The Style Mermaid by Kisty Mea

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • Pico de Loro Adventure
While most people flocked the pristine beach of Boracay on Labor Day, Cariza and I went on a spontaneous roadtrip adventure to Nasugbu, Batangas to relax at Pico De Loro. I’ve never been to Pico before, so I have no idea what to expect but I assumed it’s a great place to getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life. 
As usual, let the photos do the ~talking~

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About Pico de Loro
Pico De Loro is a beach and country club developed by SM Properties, equipped with a full range of sports and recreation facilities. They have a boutique hotel and 8 residential buildings. Some units of the residential buildings are rented for vacation goers. 
   
How to get there?
From Manila, there are three routes to Pico De Loro. The shortest route is via Cavitex, while the longest is through Tagaytay via the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. I recommend you check with Google Maps for the best route from your location. 
  
What to do in Pico?
There are a bunch of sport and recreation activities in Pico de Loro, such as swimming, bowling, billiards, frisbee and horse-back riding. Ultimately, Pico de Loro is a place to relax from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila.  
Note: To access the facilities, you have to pay a membership fee of PHP1,000/person. Pico de Loro do not accept cash payments. You also have to purchase a reloadable cash card worth PHP1,000 from them.
     


Where to stay in Pico?
Cariza and I stayed at Brick & Mustard’s unit. It’s a cozy one-bedroom unit at the Miranda building (about 5-minutes from the beach). The place has everything — bed, TV with cable and DVD, kitchen, microwave, kitchenwares, and so on. All you need to bring is the food, drinking water and your personal toiletries. 
The rate is PHP6,000/night good for six (6) people. So, that’s like PHP1000/person/night. I’d say that’s a pretty cheap deal considering how clean and pretty the place is. 

      
But wait, let me give you a discount!
I’m giving away three (3) 20% voucher to anyone who is interested to stay at Pico De Loro. For sure bookers, all you have to do is email brickandmustard@gmail.com and let them know that you found out about their place through me (The Style Mermaid).
The discount is only valid for the first three customers who’ll book a room. Don’t be a bogus buyer, thanks.

Pico de Loro Adventure

While most people flocked the pristine beach of Boracay on Labor Day, Cariza and I went on a spontaneous roadtrip adventure to Nasugbu, Batangas to relax at Pico De Loro. I’ve never been to Pico before, so I have no idea what to expect but I assumed it’s a great place to getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city life. 

As usual, let the photos do the ~talking~

Pico de Loro Adventure

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The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • El Nido Travelogue
Every wanderlust has their own lifestyle and preference, so you either fall in love with El Nido or with Boracay. And in my opinion, both El Nido and Boracay offer a different kind of relaxation: Boracay is commercialized, while El Nido is more… provincial. 
Anyway, we only had two days to enjoy El Nido, so we did not waste any time and booked their two best-selling boat tours: Tour A and Tour C. Here are my thoughts about the tour:[[MORE]]
Tour A: Lagoons & Beaches
For Tour A, the hotel chose a pretty decent travel guide. There were eight of us, so they got us a big boat. The tour guide was also quite knowledgeable and considerate. 

Seven Commandos Beach is named after the 7 remaining Japanese commandos who lived in the island after World War II. This is honestly my favorite from the tours because of its pristine beach and waters. Perfect place to bask under the sun. 
Shimizu Island has this stunning limestone cliffs. This is where most of the tourists each their lunch. But since our boat was big, we had the chance to eat on board, and rest. 
Secret Lagoon was our least favorite from the tour because 1) the island was surrounded by rocks and corals (Better use a kayak to avoid injuries) and 2) the lagoon was muddy… reminds me of an uncleaned toilet. :( 
Small and Big Lagoon were simply breathtaking. In case you want to know, the second and third photo were taken inside the Small Lagoon. The fourth photo was the Big Lagoon, though the awful glare from the sun made it difficult to capture it’s wonderful beauty. Trust me, the Big Lagoon looks like a scene from Jurassic Park! 

