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!


MelRish Dekada : MJ's Story

MJ was hired as a cinematographer almost 2 years ago. Her testimony is just one of the many MelRish team member's stories that will become part of this company's culture legacy. As a team, we know that we did not cross paths accidentally and that God has bigger plans for us. And here is her story:

This was my story before traveling to Georgia

My employer decided to celebrate their 10th year Anniversary. We were surprised that the plan was to go out of the country, knowing this great news - I tried to look back and remember that I was only dreaming of having a company trip with my colleague way back when I was 21 years old from my previous job. There were people who were closed to me and saw what I went through, they knew my plans, dreams and my prayers - I know it was too broad and dreamy and way too far to reach. I remember when I told them

that "One of these days, hoping I can find a job that we can travel to different places" and my colleagues started to

react, "Isama mo naman ako sa pangarap mo", "ang bata mo pa para isipin yan, pero sige ipush

mo yan".

Everyday, I tell the Lord what was my heart's desire. When I was 23, even I was so afraid, it was faith, thinking that God will never leave me, then I decided to quit my job and get out of my comfort zone.

After the long search and waiting...

God revealed The Melrish Studio, September 2017. Until now, I can't express how grateful I am of what God has blessed me with, from my employers through my colleagues. God gave me peace that this is the company I have been praying for. "My child, I needed you to be bold and you haven't took any shortcuts but you finish the process. I see you keep on trusting me. You have taken the leap. I know you worked so hard and waited for this. Now it is done - this is for you."

Finally!

And finally, the company trip I want to experience was held last May 21st to 25th. What I have been imagining happened - the bond, listening to different life stories, laughing out loud, sing along, taking photos and most especially having time to pray together. Also, I was planning to go to Georgia alone (I have a year ago post on facebook ("Georgia, Armenia, Egypt and Jordan") but God has another plan, Georgia trip was with Melrish Family. I was amazed again.

Iʼm touched and inspired by Ate Melonʼs goal why she plans to celebrate their 10th year with us, she quoted, “This trip is something we wanted to give to our team. Working in The MelRish Studio requires a lot of passion

and dedication and that is why we are passionate about our
team. When I saw their smiles and how they have bonded with each other, my heart was filled with joy. Mission accomplished -we have broken down walls and made connections that will help us understand each other and work better. One day, I will look back at how God has been good to us. I am accountable for leading this team and fulfilling His purpose. And if asked what kind of leader I strived to be, I would answer, “To be a leader that inspires and serves others. A servant leader like Christ.”

Thank you Melrish! Thank you for letting us experience what is life and how great is God with you. And thank you also for letting me experience this with my sister.

Itʼs not easy, but it will be worth it.

Searching for a job is not easy, but if you have a heart of determination and think of your love ones, you will find one that fits you, all of these will be worth it in the end. Remember in life, there are no shortcuts in reaching your goals, there are walls that will stop you, there are circumstances and there are setbacks, sometimes "you" is your battle, may you not allow comparison grew, mold into your own shape but not in the same mold everyone else uses to grow. You will thrive at your own pace as a winner of your own race.

God answered my prayer but this doesn't let me stop thanking Him for all that He has done for me and for my family. I'm still a working progress, I know God is preparing me again for next chapters of my life. Again, pain and joy will kick in! Another

molding process awaits, I still need to learn from everyone's experiences and from myself. Allow yourself to fail and gather all the lessons from the past, you will carry it for the next season.

Promises that you can carry through your seeking:
1. Be still and know that I am God - Psalms 46?10

2. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29?11

Add-ons:
When I was 22, these songs has been into my Coping Up
Playlist :)
•Hello Cold World x

Paramore https:// www.youtube.com/watch? v=7n88760Bb8o
•Ain't it fun x Paramore https:// www.youtube.com/watch? v=Izx9ADLjgbM

•Superheroes x The Script https:// www.youtube.com/watch? v=IowZqZHJ-cA

And to those who want to watch our team adventure in Tbilisi, here is a video directed and edited by Jed


MelRish Dekada: 10 Years of Thankfulness

dekada. n. A decade; any given period of ten years.

The whole team just got back from a 5 day trip to Tbilisi, Georgia as part of our year long celebration of The MelRish Studio's 10th year anniversary. It was an amazing and unforgettable trip to celebrate MelRish Dekada - 10 Years of thankfulness.

