Our Okada Manila Experience


Heya! Before you dive into this lengthy post with me ranting and raving about our Okada stay... here's a video I uploaded on YouTube about my birthday celebration...

Watch: My Okada & Nobu Birthday Celebration


Soon! Okada Manila Tour - Deluxe King Bay View, The Retreat Spa, In-Room Dining


I turned 31 on Tuesday and Jeckie and I celebrated it by spending the weekend at Okada Manila and having Omakase dinner at Nobu Restaurant. This post is just gonna focus on Okada. We stayed for 2 nights starting November 13, 2021.


First of all, I was never attracted to Okada Manila. Specially with how it looks in photos. With the obnoxiously pink lobby and the amount of drapes covering the wide columns, it's totally unrelaxing and kinda overkill. For me ha. Had they picked red for a motif, then it's a circus. And it's even more stressful in person cos the lobby is actually smaller than it looks in photos. I'm both overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time hahaha.


Nevermind that they placed an enormous Christmas tree at the center, it's all washed out by the glaring pinkness of it all. It's a Casino complex naman daw and not really a hotel per se so every garish design decision at the lobby is probably science-backed to invite as much high rollers as they can.


Alert Level 2 situation yikes

Anyway. Ako lang naman to and it's not like tatambay kami sa lobby wahaha



To my slight dismay the deluxe room is yet another splash of pink.


Good thing there are some muted elements and half the room is occupied by the bathoom which has warm marble tones so yes to familiar elegance!


Oh, the hallways are beautiful too and a far cry from the agressive fuschia lobby. The Retreat Spa is also very very relaxing. I wish they designed it more cohesively. But after learning that Okada is patterned after Macau, the arresting lobby suddenly made sense hehe.

Sorry I'm overreacting. But you know, part of me kinda regrets this staycation decision cos we could've booked somewhere quieter, less busy, and cheaper too... but I must admit, the jacuzzi with an ocean view kinda snagged my attention. At least now I can say I've stayed at Okada!

Enough about how I hated the lobby hahaha... let's move on to other things I hated about our stay hahahaha. Actually there's just one thing but this very basic thing affected our entire stay and that is...

Very high turnaround time...

✖ Checking in? Wait at least 30 minutes in line...
✖ Request for bay view room? If there's none readily available, prepare to wait for another hour...
✖ Wanna call the operator? Wait at least 5 minutes on queue...
✖ In-room dining? Wait 1 hour for your food...
✖ Want extra pillows? They're complimentary but you gotta wait 5 fucking hours for it. I'm serious.

That's how understaffed they are. I guess.


This is the most expensive place we've stayed at (so far) but the response time beats that of cheaper hotels. I'm entitled to feel this way but I also can't get mad at the people because I know they're just trying to deal with the chaos one guest at a time. And I felt that, cos once it's finally our turn to be attended to we were treated professionally and with empathy naman so it's hard not to simmer down.


They knew their guests are struggling with impatience so I appreciate that they don't rush to get to the next guest and is proactive with meeting our needs. Placing requests is a breeze. But it's the eternal waiting that gets to you talaga hahaha. It's just that they're faced with an overwhelming amount of guests, hello Alert Level 2, and they're pretty darned understaffed. That's the only explanation I see fit, otherwise why would my fucking pillows take 5 hours to get delivered lol.

There's nothing 5 star about having to wait too long for a service but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt because we're still in the middle of suriving a pandemic and every ounce of consideration goes a long way. Plus, they just pretty much reopened after alert levels went down so maybe they haven't fully adjusted yet, what with the sudden surge of overexcited guests (like us haha). 

Now that the negative things are out of the way... here are my favorite things about this staycation...

Ay wait may isa pa palang negative but I'm not sure who's to blame. I woke up with a stye on my left eye for some reason so feeling ko may ipis hahaha. I saw a vlog where it showed there's ipis in the room eh so I can't rule it out. Pero kebs naman at least I wasn't awake to face the horror lol and I brought mefenamic so it helped with inflammation. But it ruined my birthday dinner makeup eh so grrr. 

Osya ito na, my favorite things about our stay...

