An Afternoon at Oli Oli Dubai

Summer break is almost over and some of you are still on your summer breaks away from Dubai. And to the rest of us enduring the unforgiving heat, searching for activities for kids is like looking for a SALE pants that fits you in a boutique store. You want something that is cost-friendly yet something that will be good for your kids physically and mentally. My good friend Ruba (founder and owner of 3Dinova) recommended Oli Oli and my kids loved it! Oli Oli is an interactive children's museum located in Al Quoz (beside Time Square). They have 8 galleries and 40 hands-on exhibits.

Khloe loved Toshi's Nest and Kurt's favorite was the Cars and Ramps. They both enjoyed the Water Gallery but I personally would have spent one full day at the Creative Lab. We all had fun on that afternoon spent at Oli Oli Dubai!


Quick Batangas Getaway

Summer is here and we were blessed to spend a couple weeks in the Philippines meeting family and friends. Two weeks was too short but it was better than no time at all. So we maximized our stay and tried to fit in work (we have opened a branch in Manila and we are now accepting bookings for 2020 weddings) and personal stuff with so little time. And if you are like me who has spent more than 15 years in Dubai, you will understand why I missed thunderstorms. Having lulled into sleep by the gushing of rain and distant thunder was something I missed a lot. But it didn't rain everyday and we were blessed to have some sun during our quick Batangas getaway. The sun was kind and shone during our planned trip to Batangas. We stayed in Balai Isabel which was situated on the shores of the Taal Lake. Eat bulalo, ride a horse and walk along a volcano crater - all ticked off our trip bucket list.

How to reach the crater? There are boats available for rent from 1,500php to 3,000php for each boat which can transport up to 6 people. And when you reach the Vulcan Point, there are horses for hire for 500php (includes horse guide). You will also have to pay a minimal fee as environment fee and there are tour guides available too. Bring your own water as they sell drinks there with a high mark up. Not that high though. Consider it as a contribution for the villagers there. It is notable that Vulcan Point is cited as the largest third order island which means it is an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island. *mind-blown* We got back aches from riding the horse but it is all worth it!

 

 

We also spent a day in Enchante Farm in Alfonso, Cavite. If you are planning a trip for your family or with a group of friends, this is a highly recommended place. If you book a stay here, you will have the place for yourselves. They have an infinity pool, a billiard room, chalets, fruit bearing trees (organic pineapples are the best), a bonfire area perfect for barbecues and late night chats and my favorite, a karaoke room. :) Met with my cousins, aunts, nephews and nieces I haven't seen for a long time. Book with them and mention "MELRISH" and they will give you special offers. Best place for family outing, company trip and it is also a perfect place for your garden wedding!

Two weeks was short but it was enough for me to recharge. I would advise everyone to step back from work every now and then to unwind and clear out your head. It doesn't have to be 2 weeks, it can be shorter. It doesn't have to be some place far but should be some place new. Trust me, when you go back to work, you will be surprised with all the new ideas and new energy that you have!


Don't Stop Moving Forward

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my 39 years of existence. Whew! 39 is a big number. A few more years before I go through the midlife stage. And I have been pondering lately...am I where I want to be now that I am 39?

When the year started, I felt like I have slipped into a comfort zone where I suddenly felt I have hit a wall. It wasn't really a bad wall. It was just I felt so comfortable with where I was and it was not for my benefit. I became the hare in the fable the tortoise and the hare in which the hare felt he was ahead and slumped into a sleep. How did I become the hare? Earlier this year, I won Best Director in the recent Emirates Film Festival, my second year in a row for the short film "Girl Next Door". Illustrado Magazine has also included me in this year's Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf. It was a dream come true. Then I got lazy thinking of new film projects.

And then there is our new office. I used to dream of having my own office with brick walls and wooden floors with big windows. Late last year, we were blessed moved in to that office. Then we got so busy also with a lot of projects which was another reason I couldn't post as often as I wanted. One of those major projects was the Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC 2018). We also have reliable talented individuals join our team which is great except that I did not shoot as often as I used to. They are that good!!! I also stopped joining photography contests because I did not have time to review and edit my work. I felt so accomplished in the beginning of the year that I slipped into a routine that did not involve any growth. This is when getting comfortable is not good.

