Before anything else, let me first introduce myself. My name is Jairene Cruz-Eusebio. I am a wife to a loving husband named Ferdie, and a mother to a lovable kid named Himig.
I love the Philippines! Before I got married, we have traveled to many places in the country. Not only did we discover the picturesque parts of the country, but we were also able to glimpse a little of the culture and history of the places we visited.
You may have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of Philippine travel blogs. This is not going to be one of those. This is going to be a website about discovering our culture, learning more about our history, and digging deeper into what being a Filipino actually means.
I am by no means an expert in culture, history and language. I learn as I go, and I will share with you those learnings as I see fit. If you think there are some information that needs to be corrected, I am always open to listen. But please back it up with proof so we can have a fruitful conversation.
Why am I writing this blog in English? I once heard a writer say, “write in the language you are most comfortable with”. So that’s what I’ll be doing. And also, so that people from other countries who are interested in learning more about the Philippines would be able to understand it as well. This is why my guide to writing in Baybayin is also written in English.
If you are looking for something written in Filipino, we have our sister-website SulatKamay.com, which features fictional work written in the vernacular. For fictional work written in English, we also have ACosmicEncounter.com. But those websites are for fiction. Here in PerlasNgSilangan, we will focus more on the facts.
I consider this a journey for self-discover. We believe that in order for us to find our identity, it is necessary to look back on our history, culture and heritage. These three molded us into who we are today.
So without further ado,
Welcome to Perlas ng Silangan!
*Featured Philippine flag on thumb mark image by Kurious.
If you want to have a quick relaxing trip outside of Metro Manila, there are loads of places to choose from: there’s the beaches of Laiya, or the hotspring resorts of Pansol and Los Baños, or the hotels with view of the Taal Lake in the ridges of Tagaytay. But there is also the mountain view of Tagaytay which is a wonder to behold, if you know where to look. We were lucky to find it at Crosswinds Resort Suites (Crosswinds Swiss Resort).
Booking a Room
For an overnight staycation, my husband and I opted to visit Tagaytay since it’s getting warmer nowadays, and the cool and crisp air in Tagaytay is sure to lift our spirits up. Baguio is our top option, but seeing as we only have a couple of days to spare, we can’t (you need to stay at least three days in Bagiuo, in my opinion). Being just an hour or two away from where we live, we’ve seen a lot of Tagaytay already. So we searched for something different. Luckily, we found the Crosswinds Resort Suites Tagaytay. The photos from their website plus reviews from Booking.com and Tripadvisor were enough to convince us.
We booked a week earlier by sending an email and calling their number (when no one responded to our email). Another quick way to book is by using Booking.com. Booking was fairly easy. We reserved a Studio Queen Room, which has a queen-sized bed, a kitchen and a balcony. We caught a great deal at ₱3,800 a night (discounted rate).
The place was pretty easy to find since we used Google Drive to guide us. If you’re coming from the Sta Rosa-Tagaytay Road, on the fork to Tagaytay Proper and Calamba-Tagaytay Road, take a left. Drive 10 kilometers until you reach your destination. Towards the left, you’ll have a view of the ridges, and soon you’ll see the Crosswinds name laid out like the Hollywood sign. Once you see this, you’re close.
Once you see the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, you have arrived at the Alpine Village. You can arrange for the hotel shuttle to pick you up from here if you don’t have a ride of your own. But if you do, the guards will point the directions towards the Grand Quartier, which is where the hotel is. Just like most hotels and points of interest in Tagaytay, expect the road to be steep. But oh the drive can be fun! Make sure to open the windows to let the scent of the fresh pines in. The road is lined up with pine trees from the gate to the hotel. In fact, the whole village is filled with pine trees all over! It’s like a mini-version of Camp John Hay of Baguio (which we so love).
Check In: Fairly Easy
It was a nice five minute drive to the Grand Quartier, where the reception is. Upon arrival, we parked on the side of the road since there is no designated parking area for hotel guests. This is fine by the way since there are hardly any vehicles passing except for hotel guests and residents of the quaint little village.
