Novotel Araneta QC: A Mom’s Review

Thanks to my sister-in-law who introduce to us the concept of taking a staycation on Christmas eve, we decided to try out Novotel Manila in Araneta Center, Cubao Quezon City last 2016.

my-reviewThe reasons we chose Novotel Araneta were pretty simple. The hotel’s location was ideal, it  wasn’t that far from where we live so we were not worried about getting caught in holiday traffic and spending hours trapped in the car with a preschooler and a toddler (I know you feel me, mommies!). Novotel was pretty affordable too. Compared with the other hotels which still had rooms available on Christmas eve, Novotel Araneta was cheaper by about Php 4,000. For one Superior room for 2 adults and 2 children (inclusive of breakfast buffet for two) we spent about Php 7,000. Sofitel and Marco Polo were offering rooms from 10 to 12,000 pesos overnight. It also had all the amenities we were looking for: parking, swimming pool, play area for the kids and they offered buffet breakfast. We were excited!

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Gifts for the kids at check-in!

So first things first! Parking was very easy at Novotel Araneta, there was so much space! What met us at the check-in lobby was completely different though. Remember this was Christmas eve, so there was quite a crowd at the reception area! There were probably five hotel staff processing guests at the counter facing the entrance. Then, they had set up additional tables near the doors where people could also check in at these “satellite stations”. We thought that we were going to get stuck at reception for hours! Fortunately the manager (I assume he was the manager because he looked senior compared to the others) saw us and noticed the kids were getting impatient so he directed us to another staff member to check us in. He even gave us eclairs and stuffed toy keychains for the kiddos, so sweet! We booked online (via booking.com – very easy and worry-free!), so after asking for my IDs we just had to pay the security deposit of Php 5,000 and we were done! We were in line for probably 20 minutes and the check-in process took 5 minutes, whew!

Since there were a lot of guests, waiting/riding the elevators can be a bit tricky. There were times when we waited quite a while for the cars to come along, most of the time there would be other people in the car so we had to get to our floors in batches because all of us wouldn’t fit.

The room itself was cute. That’s probably my best description for it. It’s a lot smaller compared to rooms offered by other hotels for the same number of people in my group. I wouldn’t recommend you invite friends or family to visit you in the rooms because the size is just enough for two adults and two kids. I imagine that if there were more people than that, it would be incredibly cramped. The bathroom doesn’t have a lock which is fine I guess if you’re a parent like me since you wont be worried about your young children accidentally locking themselves in. Unfortunately, my toddler had a tendency to rush in while my husband was “sitting on the potty” which annoyed him to no end. My main complaint would be that we didn’t have hot water in the shower. My toddler cried while taking a bath because she couldn’t take the water, it was freezing! I wanted to call reception and complain but my husband said we were staying only one night anyway and because of the Christmas rush he seriously doubted that they would be able to help us out.

My favourite part was probably the buffet breakfast! Food was deeeelicious! They had quite the variety too, from Indian, European to American breakfast alongside the usual Filipino fare. Try their ube ensaymada, ube-ensaymadaI must have eaten at least 5 pieces of it! They had delicious fruit shakes, my husband liked the coffee and their hot chocolate was also yummy! They had a long table for salads, as well as desserts, and since it was Christmas – they had puto bumbong made right on the spot! I was so happy about the food that all my frustration over the broken shower heater instantly evaporated!

One of the main reasons we chose Novotel Araneta was the amenities. On the 6th floor, we found the swimming pool, there was the gym, the spa and the kids’ play area. There was also a nice garden with a gazebo that seemed ideal for those garden wedding ceremonies. Novotel QC has two swimming pools: a kiddie pool and an adult pool, they are not heated so when my kids went poolswimming, I couldn’t really allow them to stay too long in the water since it was very cold. The afternoon of December 24th, there really weren’t a lot of people swimming so there was a lot of space, but Christmas morning the pool was packed! And not just the pool, but every table, bench and even the outdoor playground beside the pool had lots of kids and parents! We had to swim in the adult pool with the kids because there really wasn’t much room to swim around in the kiddie pool anymore. Good thing, we had gone swimming the day before so we still felt good about our short pool session on the second day.