1. DigiValet - your in-room ipad control panel


This big and heavy ipad controls everything in your room and it's a service portal for everything you wanna request

✔ You can control the TV from it and choose from various channels
✔ They have Netflix, Youtube, and you can cast your Android and Apple device too
✔ You can open and close the curtains
✔ You can adjust the lights and AC
✔ You can order food
✔ You can reserve at the spa
✔ You can request for extra pillows, baby stuff, and PWD assistance
✔ You can settle your bill and check-out without having to go to the lobby

2. Jacuzzi facing the sunset


It's really the experience I'm after and it did not disappoint specially with the sunset view! I have a timelapse in my vlog and it's a splendid sight. The way the sun's reflection shimmers on the roof panels of Cove Manila, the slow turning of colors, haaay it's pretty romantic. 

3. Drip coffee!

I brought my own coffee grounds and pourover but their coffee is also good :)


4. Built-in bidet at the toilet


You know the high-tech stuff with bum sensors and all sorts of nozzle spray options. This one even has a deodorizer and a pwet dryer.


I love it but you can't wash with soap and water like a normal person so I brought a tabo with me para sure wahaha.

5. In-room dining



The food we ordered is so good we got room service three times during our stay. Ibang level guys. I really enjoyed in-room dining because walking to the retail area can get really tiring considering how massive Okada is. 


We ordered Buffalo Wings and it came with pineapple slices. It's new but it works perfectly so I hereby declare this as my new favorite buffalo wings.



We also ordered Butter Chicken. We're big Indian food lovers so our eyes literally zoomed in at the sight of a familiar dish. After confirming that it's indeed Indian, we punched in our orders and waited excitedly! Butter Chicken is served with Naan and Biryani but when it came to us the bread is actually Roti, but no biggie. Grabe to ang sarap diiiin! RICH levels Makhanwala sya guys. 100% recommend.


Comes with assorted bread

Finally, another new favorite. This wet cement looking hodge podge is the best mushroom soup I've ever had I swear it tasted so rich and heavenly I might have gotten a high from this soup. What kind of mushroom is this? o_O

6. The Spaaaaa


Dear Lord I had the most amazing spa ever. Booked Bespoke Therapy in a couple's room for Jeckie and I and we had an extremely relaxing experience. We had a massive private suite just for the two of us with a steam shower, toilet, jacuzzi, and a spacious dressing area. The massage beds are unlike anything I've ever laid on. It's reclining, heated, and there's an entertainment tablet beneath the face hole. I don't know why anyone would use the tablets though. We mostly slept during the whole session. My husband was drooling haha and I was close to sleep talking. It was that heavenly.


There are other facilities you can enjoy in The Retreat Spa like the pool and lounge which is way better than the hotel pool to be honest haha but the water is shallow like 3ft lang.

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Yeah I guess that's it, despite a lot of waiting, I can say we still generally enjoyed our stay. Grateful for the experience!

Tips in consideration of the current restrictions in place:

✔ Get the Bay View room cos the Fountain is closed and the pool is empty. You can request this upon check-in. Sea view is better than city view for me plus you get to watch the sunset colors shimmering on the roof of Cove Manila! It's beautiful!
✔ Avoid the weekends cos it can get really crowded hehe
✔ Be patient!
✔ There are currently a limited number of guests allowed at the Coral Wing Pool, so you have to line-up before 8am to get ahead.
✔ Sign up for Rewards Circle membership (it's free!) at the Casino to get discount vouchers. We got 30% off vouchers on spa and dining upon signing up. Sadly we registered too late huhu
✔ Complimentary water is capped at 4 bottles per day. But according to front desk, there's unlimited water at the Casino hehe. Actually we ordered 8 more bottles but it didn't reflect in our statement so... thank you? Hehe


If you reached this part, thank you for bearing with me!

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Everything hurts

I'm frustrated about a lot of things lately...

★ ATRAM / SeedBoxPH won't send my COP/COR emails

I didn't know ATRAM has a notoriously unreliable email notification system and it sucks that I have to message them every fucking time just to ask for my order confirmation. It's disappointing because I thought SeedBox PH has a better system than GInvest since it's linked to ATRAM (being their official digital investment platform) but heck at least GInvest provides more transaction information on the app. If only they had more products I wouldn't need to pull out from there.