Everyone greeted us with a smile upon checking in. Since we have been booked and fully paid online, all we need to do was present our printed booking confirmation. We were immediately given the key-card and were told of our room number. We were also provided a piece of paper for breakfast choices. There wasn’t a lot of people at the time so our breakfast is plated and not buffet.
We went up to our Studio Queen Room. The room was spacious as expected, and has a balcony of its own. Unfortunately, it was facing the building across the hotel. Although this was fine since the houses and buildings all have that Swiss Chalet style, we still wanted the view of the hills with all the surrounding pines. I immediately called the reception to ask for a change in rooms. I was told that only Studio Double Rooms are available (those with two double beds), and I said that’s fine.
A few minutes later, a staff buzzed our room and told us that he’ll show us the Studio Double Room first. It was on the same floor. The room was as spacious as the other one. It had its own kitchen as well, though no private balcony. It was alright since we definitely loved the view of the hills filled with pine trees and a few Swiss Chalet houses here and there. The staff named Philip offered to place the two double beds together so we can have one big bed, which was fantastic.
Hotel Amenities: No Restaurant, Has In-Room Kitchen
The only drawback with this hotel is that there is no restaurant (it’s a big factor for me, since a hotel’s restaurants is one of the main attractions, like Harold’s Hotel in Cebu). The nearest one is located at the entrance of Alpine Village which is a long way away. If you want to eat and don’t have a car of your own, you can ask the reception for a shuttle service. However, no restaurant in the premises means no room service, which is a downside if you want to really relax. They offer a list of restaurants in the area that deliver to their hotel. They can assist you in calling whichever restaurant you want.
On the upside, they have a full-functioning kitchen which you can use for no additional fee. If you are into cooking and preparing food yourself, everything will work out well for you. They have a refrigerator, an oven, an electric stove, pots, pans, plates and more. Our room was lacking a knife, but upon calling reception, they immediately sent one up. For turning the electric stove on, you would need to call the concierge for help.
The room was very spacious that it can fit another bed. The bathroom amenities were good. There was an internet modem inside the room, but the connection was pretty slow. They had cable, but if you don’t want to get stressed, don’t watch TV. They use Cignal Cable and the signal gets lost every few seconds/minutes that you will surely get pissed off.
Food: Plated Breakfast
Although they don’t have a restaurant, breakfast is still included in the room. Since occupancy at that time was low, we were told that they will send the breakfast to our room at whatever time we prefer, from 6 am to 10 am. We opted for 8:30 am so we are well rested and we still have time to roam around the place after breakfast. The choices for breakfast were few but satisfactory. We chose Beef Tapa and Bacon & Eggs.
Our breakfast arrived 30 minutes early the following day. I asked why they delivered it at 8 am when we wanted it at 8:30 am. They said we were scheduled for 8 am. I was still half asleep so I did not argue and went promptly back to bed. This means when we got up at 8:30, our breakfast was already cold.
I was disappointed to see that the serving size was small. My husband and I are not heavy breakfast eaters but we still felt that the portions were not enough. How much more for those who opt for heavy breakfast meals? The food was delicious though (which made it even more unsatisfying that the amount was not enough!) There was also some fruit slices and 2 slices of bread, which still wasn’t enough for two people, in my opinion.
The Place: Fresh and Crisp Air!
The best thing about this place is that the air is cool and fresh. Although it’s not as cold as Baguio, the coolness of the air is enough to take your worries away! We wanted to check out the Christmas Village and pool area so we asked for our shuttle service (we asked to be scheduled for the shuttle service the moment we arrived). Upon arriving at the reception area, everyone was smiling and greeted us a good morning.
We waited a few minutes and the shuttle arrived. We were brought to the Christmas Village which is just a walking distance uphill. If we knew it was that close, we could’ve opted to walk there! The place was closed on weekdays though so we had to content ourselves to taking a few pictures outside Santa’s House.