We decided the children should stay at the Kids Club of Novotel Araneta instead, still located on the 6th floor. This place is kind of like the hotel’s “kidzoona” as my daughter loves to call it. I have to say, as a mom, I thoroughly enjoyed the Kids Club! kisaThe staff was attentive, the place looked and felt clean, and there were enough activities to keep my two young children occupied for more than an hour without resorting to putting a gadget in front of them! I will post a more comprehensive review of Novotel Araneta’s Kids Club in the future as this one is already quite lengthy, but my kids absolutely loved this section of the hotel.

Checking out of the hotel (don’t forget this was Christmas day) was a test of patience. Fortunately, my husband volunteered to line up while we were in the play area so we really didn’t stand around waiting for our turn at the reception. He was probably in line for close to forty five minutes, so this is something you should prepare for if you’re checking out during the holiday season.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable stay. I will probably update this post with more pictures from my husband’s dslr as my phone pics are not that pretty. It was a restful staycation for the family and the children really enjoyed themselves. I wouldn’t mind going back, and I’ll make sure they have hot water in the bathroom next time! I might also want to try this out again when it is not a holiday. Despite the crowd, the hotel staff were always courteous and accommodating and this more than made up for the long lines at the reception.

I hope this post helps you decide if you should bring your family for a Novotel Araneta staycation! Let me know what you think of the hotel too!

***This post is not sponsored by Novotel Araneta. I am simply sharing my personal experience. My family and I paid for all the expenses as well as the overnight stay in the hotel.***

New Year, New Home

I’m writing to you from our brand new home! Well, technically it isn’t really OURS but hey why quibble over the details right?20161203_140624

My husband and I have been dreaming of owning our very own house for-freakin-ever. We have looked at probably close to a thousand hundred different properties throught the course of our five-year rental history. We’ve looked at condo units, pre-selling and RFOs, townhouses, duplexes, foreclosed units and small houses in gated villages. We’ve prioritized Quezon City since this is where our kids go to school but have kept an open mind and even looked at properties in Pasig, San Juan or Mandaluyong.

Turns out our dream house is just way beyond our budget.new-yearnew-home

Oh, there was this one time when we almost bought a townhouse. We got the bank approval, we had the downpayment and we had even paid the bank fees. Then we had a family emergency coupled with a misunderstanding with the seller…and poof! Goodbye house!

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Our old apartment which had the living room, dining area and kitchen in a small, cramped space.

Our two bedroom, two T&B, and one car garage apartment had become too small for my family of two adults, two growing girls, two yayas and a day maid. Every time we had visitors over, there were bound to be one or two persons standing in our living room for lack of space.

The choice we had to make was (1) stick with our current unit and save for the downpayment of our future house; or (2) move to a bigger apartment and forego the dream of buying our own place.

It’s simple, really. We were hoping to buy property in an area that was selling houses for twenty million pesos while our budget was only five. Heck, even condominium units (3BR or more) in the area we wanted cost as much as a house! We realised that even if we got bank approval for a housing loan, we had to pay for the equity, the transfer of the title, all of the utilities, any renovation we needed done on the house plus other incidentals we had not thought of. In the beginning, we had just enough for the downpayment. Eventually we had to come to terms with the fact that we needed so much more for other expenses.

For Option 1, if we pushed through with purchasing a house we wouldn’t be able to travel, no more staycations, definitely no more eating out, movies, massages and all the small luxuries we allowed ourselves and never really paid much attention to. We’d be pushing ourselves all the time to pay the mortgage plus have enough for household expenses, salaries of our help, and emergency money for, well, emergencies.

Option number 2 would mean that we would be spending so much more on rent that we might not save as much for a future house. But we would still be able to enjoy certain things, such as traveling or treating ourselves to mind-blowing food.

It was a heartbreakingly difficult decision. I cannot tell you how many times I broke down and cried and begged my husband for that dream home, or insisted we would be able to make it work. To be fair, he never told me otherwise! He would always say that whatever decision, I made he would support me. It took time for me to calm down and accept the fact that we just weren’t ready for that leap. 20161126_144730

Our ideal location (and it is all about location, location, location if you’re living in Metro Manila) was Teacher’s Village in Diliman. We found a lovely townhouse that had a lot of room and garage space. It’s far from perfect: we had repairs to deal with and it was no longer in a gated community (which my girls loved in our former apartment), but it was close to their schools and it really seemed a house my children could actually grow up in. There’s so much space, we’re so not used to it! It was such a far cry from our previous apartment that we didn’t have a hard time deciding whether or not to get it. The terms were much higher than we expected but we grabbed the opportunity and a month later we moved our things to this place.

