Posts in “Travel”

Family time at Brazos Bend State Park

Monday, April 26, 2021

Brent and I brought the kids at Brazos Bend State Park over the weekend . The weather was perfect for us to have a short hike and explore the beauty of nature. Here are some of interesting cool images I took.

When you enter the State park, you’ll see these awesome trees. God is just a great creator!

Our foster child experienced her first adventure at State park

I’m in love with these trees! I wish we have these in our yard. I wonder what kind of tree is it.

Such beautiful!

One of the reasons why I haven’t blog these past few months, it’s because this little precious baby is making us busy, but in a good way. Busy, tired but we love it!


Hope you enjoy this quick post! 🙂


P.S The first photo was photoshop by the way haha So fun to show it for the kids!


Flashback to Thailand and Thai Food

Thursday, February 8, 2018

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If Brent and I were given the chance to choose where to be right now, we’d probably both say, “Thailand” because of the food!! It’s a place that is dear to my husband’s heart because he spent a few years teaching kids there. For me, this particular trip is special because it was my first time traveling outside of the Philippines. We traveled back to Thailand together a few more times after that, but we can’t wait to bring our kids along. We want them to explore the nature, beaches, waterfalls, caves, and of course, we want them to eat a lot of good food!

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If you’re traveling here for the first time, you’ll be surprised at how cheap the food is. Don’t let the price fool you though, it is delicious and served fresh. When we traveled together to Thailand for the first time, Brent and I liked to eat dim sum for lunch. They have a variety of dim sum and it’s totally delicious!! I can eat these all by myself…

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You can also enjoy eating dim sum outside with a sunny and beautiful day. People here are friendly and accommodating, it feels like home in the Philippines.

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When I came to Thailand for a visit, Brent introduced me to a variety of Thai foods. If you know me, I’m not adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, but Brent helped me explore and realize what food I was missing out on!

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We always ordered Som Tum (Papaya Salad) as an appetizer. Oh boy, this is so delicious! It is made of fresh, shredded, unripened papaya and is crunchy and spicy. You can request to have it not spicy, but it’s better to have it spicy… It’s worth the taste! It also has some peanuts, garlic, green beans, tomatoes, and some fish sauce.

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My absolute favorite Thai food is Pad Thai. Whether it’s shrimp or chicken, the flavors are really delicious. This is the dish I always ask for when we eat out at Thai restaurants. Pad Thai are soaked rice noodles with fish sauce, chopped firm tofu, eggs, chives, tamarind pulp, and other condiments like bean sprouts, chili pepper, roasted peanuts, and limes. Again, I always ask to have it spicy!

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The cool part of traveling in parts of Asia like Thailand, is that there are plenty of street foods that will satisfy your stomach. Fresh fruits, drinks, and some desserts are my favorites.
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If you are looking for drinks, you should try our favorite pick: Chai Yen (Thai Iced Tea). You can buy it pretty much everywhere in Thailand. My husband also knows how to make this drink and we pair it with the homemade Pad Thai he cooks.

Has anyone who visited Thailand? Do you have any favorite foods from Thai cuisine?


CATEGORY Food, Travel

Highlights Of Our Trip to the Philippines

Monday, March 13, 2017

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We finally made it back to Houston, and Brent and I are definitely missing the tropical life and good food from the Philippines. I actually felt that I got spoiled while I was there with my family. My mom and brother cooked food for us (all of them were yummy!) and my brother drove us around with the kids. The most amazing thing of all for me was that I got to rest whenever I wanted! This is because my family and relatives would help take care of my kids, and they loved doing it. 😉 It was my dream vacation. I thought to share some of the highlights that my family and I enjoyed while in the Philippines!

Tres Reyes Beach

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This beach is in my hometown of Marinduque, a small island province in the Philippines. We drove from my family’s house in Marinduque to the town of Gasan. From there, we rode a boat that took us to the island where Tres Reyes Beach is located. Brent really loves this place, and it was my kids’ first time going there. They were scared being in the boat, but once they were on the beach, they immediately started playing with the kids who lived there. If you are planning to go there, we found a “bangkero” or boat driver that you can inquire about. We paid 1,000 Pesos or $20 USD round trip.

Duyay River

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It’s a simple river that has a man-made pool, which overflows like a mini-waterfall. I like how they made small cottages for visitors where you rest, hangout with the family, and have a lunch or snack. The water is pretty cool, but once you are in it, it feels good to swim in! There are a couple of families there who still wash their clothes in the river and dry them on the big rocks by the water. We paid 30 Pesos (less than a dollar) per person to get there.


