Tag Archives: Adventure

Baguio City fulfills my fantasy of wonderland

1 Sep

September 1. Baguio City Day. Signaling the start of “ber” months.

Baguio has always been a second home to me. My photos from childhood painted how I’ve always loved to spend Christmas season here. I have photos in Burnham Park with a flower of either Bougainvillea or Rose tucked in my ear as I beam sheepishly in front of my mom’s camera.

I remember giggling helplessly as the bus approaches this City overlooking mountains which looked like giant Christmas trees. I would close my eyes as I savor the cold breeze wafting through the air, sending soothing scent from surrounding pine trees. My mom would just smile holding me tightly, keeping me from jumping off the bus to contain my overflowing excitement.

When I reached College, I did not have second thought when I was given an opportunity to transfer here. The thought of it overwhelmed me with an intensity that “yes” is the only answer I would ever say.

For four and a half years, I witnessed how this City grew more beautifully, like a bud uncoiling into a full-bloomed flower. I watched how it transforms from a busy daylight into an even busier but livelier night. At night, the City transforms into a world where all you see are bright lights, people coming in and out of malls or universities, either rushing to go home or just slowly walking trying to savor the calmness of the night.

At the other side of the road, there is another life on roll, too. Those places where dim light is more preferable than a bright light; where smoke comes from every corner, where loud music makes one thump on their feet and freely move their hips, like nothing else matters in the world but that very instant of merriment and freedom.

But this City isn’t all about busy days and merry nights. This City is booming with surprises and treats. There is an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. There are food shops offering an array of any type of food that your taste buds so desires. Shopping stalls are everywhere, too. If you’re a fan of branded but cheap stuff, “wagwagan” are in every corner. Not only do they bargain clothes and shoes but books, too. For a bookworm who loves to hoard books of his or her preference, just be patient to dive into a mountain of books and you’ll have them right in your hands.

If one opts to just sit down and quietly commune with her surroundings, there are perfect places to visit for such. One could go to Botanical Garden, Wright Park, Mines View, or at Sunshine Park. In Burnham park, too, a public taebo is regularly available. It’s a perfect venue to dance with people whom you don’t know yet dance with the same rhythm as you. If one dares to see more of the rich culture of Igorots engraved in this City, the Tam-awan Village is a perfect pick. But if you’re looking for a more pumped-up adventure say riding in a zipline or falling off from a giant tree, then Camp John Hay is just but a few minutes’ drive away from the heart of the City.

The list could go on forever and there are still a lot more left for me to discover. There are devastating changes, too, yes. But I’ll keep mine on remembering how Baguio City has made my childhood fulfill a real fantasy of wonderland. And now that I’m back here for my post-grad studies after leaving it for three years, I’ll always remember that child in me who would still want to take a photo with a flower tucked in my ear.

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Believing in the unknown

20 Apr
My five-year old self dreamt to see Africa one day. I finally did!

My five-year old self dreamt to see Africa one day. I finally did!

Growing up from a village with nothing much to do but go with the usual routine of school to house and house to school, I dreamt to see the world outside my village someday.

I grew very curious (and envious) how the life in cities seemed to be very exciting and fairy-tale alike. I was always jealous when I see a child in movies having grand toys and wearing grandiose clothing while my childhood past time were that of climbing trees, jumping off a mound of rice husks in the rice fields, having an improvised play house, and compulsory sleep in the afternoon.

I remember being gleeful and excited with just the sight of an airplane roaring above the skies. Each time I hear an airplane coming, I would rush outside our house and savour the spectacle. Then, I wished to see an airplane up close.

For every falling star that I saw, I closed my eyes and wished. One of which is to someday ride in an airplane and see the world beyond the village where I live.

Life, however, has its own way of discouraging me from my dreams. There were times when I felt there was no more hope. Some people even told me I was meant to go nowhere and end up like the other young girls in our village who were forced into marriage at a very young age.

But I didn’t allow myself to fall trapped in these unprecedented tricks of life.

Then I saw a falling star again. I wished and closed my eyes. When I opened it, I was already up above the skies riding in an airplane I thought will only happen in my imaginations. And before I knew it, I was already going from places to places, from one country to another.

I am full of dreams. Slowly, while carrying a sheer determination with me, they are coming true. Not that of having grand toys and grand clothing which later I realized is pointless.

I graduated with flying colors. I landed with a job I love so much. I am surrounded with amazing people who are always there to give me a little push and a tap on my back whenever I feel weary and hopeless. I have a loving family and a super mom. I am able to travel to many places here and abroad not just as a tourist but someone who speaks in behalf of her country. I’ve already visited a country in Africa, a dream since I was a five-year old kid.

Today, I am moving forward to fulfilling yet another dream I’ve set myself into since I can remember.