20161203_135025I second guess myself from time to time. I ask myself, “should I have been more patient and saved up for a house of my own?’ Or sometimes I feel guilty when I see that my daughters don’t have playmates or kids their age playing in our street. Or we pass by a nice house with a “For Sale” sign and an image flashes in my head of us living in that place. I have my ups and downs…but I try very hard to count all of the things that I am grateful for in my life. I tell myself over and over again to be more patient. And in the back of my mind will always be that hope of a nice enough house I could one day call “mine”.

How To Transport Breastmilk via Plane

So this has been a post Ive composed in my head maybe a hundred times. It was borne out of a need to bring home frozen breastmilk after traveling to the United States of America late last year.

Before I went on that trip, I made sure I had enough breastmilk saved up for my exclusively breastfed 17 month old. You’ll be able to see in this post how I tried to prepare for my vacation. Even if I fell short of my goal to leave behind a freezer full of milk stash, I allowed myself not to feel guilty. After all, E has had only breastmilk up to that point.

I decided to bring my breast pump with me and just bring back the frozen expressed milk so that when I got home I would be able to refill what had been taken while I was away.

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For the flight, I checked in the breast pump since it was pretty bulky. It had an option to use batteries instead of being plugged in, which makes it easy to use while traveling, but certain airlines will not allow you to bring lithium batteries with your carry-on luggage so I decided against bringing it with me. The things I packed were:

  • Breastmilk storage bags
  • Breastpump
  • Nursing cover
  • Flanges and attachments
  • Small insulated bag (to store expressed milk)

I hand expressed during the 16-hour flight. I didn’t want to NOT pump for long periods of time because I knew that this would mean my supply would diminish. Throughout my 2-week trip, I pumped twice a day. Once in the morning when I woke up because this was the time when I would usually produce a lot of milk. I would also pump at night (before going to bed) and I ended up with about 4-5oz of breastmilk.

Then the time came for me to travel back home! Yippee! Another 16 hour flight going back which had me worried about my frozen breastmilk. If you place the frozen milk in a bag with ice this will only be good for about 4 hours, or slightly longer. I needed dry ice – essentially frozen carbon dioxide – which is great at keeping things in a frozen state. Dry ice also doesn’t melt, it turns into gas! You can’t touch dry ice with your bare hands as this can cause severe burns so if you’re checking this in with your precious breastmilk make sure you wrap this carefully in a cardboard box before putting your milk beside it. Keep it in an insulated bag, and remember to keep the zipper open a little bit to give the ice/gas some room to escape. I’ve heard that if you’re planning to put your dry ice in o20160929_032015ne of those hard-case suitcases, you also can’t close it completely. There’s a chance the dry ice could explode mid-flight if you seal it in! Um, SO not happening.

I wanted to double check so I called Homeland Security and asked about the limit of dry ice at the airport. They said I was allowed up to five pounds for checking in the dry ice. I then searched for places near my sister’s house in Massachusetts that sold dry ice. Since our flight was in the morning, I had to get the dry ice the evening before. Try to purchase the dry ice as close to your departure time as possible. The sublimation of the dry ice will begin as soon as it’s taken out, they say that about 5 pounds of dry ice will last for 24 hours. So my suggestion is even if the limit is 5 pounds make sure you get more than this, for sure you will be left with less than that amount by the time you check in.
Since I had to get the dry ice the night before, I was again stressing out over the amount. I thought that by the time my flight ended my milk would have thawed and I would have to throw everything out. Mommies, I bought 6 pounds of dry ice from Acme Dry Ice in Boston. Kept it in the insulated bag overnight, checked it in for my 16 hour flight and when I landed in Manila my breastmilk were still frozen!!! (No more dry ice in the cardboard box though).

Anyway, back to the preparation. I had to buy a bigger insulated bag when I realised the breastmilk bags plus dry ice wouldn’t fit in the one I brought with me (so spare yourself the last minute shopping and bring a big bag with you!). I had to rush to Target and buy one for $12.20160929_003842

I found out that some airlines can be pretty strict with transporting breastmilk especially if your baby is not with you. It might help to get a medical certificate from your pediatrician stating that youre still breastfeeding your baby (remember to get this before leaving for your trip). There is also this page on how the TSA stands on expressed milk which Ive heard some mommies show to airport officials and they let the frozen milk through (print this out before your departure). Personally, I checked in my luggage the usual way and did not have to show any documents.

