theresa’s jersey visit

All I can say is that my cousin, Theresa, was right when she said last year that these pictures will be a throwback.

It has been more than 1 year since my cousin visited us here in the east coast. She was sent to California for training. I asked her if she can spare one weekend to come visit us here since it was cheaper to fly her from California than from the Philippines.

I took a half day from work to pick up my cousin at Philadelphia airport. From the airport we drove around Philly to show her the city at night not knowing it was NFL draft. Since it was traffic and all, I decided to go home and eat my wife’s home cook dinner and then go out afterwards to grab some drinks at a bar.

My wife suggested to go to Adelphia, but that was not a good choice and going to the city may not be a good idea either since it was NFL draft and bars may be crowded. We just sucked it up and ordered 2 rounds and ended the night.

The next day, we headed to New York but we did an obligatory stop at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We were not able to climb the statue anyway since there was a long line and we needed an advanced reservation. We just snapped pictures at both islands. We then took the night tour in NYC. The tour company was not worth mentioning because it was horrible (well the tour was okay but it was a freaking wait), well I guess the reason was we bought the tickets from Groupon. It was a change for us since we usually do day tours, night tour was different. We ate dinner in the city and then drove home.

The last day of my cousin, we grabbed her luggage and before her flight we showed her Philadelphia. We were not able to climb up the art museum steps as well as showed her the Rocky statue due to NFL draft was packing up and we were  not allowed to walk through for safety reasons. Well she had to settle for the liberty bell.

We went to Pat’s to have her try the Philly cheese-steak. I prefer Pat’s over Geno’s and I cannot explain why. We dropped her off Philly airport and we said our farewells. Please click the above picture or click here to see the rest of the pictures I took.


trip to tagaytay


Last year, my wife and I went home to the Philippines to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. My father was not big in celebration and somewhat introvert. I guess I took to my father. Did not like being in a crowd and did not care much for celebrations either. If he had his way, he will just stay home and find something to do. Well, it was not up to him and we ended up in a restaurant with family and friends.

After a few days, we celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I regretted not giving them a planned celebration since that was a milestone in their lives as well as ours. They just had a church blessing and had a small reception afterwards.

My wife and I brought our parents to Tagaytay for an overnight stay. I guess they need to get away even just for a day. My mother cannot leave their dog for a long time as well as her orchids. With the help of Ellen we booked at Taal Vista, famous hotel overlooking Taal volcano.

I remembered that day was not a good day to take pictures because it was foggy and the weather was just awful. But I still managed to snap a couple of pictures of my parents overlooking the volcano. We strolled along the mountain side and sat down to relax. That night, we went out to Pamana restaurant, a Filipino celebrity owned restaurant. The decor brings nostalgia and the food reminded me of home cooked meals.

After dinner we brought our parents to visit a casino, but none of us are gamblers, so we just walked around and sat at one of their slot machines and dropped about $20 (this is the most I would like to spend at a casino anyway). The casino was like a mom and pop store compared to casinos here in the states.

I guess it was getting late for my parents and we went back to the hotel. After we dropped our parents back at their room, my wife and I grabbed a few drinks at the hotel’s music lounge.

The next day was a breakfast feast at the hotel, we enjoyed the authentic Filipino breakfast. Mind you Filipinos like to eat a lot. Americans will just have bagels and coffee, Filipinos will go overboard. It is really the only way break your fast. It was a sunny day and an opportunity to take some pictures with the volcano as your background. Being with family is always priceless. Click the picture to see the rest of the pictures or just click here.


trip to cebu day 1

cebu tour group

Cebu is a province in central part of the Philippines, approximately an hour flight from Manila. The trip was all expenses paid: flight; hotel; food and tour. Thank you Ellen. This trip was several days and a year ago to the day.

Though it was a short visit, the experience was memorable. We left Manila early in the morning, before dawn and landed in Cebu International Airport while it was still dark. We were picked up and we then visited the Basilica of Sto. Niño (Church of the Child Jesus). We were dropped off to attend the mass. I did not understand the mass since it was celebrated in their native dialect. Side bar: Philippines is a small country but comprised of about 7,200 islands and there may be as many dialects as well.

The Sto. Niño was brought by the Spaniards more than 300 some years ago led by Magellan. That was the start of Spanish colonization of the Philippines and they brought Christianity. Well I will not go in details about that since you can use Google or hit the books to read about Philippine history.

Anyway, going back to our Cebu trip. We were warned to be attentive to all your belongings while in the church (inside or outside). After our church, we then went to buy some “pasalubong” (click on the word for some translation). Then proceeded to an old military fort.

