Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Roy O. Disney Suite, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel

After a thorough search on the web yielded no results, except for a brief description on the Hong Kong Disneyland website, I am confident (and proud!) to say that I am the first blogger to ever feature the Roy O. Disney Suite of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

I can still vividly remember that day in November 2006, when upon entering our room inside this same Disney hotel, I shed a couple of tears. The Victorian charm of the Garden View Room was way too much for a person whose childhood dream was to feel like a Disney princess, even just for a day.

Garden View Room of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, November 2006.
Four and a half years later, I am back! After 30 minutes at the hotel's check-in line, I'm finally assisted by a very accomodating Disney Cast Member. (Just a quick trivia: All Disney employees are referred to as "Cast Members".) She immediately confirmed my reservation and ushered me out of the line. Another Cast Member took our luggages to the counter for temporary storage while our room was being prepared. After all, it's only 1:30pm. The standard check-in time is 3:00pm. We were then led to the 7th Floor where the comforts of the Kingdom Club Lounge awaits.

Half an hour at the executive lounge and a few Mickey-shaped cookies later, we were informed that our room was ready. 

We walked down a long hallway. At the end of which were the double doors of Room 7135, otherwise known as the Roy O. Disney Suite, just one of the two Presidential Suites of the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

The splendor of the grand foyer impressed me at once. I entered the suite giggling like an excited kid.

This floor diagram shows the sheer size of the suite. It's like five times the size of a regular room at the hotel.
The view of the foyer from the living room.

Elegant door hangers tell Cast Members when they can clean your room.
The living/dining area was like something from the movies. 

The living room.
Instead of the traditional basket of fruits or box of pralines, we were welcomed  with a tin can of premium cream sandwich cookies in the room.
The dining area with its large twinkling chandelier.
There's even a chess table but the chess set was nowhere to be found.
This ornate display cabinet holds a collection of Disney movie memorabilia which adds a whimsical feel to the room.
A small utility room where extra pillows are stored and that a deluxe foot massager?!

Powder room in the living area.

Minibar kitchen.
Espresso machine with a box of assorted espresso capsules.

A number of Roy O. Disney mementos decorated the room. Roy Oliver Disney, the older brother of Walt Disney, was the co-founder of The Walt Disney Company.

The room is equipped with a 37" LCD TV, DVD player and a state-of-the-art surround sound speaker system. I tried to appreciate it one night, but a call from the reception about a complaint from the guests next door killed my joy.:)

Then there's the bedroom...or what I so fondly call, my very own Princess' Sleeping-Chamber. The moment I stepped inside the room, I knew that this would be the highlight of all the hotel stays I would ever have. Everything about the room took my breath away.

The entrance to the bedroom.
A bed fit for a princess.
Spacious sitting area with a stately writing desk.
A 42" LCD TV with a motorized TV lift which you can control with the touch of a remote.
Among the decorative touches inside the suite, my hands down favorite was the "Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Rose".

Touchscreen desk telephones dot the room.
As with the rest of the suite, the ultra-luxurious bathroom didn't fail to inspire awe. I wouldn't mind sleeping here if I didn't have a fabulous cozy bed next door.

Entrance to the generously-sized marble bathroom.
Purely majestic!
The jacuzzi has a small LCD TV.
The marble floor medallion perfectly accentuates this magnificent room.
Bathroom amenities from Bvlgari and Disney. When I checked, the Bvlgari amenities alone cost around  Php4500. And they replenished it twice!:)
Thermostatic shower with massage jet body sprays inside the shower/steam room.
Toilet and European-style bidet.
A set of bathrobes for all ages, complete with in-room slippers embroidered with the Mickey Mouse logo.
And as if the room itself wasn't enough, the surrounding balcony has a view to die for.

The view from the living room balcony.
Simply breathtaking!
The view from our bedroom balcony.
The Mickey-shaped hedge maze from our veranda was a sight to behold.
A shot of our room's balcony from below the hotel.
While we were taking these pictures, a Cast Member knocked on the door to present us with a Disney banner-bed runner. She carefully placed it over the bed with shaking hands and mumbled a welcome message before scurrying out of the room. I was left wondering if she saw a ghost beside me.

A hotel staff would later confide that kings, presidents and movie stars (Tobey Maguire and Brad Pitt among others) were the usual occupants of the suite. Which explains why the Cast Member was a little frightened. She probably thought I was some sort of a real-life princess or perhaps a bona fide aristocrat. Heck! I would be intimidated with myself too if I had the same assumption.:) 

A night's stay at this suite costs HK$22,000 inclusive of taxes, or roughly 120,000 in Philippine peso. That's a lot of currency which only extremely rich people can afford...and at times, some fortunate winners of a raffle draw.:)

After our 3-day stay, I left the suite feeling like a princess. The message in the banner rings true. It's indeed one magical experience I will forever thank my lucky stars for.