Now that I am 20-something, I know I already have a head-on of my own life. There are still challenges of course. But still, I believe in the unknown, one that is scaring and thrilling me in equal measures.

I asked myself, how many of us have the chance to fulfil their dreams at this very young age? How many of us have the chance or ability to counter a traditional belief about a village girl’s fate?

I am lucky enough to be one. While it wasn’t an easy road, I believed I can do it. I worked on it. I valued each and every opportunity given to me. And I trusted the heavens.

I did. And you, too, can do it.//

Travelling is Living

12 Jan

BanguiWindmills,IlocosNorte
Reverie. Bliss. Excitement. Fear. Love. Life.

All of these emotions embrace me with great intensity every single time that I travel. With each place that I set my feet unto brings me a renewed appreciation of how big and wonderful the world is. And with each of these places, I come to realize that I am no more than a speck in the whole realm of creation.

Travelling allows me to immerse in the lush of serenity of tropical rainforest, feast on the bounties of nature, and savour an invigorating scenario which brings nothing but a sense of fulfilment. But travelling doesn’t only allow my eyes to feast on scenic spots but also lets my stomach indulge in tasty treats and sumptuous food offers. The whiff of fresh foods, unlike those in fast foods, stokes a gastronomical delight bringing me into an unknown place of satisfaction and curiosity. I’ve also come to learn about each place’s glorious past thru its songs and dances. The way indigenous people live their lives in the middle of the mountain seems so simple yet very enchanting.

I’ve climbed the second highest mountain peak in the Philippines, explored the deepest chamber of caves, jumped off of a waterfall, crossed one of the longest hanging/ suspended bridge in the country. I rode in a vehicle that couldn’t almost get thru a high-waist mud as it traverses the top of the mountain.  I experienced riding on the top load of a jeepney while overlooking deadly cliffs on our way through.

I did some extreme adventures, too, like that of a somersault in a river with sharp and giant stones around. I got face to face with a python, a crocodile, and even the remaining smallest primate on this planet. I tried walking and hiking for twelve straight hours, mountains after mountains, just to get to my destination.  I rode in a roller coaster where I literally felt my body departed from my soul. I tried living in the middle of a mountain where there is no electricity but a single lamp lighting the whole house. I bathed on a river naked as it is a way of life in that village. I’ve visited museums, centuries-old churches, and unknown sub-villages. And I’ve listened to many stories by old villagers as they unveiled the secrets of the past and the stories of the World War II.

To top it all, travelling makes me a better person. It allows me to appreciate the simple things that I have. It gives me a better sense of responsibility toward nature, culture, and life itself.

So I dare you to go out and discover the beauty of the world. Head off somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of a city life. Allow yourself to get lost in the wilderness. There are a lot of surprises waiting for us to discover. While a lot of references can vividly describe how beautiful a certain place is, I tell you, it is way more beautiful and exciting if you experience it yourself.

Wherever you go, keep your wonder alive. Keep moving. Go forward. Keep your spirit adventurous. And keep it still enough to savour the beauty that moves around you, too. So go travel while you are still able and free.

P.S. Don’t forget to take photographs.

Running is Love

11 Oct

After my morning run with the gorgeous sunrise in teh background

09Oct2012

Nothing is as lovely as waking up at the stab of a still dark morning. You witness the moon slowly fade in the background as the mighty, gorgeous sun takes over. You watch the birds fly at a distance so close you can almost touch them. You watch the dew drop from the leaves and they suddenly glitter as the ray of the sun split from the haze of clouds. And you find yourself smiling as you continue to go in motion while half of the world is still asleep.

19 things for 2012

12 Jan

I must admit I am one of those New Year junkies, failing to actually fulfill what I have set to attain for the New Year (sigh).

But I am not giving up yet. Since New Year’s Eve, I have already mentally noted what my resolutions will be. There has been a grand list, like 50 of them! But just as I start typing them off in my blog, I can’t seem to figure out how not to become another New Year junkie. So after reading some helpful blogs about making New Year resolutions more possible and realistic, I have trimmed down my resolutions to 19 and have given more specifics on each.