I labeled the insulated bag and taped this on the outside then made sure to leave a small opening in the suitcase after I packed everything. I had those TSA approved locks on my bags for security so I wasn’t worried about my things falling out of the bag.

I hand expressed again on the flight back so I made sure to pack several breastmilk storage bags in my hand carry purse. The flight attendants were also nice enough to give me ice in plastic bags which I could keep the expressed milk in.

When we landed, I had about 63oz of frozen breastmilk and they all made it home safe and sound!!! They were still pretty frozen when I got back, it had softened just a little bit. If my flight had been longer it probably would be slushy, but the milk was still solid so I was ecstatic about that!

20160929_003854The dry ice was about $10 from Acme, the insulated bag was $12 from Target. Breastmilk storage bags, printed TSA notice and labels were things I brought with me or did at my sister’s home so they’re free. Basically I only spent $22! And all that breastmilk I managed to pump and bring home to my baby? Priceless!

Hope this post helps you if you’re traveling soon and planning to bring home your expressed milk. Safe travels!

Choosing Your Breastmilk Storage Bag

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-12-20-51-amWhen I started breastfeeding my youngest and determined that I would stick with this no matter what, I never realised that even choosing the breastmilk storage bag would be a bit of a challenge for me.

Remember that when storing your breastmilk, you can actually keep the milk in pre-sterilized storage bags and deep freeze for 3 up to 6 months. If you keep your milk in the fridge (not the freezer) the milk is only good for 24 hours. Plus if your frozen milk has thawed you cannot re-freeze your milk. Yup, either make your baby drink it or throw it away. And no decent breastfeeding momma will want to throw even a single drop away!

Choosing the manner in which you store your expressed milk is really up to you. You can store the milk in bottles, and I know a lot of moms who do it this way, but since I didn’t purchase a lot of bottles to begin with, I found the disposable, pre-sterilised storage bags more convenient.

I went through a lot of them. A LOT. And I never realised that these bags could be pretty expensive! From P300 to more than P1,000 depending on the brand that you buy. Some have double locks, some are tiny (Colostrum bags), some have nifty little “noses” that you could tear and it becomes a spout which makes pouring the expressed milk a heck of a lot easier.

When I started, I bought the cheapest breastmilk storage bag I could find, unfortunately there were several instances where the bag had ripped, torn and the milk leaked. Please note that these bags were not filled with breastmilk and that you should never over-fill your storage bags. They usually have those measurements on them that note the capacity of those bags. But when your milk starts to freeze, the liquid will expand so if you fill your milk bags up to the very top – when it expands and freezes then its the plastic that breaks and rips apart (cue: big, fat mom tears)! I have also had happened to me was I had stacked the breastmilk bags on top of others that were already frozen, the newer bag sticks onto the older frozen bag and when I would pry them apart – the bags unfortunately tore! Bye bye breastmilk.

Here are some of the breastmilk storage bags I ended up buying:

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I never filled my storage bags to the top and would always write how much milk I had expressed, the date and the time, so that I wouldn’t get confused. I also wanted to make sure that I used the older bags first rather than the milk I had just pumped! Follow the ‘first in, first out’ policy in this case 🙂

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I used to  buy those bags that could stand on their own (pictured above). They had stiff bottoms that you could open up, kind of like those tetra pack juices. But when my stash of milk started to take up a lot of space, I figured out that I could store more milk with the bags flat on top of each other. So that standing upright feature wasn’t really a huge factor for me.

Price was definitely a huge consideration. I would go through a box of breastmilk bags (about 25 pcs per box) in a week or week and a half. It was therefore not practical for me to buy storage bags that amounted to P1,000 or more than $20.

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I personally like the Ai-Non storage bag although I wish that it had the double zipper feature. Its very sturdy, it never tore on me, quite compact, was never messy when I transferred the milk…but it’s a tad bit pricey for me.

The ebelbo bags were frustrating because the bottom of the bags would clump and freeze in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it would result in tearing because I would try to fit it in a space with other bags that had sharp corners jutting out. I also had a hard time getting these bags to stand on their own, because the bottoms were not stiff at all. Luckily, I really didn’t need them to be upright on many occasions. On the plus side, the ebelbo bags have double zipper tops for leak-proof effectiveness and the price isn’t so bad either.