Tour C: Hidden Beaches & Shrines
I’m not entirely sure we got our money’s worth with this tour. First, the current was really strong that day. Second, we were eight people (4 tourists and 2 guides) riding a small fisherman’s boat (see 8th photo). Overall, my experience with the Tour C guide was slightly traumatizing and less enjoyable. 

Matinloc Shrine is a sacred monument that was built in 1982 in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary. 
Tapiutan Island provides a wonderful opportunity for you to snorkel or scuba dive while your guide cooks your lunch. JP said that if I went further, I could’ve seen the colorful city of corals and fishes. Since this is where tourists have lunch, somebody should enforce CLAYGO. There were so much junk on the beach, it was impossible to walk barefooted. 
Hidden Beach is a 100-m white sand beach behind a huge limestone that separates its shallow waters from the ocean. A lot of hermit crabs live here.
Now, this is where the “fun” began. When it was time to leave, the guide told us to wear a life vest because a life buoy will pull us towards the boat. Sounds easy, right? NO IT WASN’T. The other guide (who was on the boat) was literally pulling us towards the deeper parts of the sea. Even if I was wearing a life jacket and holding real tight on the life buoy (and on my iPhone), I still felt like I had to fight for my life because the currents were really strong. 
After that, all I wanted to do was go home.

We only booked the tour through the hotel. The price includes a towel and lunch. We had to pay extra if we want to use the kayak and mask. I highly recommend you request for a big boat and rent a kayak for every tour, especially if you have kids with you. 
All of these are taken with an iPhone 5, edited with the fantastic VSCO Cam app. You can view the rest of the photos on my Instagram gallery or on my photo blog.
P.S. Don’t forget to read my quick guide to El Nido, Palawan!

El Nido Travelogue

Every wanderlust has their own lifestyle and preference, so you either fall in love with El Nido or with Boracay. And in my opinion, both El Nido and Boracay offer a different kind of relaxation: Boracay is commercialized, while El Nido is more… provincial. 

Anyway, we only had two days to enjoy El Nido, so we did not waste any time and booked their two best-selling boat tours: Tour A and Tour C. Here are my thoughts about the tour:

Read more

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • Guide to El Nido, Palawan
El Nido is considered to be one the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines, so it seems fitting for JP and I to celebrate our five wonderful years of being together here. But planning a trip to El Nido was no easy feat. In fact, if you don’t have the cash to burn, the trip can be such a hassle. But that’s okay because my JP and I had fun. :)
I’ll probably share my photos and personal thoughts on my next post. In the meantime, if you’re planning to go El Nido this summer, I hope this quick guide will help you out. Enjoy! :)
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Getting There
There are two ways to get to El Nido: a jet for PHP6750/person… ONE WAY trip only. So that’s roughly PHP13,500 for a two-way trip. Insane, right? But what are the benefits? The jet will land closer to El Nido and the travel time is just one hour from Manila.
The cheaper way is through a shuttle van from Puerto Princesa. It’ll take you 5 hours, with two stopovers, to get to El Nido but it’s 10x cheaper. One trip cost PHP600/person. A total of PHP1200/person for a two-way trip.  
What To Do?
There are four boat tours in El Nido to choose from. According to our hotel, Tour A and C are their best-selling tours. Other activities are motorbiking, diving, and trekking.
Expenses
El Nido doesn’t have any ATMs, and only a number of establishments accept credit cards. Here is the list of expenses during our 4-day stay (technically, it was just a 2-day vacation because we had to allot the other 2 days for land transfer): 
Airfare & Hotel

Hotel (Ipil Suites) - USD299.46 / PHP12000 Hotel includes breakfast and free wifi. Rooms are clean but there are no TV and hot water doesn’t always work. 
Airfare (PAL Express) - PHP2100/person 

Expenses (Per Person)

