Bacolod and Beyond

Monday, March 30, 2015

It is almost Holy Week, the time when Manila becomes a ghost town and our provinces are packed with visitors as they take advantage of their week-long offs. Perhaps some of you booked for Bacolod with barely any idea of what one can do in the capital of Negros Occidental. Or maybe more like what else can one do in a favorite Philippine provincial destination. So here I am telling you some of the new things we tried when we last went in February.


When I saw this I knew it was going to be a different trip altogether!


Aside from the usual Batsoy and Calea chocolate cake, I went around to try new restaurants up in the area. Felicia’s had amazing Quatro Formaggi pizza- which can be quite a treat to a tourist who also wants to try the good old Bacolod chocolate cake. Italia Restaurant recently moved to a new location and this local favorite is also now a favorite for their excellent Italian food and tasteful interiors! (You are actually surrounded by art works and spaces separated by arcs- how Roman!) Delicioso also has great deli and Italian food (never new Bacolod was so into the cuisine), while 18th St. Palapala Seafood Grill and Restaurant has that Pinoy ihaw-ihaw specialty to boast about. (This is where I also tried the famous local gelatin dessert called Black Sambo!)



For coffee, do try TomNToms which is a Korean café now finding itself in the Philippines. Honeybreads are a must and their fun concoctions of coffee with everything – like ginseng!



About 75 minutes away from Bacolod city are the hills of Don Salvador Benedicto where sits Rapha Valley. Rapha Valley is an organic farm with an organic café with a vegetarian menu, bed and breakfast with a beautiful view of Mt.Kanlaon.


Did you know that Rapha in Hebrew is actually a verb that means “to heal”? This is why many call God as Jehovah Rapha, as in God the Healer. :) The place is actually named as such because of Doc Albert’s testimony about his own health challenges 15 years ago that is now completely cured because of a changed lifestyle. Mainly, his philosophy is that the Lord had given us healing agents in all that He had provided – like plants and flowers and fruits, for our food!

What makes it worth the road trip for me are 1) the evident naturalness of everything- from the environment, to the food, everything just felt clean and fresh, 2) the new things to learn that come with the conversations one will have with the owners of the place; they talk about the reasons behind the whole project, the correlated factors in our food and health problems today, and alternatives that we can breed in our own backyards.

rapha cafe main course

Owner and Founder Doc Albert is also a frustrated chef so he married that hang-up with his own journey to wellness and came up with nutritious, even healing, but STILL delicious food!

Because I am a vegetarian, it was such a feast to go through all of these without even having to think twice or thrice because none of them had any meat or even meat stock or seafood-laden condiments!

Top of mind, some things I learned:

1) Eat the seeds- they have the energy of the plant or fruit.

2) Flowers are meant to be eaten. This the salad with petals on it.

3) Cucumber is a great wake-me-up-drink.

4) Doc Albert’s Vegetarian Adobo won in a contest that involves all of Negros! (So order that when you are there!!!)

More to learn, If you really are trying to look for something new, as well as so now, Rapha Valley is the place to be.


The destination is Bacolod but all of us land in Silay. And here is where many of the Negros household names, from their famous sugar baron forefathers, are still well-kept in the people’s memory as streets are named after them and their actual ancestral houses are maintained and preserved.


Balai Negrense Exterior

More than the personal history of the place I enjoyed my short tour of few of the houses because of how they tell me about how people loved back then and let me tell you what I learned through my photos the best way I can!

historical objectsOn the left is what we call a BUTACA- a seat I have seen in many houses growing up, but never knew to be a birthing chair! (Think I am getting this crazy idea to buy one and use it for my next birth!)

On the right is a GALLINERA, a seat for waiting SACADAS or employees of sugar barons, who usually had chickens with them. That space underneath is actually a cage for the live poultry. Again, I’ve seen these chairs forever but never knew their original purpose!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever noticed how old Spanish houses had landings? Though it adds to the grandiose design, it really was made for a natural stop for guests who might need to take a short rest- like the elderly who have to be on canes (some even have cane holders), and for women wearing dresses with long trains. 


That window below the window is actually for ventilation purposes, as do many parts of an olden Spanish house (remember that there wasn’t AC yet back then, electricity was scarce, so they had to rely on natural air and designing homes that maximize the wind outside), as well as an opening for small little children to view processions (remember Flores de Mayo?). Here’s another trivia for you: back then, ICE was shipped all the way from Europe and because there still wasn’t any freezing technology, they put it in a wooden cooler where they preserved it as long as they could. It was so expensive, as it had to travel that far before it gets to us and so only the rich could have afforded a simple cold drink!