★ Apple taking a while updating my pencil's purchase date

My request has been forwarded to two teams so far as they can't figure out what purchase date to use in my case.  The receipt I got shows the date in this format: MM/dd/YY and they can't decide whether I got the item on October 9 or September 10 lol. I'm perplexed that this is an issue and I wonder why they can't just take my word for it, which is October 9. If anything I don't care what they put as long I get my warranty, one month lang naman difference argh.

★ Can't decide on my leaves

I wanted to go on a week long vacation for my birthday but I know my remaining leave credits won't cover it. There were a couple of changes for my birthday celebration. I don't want to tell this blog cos I know it will jinx it lol just like it did the last time I mentioned it. So heck, not sharing anything specific so hopefully whatever bad juju this blog has can leave me alone.

★ Currently reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hopefully I get to finish the book by this month. I'm one book short of completing my Goodreads 2021 challenge, and this highly acclaimed novel is something I've been wanting to read for so long. I bought a physical copy years ago, and that is currently browning and foxing in a cart somewhere here. I'm reading on my Kindle now and I can't say I'm that enthralled by it. Anyway. 

★ Everything hurts

There's a gym that opened up at SM Light which has a badminton court. Despite the low ceiling, it's a delightful discovery for Jeckie and I as we've been hoping for a court to open up nearby. We've been casually cursing the Ethan Allen showroom everytime we pass by it in hopes it would go back to its previous form (a badminton court) lol, but that's just wishful thinking. One court with a low ceiling is good enough. Thank you Lord!

We played with a couple of friends yesterday and maaan was it a real workout! It's my first real workout since we went on a diet. My entire body hurts right now but I'm happy to report that my knee doesn't seem to be that traumatized anymore. I've been avoiding physical strain on my knees for more than a year now, even though I know I'm already fully healed. I learned that in order to regain normal functioning I have to move it like usual so it doesn't get stuck in a cautious state. Yikes. To be honest, I still can't step in the car the normal way because I'm afraid of twisting my knee, but I'll try hehe.

My waist, back, arms, thighs, and calves are terribly hurting right now. I didn't know playing badminton could be a full body workout. I was so dead beat last night that I almost slept through my entire shift. Shhhh

★ Need to work on my airfyer review

But really, I don't even know now. I need to cover a lot of things with our Philips airfyrer in order to make a valuable review but it's such a tedious thing to write and record haha. We'll see, we'll see, I need to get this out so I could work on my next review (my mechanical keyboard).

★ Still not on track with my work deliverables

I have KTs and UAT fixes that are long overdue. If this continues I'll be escalated and fired. Char. Hopefully not. Okay fine let's work.

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Life Lately



Watch: Weekly Monotony (Oct 18-24 2021)


I had a pretty so-so week. Monday we applied for National ID cos they held an on-site registration at our condo. Love that we didn't have to go to a different venue and PhilSys is really working hard to get everyone registered. 

I woke up a bit early for this so I was groggy the whole time we're waiting in line. Good thing there were chairs. I fell asleep while seated and even dreamt that I was already finished with the registration. And then the staff directed me to the next station which is a PGH blood donation drive by the pool. I looked to my side and true enough there was a tent by the pool marked with PGH and the logo of Red Cross. Then I snapped out of it and realized I was dreaming haha. Good thing I don't sleep walk? What I thought was a white tent is actually a gazebo with brown roof tiles hahaha.

I have many hopes for this National ID system but I know it's gonna take a lot of time and effort to really see it bear fruit. It always frustrates me how scattered and inconsistent our data is across government offices. If they could setup a centralized portal where we could easily pull up and update our information that would be great. Then again, that's just wishful thinking for now. Baby steps, ika nga. Pero cha-cha lol. Hopefully we'll get there.

I've finished reading Verity by Coleen Hoover and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's my fastest read this year so that's new! You can read my thoughts about it here (along with another book): 
https://www.theblahger.com/2021/10/recently-love-hypothesis-and-verity.html  


I took a leave last Friday to accompany my husband to his passport renewal appointment at SM Aura. It's my first time driving there and I missed the exit that's supposed to lead us to the parking entrance by the side. But thank God for Waze, we were able to circle around McKinley Hill and back to SM Aura in time.

