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Golden family time in Australia’s Gold Coast

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Golden family time in Australia’s Gold Coast

/ 04:59 AM April 15, 2012

VIEW from the apartment

Down Under is one place to be for great family adventures. Australia is a vast continent, with so many diverse and beautiful places to visit. The day after the grade school graduation ceremonies of our elder daughter Annika, our entire family flew to Oz for Easter break.

We did hold a graduation celebration in Manila, but it was a joint party with the despedida of fave Bikram yoga teacher Joyce Mahlatini, who is moving on to another country after three years of teaching here.

Annika and her grade school friends mingled with the yoga crowd, the former focused on the Magnum ice cream bars and the latter on the Beer Below Zero.


Joyce taught yoga at Bikram Yoga Manila’s studios ( in Makati City and Tomas Morato, Quezon City. As such, so many of her students and fellow teachers dropped by the party to wish her the best as she moves to a new stage in her life.

TAGAYTAY Mayor Bambol Tolentino and wife Agnes flanking their daughter Tintin, and Dennis Valdes and Sea Princess flanking daughter Annika

Joyce also taught in Core Yoga (, the sister studio of Bikram Yoga in Ortigas Center, which offers both vinyasa and Bikram (hot) yoga. All three studios are owned by Bikram mogul Tristan Choa. Core Yoga is the latest way to stay fit, de-stress or lose weight, and is conveniently located at 1504 AIC Burgundy Tower, ADB Avenue (right across Robinson’s Galleria), Ortigas Center; tel. 576-3756 (or 3857).

Great opportunity

Annika, too, is heading to a new stage in her life. She is quite a decisive young lady and is actively involved with my hubby Dennis and I in choosing a high school that is right for her. An Easter trip to Oz was a great opportunity to have some good talks on her plans.

EDWARD Mendez, Dr. Vicki Belo, Sea Princess, Gerard Sison, Joyce Mahlatini, Al Galang

Australia is a marvel at marketing the country. It took the coastline south of Brisbane and named it the Gold Coast, which now comprises a number of cities and towns with fantastic names like Surfers Paradise and Mermaid Beach. In the midst of it all is Jupiters Casino, to entice gamers to flock to the tables after sunset.

Over the decades, investment in the area has not stopped. High-rise condos have been outselling one another since the Japan boom in the ’70s. These days there is no shortage of good restaurants, eco-tourism parks, championship golf courses, theme parks and shopping malls to enjoy.

Day’s activities

“EXTREME Makeover” bus in Cagayan de Oro with Jeff Ventura

We usually divide up our family vacations, with each of us having one opportunity to lead the day’s activities. Tyrone is the most low-key and will simply opt for the beach. Of course, I will go for one of the many malls in the area. Athena usually opts for Dreamworld, the premier theme park.


Annika is the most flexible, as happy combing the shops of the Pacific Fair mall as enjoying the rides in Sea World or just body surfing the waves on the beach. Dennis is our driver and has no choice but to ferry us all around.

Our eldest, Bryan, did most of the cooking over the holiday, his kitchen skills honed over three years of living on his own in Singapore. While walking around one day, we met chef Adrian Richardson, the owner and head chef at the successful and bustling La Luna in North Carlton, where he has been serving up clean, fresh and innovative food since 1999.

We recognized Chef Adrian from having seen him on the Asian Food Channel. He was also a co-host on “Good Chef Bad Chef.”

Making waves

DAD with Athena, mom, Boling and Vic Reyes; (standing) Bryan, Annika, me, Tito Cary Rufino, Ty and Dennis by the barbecue area in the house

Speaking of TV, at long last, “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” is airing tonight on TV5, after “Talentadong Pinoy.” Over the past months, EMHE has been busy constructing homes for deserving Pinoys and I am so eager to share these good news stories with all the viewers on the Kapatid network.

Kapatid has been making waves recently, and I’d like to welcome TV phenom Derek Ramsay to the fold. I can’t wait to see his shows on TV5, leading off with “The Amazing Race Philippines.” As a sports enthusiast, Derek will be the network’s sports ambassador. I’m sure he will also be involved with “Hyper,” a cable sports show slated for Cignal Digital TV.

Among the other new shows to see from TV5 are “Colours,” a lifestyle-magazine-format program, also on Cignal.

I guess so many of the co-hosts of EMHE needed to relax after the grueling shoot schedules, that co-host Joby Belmonte also ended up in the Gold Coast, where he was visiting his sister. While most of us happily took time off, the workaholics kept their noses to the grindstone, with Paolo Bediones continuing his marathon pace through all his shows.

Divine Lee, another tireless worker, spent her free time drumming up the new Switch and Save campaign for Watsons. It’s all a great way for Pinoys to stretch our peso budgets so that we can maximize our savings. That’s certainly where I will be, after overspending in the Gold Coast!

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter or e-mail her at

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TAGS: “Extreme Makeover Home Edition”, “Talentadong Pinoy”, Australia, Bikram Yoga Manila, Down Under, Prieto family, Travel
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