The last time I was in Bacolod, I got to see The Ruins, as well, which would be great to visit if you’ve never been there before. Make sure to bring your camera, as it is picture perfect! Also, for a quick rundown of Negros exquisite finds, go over the small Negros showroom they have over at the Robinson’s. Many of those that I saw at the Negros Trade Fair here in Manila, were present in the showroom.

pink house ineterior

The Pink House Interior. pink house

The Pink House is called so because of its Pink Paint for its exterior.  

Asked my friends from Bacolod why I don’t seem to see a Calea franchise or Felicia, when they are so loved even by the Manilenos. Answer? Bacolod locals are so proud of their own that they’d rather you go out to see them than they branch out to meet you. In short, there is no other way to taste and experience Bacolod and its neighboring towns unless you go and visit yourself. And that’s not a bad idea if you ask me. :) Happy Monday to you all!

By the Yokohama Bay

Friday, March 27, 2015




Before we begin to fully embrace Summer 2015, let me take you back to our December Winter trip to Japan for some cool to bring with you.


More often than not, tourists prefer the famous cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya, when visiting The Land of the Rising Sun. Now I would probably do the same if not for some friends who live in the Port City of Japan which is Yokohama.

pier 21



the ferry ride

So Yokohama is a port city reminds me of San Francisco, which is the bay area of California. If one takes a private car, expect that you’d be there in about an hour to an hour and a half if coming from Tokyo.

In other previous posts I talked about my Yokohama explorations through the Sankein Garden and the Ramen Museum. I include the links here so if you would like to make an itinerary revolving around this pretty sea-ty, you may want consider them all together. Check out these posts: I <3 Japan and Much Ado About Macha.

Things to do by the Bay…


My in-laws got really good rates at the Intercontinetal in the Minato Mirai area. This is actually an amazing location, as it provides a “square-full of activities.” To walk around the harbor alone is a treat, day or night.

the wheels


In the evening, one cannot refuse staring at the gigantic Cosmo World Ferris Wheel, which I must say, looks pretty awesome from almost every angle!

Around the square you will get a view of the wheel and to walk its corners already gives you so much to cover. Cup Noodles Museum is just by its edge, there are great malls, and more to do in Minato Mirai over here.


The Red Brick Warehouse

I guess it’s pretty obvious that eating is not to be missed when in Japan. (Japanese food is always a hit ANYWHERE in the world, is it not?) At Minato Mirai’s malls, you actually have a load of choices- from World Porters, Queens Square, with the Akarenga Soko as the one I have enjoyed the most!



christmas market

aka renga

Akarenga Soko or The Red Brick Warehouse is actually a warehouse in brick red, used for port services back then but now converted to a place of sorts- for restaurants, retail, and even events. However, what I like about it the most is the way it is dressed per season. When we were there, they set up heat lamps outside, with covered tables and benches for dining al fresco, Christmas lights guided almost everything your eyes will fall on, and they even had a skating rink right in front of what seems to be a church. They say the walkway is lined up with flowers in Spring and that is probably what you’ll see should you visit it around this time. :)


aka renga novelaMy most favorite night, perhaps. When we all enjoyed the very cold weather, under heated lamps, sipping hot chocolate while admiring the warm glow of the lights.


Out of Minato Mirai, but near enough…

Isezaki Mall

I particularly know this “mall” or more like an alley of shops because our friends go to an office nearby. My trip to Yokohama back in 2013 led me to spend a day here while waiting for them to be out of work, and I cannot not share what I found in this place! Haha, for girlies who wanna shop I will let you in on a secret! This alley has lots of cheap finds. I bought my KITKAT in every flavor for souvenirs from around here and they turned out cheaper than big grocery stores, and for us fans of DAISO, you will also find a 4-floor-100-Yen store right above Uniqlo!

isezaki route



isezaki Try this for more info on Isezaki mall, and even chance upon a map. 

Stores to Watch Out For

Now these stores may just be all over Japan but I encountered them both in Yokohama and I think that people like me shouldn’t miss it.

Flying Tiger is a Danish shop with lots of different items, big and small, for home or personal use- it actually has a wide range of objects and there is always something for everybody! The price points are also great for one on a budget and also for those who have more to spend. BUT IT’S A CUTE SHOP AND YOU SHOULDN’T MISS IT ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A QUIRKY PERSONALITY LIKE WANTING RAINBOW COLORS FOR YOUR UMBRELLA. :D

GU. Okay there’s Muji, then there’s Uniqlo, then there is GU. Locals reco-ed this shop to us, who are fans of Muji! And though I wasn’t able to get any from the brand on my last trip, I know this to be true because I was able to buy shorts and pants for only about 200-300 Pesos a pair when I went to shop in 2013.