Lantau Island
Hong Kong
Hotel Reservations Number:
852 1-830-830

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Monday, May 30, 2011

“Nuffnang and Hapee Special Screening”

I just recently joined the growing Nuffnang community. Nuffnang translates to Real Good/Cool. And cool it truly is for just a day after joining, they were already offering me a chance to go to a special movie screening. Nuffnang's vision of conjoining social networking and blog advertising was such a brilliant idea. The real mark of a first-class advertising network is the ability to revolutionize the blogging industry. Nuffnang is all that and more.

Lamoiyan Corporation, the makers of Hapee toothpaste, started as a supplier of aluminum tubes for the huge multinational toothpaste manufacturers in the country. When aluminum tubes were replaced by plastic tubes, Lamoiyan Corporation decided to produce and sell their own toothpaste to save their employees from losing their jobs. Business with a heart, truly first-class.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

First Ever RIDING THE BREEZE Giveaway

And the WINNERS are....

CONGRATULATIONS, MARIA LAARNI K. BERDAN! You just won a Php1000 GC at MOS Salon and a Php500 GC at Pipino Restaurant!

I have also decided to give away an additional Php500 GC at Pipino Restaurant to MYLENE M. CALLEJA for being next in line.

Congratulations, girls! I will be sending you an e-mail shortly to ask for your contact details. If you reply within the day, I will be shipping your prizes tomorrow. To those who did not win, thank you for your support! There will be more giveaways in the future. So stay put and keep on reading!


Father's Day is fast approaching and I just remembered that I have an extra gift certificate here for a Php1000 worth of salon services at MOS (My Own Space) Exclusive Lifestyle Salon for Men. And since Father's Day would not be complete without a date with the most important man in our lives, I would throw in a bonus GC worth Php500 at PIPINO Restaurant (Vegetarian Food by PINO) for our lucky winner.

This contest is open only to Metro Manila residents or to my Luzon readers who are willing to travel to avail the prize. MOS Salon and PIPINO Restaurant are both in Quezon City. This contest is in no way sponsored by both establishments.

Here are the contest mechanics:
1) Follow RIDING THE BREEZE via Google Friend Connect. (1 entry)

2) Like RIDING THE BREEZE on FACEBOOK and post the following message on your wall (1 entry):
"Like Riding the Breeze and win gift certificates for your Dad this Father's Day!"

Important Note: Make sure to tag Riding the Breeze on your post.

3) Follow @btunespa on TWITTER and tweet the following message (1 entry):
"Join the first ever giveaway of Riding the Breeze!"

Important Note: Don't forget to tag @btunespa at the end of your tweet.

4) In the comments section below, state your Google account name and the links of your FB and Twitter posts. Also, state your name and e-mail address.

5) You can post on Facebook and Twitter daily for an additional 1 entry per day. Just post the links in the comments section, together with your name and e-mail address.

Contest runs from May 21-June 12, 2011. The winner will be determined via a random drawing and will be announced here on June 13. There will only be 1 winner. The gift certs will be immediately sent via courier, both of which will expire on June 30, 2011. You can avail of it just in time for Father's Day, which is also me and my husband's 6th wedding anniversary. Good luck!

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Not The Same Person" (NTSP) Certificate

September 26, 2012 Update: My husband recently found out that if your namesake's pending court case has been stagnant for 5 years or more, you no longer need to renew your NTSP (Not The Same Person) Certificate. The details and dates pertaining to the case/cases are specified in the certificate. Still, you would have to bring the document along on your travels for verification purposes. I can just imagine what a relief this would be for most of us!:)


Our predicament began early 2006. We were at the immigration counter of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when the officer asked me if I was a battered wife. Imagine my shock! I said “NO”. Of course not! My husband wouldn’t even hurt a fly. He’s just into swatting mosquitoes which he hates so much for biting our little boy. 

The immigration officer then informed us that my husband’s name was kind of popular in the criminal record books. He had two namesakes, both of which were defendants in their respective court cases. One had a pending case of wife battery and the other, estafa. At least, nobody killed anyone. 

Luckily, the immigration officer let us through with a smile. He said that both suspects were in their 50s, anyway. So surely, they couldn’t have been my husband.

It was different, though, 6 months later. We were departing for Hong Kong that time. The immigration officer put a stamp on my husband’s passport and warned us that it would be the last time he would get through immigration without a “Not The Same Person” (NTSP) certificate.

What the heck was that? I was as clueless as most of you 5 years ago. This article aims to guide people who have or will be having the same problem.

My husband used to be proud of his name. He always boasted about having the same name as a basketball player in the '80s and let’s not forget the glue which had been a popular fixture inside school classrooms since time immemorial. But he now had to pay the price for carrying the 2nd most popular Filipino surname and a first name, which obviously, a lot of parents found endearing.

Hence, our annual trip to the Bureau of Immigration began. This is the same unit in charge of processing clearance for aliens (foreigners) residing in the country. Their office is along Magallanes Drive in Intramuros, Manila. Just a few meters away from the Manila Cathedral.

The Bureau of Immigration is surrounded by universities. Traffic is heavy along the area during regular school days.

Parking is available outside the establishment for a fixed rate of Php40. The good news, there’s a Starbucks right across the street.:) The bad news, here are the list of requirements:

1) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Clearance - original copy and must be within 1 year validity, IF the court case of your namesake is OUTSIDE Metro Manila.