After 10 minutes, the shuttle service promptly arrived to take us to the pool area. The receptionist promised us some towels but sadly, we received none. The day before, the staff told us that the pool is actually a heated one so we were excited to take a dip. To our dismay, it was not a heated pool. Since we had no towels and the water was too cold for our taste, we just stayed at one of the huts by the pool to chill.
Crosswinds Resort Suites Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
Although not perfect, we did enjoy our stay. I give it a 4-star rating because of the small breakfast portions, intermittent cable signal and no pool towels. I can accept that the pool was not heated, but being promised pool towels and not receiving some is a big letdown. What if we decided to take a dip? We would then be shivering in the cold afterwards.
However, it is still a nice place to chill. You can take a walk in the morning, jog or cycle around the area. The hotel staff were courteous and accommodating. If you really want to take breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Crosswinds Resort Suites at the Alpine Village is a great choice.
When we visited Cebu City, our purpose was a combination of business and pleasure. It was our first time in Cebu, so our main goal of course was to visit historical sites and other popular tourists attractions. I had some business meetings to attend in Cebu City, which is why I opted to look for accommodations right in the heart of the city. The hotel I chose was Harold’s Hotel Cebu, a moderately sized 3-star business hotel. We stayed here for three days and two nights, and it was very well-spent.
One thing I noticed is that the hotels in Cebu City and Mandaue City are less expensive as compared to equivalent hotels in Metro Manila. I’m not saying they are cheap, but you can find 3-star and 4-star hotels that are half or two-thirds of the price of similar hotels in MM. This made Cebu so much inviting for me.
First Impressions During Check-In: Nice & Quick
We went there during peak season (on the month of May, no less) so I can safely assume that the rates at Harold’s Hotel Cebu at that time were the highest all year round (except for the Iron Man season). I booked one of their Deluxe Rooms through Booking.com. The price was P3,600 for two people and one infant, with breakfast included. Click here if you want to check the current price per room at Harold’s Hotel. The price for me is very reasonable for a business hotel like this.
When we arrived, we were automatically given welcome drinks and allowed to relax at the lobby. Check-in was pretty quick. Even though check-in was supposed to be at 2pm, we were allowed early check-in since our rooms were already available. We checked in at 12 noon, which was pretty awesome.
If there are two of you staying in one room, ask for another key card. The elevators are card activated and will only allow you to stop at your floor and the rooftop, which is where the Highlights Lounge is located.
We were provided just one key card on our first day so when I had to go up and down several times while leaving my husband in the room, I had to ask their staff to punch my floor because I don’t have a card. When the sup noticed that I had to do this several times, that’s when she told her front desk staff to give me another card, which was a relief. It would have been so much easier if they gave us two cards at the beginning, but oh well. Also, since I had to visit other floors for our meetings, I asked them to add clearance to my card for those floors.
Room Impression: Large and Comfy
So yeah after check-in, we immediately went to our room to freshen up. We also waited for our luggage to be delivered, which was fast anyway. As is usual in hotels of this type, coffee and bottled water are readily available. The mini-bar is stocked with light snacks with a price list. The usual toiletries plus two pairs of rubber slippers were available. They also have a safe if you’d like to store some valuables. Our laptop and camera wouldn’t fit though, so we pretty much didn’t use it.
The carpeted room was very spacious; however the air conditioning dripped on the carpet, causing a funky smell. The smell quickly faded away though so we didn’t bother with it. The layout of my friend’s room was different from ours (the air conditioning was positioned differently) so she didn’t have any issue like that. Our bathroom was equipped with a rain-shower and bathtub, which my five-month old thoroughly enjoyed.
The room was clean and the bed was very comfy. We had Wifi access which was great, but it was only limited to two devices. If you have more than two devices (we had four!), you can call the reception and ask for additional allocation for your room. We told them how many devices need to connect to the internet and they readily added spots for us without question and without additional charge.