Filipino Food

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This is Miki, my kids and my husband love it!
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Halo-halo “mixed together” – a Filipino dessert

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(Grilled Milkfish – this photo was taken few years ago when my mom was here and made it for my husband’s family)

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“Ginataang Crab” (crab with coconut milk)

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Sweet and Sour Fish

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Fresh Shrimp

My mom is a good cook, especially when it comes to Filipino foods; most of the moms in the Philippines are! I loved when she made us “Ginataang Crab” (crab with coconut milk) and grilled milkfish (a boneless fish with delicious stuffing inside). This is something that visitors should try when in the Philippines! Brent also loved to eat fresh fish like “Blue Marlin” or other fishes that my mom bought directly from the fisherman near where we lived. There is also a restaurant in the town of Boac that serves delicious Filipino foods. It is located in the Boac Hotel in Marinduque. Unfortunately, there are no good Western foods in this province,  but if you are in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, there are plenty of Western and other types of food that you can choose from.

Filipino Bathtime

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My kids totally loved the experience of taking a bath in a “palanggana” outside or or “timba” (basin) if they are in the bathroom. It brought joy and laughter to their faces. It was such a good feeling for me to see that they were able to share in this experience from my childhood.

Lunch at Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut)

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My grandparents who passed away, have land in a small place called Duyay (still in the province of Marinduque). We went there to bring the kids to see the more country-side life with the coconut tree areas and to have lunch in a bahay kubo (nipa hut). It was great to have a simple meal with my family together with chickens, pigs, and dogs around us… Maybe a snake as well. 😉

My Eldest Son Attending A Filipino School

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(my youngest son looking for his big brother)

My eldest son had the chance to join a daycare class where my family lives in Boac, Marinduque. He was always excited to go to school and be around the kids ever since I mentioned the school to him. Even though my kids’ father is American, I always try to speak to and teach them my native language Tagalog. I also teach them Filipino songs and about Filipino culture ever since they were very young. Even though the classes were short, I think it was a good experience for him to interact with other Filipino kids and teachers. I’m also glad to have met fellow moms in the classroom and make friends with them. They were very sweet to my son.

Filipino playtime
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One of the items on my agenda for my kids, was to for them to play some Filipino games  with the kids there like “jackpot / rubberband game”, chinese garter, “tumbang preso” and running in the field. My eldest son was also able to have an early 3rd Birthday celebration. It was a simple gathering, but we all wanted him to experience celebrating his birthday with Filipino kids and food that we normally prepare for birthdays there.

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( NOT happy about our ride 😉 )

Being able to visit my hometown again was something that my husband and I are so grateful for. We realized just how fortunate and blessed we are to have a good place to live, food, and the things we have here in America. It was also a great for my kids to see a different part of the world to witness the culture and lifestyle of the Philippines, a third world culture.

Have you ever been to the Philippines? What activities and food do you want to try there, and where would you like to visit there?

P.S. We are still in jetlagged! Since it’s a big time difference, my kids have been waking in the middle of the night and have been having a hard time going back to sleep. Hopefully they will be back on their normal schedule soon!


Juice that you should try in the Philippines

Monday, February 20, 2017

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Ever since I was a kid, Calamansi juice has been the most-requested juice I ask my mom to make for me. Even my husband loves the taste of it! My mom makes this juice almost everyday, especially if someone in our family has a cold and cough. We don’t usually buy calamansi in the market because in the province, my mom has her own calamansi tree. My kids had calamansi juice for the first time here and they totally fell in love with the taste. They love to help picking the fruit from the tree with their Lola (Grandma) to make calamansi juice. Filipinos also love to use calamansi to mix with dipping sauce, like in soy sauce with fresh chilis. It makes food like grilled fish or liempo so good! Even for noodles like pancit, we love to use calamansi too. Here are a few simple steps on how my mom and I make this fresh and delicious calamansi juice!




½ cup of sugar (or more depending on your liking)

5 cups of water


Step 1 Wash calamansi and cut the top or through the center.

Step 2 Using a fruit drainer and small pitcher, squeeze calamansi into it to separate the seeds from the juice. I probably use 20 to 30 pieces of calamansi.

Step 3 After squeezing all the calamansi, pour 5 cups of water into the pitcher.

Step 4 Use ½ cup of sugar (or more depending on your liking) and stir it well.

Step 5 Store it in the fridge until it’s chilled or simply add ice to your glass, to start drinking this fresh and delicious juice.


Anyone here tried calamansi juice? What’s your favorite juice from other parts of the world?