Court Clearance - signed and sealed, IF the court case of your namesake is WITHIN Metro Manila.

*Note: Either of this is only necessary for first-time applicants. If you had previously applied, you can just bring the original copy of your old NTSP certificate.

2) Affidavit of Denial 
You can get this from a notary public. If you failed to do so in advance, there are several notaries public along Muralla Street. It’s right across the Bureau of  Immigration. Don’t make the mistake of asking fixers or even parking lot attendants to bring you there, for they get an automatic commission per referral. Instead of paying Php150, you will be charged Php300. 

Totally absurd! You pay double just because a fixer pointed you in their direction. But that’s the way they do business. So, just try not to dilly dally and complete your requirements before going there.

3) Photocopy of Passport - data page and all pages with travel stamps.

4) 1x1 or 2x2 Picture - with white background

5) Express Fee: Php500   

Several years ago, the entire application process took around 3 hours. Just recently, we finished everything in 30 minutes. Kudos to you, Sir PNoy!

The actual certificate will be released after one business day. You can send a representative to get it for you, as long as he/she brings your claim stub. Note that the NTSP certificate is only a requirement for overseas travel. If you’re just flying locally, no need to apply for one. And sorry folks, but this certificate is only valid for one year.  One way or another, we will surely bump into each other annually.

My husband's "Not The Same Person" (NTSP) certificate, minus a few details.

My husband used to complain about all this unnecessary hassle until he saw a nun, who was patiently going through the same process. Which...made me question this whole NTSP certificate thing. Why submit an Affidavit of Denial, denying the same thing, every year? Why should a person undergo this annual process if he had already cleared his name the previous year, unless another namesake with a criminal record emerges? Maybe the Php500 express fee can give us some answers?:)

So for parents who are reading this…the next time you think about baby names, you may want to consider checking the criminal record books first. Especially if you have quite a common surname.  You never know. You just might be subjecting your child to this frustrating process year after year.

Bureau of Immigration (Main Office)
Magallanes Drive Intramuros, Manila
Phone numbers: +632 527-3248
1-800-100-ALIEN (24/7 Toll Free)
Email address:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Digman Halo-Halo

I practically spent half of my life living in Cavite. And from the time my family moved here, I had been hearing about a place called Digman Halo-Halo. There had been a lot of raves about this joint. Some even going so far as to say that the Halo-Halo (an ice concoction which is a traditional dessert in the Philippines) in this place was the best in the country. Combine it with the establishment's claim that they were the first to serve Halo-Halo in history and we seem to have a real gem here.

I never once had the opportunity to visit Digman in the past because I wasn't too fond of Halo-Halo. My first job was making and serving it, so that probably affected my appetite for the thing.

A few months ago, I finally visited the place. It was just a stone's throw away from the church where we usually attend Mass. There was this narrow street that leads to a residential-cum-commercial area. Digman is the baranggay's (district) name, by the way. That's why the establishment was named as such.

We immediately saw the big elevated sign that says, "DIGMAN HALO HALO, TALK OF THE TOWN". My husband almost parked the car until he saw a second sign just a few feet away. Surprisingly, the sign says the same thing. Only, it's a different establishment. Quite confusing, isn't it?

So I asked around and people seemed to have their own bet as to which one was the original Digman Halo-Halo. After checking both places and seeing that they looked exactly alike, we decided to enter the establishment which we first passed because it looked a little older. It probably was the original unless the "real" original Digman underwent some renovation.:)

The place had the ambience of a small eatery or carinderia. There were only a few customers but it was a Sunday evening, so a lot of people would usually be in church. Halo-Halo, Pancit Luglug (native noodle dish), Siopao (Chinese steamed bun) were on the menu among others. We ordered for the special Halo-Halo and Pancit Luglug. While waiting, I checked the ingredients on display. Sweetened kaong, red monggo, beans, garbanzos, banana, nata de coco, and sago pearls were lined up inside a clear glass shelf.

The Pancit Luglug was surprisingly good for the price of Php40 and the serving size was not bad either.

The special Halo-Halo was topped with langka, leche flan, halayang ube and ube ice cream. The serving was around the size of Chowking's but was a lot smaller compared to Razon's packed tall glass. But it's also cheaper at Php55 than Razon's Php90.

It was quite disappointing, though. Maybe, my expectations were just too high because of all the hype about the place. But my husband and mom agreed that the Halo-Halo tasted bland and a little sour, which was weird. It's probably the way they sweetened the ingredients that altered the taste. Because frankly, I can't imagine how throwing the same things with shaved ice and milk would taste so different.

Finally after a long time, I am able to sample what's said to be the first Halo-Halo ever served. Even though I am not a satisfied customer that day, there's still the simple delight that comes from finally being there after wanting to be for a long time. But the next time I crave for a Halo-Halo, I'm definitely heading straight to Razon's.:)

BC2 Digman Halo-Halo
54 Gawaran St Digman Bacoor, Cavite
Restaurant hours: 10am-10pm

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