Since I felt I was ahead, I stopped setting new goals; it is one of the pitfalls of enjoying your comfort zone too much. It was not I was not working. Every day I was still busy. I was only going through the motions. I was doing the same thing everyday. I stopped innovating and stopped reinventing. I thought, "I am happy now with where I am, why should I leave this place?" I stopped learning and experimenting new things. Then I realized, what I have achieved is minuscule compared to what I can still achieve.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful and content with God has blessed me with. Contentment is different with being comfortable. Look at it this way, if you got blessed with an awesome house and in it was everything you need - a comfy sofa & bed, a big TV and a fridge full of food - wouldn't you feel happy and content? Of course you will. But don't lock yourself inside that house when outside of that house there is still a lot to do and so much to explore. On the other hand, you don't have to be like Mother Teresa or Elon Musk. The universe doesn't expect you to stop the war in Syria, to invent the cure for cancer or to a millionaire by 40. The littlest deed or the littlest idea can make the world a better place. Sitting pretty and being stagnant is different from moving forward one step at a time.

I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. And because of them, I will strive to be a better person. Seeing my children tells me there is still a lot more I can do. God still has a lot of things in store ahead and it is time to pack the bag and leave my comfort zone. The journey doesn't stop here.

Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Don't stop moving forward. Reach new heights. One is never too old to set bigger goals.

P.S. And to my family and team, thank you for throwing that really surprising birthday party with my faves - ice scramble, fish ball, etc! 


Believe That There are Far Better Things Ahead

We started 2017 with uneasy steps. It started with uncertainty. But God was with us and blessed us abundantly beyond our dreams.

One of our biggest blessings was to meet and hire the best people. I think as an entrepreneur and leader, the hardest struggle is to find and retain the best talents. We started the year with 5 team members and we ended the year with 11. We did not intend to grow this fast but with God as our CEO, there is no dream too big. He taught us that nothing was impossible.

Jed, Maria Reiko, Sheldone, and Norbert joined us during the first quarter of the year. Audrey joined midyear. With the grace of God, we opened our printing department and hired Ate Mary Anne and Jonalyn. We found MJ during the last quarter of the year and we were blessed that her sister, Jena was available too. We took a leap of faith getting her on board even it was out of our budget but she was a blessing we couldn't let pass. And before the year ended, Clarize joined the team as well. It is beyond words how much we appreciate each one of them. They are all talented and hard working. We are now such a BIG family!

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind - CS Lewis

Every start of the year, I set goals and targets. We are so blessed that we blew our targets through the ceiling. Five years back, it was only a wishful thinking to shoot a hundred weddings a year. But God made it possible. We also covered weddings in Qatar, Bahrain, India and Georgia this year. Here are a few of our favorites:

We thank all the couples and planners who trusted us. And we thank all the couples who will put their trust in us.

We planned to open our printing shop next year, and we were not even 100% sure. But God led us to do it this year. And we named in Ever Last. 

We actually chose wreath because of its representation for Christmas (Christ's birth)- the giver of everlasting life. We were personally more inclined with the circular wreath because it means it has no beginning and no end. Wreaths were also originally made of evergreens to represent life everlasting. And that is how we got the name Ever Last. Our printing department is now located in Ibn Battuta Gate.

Our family was still our priority so we decided to move the studio closer to home. We rented a slightly bigger studio in Onyx Towers last April and we faced struggles in fitting it out and we finally moved in before the year ended. God's perfect timing, we now have a bigger office for our growing team.

2017 did not start well but we kept believing and hoping. Our God is bigger than our dreams and His plans are greater than ours. All we need is to trust Him. Onward to 2018! Happy new year to all!


Look & Feel : BENQ 27" Photographer Monitor

Thanks to BenQ Middle East for giving us a chance to feel and experience the new BenQ SW Series Monitor designed for Photographers and Cinematographers like us. As of now we are Mac users from video editing and even on photo retouching, we are using these machines since we started our photography business. We are using it because the quality of colors from the monitor is really stunning (in our own opinion -- ).

BenQ representative gave us a call if we are ok to try their new product which is the 27 inches BenQ Monitor (SW Series), they said it is a photographer monitor. So we gave it a try. First impression was hmmmm, I thought it was a good competitor of the Mac Monitor but less expensive.