It was funny actually because my friend was staying solo in her room so I thought, hey what the heck, let’s use her extra allocation. So we logged in using her room number as password. Little did we know that our Australian delegates were thinking the same thing. So in the end, my friend was booted out of her own Wifi and had to call reception! Good thing they were so accommodating! Anyway, the speed was consistent and fast, which is a huge plus.
The Food: Love it!
We definitely enjoyed the food at their lobby restaurant called H-Café. The buffet breakfast at Harold’s Hotel Cebu which was already included in the accommodation was great. They have a wide selection of sausages, various egg preparations and other trademark Filipino dishes. They also have cereals, muffins, pancakes and lots of fresh fruits. Tip: You can request for danggit and bacon from the staff. These will be cooked crisp and fresh at no extra charge, which is a huge plus for me!
Our Australian friends super loved the breakfast that even when I was discussing serious matters with them, they completely ignored me and had to ask me several times what I was talking about! It was very funny, but at the same time it gave an impression that this buffet breakfast was really good, specially with their international tastes.
We also had in-room dining for when we were too busy. There sandwiches delicious and affordable. We asked for two cups of coffee, but they upgraded it to a pot of coffee free of charge. Awesome!
Harold’s Hotel has a restaurant and bar located at the rooftop of the hotel, called Highlights Lounge. Pardon me for not taking photos of any of the food we had because I’m not really used to taking photos of the food we eat. (I guess it’s something I have to be reminded of every time since I’m blogging about it, LOL!) Anyway, the barbeque and their pizza was amazing. The prices were average, a person’s complete meal, including drinks and dessert, can range from P400 to P800, which wasn’t bad at all.
The Business Aspect: A Nightmare!
What disappointed me the most is when it comes to booking conference rooms. We were supposed to have a business room or conference room reserved, but there was an issue with the reservation. The reservations officer told me that they reserved a room for us, but it wasn’t “confirmed reservation”. I don’t know what the hell is the difference, especially since I already talked to this reservations officer and told me our room was reserved.
Then I was given the excuse that the officer who was supposed to call me back resigned from his position a day before and no one was able to handle my reservation. It was a very lame excuse!!! This gave me a headache because I only found out the night before our business meetings. I stayed up until midnight asking the hotel staff to look for an alternative. To say that I was pissed off is an understatement.
Now, I had another room reserved for two more team members coming on the day of our business meetings. What the management did was upgrade the room to a large one, and then provided us with a whiteboard and a marker, which was at the very least what we needed. This was my only issue with Harold’s Hotel. Otherwise, it could’ve been perfect!
The People: Best Feature of the Hotel
Except for what I experienced with the reservations officer, all the staff and crew of Harold’s Hotel are pretty awesome. They are always all smiles and greets you every time. The bellboys are always fast and ready to assist. They will quickly ask you if there’s anything you need: a taxi, a drink? They didn’t look like they were expecting any tips when providing service, which is a big deal for me. (Which was why we gave one of them P300 before we left)
Room service was great too. My son had a poop accident in bed so our sheets were smelly and had a little stain (no matter how little, I cannot force myself to lie on it!). We called for a change of sheets in the afternoon, and they obliged without asking questions. I pretty much watched the guy changed the entire linen, and he did so quickly and efficiently. He even asked if there’s anything else we need before leaving.
The people at the reception were nice and easy to talk to. If we needed anything, they are quick to provide service and information. All in all, Harold’s Hotel did a great job in hiring and training their people.
Harold’s Hotel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Even with the glitch with the business room reservation, I still loved staying at Harold’s Hotel. In fact, we are even considering going back to Cebu just to have a staycation at Harold’s Hotel! That’s how much we loved it there. If you’d like to try them yourself, you can book here. Though yeah, it’s still not my go-to hotel for business. How about you, have you tried this hotel? Do you have better recommendations for hotels in Cebu City? Comment below!