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You can store your bags lying down on the freezer so they take up less space, in the beginning I had placed my bags standing  up in the freezer and I quickly ran out of space this way. I also like to play it safe and put my frozen milk in a separate gallon-size ziplock bag, just to be sure that they don’t get contaminated from what else is in our freezer.

Think about your priorities when you’re buying breastmilk storage bags. Is it price? Capacity? Is it sturdy enough? If you have a lot of bottles you could always store the milk there so you won’t have to use plastic bags. Just make sure the bottles have airtight caps, that you label them properly and and that you don’t fill them up to the top.

Which breastmilk storage bag do you swear by? And how do you choose your storage bags? Do let me know! I hope this has helped you somewhat in deciding what kind of bag to get for your expressed milk. Happy breastfeeding!

 

My Plan To Pump Breastmilk As I Prepare For Travel Without My Baby

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I have been exclusively breastfeeding my youngest daughter for 17 months now , hooray! I never really thought I would be going on this breastfeeding journey for this long. I thought that as soon as E reached a year old we would just, well, stop. A year and a half later, we are still at it. We also did not stop co-sleeping, as a result she roots for my boobs when she’s sleepy and latches about 4 or 5 times throughout the night.
I worried about how this would be affected when I left for my trip to the States and I would be gone for 2 whole weeks. This would mark the first time that I wouldnt be with both my children actually! Who would E rub her face against when trying to get herself to sleep? Who else but I knew her cues inside out and would soothe her even before she needed soothing? My heart bled at the thought of spending one night away from them, however, the trip really could not be helped.
So first things first! I needed to make sure that E’s breastmilk was enough. Since she was eating solids already she normally drank about 1.5oz to 2oz of milk per feeding. There were instances when she would be full from eating at mealtimes and she would go straight to sleep and not even drink milk.
I would be gone for only 2 weeks but I wanted a buffer for the breastmilk so when I thought of the desired output, I chose 21 days or 3 weeks instead of the actual 2 weeks that I would be gone. By my computation, I should have about 1.50z x 3 feedings x 21 days = 91 oz of breastmilk saved up.
If I pumped everyday twice a day for 3 months, I would have at least 180 oz of milk. Hey that’s a lot! This was such great news because I wouldnt come back to an empty freezer! I started pumping around June since breastmilk if frozen would last 3 months in our freezer compartment (the trip was in September).
Obviously, since I am not the most industrious “pumper”, (Im not a fan of constant pumping, washing and sterilising the parts) I already knew that I would not be able to pump everyday or that I would not be able to keep each and every storage bag I collect.
I ended up with about 51 oz of milk, I knew this was nowhere near the amount that I wanted but I also told myself I would not beat myself over it. I’ll be happy with what I was able to store and that was that! I decided to bring my pump with me while traveling so that my supply wouldnt decrease drastically.

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This is what my frozen breastmilk looked like in our freezer, I stored them in individual breastmilk storage bags then arranged them lying down in the freezer compartment. I also placed the bags inside freezer safe ziplock bags to be extra sure they don’t get contaminated by the food.

Other preparations I made was that I brought lots of breastmilk storage bags. Those babies are expensive! I also considered purchasing those sterilizer tablets which I heard was so convenient for people who are on the go. However after much research, I decided that soap and hot water was more than enough. I also wanted to bring rechargeable batteries but after double checking with the airline, turns out lithium batteries were not allowed. Make sure you check with your airline before going on a flight because (I think) some are not so rigid about this.

I gave strict instructions to the people I left at home on the time E would normally want milk, how much to give and how to thaw it properly. I also told them not to worry so much if they see the bags disappearing one by one in the freezer. I assured them we have options if push comes to shove, and that as soon as I got back, I would bring some more breastmilk with me.
And that was basically it! The frozen breastmilk were stacked in the freezer, the breast pump and attachments were with me as well as the breastmilk storage bags and nursing covers. I knew I would be counting the days when I could get back home to my two precious girls!

My Preferred Nipple Creams

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My brother in law’s wife is due to give birth in August and since it has been 9 years since she last gave birth, she has been asking me for tips on childbirth and breastfeeding. She also wanted to know how she could avoid more stretch marks and I flat out told her “Honey, I can’t help you there. I tried it all and I still got ’em!”

So, aside from the other breastfeeding tips (proper and latch, eat and drink plenty and don’t be stressed) I told her to buy nipple cream as well. Nipple creams are super helpful especially in the first few weeks of breastfeeding when one is more prone to sore and cracked nipples because you’re establishing the proper latch with your baby.