Shuttle (PPC-El Nido) - PHP600 
Lunch (Stopover) - PHP120
Eco-Tourism Development Fee (Valid for 10 days) -PHP200
Tour A - PHP1400 
Kayak (Tour A) - PHP700 
Mask and Fin Rental (Tour A) - PHP100
Tour C - PHP1400
Mask and Fin Rental (Tour C) - PHP100
Shuttle (El Nido-PPC) - PHP600
Lunch (Stopover) - PHP115
Accumulated Snacks + Water (4 Days) - PHP150
Domestic Terminal Fee - PHP100TOTAL: PHP 5485

Dinner Dates for Two 

Dinner @ Beachfront (Unknown Resto) - PHP510
Dinner @ Art Cafe - PHP1150 Although their food were tasty, the serving was really small and the side dish is billed separately. Expensive.
Dinner @ Sea Slug Resto (Beachfront) - PHP1000 Affordable with really big serving! The Sizzling Chicken w/ Rice cost PHP300 and Beef Steak Pinoy with French Fries was PHP250 only. If we did not order the Calamares and Choco Crepes, the total bill should’ve been PHP680 only.  TOTAL: PHP 2660

Things To Know
There are no ATMs in El Nido and only a few accept credit cards. If you need cash, ask someone to do a money transfer and remit them in pawnshops. 
Electricity is from 2:00PM until 6:00AM. Check with your hotel if they have a generator. 
There are health centers and private doctors but no hospitals. 
There’s a PHP200 Eco Development Fee (valid for 10 days) that you need to pay before you can do any of the boat tours.
Resources
The Internet made it very easy for me to plan and prepare the trip. Not to mention, most of their tours are guided and all you have to do is book it. For more information, I recommend you visit the following links:
http://www.elnidoboutiqueandartcafe.com/
http://goseasia.about.com/od/philippinestopattractions/tp/el_nido_palawan.htm
http://www.adaphobic.com/philippines/palawan/a-complete-travel-guide-to-el-nido-palawan/

Guide to El Nido, Palawan

El Nido is considered to be one the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines, so it seems fitting for JP and I to celebrate our five wonderful years of being together here. But planning a trip to El Nido was no easy feat. In fact, if you don’t have the cash to burn, the trip can be such a hassle. But that’s okay because my JP and I had fun. :)

I’ll probably share my photos and personal thoughts on my next post. In the meantime, if you’re planning to go El Nido this summer, I hope this quick guide will help you out. Enjoy! :)

Read more

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • {CLOSED} #InstaxMini7SGiveaway
Hello my little mermaids! Yana e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago regarding a giveaway and we are both so excited to have come up with a great one for all of you.
Here are the prizes for 4 lucky readers:
A Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s (Pink) + 1 pack of 10 films 
How To Be An Explorer Of The World by Keri Smith and a Gel Pen Pack from Smiggle 
Blogging For Creatives and Journal from Kiehl  
A brand new white skater skirt
Note: The Instax isn’t brand new BUT it’s in good condition and works perfectly. You may see actual pictures here. 
This giveaway is open to Philippine residents only and shall run from December 08, 2013 to January 08, 2014. All entries shall be monitored through Rafflecopter.
And the winners are: [[MORE]]
A  Rafflecopter Giveaway
Instax Mini 7S Winner — Anna Esguerra How To Be An Explorer Of The World by Keri Smith / Gel Pens from Smiggle — Gem Princess Sardeña Blogging For Creatives and Journal from Kiehl — Luisa LinganWhite Skater Skirt — Dianna Guillen

{CLOSED} #InstaxMini7SGiveaway

Hello my little mermaids! Yana e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago regarding a giveaway and we are both so excited to have come up with a great one for all of you.

Here are the prizes for 4 lucky readers:

  1. A Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s (Pink) + 1 pack of 10 films
  2. How To Be An Explorer Of The World by Keri Smith and a Gel Pen Pack from Smiggle
  3. Blogging For Creatives and Journal from Kiehl 
  4. A brand new white skater skirt

Note: The Instax isn’t brand new BUT it’s in good condition and works perfectly. You may see actual pictures here

This giveaway is open to Philippine residents only and shall run from December 08, 2013 to January 08, 2014. All entries shall be monitored through Rafflecopter.