Out of the Bay

If feeling explorative, then go to Disney Sea and Tsukiji Market, which shouldn’t be hard to reach by train.


merry go round



I’ve been to Japan so many times already and yet I still find so many new things to discover with every visit. Which only makes me so excited for our next time. Until then…I cannot wait!


Love in Discipline

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Philip is now 14 months old. We are in his toddler years and most parents say this is not a very easy stage in life and I can see why.

For one, Philip is more impressionable than ever. I say “Boom-Boom” and he says the same. I begin tapping anything like drums and he follows suit. So it has been harder to raise my voice, lose my temper, get mad or snippy, around him because he might think that just because Mama is doing it, it’s okay.

The other thing is that he’s been more energetic, and I on the other hand, have been more tired than ever! We take a bath, we play, we sleep- whatever we do we cannot not have at least some sort of struggle getting him to do this and that.

While the development of his mind and body coordination is responsible for the energy and time consuming arguments that we often go through these days, I recognize that something else is also there that wasn’t there before. And that is Mr.Philip Bo’s ability to express his will.

I was busy typing something when i realized someone was busy chewing right behind my chair. #sneaky #philipBOO #mamawonders

A photo posted by Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio ( on

When he was an infant I wished to know everything on his mind- what he felt, what he liked, what he didn’t like. Now that he makes it evident, I am not sure if I still like that very much. Haha. (By the way, the mark of toddler years on his forehead.)

This expression includes his YES, NO, and I WILL MISBEHAVE WHEN I DON’T REALLY LIKE WHAT I’M DOING. (Or eating, or being, or feeling, etcetera.) So lots of moms say that this is the age when one begins disciplining a child.

I don’t think any parent really likes going through disciplinary motions primarily because it requires us to see our children get sad and disappointed. But beyond that I think what discourages parents to do it correctly (or to do it altogether!) is that if we were to do it the right way then it means it wouldn’t be as simple as identifying the mistake, giving the punishment, saying sorrys, and it’s over. Because I now understand that godly, effective, discipline is far more energy-, emotionally, and time-consuming than that.

First step, you have to discern what went on. Was that a sin issue or not? Then you give a warning, and if he does it again, you give another, and a third time warrants the rod, or face the corner, or no TV for a week. When the child is broken from what was taken away from him you have to talk to him to see if he understands the why, which eventually leads to I’m sorrys, reassurance of the relationship, a prayer, and whatever else it takes to make the child understand that this is coming from a place of love and not anger.

And that was just a rough draft- it can be more complex than that, and no one can put a definite amount of time to this process. No one can ever tell us you can accomplish this in 20 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days, or even 2 weeks. What I now understand to be godly discipline is that it isn’t just about correcting what was wrong, but is really more of the child’s heart, as well as the parent’s.

In the Bible it says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves…” (Hebrews 12:6), and I always think that when I get some major correction in life it is because God, My Father loves me. But now that I am starting to discipline my very own son, I gain deeper appreciation for it. Like I said, disciplining takes so much from us- energy, time, and that comfortable zone where our feelings can never be hurt. So I realized that when God tells me He disciplines me because He loves me, it actually isn’t just some comforting thing to tell a person who has to go through sermons and corrections but really, He is telling me, “I wouldn’t waste my time, my energy, my effort, and the possibility of you hating on me, as I tell you what is right and good for you, if I didn’t love you. I love you so much that you are worth all those things.”

And all these I realized while Philip was being particularly hard one day when we were in Bangkok and in my head I was thinking, “I’ve corrected him too many times today and he still doesn’t get it! Maybe it is best I give up and let him be. I am already too tired that I don’t want to care about his welfare anymore.” And only a few seconds passed when I began to think, “…but I love you, Philip. And I cannot leave you this way, even if it takes so much from me.”

If I didn’t love my son, the easiest way would be to punish in haste or to not punish at all. When we don’t love, we don’t care, we just do what we think we have to do. Thank God I love my son, but I thank Him even more that at times when I think unlovingly, even for a split-second like that, He continues to love Philip and that not a moment does His love waver, and in that I can trust that He is a parent like no other.



