Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Do you remember those fun, colorful iMac G3 desktop computers released in the late 1990s? It was produced in many translucent colors (thirteen to be exact) ranging from strawberry, to sage, to snow. It even came in that hideously ugly color / pattern called “flower power.” Remember that one? It was voted one of the ugliest tech products ever.

Well, the very first color released in that revolutionary line of G3s came in this beautiful blue-green shade known as “Bondi Blue.” A stunning deep turquoise-like color reminiscent of the ocean, this is the Bondi which that iconic version was named after.

A popular beach and the name of the surrounding suburb in Sydney, Bondi Beach is roughly a one-kilometer stretch of white, powdery beach that receives thousands of visitors throughout the year. Pronounced BON-Dye, Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning “water breaking over rocks” or “noise of water breaking over rocks.”

An Australian National Heritage site, it’s famous not only for inspiring the color of that game-changing iMac, but it’s also the location where many Australian and international movies, television shows, and music videos have been filmed. Arguably Australia’s most popular beach, it’s no surprise that Bondi Beach was also the site where the Guinness World Record for the largest swimsuit photo shoot ever was set, with 1,010 bikini-clad women taking part in 2007. 😉

Beautiful Bondi Blue

Playing with my neutral density filter and slightly longer exposures.

Australian shores having the shark-infested waters that it does, what you can’t see in these photos are the shark nets that keep man-eating bull sharks away from swimmers. I’m deathly afraid of sharks so despite this barricade, no way will you ever spot me dipping even my weenie toes in these waters.

My brother Francis watching my favorite younger nephew Raffa doing what kids do in sand.

Ren looking ravishing against that deep blue sky. Love the pug shirt.

Ren wishing my favorite older nephew Miguel a fist pound of luck at Bondi skate park. It looked pretty wicked so be sure to bring your skateboard if you like to goofy-foot, grind, or do the McTwist.

Me? This is pretty much all I can do. Wheeeeeeeeee!!…

A Flock of Seagulls

“And I raaan…I ran so far awaaay…I just raaan…I ran all night and daaay…I couldn’t get awaay.” Sorry, 80s child.

Bondi Art

I’m not much of a beach person so I found myself more fascinated with the grafitti murals than with the beach itself. Some of these were stunning.

Ren doing a good job blending in.

What the heck is Ren doing?



Many of the benches and planters peppering the boutique- and restaurant-lined streets were covered in these beautiful mosaic tile patterns.

Ok, so I was on my way to the southwest end of Bondi to get a shot of the entire stretch of beach when I was distracted by the cute sight of this soccer-playing dog. Bob Marley would pass the ball to him and he’d bounce it back with his snout. Tail wagging with a big smiile on his face, he looked like he was having a ball. Man, I love dogs.

What I enjoyed more than the actual beach was the overall vibe of the place. It just felt great to be here. Charming one-off boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops lined the streets and alleys. Bondi is apparently a popular backpacker haven as well, so you’ll find plenty of places to stay here, ranging from the luxurious to the economical (by Sydney standards that is).

Ren wasn’t feeling well and we didn’t have much time that day, but there are a couple of popular scenic coastal walks that you can do here. One is a 2.5 km walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte, and the other is a shorter 1.4 km walk from Bronte Beach to Waverly Cemetery. If you have time to spare, I suggest doing one or both as they apparently offer quite spectacular views.

For more information on these coastal walks and on Bondi Beach in general, please visit the Bondi Village website.

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The Edge of the World

It’s the break of dawn and I’m standing here, alone on Sabang Beach. It’s dark, not a soul is awake, not even the vagrant dogs I had befriended the night before. Gentle streams of crisp, ocean breeze whistle past my ears as I’m lulled by the steady rhythm of waves crashing onto shore.

Like a lone drop of cobalt dye in water, the first rays of twilight peek out from behind the eastern mountains, imbuing the firmament with rich, illuminating bursts of cerulean and lilac. Clouds stir, a boat comes into view, and like a newly born dolphin opening its eyes for the first time, the universe awakens to a crescendo of rapturous blue.

Staring into the horizon, I realize at that moment that I am standing at the edge of the world, looking at the other side.

Surveying the boat in the distance, I recognize a familiar light at the base of its steps. Glowing brighter, I make my way towards it, and in doing so, revisit the places of my past.

I walk through the schools and dormitories of my youth, climb up the mango tree with beetles in summertime. I revisit places that remind me of ecstasy and regret, of optimism and failure, of unspoken joys meaningless to anyone but me. With each step, thorn-like memories and unyielding resentments fall away like scabs off healed wounds, until all that’s left is a light that was once bright, but dimmed by a lifetime of unforgiveness.

Here, at the edge of the world, like kingdoms razed to the ground and rebuilt, it can shine brightly once again.

Approaching the familiar light by the side of the boat, I recognize her face, and my heart bursts with the boundless joy and anticipation of weary soldiers finally on their way home.

“I’ve missed you baby girl” I say to her, cupping her face in my palm. “Where’s Mommy?”

And with a single, familiar gesture long unseen except in dreams, she wags her tail and ushers me onboard.

*Inspired in part by the opening stanza of Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife.

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Ay kay Layo ng Lamayo!

Kenneth Cobonpue Showroom, Cebu City

Ren and I have been wanting to come here for the longest time and thanks to Brooke who was awesome enough to arrange a private tour for us during our recent 3-day getaway to Cebu, we were able to visit Kenneth Cobonpue’s actual showroom here in Cebu City.

For those unfamiliar with Cobonpue’s work, he’s an industrial and furniture designer internationally renowned for his signature free-flowing designs using natural materials like rattan, buri, bamboo, and abaca. Known for drawing his inspiration from nature, to describe his work as organic is like calling Salvador Dali’s work surreal. He personifies the term.