We also passed by the newly built Kalayaan bridge and while it's amazing how quickly we got transported from Pasig to BGC, the bottlenecks on Pasig side are godawful. I'm thankful we don't live along these main roads. It's been 1 year and 8 months that we're working from home and I always forget how dreadful commuting is over here. How come our lives aren't back to normal and yet traffic is?

I don't remember the last time I was at SM Aura. But I do remember when it was fairly new and had the vibes of an upscale mall. But now? It's like SM North EDSA Annex, an extension that's surprisingly too crowded for an area that supposedly gets less foot traffic lol. Definitely not upscale.


HR announced that we'll get our 13th month pay along with our salaries so I've also been obsessively refreshing my banking app that day. It didn't help that we usually get our salary days in advance which means Friday is already late for a Monday payout haha. Historically (and I keep tabs), if swelday falls on Monday it gets credited Thursday the week before. We've been spoiled.

Oh well, they did finally get to crediting it, albeit on time, much to my dismay HAHAHA. And just like that the excitement's dead. Especially after looking at my withholding tax. Hay.

I don't have much planned for my 13th month pay so most of it went to ATRAM global funds. I've been maintaining my global UITF portfolio ever since I learned it earns at least 20% pa. I thought it was too good to be true, specially when our local stock market can't even maintain a 6% pa growth. But heck it only shows how fucked up the Philippine economy is. I opened a SeedBox PH account and pulled out my funds from GInvest to focus on just one platform. SeedBox has more products available. So yeah, hopefully it grows. This is what excites me now haha.

I still don't know what to do for my birthday. It's the one day I'm allowed to enjoy myself and let everyone know so it's gotta be grand right? Hahahah charot. It's the only day in a year I could justify telling my boss to give me a break lol (not that he wouldn't on a different day, my boss is cool). But now that everyone's learned to be more assertive of their personal time (ie. selfish char), I suddenly don't know how to make it more special. Personally I just want to buy myself an Apple Pencil, eat good sushi, watch a movie, and get a full body massage.

Ah this has gone too lengthy, but finally, I'd like to ponder on this verse I placed at the end of my vlog:


"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
Proverbs 19:21

Oftentimes we get too caught up planning our lives, leaving God's will out of the equation. Only when everything falls (and it does) do we scramble back to him and let him take over. Somehow surrendering is easier when you have nothing to lose. Isn't it insulting that we've placed God as a contingency plan instead of following his lead? Why do we take his mercy and forgiveness for granted?

To be honest, I still struggle a lot with letting God lead my life completely, specially on abundant seasons. But I just realized how there's an immeasurable peace that comes with full surrender, specially to the maximally great being that is God.

So yeah, let's not forget to put God first, as in truly first. I noticed that our society is past putting money on the top of our priorities after realizing it's not a real measure of success. Now it's turned to a more dangerous idol, our selves (and k-pop char). As for Christians, may our success be based on our obedience to God and his will, after all we are his creations and we serve his purpose. Only his judgment matters.

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Recently: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood and Verity by Coleen Hoover

I remember a time in my life when every time I finish a book I'm always excited to blog. Not about the book, but about my life, sometimes feeling the author's style has rubbed on me that I'm suddenly in such a great mood to write, even about the smallest things. But that's gone. I don't think I'm that girl anymore, I have grown out of it, the urge to write crushed down by more pressing things. Like work.

But hey, let's bring it back. I just recently finished two books and I didn't hate them, which means you're probably not gonna hear about it hahaha. If you noticed, I find it easier to complain about things I hate than to commend things that I love. Maybe hatred is something that converts easier into words? And love is something you usually wanna keep to yourself? Either way, I loved these two, so I have no words. But here I am...

So instead, let's nitpick. 

But first, even though this should go without saying... SPOILER ALERT.

What do I hate about Ali Hazelwood's The Love Hypothesis?

Ah, the fact that Olive thinks Adam is so tall and big when she herself is 5'8". Idk maybe 6'4" will always look huge to anyone looking.