And the winners are: 

Read more

The Style Mermaid | Kisty Mea • How You Can Help The Philippines
Typhoon Yolanda (International code name: Haiyan), the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, has hit and left my home country—specifically the Visayan province—with total devastation. My country receives more than 20 storms a year but it has never been this dire.
Based from the news I’ve read and my friends have told me, the City of Tacloban and nearby areas is like a setting in a zombie apocalypse movie. There’s no electricity, water, communications and even food to go around. A lot of the victims have been starving for 3-4 days because it’s too difficult to send relief goods, and many had to resort to looting. Many people are still missing and dead bodies are scattered everywhere. It’s just too heartbreaking.[[MORE]]
Donations Needed
With this in mind, I decided to collate a list of websites and resources where you can donate. At this point, any kind of donation will be most helpful.

If you want to send clothes, please sell them at the Katipunan #baHAIYANihan because 100% of the proceeds will be used to post-Yolanda rebuilding efforts. And please donate medicines that still hasn’t expired. 
International Help
If you live outside the Philippines, you can refer to the following organizations to help in the relief efforts. (Compiled by HuffingtonPost.com)
World Food Programme WFP has allocated an immediate $2 million for Haiyan relief, with a greater appeal pending as needs become apparent. The UN organization is sending 40 metric tons of fortified biscuits in the immediate aftermath, as well as working with the government to restore emergency telecommunications in the area. Americans can text the word AID to 27722 to donate $10 or give online. Learn more here.
Red CrossEmergency responders and volunteers throughout the Philippines are providing meals and relief items. Already, thousands of hot meals have been provided to survivors. Red Cross volunteers and staff also helped deliver preliminary emergency warnings and safety tips. Give by donating online or mailing a check to your local American Red Cross chapter. Learn more here.
The Philippine Red Cross has mobilized its 100 local outposts to help with relief efforts. Learn more here.
AmeriCaresThe relief organization is sending medical aid for 20,000 survivors, including antibiotics, wound care supplies and pain relievers. AmeriCares is also giving funds to local organizations to purchase supplies. Learn more here.
ShelterBoxShelterBox provides families with a survival kit that includes a tent and other essential items while they are displaced or homeless. Learn more here.

UNICEFAnticipating that children will likely be among the worst affected by the typhoon, UNICEF is working on getting essential medicines, nutrition supplies, safe water and hygiene supplies to children and families in the area. Learn more here.
Salvation Army100 percent of all disaster donations will be used for relief efforts and “to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.” Text TYPHOON to 80888 to Donate $10 or give online. Learn more here. 
Within The Philippines
Donate to Philippine Red Cross via SMSText RED AMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4143 (Smart). Example: RED 100 You can also donate online using your credit card of Paypal.
Google Person FinderIf you’re looking for someone, please use Google’s Person Finder. The Food For A Cause OperationIf you’re in Metro Manila, you can join the food for a case where 100% of their proceeds will go to the victims and relief efforts.
Relief Operation Centres This is a huge list of open relief operations centres and online donations for both locals and overseas. Please refer to this list if you want to know where you can volunteer. 

I would also like to thank for the donations and relief efforts our fellow countrymen and other countries are doing. Please don’t stop helping out. Right now, our country needs all the help we could get. Thank you. 

How You Can Help The Philippines

Typhoon Yolanda (International code name: Haiyan), the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded, has hit and left my home country—specifically the Visayan province—with total devastation. My country receives more than 20 storms a year but it has never been this dire.

Based from the news I’ve read and my friends have told me, the City of Tacloban and nearby areas is like a setting in a zombie apocalypse movie. There’s no electricity, water, communications and even food to go around. A lot of the victims have been starving for 3-4 days because it’s too difficult to send relief goods, and many had to resort to looting. Many people are still missing and dead bodies are scattered everywhere. It’s just too heartbreaking.

Read more