I have my Macbook pro early 2014, I tried to connect to it using thunderbolt connector (including on the package) as my second monitor and the result is stunning as it has the same feel with Mac. The colors and quality were the same. This was a good buy for a photographer and cinematographer like us. Here some of the photos of the BenQ SW Series:

KEY FEATURES

  • 27”W 2560x1440 QHD Resolution
  • 99% Adobe RGB with IPS technology
  • Hardware Calibration with accuracy color
  • Palette Master Element color calibration software
  • Black-and-White photo mode
  • Shading Hood / OSD controller

Here is the in-depth review given by Dario Gardiman:


Award Winning Short Film: Aurora | Dubai Videographer MelRish

Today we met a couple who have been following our work and mentioned how I haven't blogged for some time now. I felt so happy and flattered to hear it but I was also disappointed because I have always thought about updating our blog but have not had the time to do so for ages. Since it is the Eid holidays, I finally have the time to update our website! Shoutout to Deepa for inspiring me to write again!

I have been delaying sharing our first short film but I finally decided to share it today. It started last year when we got the opportunity to join the 48hr Film Project. We have been Dubai videographers for weddings and this is something new for us. Following the footsteps of some peers in the industry, I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, it fell on a busy month and we had 2 weddings that weekend too. But since we were already registered and opportunity was right in front of me, I decided to grab it. I will not elaborate the mechanics of the 48hr Film Project because you can read them here.It is outright fun and challenging.

I am really thankful for Danabelle, my superwoman friend who played Aurora in the film. She won the Best Actress award and she totally deserved it. I am thankful for my team mates who wholeheartedly helped complete the film and thankful for Dan Soriano and Trix my sister. After filming the event, me, Yahn and Koreen ran to shoot a wedding. The next morning, I started editing. What a weekend! It was emotionally tiring with detractors but it was mostly fun. Danabelle and Dan were the perfect tandem. They made shooting the film so much fun. You can watch how much fun we had with this Behind The Scenes video

Aurora BTS from Melrish Photos and Films on Vimeo.

We are blessed to won the following awards for our first short film:

Best in Writing 48Hr Film Project

1st Runner Up 48Hr Film Project

Best Actress for Danabelle 48Hr Film Project

Most Promising Film Maker 48Hr Film Project

Best Director Emirates Short Film Festival 2017

Best Actress Emirates Short Film Festival 2017

London Monthly Film Festival

I was featured on Illustrado Go, Filipino Times and Kabayan weekly because of the awards. I was also invited to guest at the show Pinoy After Hours. And now I am nominated as Film Maker of the Year for the Filipino Times Awards 2017.  It was a humbling experience to be featured and interviewed. I am not used to the limelight. When I wrote the film, I didn't intend to win. My intention was to create a film that would impart a lesson. I wanted to create a film that has some social relevance. As an artist, it our responsibility to use our talent and skill not only for something to be beautiful but it should also make a difference. Aurora was made to empower women everywhere. I would love to tell you more about my thoughts but here is the our entry to the 48Hr Film Project.

Aurora - Movie from Melrish Photos and Films on Vimeo.

 

 

 


One Day in Vienna

When we travel, try and soak in the local lifestyle and culture and try to visit as many places we can. It is more difficult to be on the go with 2 kids because we have to make several stops to make sure they are hydrated and fed and they are not tired too much. We want the experience to be pleasant to them as much as possible.

After Switzerland and before heading to Budapest for our destination wedding, we had one day in Vienna. We stayed in a lovely apartment in Leopoldstadt. Our dear friend who stays in Vienna took a half day off to take us around.

One day in Vienna

One day in Vienna

One day in Vienna

melrish-3959

melrish-3975

melrish-3977

melrish-3979

melrish-3981

melrish-3982

melrish-3987

melrish-3992

melrish-3993 melrish-3995 melrish-3996

melrish-4001

melrish-4003

One day in Vienna

One day in Vienna melrish-4027 melrish-4018

There were so many places to see in Vienna that we were not able to visit. Salzburg, which was 2 hrs away from Vienna, was also on my bucketlist but we didn't have enough time to go there too. We had a pleasant stay definitely and the sausages we had for breakfast is something I will go back there for. And on our next visit, we will surely stay longer.