I found nipple creams to be very effective and I used them everyday of my breastfeeding journey (I still religiously apply them till now). With my eldest, I started on the nipple cream only when my nipples cracked. Yes, that happens when your breatsfeeding. My nipples got so sore they also bled, the skin on them cracked and every time my daughter latched it felt like fire. I did not want to go through all that again and what do you know? I haven’t had any of those issues with my second baby.

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I used Medela PureLan  cream for the longest time. I would apply this on my nipple and the surrounding area everyday, always after I took a bath. It’s a sticky kind of cream with a yellow tinge, kinda looks like honey. It’s a little bit difficult to apply because of the sticky consistency but I have not noticed this leaving any stain on my bra or pads. Although I would still recommend using breast pads with this cream just to  be on the safe side. What I did notice was on those days when my nipples were extra sensitive (my daughter had latched for a long while or would cluster feed), it would be teensy weensy painful to peel off my bra because my boobs had ‘stuck’ on to the cotton inside.

When the baby was around 11 months I switched to Lansinoh’s Lanolin Cream, I bought it from Mothercare and it was a bit pricey. This cream is harvested from the fat of sheep’s wool and is 100% pure lanolin. It has a clear color and is much smoother to smear on. It doesn’t stick to your fingers or leave a sticky residue. It doesn’t have a scent and I only put in a small dot and it goes a long way.

“Lansinoh’s Lanolin is the queen of nipple creams.” – Mama Milk

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Both Medela’s PureLan and Lansinoh’s Lanolin are safe for the baby when she wants to breastfeed. There isn’t any need to wipe or remove it when the baby wants to latch. Both have no scent and even if the Medela nipple cream was stickier, both tubes only need a small amount to apply and will last many, many months.

Choosing which cream to apply is really a personal preference, I just want to assure you that both these brands did wonders for me.If I had to choose one over the other though I would go with Lansinoh’s Lanolin cream for purely cosmetic reasons, I wouldn’t worry about staining my bra if I use this and it’s easier to apply in a pinch.

(By the way, I was not sponsored by Medela or Lansinoh for this post. All the ideas posted here are my own.)

Alternative Playground

Last People Power anniversary, while the rest of the country was on holiday, I decided to take my kids to the Quezon City Circle (it’s not like we Moms have ‘holidays’ right?). I realised later on that it might not have been such a brilliant idea. The QC circle was bustling! So many tents and tiangges or bazaars, there were families who brought sports equipment and were playing badminton or volleyball, kids were careening down streets on bicycles, there was an area for karting and picnic blankets were spread out on every available patch of ground.

At the QC Circle, there’s a section filled with jungle gym or playground equipment. When we got to this part of the park it was packed! Every single swing, slide, seesaw or even just an area with a small amount of shade – every single one was taken. Parents brought blankets with them and had spread them out on the floor. Some were sleeping, some were eating, some had even brought those small TV monitors and were watching local shows. It was crazy!

My daughter waited for over 30minutes just so she could go on a swing, and there was another kid waiting for her turn after her! When she got off the swing, I automatically went to wipe her hands and they were literally orange from the rust on the bars of the swing-eek!

Imagine my relief when we went to UP Diliman College of Human Kinetics and they had this new playground set up. From rockers, seesaws and swing sets, they even had an obstacle course and outdoor gym equipment for the adults. It was relatively new when we got there and still pretty clean. Hooray! There’s a mountain bike trail to the side of the building as well so older kids could go riding on this trail, I noticed a lot of families taking advantage of this the couple of times we were there.
There weren’t a lot of people when we went, the playground was still new and in real good condition. No rust or stains on my daughter’s hands after she went on the swing! Plenty of space for parents to sit around and watch their kids. It was in an area of the college that had a lot of trees so the heat was not much of an issue. Parking and the use of the facilities were free so it’s wonderful because you won’t spend much. I didn’t see families spreading picnic blankets on the grounds but there are benches near the college that large groups could use. There’s a big grassy area near the swings so if you want to go picnicking I imagine this shouldn’t be an issue.

This is a great alternative to QC Circle and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. If you happen to live near UP, a quick trip to CHK with the kiddos will truly be an enjoyable treat! It’s inexpensive, clean and not ridiculously congested. So go check it out and have fun!


Any playground venues you favour? Let me know!