It was 2009 when Arish and I first shot our first engagement session and our first wedding. It was also 10 years ago when we first got paid for our services and it was that year when we first flew to India to shoot our first destination wedding. Ten years later, God has blessed us with more than 500 couples, a cozy office in Dubai and a team of creative individuals who we call as our family. Some think that maybe we have a big cash flow that is why we can afford to take the team for an out of town trip. The truth is like all other companies, we are also going through tough times and we are still struggling to make ends meet. This trip is something we wanted to give to our team. Working in The MelRish Studio requires a lot of passion and dedication and that is why we are passionate about our team. 

God has sustained us and we are forever grateful

The MelRish Studio is a testimony that there is a God and if you dedicate your work to Him, He will sustain you and guide you to success. And success doesn't necessarily mean that you have more clients or you are the best in your field. Success for us means that we are better versions of ourselves every year. Success for us means delivering meaningful images and videos and making lasting connections not just with our clients but internally as well. We don't work for our greatness but for His glory.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

Our projects are not accomplished by one man alone. All our images and videos are products of teamwork. The goal of the trip to Tbilisi was to build camaraderie amongst our team members by letting them get to know more about each other with our "Guess Who Is This?" Game. We had four team members share an apartment (we booked four apartments) and each group was assigned to cook breakfasts and dinner for everyone. Every morning and night, we gathered to eat and pray and share stories. We sang on the bus going to different places and experiencing new things - from wine tasting to playing on the snow. When I saw their smiles and how they have bonded with each other, my heart was filled with joy. Mission accomplished -we have broken down walls and made connections that will help us understand each other and work better.

One day, I will look back at how God has been good to us. I am accountable for leading this team and fulfilling His purpose. And if asked what kind of leader I strived to be, I would answer, "To be a leader that inspires and serves others. A servant leader like Christ."

 

If you are traveling to Tbilisi, I would recommend Giorgi and his company. He arranged for our tours and bus. You may contact +995 579993265. Special thanks to Rashi of Excite Tourism for arranging our flights. 

 

 


Musings of a Forty Year Old

Change your Attitude

Life begins at 40, they say. Well, if that's the case, I just started mine 2 days ago. And I am having a fantastic life so far. Life has been fantastic since 1979. But it doesn't mean that I never went through hardships or difficulties. There were days that seemed dark clouds have blocked out the sun but there are days that the sun shone brightly. Many are circumstances that we cannot change or control like the traffic, a flu coming down on you, a friend betraying you, losing your job or losing a big project, etc. These circumstances can make you want to throw the towel in and just give up on life.

But what I learned from my 40 years of existence is that we cannot control what happens to us - what we can control is our attitude. We cannot change a person but we can change how we react to that person or how often should we hang out with that person. We cannot force a client to choose us over our competitor but we can learn from it and try and win the next pitch. Traffic is something we cannot control but we can control how we will feel about it. We can mope around the house and wallow in self-pity when we get rejected or we can pray and bring our burdens to God.

We cannot change our situation but we can change how we deal with it - do we react violently and irrational or do we adapt a positive approach and think of solutions. This is one of the many principles I try to practice which I have read from books which I highly recommend - Roadmap to Success by John Maxwell and The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I didn't have the same attitude when I was younger. I made a lot of mistakes and I still do. But my goal is to become wiser as I get older and to learn from every opportunity available.

Life Is Short

One of my editor's father passed away just four days back. It was a sudden loss and I was deeply saddened as I met him twice when I interviewed her daughter and when she got the job. He was a jolly person and exuded positivity with a smiling face.

It made me realize that life is truly short. We were not meant to last here forever and this world is just a transit journey.

What legacy would I leave if I die today? Would I have regrets? Did I serve my purpose?

I decided to take snaps of how my day looked like (with the help of MJ) - my walk to office, the school runs, silly moments with the kids - and unexpectedly I was able to take a few snaps of the birthday surprise Arish and the team prepared for me a day before my birthday. It was a decoy surprise for a bigger surprise they prepared for me on my actual birthdate. Maybe I have done something right to deserve such a loving family and team. There was pancit cooked by my parents, cake and flowers from hubby and home-cooked food from my team! There was also a video compilation of messages of family, friends who couldn't attend the surprise and clients I have met along the way sent their messages across too. The video and the scrapbook they made (and outpouring messages on facebook) really touched my heart. I am so blessed!