100% pure genius, he is definitely someone for us Filipinos to admire and be proud of. You can find out more about him by visiting his website –

Dragnet lounge chairs and end table in red. Inspired by fisherman’s nets and created from fabric twisted and wrapped around a steel frame, the Dragnet lounge chair surrounds you like a cocoon.

Chiquita stools in muted red, silver and black. Rigid-looking vertical sections of rattan poles unexpectedly recede into the seat for a pleasant and surprisingly comfortable sitting experience. Ingenious!

Ren striking a pose on the Gothic-inspired Hagia bed.

Tilt chair. Handmade, each piece is individually cut, sanded and joined at different angles to create a work of art that pays homage to the centuries-old tradition of woodworking. According to our guide Paolo, this is the most difficult piece to construct as it requires absolute precision.

Pictured at the bottom is the Kabuki buffet cabinet in brown. It’s crafted entirely by hand using high-density fiberboard to resemble bamboo stalks.

Harry rocking stool in moss green. It’s topped in microfiber strips stitched to interchangeable covers.

Noodle armchairs in rose, bronze, yellow, lime green and aqua around a Freya round dining table. Inspired by Cobonpue’s random doodles, the Noodle armchairs are made with rattan vines in fluid, circuitous lines.

Yoda sofas, coffee tables and barstools. Rattan vines grow from the seat like tall grass in a field. Absolutely beautiful.

A few random pieces, including a Yin & Yang dining table.

Gorgeous lighting fixtures. The spiky durian-looking pieces are made with origami paper.

Ima Bed in brown. Inspired by ancient Chinese temple architecture, it’s made from intricately woven abaca rope.

Bedroom set with Kabuki bed and night tables.

Croissant sofa and coffee table in brown. It’s made of abaca or buri tied over a hand-scuplted steel frame.

Probably my single favorite Cobonpue piece – The Yoda easy chair in lime green.

This was a bathroom faucet and sink. Lifting off that woven top reveals a glass bowl sink underneath.

Strikingly cool, doodle-like flower vases. Note how the circles at the bottom are of different shapes, sizes and orientation, giving it an even more organic feel. I wouldn’t be surprised if this too were inspired by another one of Cobonpue’s random doodles, since it appears to have been influenced by good line quality as well.

Lolah sofa, easy armchair, capsule and coffee table in brown and whitewash. Created using traditional boat-building techniques, they’re constructed of thin rattan strips cut with planar knives and fastened over a light rattan frame.

The Lolah was the recipient of the 2005 Design for Asia Award – Asia’s highest award for design.

Got Moses? Le Petit Voyage bed in brown. Inspired by papyrus and reed boats, it’s made of buri, abaca and steel or abaca, nylon twine and steel.

Funky little figures holding hands to form lamps, dividers and chandeliers. For the chandelier in silver below, they give you one piece in a different color of your choosing to situate wherever you want. Cute huh?

Pigalle barstools in brown. Made from abaca and steel, these were inspired by the contours of a woman’s back. Sexy.

Complimentray cappuccinos at the end of our tour. Sweetness.

Ren getting a breather after a highly entertaining and enjoyable tour. Love those bird’s nest lamps in the back.

I absolutely LOVED this experience.

It goes without saying that to own one of Kenneth Cobonpue’s captivating creations would be a joy and an honor. We’ll definitely invest in one soon as we have the resources to build our dream house in the country.

I think having just one in a striking color would make for a great focal point and converstaion piece, don’t you think?

More on Cebu

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Uno Grille, Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Uno Grille is located on the corner of Bonifacio St. and Quirino Blvd. in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

This was originally part of the Ilocos post which i wrote after our trip to Vigan and Pagudpud this past April 2011. As this blog continues to evolve however, I realized that Uno Grille deserves its own post with all the distinct and remarkable dishes it serves.

Owned by and located directly across from Grandpa’s Inn, this is where we got to sample some of the Ilocos region’s truly exotic dishes.

Insarabasab – Grilled pork meat and liver topped with tomatoes and onions. Unlike traditional liempo which is more charred and tougher, the pork was closer in consistency to sinuglaw but minus the vinegar. It had a slightly softer, chewier texture. I enjoyed this very much with the onions and tomatoes mixed in.

Bogi Ti Ikan – Seasonal fish roe harvested usually in the summer months. One of their more exotic, harder-to-come-by offerings. This was a little too salty for my taste though.

Adobo Nga Abuos – Now this was truly exotic! It’s a seasonal dish of mountain ant larvae harvested from the tropical rain forests of Abra, available only from March to June.

Ren and I saw something similar on Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin, but in Mexico. Who knew that we’d be able to sample something like it right here in our very own backyard?! Awesome!

Aside from the adobo flavor, it also had a slightly buttery and nutty taste with a texture similar to cottage cheese. It was interesting to say the least and I was very pleased to have tried it.

Crispy Bagis – Crispy fried pork intestines. If you’ve never had bagis, it’s probably the cleanest version of chicharon bituka you can find.

Poqui-Poqui Balls – A twist on the Ilocano eggplant omelette. Breaded and sitting on a delicious curry sauce, this apparently was an award winner at a local cooking contest. It was REALLY good.

Warek-Warek – Grilled pork head chop with liver and mixed with onions and vinegar. This was similar to Insarabasab but made with vinegar and pork face, so the meat had a more gelatinous consistency.

One satisfied table of Manileños

If you’re ever in Vigan, I suggest enjoying a meal here especially if you’re in the mood for something a little out of the ordinary. Most everything was good, and cheap compared to Manila prices.

Suffice to say you’ll be hard pressed to find any mountain ant larvae in Manila, so you should try it if you’re feeling adventurous. If you don’t like it, you’ll at least have an interesting foodie story to tell people for years to come.