MANILA, Philippines – I’m writing this blog from my tiny one bedroom apartment that I bought years ago after winning the jackpot on the TV game show, The Singing Bee.
I’m using an old PC laptop provided for me by my company.
My camera, Kindle and other gadgets are all hand-me-downs or gifts.
If you look into my closet, you won’t find a single branded bag or pair of shoes.
I get around in an 8-year-old Toyota van. (Not exactly the snazziest ride but, hey, it gets me from point A to point B.)
Am I frugal or stingy? Oh, hardly! I spend my hard-earned cash not on things but on life experiences.
I’m a pleasure-seeker. I marvel at beautiful scenery, stay in luxurious resorts, treat myself to spa treatments and the most amazing food.
My husband always says that after 26 years of being a singer-actress, by now I should already have so much money saved up or at least own a pretty sizeable house.
Instead, my wealth is reflected in memories of a life well lived and time well spent.
Practically all my life I have been travelling around the world for work or pleasure. But as the trips I have taken throughout the Philippines these past few weeks will prove, you don’t have to leave the country or sometimes even Manila to indulge your senses and satisfy your craving for adventure.
Here are my top 5 suggestions for living it up in the Philippines today:
1) Sip a cup of Hazelnut Hot Chocolate at Wildflour at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
The words “decadent,” “sinful” and “I-will-be-punished-for-this” come to mind as this oozing, rich concoction kisses your lips.
It’s like drinking a melted, high-quality chocolate bar. It’s so good it will give you goose bumps.
Wildflour Café + Bakery is always packed so it’s best to make reservations if you’re coming for lunch or dinner.
2) Go diving in Puerto Galera
Pacific Divers on White Beach will take you and your friends on great dives according to your level of experience and skill.
I personally don’t enjoy struggling with strong current and prefer to swim along slowly and serenely just like the big turtle we saw the other weekend shortly after we descended.
To avoid the crowds on White Beach, it’s worth it to pay a bit more and book your stay at Sunset At Aninuan on Tamaraw Beach. Feel super spoiled as you enjoy a cold drink on one of the awesome lounge chairs in front of the resort.
3) Have a Boracay beach wedding (or at least attend one)
I got married in Boracay. It was pure bliss, what can I say.
So when my musician friend Junji and his fiancée, Anais, announced they were tying the knot on the island, I cleared my schedule and made sure I could attend.
It was such a fun, relaxed wedding. The groom wore shorts. Somewhere along the way, KC Montero, my husband Carlos and some of the other guys formed a boy band. Their one-night-only “performance” has been immortalized on Youtube.
Oh, and did I mention that Piolo Pascual was in attendance? I tried not to take too many pics of him… and failed.
4) Take the Mt. Pinatubo Sky Tour
You’ve probably tried or at least heard of hiking to see the lake within the crater of this volcano.
But if you have Php5,500 to spare, I highly recommend viewing it from the sky aboard a Cessna plane.
It’s a smooth 45-minute flight from Clark to the volcano and back. The lake from that vantage point is simply breathtaking.
Book your tour at www.omniaviation.com.
5) Get a deep tissue massage
For me, there are very few things in life more pleasurable than having someone knead out the knots on my back.
And luckily for us, Manila is one of the cheapest places on earth to get a good one.
Prices range anywhere from Php200/hour at a no-frills spa to more than Php6000/hour if you want the whole jacuzzi, steam room and floral bath experience.
My favorite massage is Zen Body Work at Neo Spa, conveniently located within walking distance from my building at the Fort.
At Php1,500 for 90 minutes of heaven, I think it’s sulit.
I’ve heard it said that to live your best life you just have to do the things you love more often and things you dislike less often.
It sounds overly simplified but I believe that it doesn’t have to get much more complicated than that.
Do what makes you smile. Do it now! – Rappler.com
Rachel Alejandro has starred in numerous concerts and stage plays in the Philippines and around the world. She will be performing for the Filipino community in Washington DC on December 1 for the World Caravan of DZMM. She co-owns the health food delivery and event catering service, The Sexy Chef, OBC Star, Inc.