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CATEGORY Food, Travel

Bohemian Wedding

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Last week, I witnessed the wonderful wedding of my best friend from high school. I met Fritzie when I moved from the province of Marinduque to the city of Manila, for my sophomore year of high school. We became close friends probably because we were both “hopeless romantics” or what they called “no boyfriends since birth.” It’s funny to look back at how we were always together during Valentine’s day, looking at the romantic couples at school, and day-dreaming about when our prince charmings would appear before us. BUT, waiting and praying for the one is worth it. Fritzie found the first and last love of her life in Adrian. I found the first and last love of my life as well in my husband, Brent. God’s plan is always perfect, and in His time! Here are some photos from their wedding that captured the special day.





Did the calligarphy


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I did my makeup in a dewy, natural looking style using some of the following products: Bobbi Brown foundation and concealer, Earth and Eve 8 Hour Cream Blush, Becca Cosmetics Backlight Primer Filter, and Lorac contour and highlight powder.

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Highschool friends. Photo by Meg.


Photo: Erwin Leyros

Video: The Film Hat

Florist: Moki Gray

Bridal Make Up: MJ Bornales

Bridal Hair Stylist: Jovit Sanguyo

Entourage HMUA: Makeup By Denisse Martin PAIGE Makeup Artist Em Olympia Smith

Cake & Pastries: The Buttermarket

Photobooth & Bridal Car: Alejandro Rafael Vintage Cars Rental

Lights & Sound system: Artuz101 Professional Lights and Sound System

Host: Kris lumagui

Tent: Tent King

Catering: k. by cunanan catering

Coordinators: events by ncsalcedo

Reception Venue: Two Gardens Tagaytay

Church: San Antonio de Padua Church

Smores & Bar Station: TNY DIY Rentals

Invitation, Lounge area & Favors : Couple’s DIY

Groom’s Suit: Topman

Bridal Dress: Mynamour Wedding Dress Dubai – UAE




Don’t forget to watch my Instastories for the fun (and sometimes crazy) happenings of my Philippine trip with my kids! 🙂





Adrian and Fritzie | Bohemian | Wedding {Same Day Edit} from The Film Hat on Vimeo.


Flying With the Toddlers (Philippines here we come!)

Monday, January 9, 2017



I’m SO excited that we are going to the Philippines soon! I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, to finally bring my kids to my hometown. They’ll be able to meet my family and friends there, eat the best mangoes, hear more Filipino words for them to learn, see beautiful coral and white sand beaches, and see… traffic. Haha! I am worried about a lot of stuff though, like with transportation. Normally, we use public transportation in the Philippines, but they don’t have car seats or seat belts (except for taxis unless the seatbelt is not broken). Anyway, I’ve been busy lately trying to finish a list of what things I must bring and plans for when we are inside plane for more than 15 hours! Here are some of the most important items on my list.


Choose Aisle Seats – I like to choose aisles, so it’s easy to get out if I need to go to the restroom or walk a little bit with kids.

Bring A Copy of Birth Certificate – They always ask for this in the airport so I’ll be sure to bring this along.

Use the Ergo Baby Carrier – At first, I thought this was only for babies, but turns out I can use this for my eldest son too! But for this trip, I’ll use this for my youngest son.  It keeps him close to me and prevents him from wandering or getting lost. This is SO helpful during travel especially if everything around me is getting busy.

Avoid Long Earrings and Necklaces – These are a big no-no around my kids! They might play with them and pull them. That’s why I just prefer to wear a watch around them, and that’s all!

Wear Easy On/Off Shoes (Similar shoes) – I would love to use flip flops, but it’s going to be cold in the airport and plane, so I better wear slip-on shoes that are easy to remove and put on.

Separate Snack Bags – My eldest son has a small backpack where I’ll put snacks in since they’re light enough for him to carry. I love to use ziplocks to separate snacks like cheerios, craisins, and fish crackers.

Bring Random Toys – I looked for random small stuff to bring for my toddlers so that I can distract the kids inside the plane. It really works a lot. I’m also planning to get new cheap toys (like $1) so they will get excited. Surprisingly, cheap toys are more entertaining for my kids.

Bring a Laptop/Tablet and Download Family Videos or Cartoons – Brent and I don’t let our kids watch TV or anything with a screen often, only for emergencies or for something special. However, since sitting inside a plane can be boring and tiring, I’m using our old family videos to show my kids if they are acting out of control. I also downloaded music videos and cartoons and fun games.

Bring a Bib – Bibs not only help avoid stains on my kids’ clothes, I use them to hold their snacks so they are hands-free. Brent and I LOVE this plastic bib that we have (similar to here), and have been using it ever since my kids were only 5 month old babies! 