Here is a peek at my daily life and the surprise I received:

Forgive my musings as I just want to share these two principles that has greatly changed my outlook lately. I hope you too would reflect on these not only when you turn forty but as soon as you can. And again, my praise and thanks goes up to my Creator for sustaining me these 40 years. And thank you to those who remembered and sent their warm greetings! Ciao for now! Until the next post...

 


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!


Family Trip to South Korea | Life of Photographers

Our yearly family travels has taken us to many cities like Italy, Paris, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, London, Japan, New York, Houston and this year to Tbilisi and South Korea. We have made it as a family goal to travel to some place new every year as long as we can - physically and financially. Traveling has opened our eyes to the many cultures and to respect these diversities. It has taught the kids a lot about geography and why each country is different. Kurt, our 2 year old son, would often check our phones for world weather and he knows that Tokyo is "very far" just by looking at the map. I have also encouraged Khloe to make a scrapbook and write short essays about her experiences. Their bodies have also become more resilient to colds and flu. They still do get them but ironically they get infected when we are staying at home. And the best thing about travel is that you realize that the best things in this world is not the material things but the experiences and moments you create.

I would like to encourage everyone I know to travel although it is not for everyone. Traveling involves a lot of planning (which is also one of the best part of it) to make the most out of it. If you decide to travel, travel smart.

"If you decide to travel, travel smart."

Last August, we decided to see South Korea. Filipinos need to apply for visa and but as of this writing, there is no fee to pay. It would take 4 to 5 working days to get your visa stamped. In Dubai, the Korean Consulate is in Jumeirah and you just need to come with all the required documents. You can check here the list of requirements.

We booked our flights through Kiwi.com and hotels through booking.com. Being based in Dubai, we found it cheaper to book a return ticket from Dubai to Manila and then just fly from Manila to Incheon and return instead of flying multi-city. Maybe depending on the season.

We took an afternoon flight from Manila and arrived in the evening at the Incheon Airport. Based on my friend's advise, we took a T-mobile card so we will have mobile data wherever we go. For a sim with unlimited data for 5 days, we only paid less than 100aed. From Incheon Airport to Seoul, it was about an hour away. There are airport limo buses which you can take and they have strategic stops in the city. It is much cheaper than taking a taxi or Uber.

We booked rooms in Hotel PJ in Myeongdong. The airport bus stop was just a street away but because google maps was acting up that time, we took the long route and reached the hotel by 11pm after half an hour walking with our luggage. Not all Koreans speak English as well so no one could point to us to the right direction. Tired and exhausted, we were glad that there were some convenient stores and restaurants that were still open in the area.

Day 1

They warned us that August will be hot and humid at an average of 28-30 degrees. I thought that will be like a breeze compared to Dubai's summer peaking at 51. But walking on the streets on that weather was HOT! We were sweaty and we immediately got ourselves battery operated necklace fans. Everybody had them and having them too made us look like locals.

Our first day was an epic fail. Blame me. I made the itinerary and Gyeongbogkung Palace was our first destination. I forgot to check that it was closed on Tuesdays! Kurt fell while running and got wounds on his knees. Good thing our lunch compensated for our wasted time. Food is one of the best thing about South Korea, you can never go wrong!

Lesson # 1: Check the opening timings of all your itineraries! 

The subway system in Seoul is the best way to go around. I downloaded the Rail Map Lite app to help us get around. iTour Seoul app helped me in planning where to go. And again, unfortunately for us, our second destination for the day was also closed. The Dongdaenum clothing market was closed and we do not know the reason. Nobody could tell us why and when they will open.

Our third destination did not disappoint us though. We walked the streets of Myeong-dong during the evening and we got our cosmetic stash from the place. Myeongdong is the place where you can shop for cosmetics at low prices. It is also lined with delicious street food! Yum!