Redeemed and Redefined

Friday, March 20, 2015

In 2006 I made a bold decision to finally say no to that which brought me so much money- I stopped doing films and making projects that sold my body. Although I was sure it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t say I wasn’t terrified. After all, the pay cut was going down to only about a tenth of what I had been making for years. Good thing I was mysteriously chosen to be part of the reformatted morning show or else that number would have been completely zero. (Or even down to the negatives.)

Somewhere along the way I was reinvented in the eyes of people. That morning show helped, along with my consistent refusal of projects that lead back to the old, unwanted, image. And this “new Rica” even became more and more defined when I began sharing my simple days online, through blogs or Twitter or Instagram, things that I truly loved, and my thoughts about making life to be one of purpose and meaning.

Did I plan any of these things? No. Did I see this solid path coming? Some parts were clearer than the rest, but life mostly comes as a surprise to me. But if there is anything obvious to me right now, it is that no one starts in life in a state of perfection and solid definition.

In my younger years I thought I knew everything. I thought I knew what I deserved and what would make me happy, yet I now have things that bring me tremendous joy and they have never crossed my mind before.

Like I once thought acting awards, recognition for my craft, would be a true source of fulfillment. But mentions on and this month proved to me how fleeting that idea was. These two websites didn’t even giving me any physical trophy and yet I felt like Angelina Jolie being recognized for her humanitarian efforts at the Oscars.




In the Female Network Article, I was tagged under “influencer.”

Honestly, if one had seen me in my 20’s, she wouldn’t believe I’d even be included in a list like this!

Although what I do is very far from what Jolie has done for the human race, it remains true that I am just as honored. Why? Because of all, I think that I am most aware of my unworthiness. What makes these two mentions so fulfilling for me is the fact that they come from a place of knowing how bad I was before, and applauding the change- a change that I did not do for myself, but was (and still is!) inspired and enabled by my triune God.




The Asian Parent Article

We will always be afraid to fail and to make mistakes, but the truth is we really are bound to endure our imperfections. But what these two mentions show me is that while errors are inevitable- apologies, sorrow, remorse, and change are just as available. I am 34 and I feel like I am only really able to define myself at this age, be a better person, even successful in my own little way, only after years and years of mistakes.

How do I think this is possible? Through the power of “I’m sorry.” The world makes us believe that getting it all right brings us success- never forget anything the boss tells you, always answer courteously, always be at your best. And while excellence is a good goal, we know we all have bad days and some things blow out of proportion. The next thing you know you lose a job, a relationship, and soon enough your mind. And the graver mistake we make in these moments is that we let it define us instead of simply saying “I’m sorry” and picking ourselves up from the pieces again.

So to the young men and women reading this blog today, you have probably heard many say that you have a bright future ahead of you and yes, that is true. But I warn you to think that a fall or two, or even three, are more than able to steal that promise, because that is not true. Though some things may go wrong, it surely isn’t the end of life. As I have experienced it myself, the goodness of God is beyond our understanding, and we need to trust that even our worst moments in life are part of His grand plan for one’s victorious life story. Is it not that a redemption story is a success story?

Again, my gratefulness to The Asian Parent and Female Network for including me in their lists this year. Like I said, it is an honor and a boost of encouragement for me to keep going and fighting for what I truly believe in!

OsterXRica: Meet Me at the Kitchen

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Been wanting to do something like a small gathering with my readers. This is because I just really wanna take the time out to thank you all for the time you spend “listening” to my thoughts, that while everyone might think it easier to just watch some 3-minute-clip on youtube or a television show, you actually take the time out to read and comprehend things that I say. While I still think of how I can make this into a larger group, let me break in the first good news of making this partly come to life with the partnership of Oster!

So, here’s the deal.


On Saturday, I will be having my Kitchen Conversations with Oster and they’ve been so kind to ask me to ask 3 loyal readers of the blog to come and join us for an afternoon of cooking and conversations in their office around Mandaluyong City! And each reader chosen has the option of bringing his/her plus one to our little kitchen event.

If interested, here’s how:

1. Tell me your name, how old you are, how you’ve encountered my blog and and how long you’ve been reading it.

2. Then briefly tell me your most favorite post from all you’ve read, and why.

3. Send email to – don’t forget to put OsterXRica for your subject so I surely don’t miss your entry!

That’s all you have to do, really, and when I’ve chosen you, I will give further directions to confirm your slot with Oster. Take note that this is happening on Saturday already, so deadline for entries is actually on Thursday night! So do send entries right away and I will be checking them as soon as I can. :)

Have a nice day ahead of you and I pray you are as excited as I am about meeting you guys!!!

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