Bring an Empty Water Bottle (with hook) – I always like to bring an empty bottle and hook it onto my backpack. I fill it up after the security check since they don’t allow a lot of water before security check.

Feed the Baby on the Way Up and Down – I’d like to save snacks for the times the plane takes off and lands since that’s time that my kids feel uncomfortable and scared.

Bring Favorite Stuffed Toys – I definitely cannot forget these! My kids love their OWL and FROGGIE. They make them feel secure and help them to fall asleep when they are holding them. I know what you’re thinking. Am I not enough? Haha kidding!

Bring a Toddler Neck Pillow (similar travel pillow)- My eldest son will have his own seat for the first time, so I thought I’d bring a neck pillow for him since it will be a long flight.


This picture is from the time I flew alone with them going to LA last year. It was tough, but not more crazy than I expected. Good thing this time, we’ll be flying with my mom, so she can assist me with our 15+ hour trip!


Any other things I should bring? Any advice and tips? Let me know. 🙂


My Airplane Essentials (Beauty Products I Have to Bring)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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Today, I’ll be sharing my airplane essentials which I love to bring in my hand carry bag. I’m super excited because in the next few days, I’ll be visiting the Philippines together with… *Drum roll please* My kids!! It’s going to be their first time going there, and my first time in over three years! A crazy adventure, I know, but I’m excited for them to go with me! I know it will be so different flying with the kids compared to flying alone. However, thinking about the 20-24 hours of travel and being stuck in the plane with dry air, I want to make sure I have my beauty essentials with me. That way, I can keep my skin hydrated, feel clean, and not look haggard after the flight. 😉


  • Sanitizer – I always keep hand sanitizer with me while travelling as it can sometimes be hard to find time a sink to wash your hands. This is especially true if I’m with my two toddlers.


  • Neutrogena Facial Wipes – I love to wear makeup before I travel (my husband still doesn’t understand why…), but I always make sure to remove my makeup if I’m on the plane and will be staying on a long flight. I feel more comfortable sleeping on the plane if my face is clean and free from makeup and dirt.


  • Moisturizer – I always keep my facial moisturizer in my beauty bag, inside a small container. Staying inside the airplane for long trips makes my skin super dry. That’s why after I remove my makeup with facial wipes, I apply a generous amount of moisturizer to my face. It makes me feel refreshed!


  • Smith’s Rosebud Lip Balm – I don’t forget lip balm to avoid chapped and dry lips. I love this Smith’s lip balm that keeps my lips moisturized and feeling smooth.


  • L’Occitane Hand Cream – This is a great hand cream I got from my mother-in-law. My hands gets dry easily and it’s good to have this in my beauty bag to make my hands feel soft and smooth. Plus, it doesn’t feel sticky!


  • Evian Facial Spray – This is an easy way to feel hydrated during travel. I love to spray my face with this during the summer, but I’m bringing this with me to refresh my face anytime I want during the plane ride.


  • BareMinerals Lipcolor – Before the plane has landed, I like to put minimal makeup on. Since this Bareminerals Lipcolor is liquid with a wand, it is convenient to use while traveling for adding some color to my lips. As I mentioned before, I also love using this for an instant blush.


  • L’oreal Brow Definer – I don’t bring a lot of makeup in my hand carry bag because to be realistic, I don’t have time for that right now. 😉 But if I had to choose just one item to bring, it would have to be makeup for my eyebrows. It makes a big difference with your face if you have good shaped brows 🙂


  • Liquid Concealer – Concealer with a wand is always the best for traveling since it’s easy to apply, and can be used to even out red spots around my nose. I find liquid concealer can also cover up dark circles in a natural-looking way.


  • Clinique Happy Perfume – Of course, I want to smell good during my travels too, especially if I know I’ll have food stains and milk on my clothes… Here’s my all-time favorite Clinique Happy Perfume. It’s been my favorite ever since I was in highschool. 


  • Goody Hair Elastics – To have thick, long hair, I make sure I have extra elastic hair bands to keep my hair out of my face.


  • Pocket Hand Mirror – I like to keep a small pocket mirror inside my makeup bag too. Just in case I have something between my teeth after plane meals, I’ll be able to see it. It might even be able to serve as a toy for my kids… Who knows? Random things surprises them!


  • Tropical bag from Etsy.


What are your travel beauty essentials? Any tips for moms like me who are traveling with toddlers??


Welcome to Hello Island Mama! I love to share about motherhood, makeup, DIYs, home styling and faith. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from Philippines. Thank you for your time to read and don't forget to subscribe above! - Em

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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