We grabbed brunch on our way to a Buddhist temple. We ate Cebu Lechon which was praised by a lot of people who tried it. Honestly, nothing spectacular. I did not taste any difference from any lechon you buy in Manila. The only difference was the sauce they used to dip the lechon.

The Buddhist temple is way up in the mountain, and it was good that we have a van to drop us off and pick us up. Then after we headed to our hotel for the night. It was a very nice hotel with armed guards at the entrance. It took us several hours to get to our hotel due to traffic and to think that Cebu was not huge (about 121 square miles).

We spent the rest of the day at the hotel just walking around and going to the beach. At night, there were great food and a show for entertainment. Click here for the rest of the pictures or click the above picture.

shrine of the immaculate conception

Mother Theresa

This was a Marian celebration for the Diocese of Camden held at the Shrine. It has been more than a year since I took this picture. I remembered it was a cold and rainy day in October, however, there were a lot of devotees from Jersey who braved the weather.

If you have not visited the shrine yet, it is worth a visit. You don’t need to worry, you need not be a Catholic to visit.

After the mass, we walked around the shrine to take obligatory pictures. And we stopped by Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore to grab dinner on our way back to Jersey. Click the above picture or click here to see the rest of the pictures I took.

last day in canada


I have forgotten to talk about Cooper, our dog. He’s a Jack Russell Terrier and we brought him along with us to Canada. My daughter took a picture of him while we were crossing the border. We were telling him that he does not have a passport and he may be detained. His face was so worried and  when we were at the security gate, he went down my daughter’s lap and under her legs. It was his first time leaving the country, but he always tag along with us when we’re going on  a long trip.

We left him at a kennel somewhere near Niagara. The place was great, each dog gets to sleep on a bed (like a little tyke’s car bed). Can’t wait to pick up Cooper after being away for so long. We still have some time to kill before we picked him up, and we went to see Niagara’s Park Butterfly Conservation. My kids went to see the butterfly while my wife and I went to stroll in the garden. She brought her lanzones (a Filipino fruit she bought last night in Toronto), she might as well eat those since she won’t be able to bring them across the border.

We met up with the kids and strolled the other side of the garden and took pictures as we strolled along. After that long walk, we then took late lunch and went to pick up Cooper, who for the first time did not want to leave the kennel. We guessed he liked to be with Canadian dogs and the kennel. Please click here for the pictures or just click the picture above.

Second day in Canada

mist riders

After our free breakfast at the hotel we headed out to our 2nd day in Canada. We strolled by the nearby Buddhist temple to kill some time before our 2nd boat ride back to the mist. We took most pictures outside in the harsh sunlight since there are no videos or photos allowed inside the temple. My wife and I took a guided tour inside their temple and learned something about their religion while the kids just sat outside and waited for us.

Back at the falls, there were more people since weather was better than yesterday. Much warmer and the sun was out. I would suggest to take the day time ride to mist than at night. You get to enjoy the scenery better during the day. However, the queue was so long and it took forever.

After spending another day at the falls, we decided to drive to Toronto. The traffic was not bad and as usual parking was always the same when you go to the city. Though compared to Philadelphia or New York, Toronto was okay. I was surprised that the city was so different from the last time I visited. There were no more open spaces where you can stroll outside the CN tower. They were not able to go up the tower that time since the line was long and it was closing time. We just walked around and enjoyed the surroundings. We decided to take a cab to grab dinner, and guess what my wife decided to visit some Asian market for some fruits before we went to some shabu-shabu restaurant (hot pot). It was eat all you can and you get discount for paying American dollars.

Driving back to Niagara was a challenge after eating so much food, I felt like sleeping. But thanks be to God I did not and got back to our hotel safe and sound. Please click here for photos taken that day.


first day at Niagara – Canadian side

Niagara Falls

It was our first time to be back at Niagara Falls since 1998. The first time we went there our kids were still little and now they’re all grown up. How time flies. I missed those times when they were younger and if only they can stay younger, that means I will have to stay younger as well. Well the upside of them older is that you don’t have to watch over them constantly. Just tell them to meet up at a certain place at a certain time.

Last time we traveled we were with another family, we rented a huge van and checked in at HoJo in Toronto. That trip was cut short due to work and we had to go back after two nights and we just stopped by Niagara before we head back to the States. This time around we checked in at a hotel in Niagara which was a couple of miles away from the falls. We also had our dog, Cooper, with us on this trip. We had to drop him off at a Kennel somewhere near Niagara Falls.