7 Tips for a 3 Day Trip to Switzerland - MelRish Travels

And we're back in the sandpit! No, we didn't miss the microwave-like weather because the place we have been to was like heaven. 3 days trip to Switzerland was enough to make my year! Most of our friends who have been to Interlaken, Switzerland recommended that it should be next in our travel list because they said it was a photographer's paradise, heaven on earth. They were not kidding! Interlaken...especially Grindelwald, where we stayed, was like those places you only see in travel magazines. Green grass spotted with flowers and wooden houses with chimeys, snow capped mountains in the background and a river flows quietly through the small village...pretty much what you imagine when you think of fairy tales. We recommend you to visit the place at least once in your life. Here are our 7 tips which might help you in planning a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland.

We had my sister and parents with us so we are a bigger group this time and this time we traveled between 3 countries - Switzerland, Austria and Hungary. TIP 1: If you plan to travel between European countries, get a Eurail pass. It is cheaper to order it online. We booked the 5 day Eurail pass and we got an extra day free which is a total of 6 days of unlimited train rides between the 3 countries. Download the app which will help you check the train schedules and check if your Eurail pass is valid for that route. The app also tells you if need to make seat reservations for that trip.

melrish-3566
Our view from our hotel room
melrish-5644
This is our breakfast spot

Grindelwald Travels melrish-3593 melrish-3558 Grindelwald Travels melrish-3579 Grindelwald Travels melrish-3732 Grindelwald Travels Grindelwald Travels Grindelwald Travels melrish-5638 melrish-5640 Grindelwald Travels

 

Day 1:

From Zurich airport, we needed to take the train to Bern then switch trains going to Interlaken. We had the Eurail pass so our it covered our trains from Zurich. We went down Interlaken Ost and took the train to Grindelwald. Our train to Grindelwald wasn't covered by our Eurail pass but we get 25% discount. TIP 2: Do not carry so many luggages when traveling between places. We learned this the hard way. We had a lot of luggages full of winter jackets, shoes, a nebulizer for Kurt, a big can of milk for Kurt and baby food. With all the luggages, it was difficult for us to transfer from one train to another.

It was a rainy day in July when our train reached Grindelwald. Grindelwald is hands down the best place we have been to - compared to the Rome, Paris, London, and Venice. Each place has its own beauty but if you are nature lover and if you are looking for a peaceful place to stay, Grindelwald will capture your heart. If you are planning to visit Switzerland, we would definitely recommend you stay in Derby Hotel in Grindelwald. The room we booked was bigger than an average hotel room in Europe and has a cozy feel. It has a fantastic view of the Eiger mountain and the area is quiet and has that Swiss mountain feel compared to the touristy Interlaken. The staff was friendly as well. Here are a few tips we would give those who are planning to go to Interlaken:

TIP 3: Interlaken is more central but a bit more crowded compared to Grindelwald. There are a lot of shops in Interlaken but most of them closes at 8pm.

TIP 4: If you are not staying in Interlaken and only plan to visit the place, you can have a 20 minute stroll from Interlaken West to Interlaken Ost to shop around. The main street is lined up with shops where you can buy souvenirs, watches, chocolate and Swiss knives.

TIP 5:. From Grindelwald, you can visit Jungfraujoch, top of Europe by booking a train ticket to Kleinn Scheindigg and then hopping on to the train which goes up to Jungfraujoch. The Eurail pass will only give you a discount for this trip.

TIP 6: If you have the Eurail pass, Lake Thun boat trip comes free. Catch the boat near the Interlaken West train station. Enjoy the ride with spectacular views and you can alight on Thun stop where you can catch the train back to Interlaken West.

TIP 7: Bring some pocket money because the Swiss watches are cheaper in Switzerland. The chocolate is also better. I regret not getting all the chocolate I need to last me a lifetime. Also, if my kids weren't too small, we would all go skydiving! I think this is the best place to do it.

Those are my 7 tips and I am looking forward to returning to Grindelwald again...Next time, we will be spending more days so we can do some hiking and with less luggage of course. Hope you enjoyed the photos!


