A long overdue review. Peanut was three months old when we had him baptized… and he just turned one!
I intended to churn out the review within a week MAX of the event, complete with photos and rating stars and all that. Mom-hood and work stomped all over such well-intentioned plans. Plans are for wimps, it scoffed.
Better late than never.
For the uninitiated / non-Filipinos: baptism is practically required in the Philippines (come to think of it, if one wants to get married in a church in the Philippines one HAS to be baptized to do so). It’s a token rite of passage of early childhood in the country, like baby girls getting their ears pierced or babies (whose parents are so inclined) wearing black and red corales bracelets and pouches pinned to their sandos.
Baptismal gatherings are an opportunity for families to get together and coo all over your little chubby cherub, and in our case at least, a debut of sorts for Peanut, since it was his first time in the Philippines and most of our extended family hadn’t met him before.
Color me practical. One of our main concerns, being based overseas as well as having at least one Ninong flying in from the US to attend the baptism, was for matters to be as convenient as possible. Churches wherein Ninongs and Ninangs had to attend lengthy seminars were quickly struck out of the list.
SSAP fit the bill perfectly: we were given booklets to distribute to the Ninongs and Ninangs with instructions to read and comprehend these fully (which I’m sure they did!). No godparent seminars were required.
I also liked the thought that Peanut would have a solo baptism with holy water poured on his head over a beautiful marble basin. SSAP also provides their own priest. Peanut had his baptism officiated by Fr. Efren Jimenez who was very gentle with Peanut and, when he bumped into us again later near the parking lot, remembered Peanut’s name and stopped to say hello. (He was officiating a few other baptisms that day.) Big positive for this mom.
The only tricky thing is that in order to secure a slot, you needed to have the names of all the godparents, final, no-erase.
A complicating matter for parents planning baptisms outside of their home parish (yes folks, all of us have now somehow been assigned to certain parishes near our registered addresses!) need to secure a permit from such parish to have their child baptized in a different church. My dad took care of this for us and it was a matter of paying a small fee to get the permit.
- Photocopy of child’s birth certificate
- Permit letter from your home parish
- List of names of godparents (max 5 pairs, so 10 people all in all – doesn’t need to be gender-balanced, haha)
- Completed baptismal application form
- Non-refundable fee of Php 4,000.00
SSAP baptismal schedule wherein they provide the priest: Saturdays and Sundays, 1:30 P.M.; 2:15 P.M.; 3:00 P.M.; 3:45 P.M.
It was surprisingly tough to look for a venue near our chosen church. We initially wanted to book the function halls at SSAP to minimize travel but were told they were all fully booked. I looked at a few other venues around Greenbelt and the BGC area before deciding on Aracama, mainly because of the size of the venue and reasonably good food reviews.
Aracama has a range of banquet menu package options to choose from, ranging from Php 550 to 1,000 nett per person. Add-ons such as bottomless iced tea will set you back Php 150 nett per guest.
The cuisine is Filipino, with traditional options like chicken tinola for soup and gising-gising (winged beans with ground pork cooked in coconut milk) for vegetables, but it also has interesting offerings such as crispy binagoongan (twice-cooked pork belly in homemade bagoong with green mangoes) and bangus belly a la pobre (milkfish with pomelo mint salad). Aracama, after all, is named after Chef Fernando Aracama, who I think was part of a local competitive cooking reality show. So, some local celebrity value there I guess.
But it’s not all hype. The food was very good – we received a lot of compliments from our guests. Some of the dishes, like the seafood kare-kare, house specialty Choc-Nut ice cream, and mango napoleons, we didn’t even get to taste. Again, I’ll treat that as a big positive.
Space-wise, Aracama again gives you options and area rates based on the number of guests you expect to have. Rates have a wide range and can accommodate up to 80 seated people (Terrazas only) or 120 seated people (Dining room with VIP rooms). The rate is consumable and includes utilities and audio-visual equipment (on request). You have the venue for up to six hours max.
Dealing with Aracama was also very efficient. I dealt with Rizza throughout, paid the downpayment through deposit and the rest via cheque on the day itself. I didn’t need to give a security deposit (although Aracama requires this on their T&Cs, I suppose our event was too low-key for it – we barely moved the original positions of the tables and chairs).
The only downside I can think of is if you have older guests attending your party. The function area is on the second floor up lengthy stairs and there are no lifts. It took Hubby’s grandmothers a while to climb up/down (with assistance).
Overall though, highly recommended.
Pre-Event Rating: 1/5
Event Rating: 3.5/5
At the early stages of planning the way With A Flourish communicated with me as a client was disappointing (see my other post: ‘With A Flourish Event Stylist – A Pre-Event Supplier Review’). Suppliers in the service industry, please remember to communicate with your clients as if they were clients. You’re not doing us a favour by doing our event – we give you our custom (and hard-earned money) because we think you’re the best person to do it. Understood? All we ask for is a stress-free service that meets our needs.
On a positive note With A Flourish works with your budget and are happy to customize their package to fit it (unlike other event stylists who quote a fixed/minimum price at initial inquiry).
This is what With A Flourish included in our package with my requested peanut theme: a pdf invitation (I printed these out myself on card paper at home), décor for the welcome area (including a welcome poster), themed wish cards, a simple gallery set up with Peanut’s photos and themed props, table centrepieces with plush peanuts and flowers arranged in jars (I later realized, after looking at the photos, that the jars had nuts in them haha), and a styled dessert buffet (cake pops, macarons, and sugar cookies).
With A Flourish also helped package our souvenir peanut butter jars from Pan de Manila.
Found the Peanut in a nut suit hilarious, though not my idea.
Shalla’s a family friend. By day, she has a day job in a Big 4 accounting firm. By night (or weekend), she takes on delicious side projects for friends and colleagues. We found a simple cake design from a Google image search, showed it to Shalla who worked her magic on the rest.
Her cake flavour best sellers include vanilla chiffon with caramel filling, coffee with white chocolate ganache filling, and moist chocolate with dark/white chocolate ganache filling, and she makes other flavours too.
For Peanut’s baptismal cake we went for the moist chocolate with dark chocolate filling and it was sooo good. Shalla uses pastillas fondant – which is one my favourite things about her cakes! She gets the sweetness balance just right.
We also got oreo cheesecake, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate cookies. We also made a special request for peanut butter cookies in name of the theme.
It’s amazing how much photographers are charging these days. I’m quite willing to spend on photography for special occasions (since after the event, it’ll be all I have left!) but sometimes too much is too much. (Php 18,000 for 4 hours of photos, for example, is too much.)
I canvassed quite a few photographers before choosing Shotglass Photography, whose proprietor’s /main photographer’s name is Paul Bendiola. His photo package comes with four hours of coverage, around 200-300 edited photos (for both times we booked him we got around 300 photos), and a family photo shoot.
A possible downside for some is that he doesn’t give out raw photos. But with the luxury of hundreds of photos to look through, I’m not too fussed I won’t get to see the blurry/not-so-good shots.
I’ve been so happy with Paul’s work that we actually booked him again for our son’s first birthday.
Good photos at reasonable rates – that’s all I ask, and Shotglass delivers. :)