When we arrived, we checked in and rested for a bit before we head to the falls. It was late in the afternoon and we just strolled along the falls and snap some obligatory pictures. Looking at the falls and how violent it was, you can’t help but just marvel at the sight. The picture above does not do justice, you have to see it for yourself and awe at its power. Click here or the picture above for the first day pictures.

around sedona


That day my family decided to go to Slide Rock State Park, it was not that far from where we are staying. However, my in-laws did not join because they wanted to stay indoors due to my wife’s nephew who had a bad case of nose bleed.

It was packed at the state park and it was a good hike from the parking to the actual slide rock. I thought the reason why it’s called slide rock is because of the rock formation where water flows became so smooth that you can literally slide down with the flow of water. There was also a spot where water is deep and people jumped in from a good height of about 15 feet.

Though the weather was so hot, the water was surprisingly cool. After staying for a couple of hours, we headed back to our condo and grabbed lunch and rested for  bit.

Later that afternoon, we headed out and drove to the town proper. We strolled and checked out local stores. Grabbed a drink at a bar with a nice scenic view. The red rock formation that surround the town looked even more amazing during sunset. Before we headed back to our condo for the night, we grabbed some dinner at Barking Frog. It’s a Mexican restaurant and it was better than the Mexican restaurants we have tried here in Jersey. However, I liked their Barking Frog beer more.

As always you can click the picture above to see other pictures I took.

Grand Canyon

brave soul

My cousin told me that the pictures in this set were already throwback, since it’s been more than a year since I took them. I have already forgotten why it has taken me this long to upload them. I am not going to make promises I cannot keep, however, I will try to at least post a couple each month from now on.

It may have been about 2 hour drive north from Sedona to Grand Canyon. I was excited to actually see the place and check for myself if it was just a glorified hole in the ground. I was mistaken, I was in awe when I saw the Grand Canyon and I could not even imagine the vastness of the place. There were areas that have fences and others were completely unprotected.

There were buses that takes you from various scenic spots along the canyon, however, you may choose to walk along the path. If you have time and if you like to walk, I highly recommend walking. If you are not pressed on time, stay a while like late in the afternoon before dusk (grab that camera and fire away). As you will later see in the pictures I took, most of them were in the harsh sunlight. I have to tweak the pictures a little to get  a decent exposure, at least.

I was so afraid of heights and being there confirmed it. I could not even brought myself near the edge of the railing much more just on the edge. I was even afraid for my wife and daughter when they were posing near the edge. I knew there was this new structure they built where in there is a glass overhang that you can walk around, we did not go there since we were busy getting from one end to the other and forgot about that new structure (good for me). By the way, the other day our tour guide from Pink Jeep tour told us that a few months ago they found a crack on the glass overhang and had to replace it, that was not reassuring since no one knew how it cracked.

Anyway, you have to visit the Grand Canyon to experience natures wonder and see for yourself and not just hear from other people that it was just a hole in the ground. Click on the pictures to see the rest.


sedona, arizona

red rock

red rock

I can tick off one more state in my list of visited states in America. The first time I came here, I told myself that I will try to visit each and every contiguous state since I can drive to each one of them.

I can say that Sedona, Arizona is far better than Las Vegas. I know this is debatable because different people have different opinions and different likes and dislikes. Yes I know there are a lot of things in Vegas if that is your kind of thing but personally, being with nature is far better.

GPS displayed that Sedona was about 4 hours from Las Vegas and I thought that we could get there faster, but it was not so. Just miles after Nevada-Arizona border changed the whole thing. The first scenic stop was amazing and next and the next, only to find out that it was getting dark. No regrets because it was once in a lifetime experience.

It was unfortunate with my passengers that they did not have a choice since they were not driving. We had to stop at every scenic stop along the way en route to Sedona. Well, I guess it also benefited my passengers so that they can take their obligatory shots and selfies for Facebook. As for my shots, I still have no idea when I can post them or even get to them.

Case and point, I am just posting this after months of taking them. Don’t get me wrong I still love to take pictures but I guess it is the work that takes most of my time. I need to get back to when I was feeling naked if I did not have my camera with me.

Back on this topic, the drive was not boring and if all the roads that I will be traveling on will be the same then I would not mind at all. What caught my attention along the way aside from the view was a young black girl carrying something on her back on the far right side of the highway. I did not know where she came from or where she’s going since there were no houses or towns that I can see for miles. Or was it just a mirage, may be my mind was playing tricks on me like some scene in a Western movie.

More to come about Sedona trip, for now click here for the first day of our Arizona trip.