Destination Weddings 2016

We are pleased to announce that we our destination weddings 2016 lined up and we have some open slots in some cities. Here are our destination schedule. We have open slots between 25th June and 4th July in Manila. We only have 2 slots available for weddings or engagement shoots. We also have 1 slot open for an engagement shoot or post-wedding in Interlaken, Switzerland. I really think that it would be spectacular to have the Alps as your backdrop. The rest of our dates are pretty booked for these destinations.

destination wedding photographer

Most people dream of traveling. We all have that deep wanderlust that we want to satisfy. And most wedding photographers dream of shooting a destination wedding. We are blessed to have shot a few. We just started in wedding photography in 2009 and we received bookings to shoot 2 weddings in Mumbai, India on our first year. One of those images won us our first award in AGWPJA.

destination weddings

We also shot our friend's wedding in the Philippines that summer in 2009. That same year, we got to travel to Rome, Florence, and Venice. Traveling is so addictive that we decided to go to someplace new every year just for leisure - Singapore in 2010, Malaysia in 2011, Paris in 2012, New York in 2013, Tokyo in 2014 and London in 2015. Some people invest in jewelry, fancy houses and cars and gadgets. For us, we thought that the memories we make and the adventures we take are worth more.

In 2010 and 2011, we shot 1 wedding in the Philippines in each year. In 2012, we shot our first wedding in Qatar. In 2013, we were blessed with the opportunity to go to New York, Washington DC and Houston, Texas. The following year, 2014, we shot this beautiful wedding in Amman, Jordan. We will not be posting a lot of photos from their wedding as we want to respect the couple's wish for privacy. But their wedding in Exit Club was truly beautiful. Jordan was beautiful. You can check our travel photos here on this link. Hopefully we can go back there someday.

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

destination weddings

destination weddings

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

jordan wedding photographers

Let me leave you with my favorite quote from Mark Twain with our photo shot in Venice in 2009:

venice

 

 


4 Days in London - Stonehenge, Bath and the Windsor Castle

This is my last post about our short break in London. The day before we left, we went and took a tour to the Stonehenge which was clubbed with a tour inside the Windsor Castle. Our first stop was the Windsor Castle, home to England's kings and queens. Unfortunately, again, we missed the change of guards. Future note, check the schedules of change of guards for Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as they don't happen everyday in certain times of the year. I heard it is something worth witnessing while you're there.

melrish-1850

melrish-1852

melrish-1867

melrish-1869

melrish-1870

melrish-1871

melrish-1879

melrish-1880

Unfortunately, photography wasn't allowed inside the state apartments and precincts. But we enjoyed taking photos outside the castle.

melrish-1883

melrish-1884

melrish-1885

melrish-1888

melrish-1889

melrish-1893

melrish-1906

melrish-1909

melrish-1911

Our next stop was Bath. I love this village is quite remote and the view going there was refreshing. Rolling hills and trees and stone houses line the road to Bath. I wish I had taken a lot of photos but on my lap was a sleeping baby and we were at the far end of the bus...not a lot of windows there.

melrish-1920

melrish-1925

melrish-1926

melrish-1931

melrish-1933

melrish-1939

I could spend one full day just strolling around the cobbled streets of the villages in Bath and laze around the greenery near River Avon. The problem with day tours like these is that you don't have a lot of time to explore.

melrish-1943

melrish-1948

melrish-1949

melrish-1952

melrish-1954

melrish-1957

melrish-1958

Our last stop was the Stonehenge. There is nothing spectacular with a group of stones but knowing that they date way back thousands of years ago can amaze you...how and why the men of old thought about it and how they were able to build it without the modern cranes.

melrish-1969

melrish-1999

melrish-2003

And here are my last 5 tips for traveler parents:

  1. While planning your trip, check with your traveler friends if any of them are planning to go to the same destination. It is always good to have a helping hand. Or check if you know anyone in the city you are going to. It is better to have someone to call if you ever have an emergency,...like that family family you want to take with the London Eye. :)
  2. If you have young readers like my 4 year old, hype them up by making them watch a movie shot in that place or have them read a storybook in that setting. It is fascinating how they retain these information and suddenly blabber in a bus full of tourists how they know that place. They also do not feel bored when you go visit these place because now, they can relate.
  3. Bring bracelet paper bands (the ones they use in theme parks or concerts). Before leaving the hotel , have your child wear one just in case they get lost. "Hi! I'm ____ staying at Hotel _____ with parents _____"
  4. After the trip, make a memory book with your kids. Print some photos, attach tickets and ask your kids to write down their feelings or what they remember best in the place. You will discover a treasure cove of memories in traveling.
  5. Start planning your next vacation...according to your children's age if you plan to bring them along and start saving for it. :)