Ahn's doting is so unrealistic

How Olive didn't realize that Tom had expressed interest in her project before rumors broke out about her and Adam, therefore contradicting every vile thing he said to her after the talk. I was waiting for her to somehow realize it but nah. Unless of course Tom knew of her way back because Adam has told his friends about an Olive Smith.


Next, what do I hate about Coleen Hoover's Verity?



This is a highly rated, much recommended book on Kindle PH group, and based on people's reactions I already prepared myself for a mind blowing ride. While it did not disappoint, I wasn't too convinced about the ending.

I liked psycho Verity's character. Her autobiography painting herself as a contemptuous mother, filled with dark and disturbing thoughts of killing her children and keeping her husband all for herself, what a horrifying read! It's all too good that I can't accept none of it is real haha (or not since the book was Open Ended [nice callback to Lowen's book btw]).

I guess I kinda saw there was a twist in that manuscript, I just didn't like how it was revealed. Everything was exposed in a letter hidden under the floorboards of her bed. A written explainer. What a bore. I was half hoping they'd discover the truth behind it from Amanda, who suggested the writing exercise herself. That way "antagonistic journaling" wouldn't sound like a silly alibi. Oh well.


That's it!


Since I'm nitpicking, you know it's not a big deal right? I'm just looking for ways to be annoyed. I'm way past those points and would recommend this book to anyone who wants to end their reading slump and catch up on their GoodReads 2021 Reading Challenge. Thanks to CoHo I'm on track. I'm excited to read another one of hers!

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My thoughts on The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Finally completed reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. My rating? 3 over 5.


I found this book getting recommended a lot at Kindle Philippines fb group so I thought I'd give it a try after finishing Hopeless by Coleen Hoover (which I rated 4/5). Didn't think it would take me 3 months to finish it. I'm a slow and uninspired reader, and even by my standards 3 months is too long for a single book hahaha. It was so dragging.

SPOILER ALERT

Here's the summary from GoodReads...

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

---

Interesting right? My favorite part about the book is really the writing style, beautiful prose poetry that vividly takes you wherever Addie is. I loved the time jumps between past and present, her relationship with her father, her child-like wonder whenever they head out of town, her frustration about getting stuck at their village forever, and her friendship with Estelle, who's probably my favorite character in this book.

But whenever it jumps to the present, I always lose interest. 

There are three main characters in this story; Addie our 300 year old heroine, Luc the god he struck a deal with, and Henry... Addie's special sadboi lol.

None of them had any character development throughout the story. To think Addie has lived 300 years, she didn't seem to have wisened up. The only thing special about her is her unorthodox distaste for being a homemaker and staying in Villon forever. But beyond that? We see nothing more, she's just loitering around, I wouldn't say the world but, Europe and America, looking for affluent artists who could draw her like one their French girls, char.

Perhaps it's a consequence of having lived three centuries. At a hundred she's learned enough to survive the world despite her curse. Another hundred and the weight of losing loved ones has taken a toll on her psyche. Another hundred and she's desensitized to loss and being forgotten, as it becomes a recurring theme in her god-knows-how-long life. Maybe that's why it seemed like she's not grown enough. Maybe this book should've ended when she's around 200.

Given Addie, it's hard for me to imagine how she found some kind of favor in Luc's eyes. As a god who answers in the dark, I had high expectations of his might. But he's just all flair. Their snide banters aren't even that clever. For a god who's in the business of souls, he probably a low ranked grim reaper who's more concerned about looking cool.

And don't get me started on Henry. He's an empty shell. Before and during the deal. There's nothing special about him. He exists solely to write about Addie, which consequently gave him the recognition he's yearned for so long, so yeah, good for him. Not for the readers though.

I don't know. I feel like the premise was wasted in trying to establish a love-hate relationship between Addie and Luc. I probably had wrong expectations. I wanted to revel in the sinister nature of Faustian bargains, much like in the TV series Once Upon a Time, because the writing style could very much pull off such vividry, but I guess it's too much to ask of someone who just goes with the flow, an undaunting villain, and a weak male character (Addie, Luc, and Henry respectively).

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