs.  Well, they can't go wrong but Koko Head did perfection. 

The dish is not only just the meat patty, gravy and eggs.  In fact, the patty is Maui Cattle Co. beef and the gravy has mushroom in it topped over GARLIC RICE and a delicious side of tempura kimchi.  Needless to say this was the best "loco mock" my boyfriend has ever had.

I had the Donburi Chen which was Miso smoked pork, five spice pork belly on top sushi rice.  This dish is so me with the elements of Japan with the house-made pickles and sushi rice and then the Philippines with the fresh chicharron.  The French scrambled eggs for well . . . my love for the French language. :)  There's something about juicy flavory pork that makes me miss my mother's cooking and this definitely got me in the feels.

Koko Head Cafe
Location: 1145C 12th Ave., Honolulu, HI (Kaimuki)
Price: $15-20 per person.
Advice/Recommendation: There's usually a long wait but it's worth it! Don't forget to try the kimchee scone :)


It's been so long since I've blogged that I feel so rusty.  Yet writing this post seemed to flow out naturally as if it were inside of me just waiting to get out there.  I must say that I've missed doing these posts and I definitely miss doing makeup reviews!  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Photoshoot with Stacey Nicole Artistry

Model: Alyssa
MUA: Stacey Nicole Artistry
Photography: Monica Ai 

Dusting off my Canon was probably the best accomplishment I've done this year so far.  When my MUA friend asked me to do a teaser photoshoot for her upcoming makeup business, I jumped for that opportunity.  

I've worked with Stacey before when I was a beauty consultant at my former job.  She would always give me tips and tricks for makeup as well as updating me on the current makeup trends.  Bottom line, she knows exactly what she's doing and I love it!  

Model: Erinn
MUA: Stacey Nicole Artistry
Photography: Monica Ai

We worked with two models that day as well as myself.  They were straight-up naturals (not me).  Every prepared and candid shot was perfect and I had to scan through the 200+ photos we took to pick the best ones.  I have to say that my favorite pictures were the candid ones. There's something about it that really depicts natural beauty in a person.  

Stacey really does amazing makeup art as you can see in these photos.  Very flawless and precise yet so natural.  Along with natural makeup, she can also do costume as well as headshot makeup for those special occasions.  She's currently going on the final stages of her pregnancy and I can't wait for the welcoming of her baby boy.  As soon as she pops she plans to get back into her business and I hope to be a part of her projects in the future.  

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