Here are our photos from our first day

Even With Gyeongbokgung Palace closed on Tuesdays, the kids enjoyed running around in the heat

You can rent Hanboks (Korean traditional dresses) near Gyeongbokgung Palace to dress up

At Dongdaemun

At Myeongdong

Day 2

We scheduled our trip to Nami Island on this day. A lot of Filipinos watch Korea novelas and one of the first korea novelas that became popular in the Philippines was the Winter Sonata which Filipinos got crazy about. And part of that series was shot at the beautiful Nami Island. I will not elaborate how to go there. There are blogs like this one which will tell you how to reach there or you can check with your hotel concierge and they will help you out.

Nami Island is beautiful but it can be crowded during the summer with kids having school breaks. You will see a lot of young lovers having a day-out walking around Nami Island holding hands. One thing we have noticed with Koreans is that they like to dress to match their partners. I should have taken a lot of photos but it just slipped my mind. I am not used to taking photos of people without asking permission. UAE thing.

We would have also gone and visited Petite France but time did not permit us. Our body clocks have not adjusted yet so we were waking up past 9am already. Maybe it will give us a reason to visit Seoul again.

Lesson # 2: Plan your day with "jet-lag" in mind. Do not force your bodies as they will adjust eventually. 

Khloe was getting impatient with the train and this kind old lady gave her a monggo popsicle.
 My mother trying her best to communicate using every kind of gesture. Guess what is she saying here

Day 3

This time we made sure Gyeongbogkung Palace is now open! It was worth a second try.

After that, we went to Insa-dong street for some authentic Korean souvenirs. There some scattered rain showers that day but it was a pleasant change of weather. Insadong for me is a must see place in Seoul with small shops selling cute handcrafted items.

After Insa-dong, we went back to check if the shops in Dongdaenum were open. Unfortunately, the clothing shops were still closed. So we just checked the malls and had dinner there.

Day 4 - we fly back to Manila

Three days in Seoul is not enough to see all the great places. I think 5 days will suffice. The people are very kind especially the elderly. We were offered food by elderly strangers and in the subway, it was the elderly who gave their seats to our kids. The food in Seoul is one of the best and we will not forget that one. And Khloe even lost her first tooth on our last day there too. So yeah, it was one memorable trip.

 

 


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.

 

 

 


Out & About: Colours of Arabia

It has been a happening 2 months since November. Weddings and events here and there and whenever I see a gap in timings, I made sure it was well spent with the kids and family. There are so many things we are thankful for but an experience made me realize that there are some things we take for granted. There are intangible blessings in life that we do not notice we are blessed with.

Last month, I was invited to participate in a dining in the dark experience sponsored by Colours of Arabia sponsored by Berger Paints. Being a photographer, I am a visual person and I am very dependent on (my camera) my eyesight. The invitation was to dine in this unique restaurant called Noire. Of course, when it comes to food, I couldn't turn down the offer.

So me and Koreen went curious about the experience. There was a briefing first to let us know what this experience is all about. When we watched the short video, we suddenly thought that this "dining in the dark" really meant pitch black. I was under the impression that it would just be darker than the usual candlelight dinner with dim lights.

melrish-55975 melrish-55979 melrish-55984

Watch this video so you will have an idea of what I will be writing about.

After the briefing, they let us to Noire for another briefing. Our assumptions were right. It will be a completely dark experience. We will be eating like blind people. How dark you may ask? Close your eyes and eat...that's how dark it is. Waiters had to wear night vision goggles to serve our food. The exciting thing also is that you do not know what food you are going to get. When you book with Noire, you will have to indicate your preference and if you are allergic to some types of food upon booking. It was first time in my life that I somewhat felt helpless. Without my eyesight, it was so difficult to walk (you will be guided to walk inside Noire), eat and drink. I wasn't even sure if I had finished my food. After 1 and a half hour, after a delicious 3 course meal, we were free! After the experience, they will let you know and show you what you ate. Taa daa!

Don't look at it to closely as they serve different dishes everyday. It will be a surprise.

melrish-55989 melrish-55992 melrish-55995

When I went home, not only was I full but I also realized how blessed I am to have the gift of sight. It is a GIFT! Whenever I take photos, I am blessed because I see these beautiful things around that some people don't. I am thankful that I get to share it to people too.

Thank you Berger Paints for inviting me to this unique experience and "opening" my eyes to what we really should be thankful for.