  1. Keep organized. Make a separate notebook for my organizations and my tasks in the office. Regularly fill-up my planner, too.
  2. Set priorities. First things first. Never get overwhelmed with whirlwinds both in my organizations and office works. F-O-C-U-S. Refer to my notes always.
  3. Wake-up early. My morning routine usually takes an hour and a half. I often get late since I need to head off to the office every day at 8 am because I usually wake up at 6:45, or worst, 7:15. So now, I should drag myself out of bed just as the hour strike at 6 am. Unless of course if I had a long night, specially working overtime, I still deserve at least 5-6 hours of sleep. Just in case.
  4. Sleep more. During weekends, that is. Since I usually exhaust all my energy and time every single day, from Monday to Friday, I will consider taking more time to let my body regenerate and prepare it for another bloody week at work.
  5. Be more patient. I have always been very impatient especially in waiting for people who have agreed to meet you on a set time; or people responding too slowly. I want things to keep going and beat every deadline as much as possible. And because I have been too wary of time, of deadlines, and of meeting-set-projects, I end up very, very frustrated and all the more perplexed. So this time, I will always take time to review the do’s and don’ts and will always take time to breathe.
  6. Buy myself a television. I N-E-E-D a TV! Period!
  7. A more balanced diet. Eat more vegetables (one vegetable viand thrice a week) and fruits (everyday).
  8. Value breakfast. I am a no-breakfast-fanatic. I only take coffee and head to works straightaway. This time, I won’t skip breakfast anymore. Not regularly, at least two to three times a week.
  9. Cook. I feel like losing my skills in cooking and baking so this year, I should at least cook something special and/or bake some goodies for myself. I could share it with friends, too. Cook at least twice a month (I barely have the time, I swear! My work is so taxing—travelling now and then); and bake sometime in February (Valentine’s Day!) and July (in time for my birthday).
  10. Exercise regularly. Go to gym at least once to twice a week.
  11. Read more books (one book per month). I just finished my first book for 2012—The Devil Wear’s Prada. Am currently reading Paulo Coelho’s “Zahir” and hopeful to finish it before February ends.
  12. Write more. Publish at least one blog per month despite loads of write-ups in the office.
  13. Relax. Find time to hang-out with friends to detoxify from stress and pressures from work. Go shopping or have dinner with friends once in a while, at least twice a month.
  14. Save more. Deposit 15% of my total salary to my ATM account every month.
  15. Learn another language. I should learn Spanish language! If I can’t enroll by June, I should ask someone who can teach me and by December, I should at least be able to speak in conversational Spanish. I should learn at least 20 words per month.
  16. Keep in touch with friends here and abroad. I will make a complete list of my friends whom I should be writing to and send them handwritten letters using snail mail. I was able to send at least 20 mails last year. This should be easy.
  17. Change hairstyle. I just got my hair treated for the first time for this year—long and straight. After seven months, I will get my hairs curled.
  18. Keep travelling. After going to various beautiful places around the Philippines, usually in the south, and being able to roam around New Delhi and Bangkok, I will travel to the north this time—the Cordilleras! Thanks to my work!
  19.  Love again. Majority of my posts in this blog is about what I have gone through in my relationships and how I am working on my self-love journey. I know I have come out a better, more matured person now than I ever was when it comes to falling in love. I might still have some perks and entertain some more stupidities, but I will still fall in love. After all, my heart is built to love and endure pain. Just a little more matured in dealing with this one this time.

I hope my resolutions are more specific this time. So… lemme hear yours, too!

12 best places I visited in 2011

5 Jan

Capping my 2011’s wonderful and worth-reliving moments won’t be complete without giving them justice through photos.

Being an innate adventure-quencher that I am, I have been to several places around the Philippines as well as outside the country. While most of the places I have been in 2011 were more of a duty,( as part of my job so I can gather stories), I always took time to capture the beauty being offered in every place I set my feet to and immortalized them in photos.

1. Taj Mahal, Agra, India

The incredible Taj Mahal! I failed to visit Taj the first time I went to India and how sad I was. So the second time around, I was very lucky to finally get so close with this majestic, one-of-its kind world's wonder. To my amazement, I even touched every wall I passed through!

2. Bangkok, Thailand

What first caught my attention during my trip in Bangkok was the emanating bright colors of taxis and 'tuktuk' all over its street. These, for me, are simple treats for the eye. They are... lovely!

One, of course, should never miss the food delights on the streets. They are so delectable! Plus they cook the food to you right away and the whiff of it makes the food all the more enticing. This, too, is best to sate the rumbling stomach after a feet gone tired. 🙂

3. Enchanted Kingom, Sta. Rosa, Laguna

The Space Shuttle Ride. It has been a childhood dream to experience the 'magic' enchanted kingdom unselfishly offers. To complete my EK adventure, I summoned all the energy and guts to ride in this space shuttle and for the first time (ever) in my life, I felt how my soul literally departed from my body! It was uber fun, nonetheless!

4. Island Cove Resort and Leisure Park , Kawit, Cavite

Island Cove, Kawit, Cavite. This is a perfect place for a get-away for at least a couple of days after hustles and bustles from work. It offers various exciting activities such as outdoor paintball field, giant chess set, biking, horseback riding and a lot more. And the pool? It is sooooo inviting you'd love to keep your body dipped for hours!

5. People’s Park in the Sky, Tagaytay City

People's Park in the Sky, Tagaytay, Cavite. This is only one of the right places to have a wide appreciation of how beautiful the southern part of the Philippines is. At this view deck, you can see the ever-famous Taal Lake plus the Canyon Woods subdivision on the opposite side. It's a sure eye-treat!

6. Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort (Border of Tiaong, Quezon and San Pablo City, Laguna)

Villa Escudero. This place brings you back to the setting of a rustic Philippines where Filipino traditions come to life and constant appreciation. Riding in a carabao-driven cart serenaded by excellent folk artists are just some of the bonuses!

7. Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon

Pahiyas Festival, Lucban, Quezon. Being one of the most-awaited summer festivals in the Philippines, Pahiyas never fail, not even once, its spectators as select houses are grandiosely decorated with multitude of colors using 'kiping', a famous Lucbanin decoration made of rice dough. This century-old festival showcases the unequaled creativity of its townspeople as it brings out a lively and colorful festive mood during this prestigious gaiety.

8. Katigbawan festival in Catigbian, Bohol

Katigbawan Festival, Catigbian, Bohol. In this celebration, the kabaws are dressed up to the nines like “kings and queens” using every material available, indigenous as well as artificial. They blaze in all their glory with their painted nails, grandiose ‘gowns’, extravagant head dresses, colored eyelashes, and complete make-up at that. Very interesting! 🙂

9. Blood Compact Site, Tagbilaran City, Bohol

The Blood Compact site, Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Now this one is a true spectacle! This particular site was made in honor of a very important event in the Philippine history done between Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol. At my back is the Panglao Island which also offers an array of pristine spots one can enjoy to its maximum.

Blood Compact Site

10. Streets of Marawi City, Lanao del Sur

Marawi City. Just some of the snap shots I took while roaming around the streets of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. All over, one can see buildings like this, the mosque for Muslims.

Marawi City street. And oh, this cute little boy. He is so angelic, isn't he? 🙂

11. Davao City

Durian fruit in Davao City. This city offers unlimited list of things to do and places to visit. But, for me, one's Davao adventure won't be complete without trying this exotic durian fruit. a very extraordinary and really a-need-courage-all challenge for first-timers is because of its foul odor that would make you puke the moment it is stuffed into your mouth. But for the second time around, you'll praise this fruit for it's exotic but mouth-watering goodness. Try it! 🙂

12. Chocolate Hills, Bohol

Chocolate Hill, Bohol. And lastly, my top favorite place--Chocolate hills. This has been one of the world's eight wonders. As to why it has named as "Chocolate hills" is because its lush green mountains magically turns into chocolate brown during the dry season.

And there you go—the best 12 places ever that has completed my 2011 and made it even better. Plus, this is my 70th post. Hooray!

The show goes on

3 Jan

It’s 2012.

I didn’t quite notice how 2011 finally gave in to its exit. The events from the past year seemed to have passed in a rapid-fire pace. And as I try to pen down my thoughts about what happened last year, I can hardly put my finger on it.

Perhaps, I was just overwhelmed with how my 2011 has turned out.

Like all the years that passed, my 2011 was full of unexpected turn of events; some were to my benefit and some weren’t. While remembering the little wishes I didfor myself in 2010, which have guided me toward dealing with 2011, I can see how my life was put on the verge of bursting forward.

My current profession has provided me with so many opportunities and room for further growing up. It has allowed me to roam around the Philippines, going to places which I thought would only happen in my dreams not until I reach 40 or something; those places which a lot of people would dream to set foot unto someday and those experiences that many people have been aiming to experience first-hand.

I have also met and made new friends who shaped my ordinary days into very special moments. They have made me realize how small things like going in a café or simply strolling under the trees could make the bond of friendship grow stronger.

A closer-knit relationship and fondness within my family also grew naturally among us. We have spent more quality time together throughout the year. While we still face old stories of unfathomable events, we are all making efforts to somehow mend the wounds to patch our family back again.

I have also gradually worked out my impatience in dealing with problems and challenges. I have come to embrace stress instead of shooing it away with imperviousness. My sensitivity in dealing with other people’s emotions has somehow pitched a notch higher as try to be always careful of my words and their feelings. I still get a little careless at times though.

AlthoughI already earn my own money, I constantly remind myself that while saving is a priority, I shouldn’t feel guilty for treating myself once in a while like going to spa, munching on expensive chocolates, and buying myself an expensive cellphone. Imake sure, too, that first things first in everything I do specially in my works both in my organization and my workplace.

I also came to develop my self-confidence that I can surpass whatever challenge at hand while recognizing that there are also instances that could be best done with a helping hand. In building self-confidence, I also came to realize, is about feeling good about myself knowing that real beauty is nurtured inside but also keeping in mind that I have to stay beautiful in the outside without the intention to lure men.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important, is that I was able to breeze through the state of my heart a lot easier this time than I have in the past couple of years when it felt like everything was spiraling out of control. I have gotten over heartaches and accepted the fact that there are things that are not meant to last; that my heart is built to endure pain; that my fate in love is not (and will never) be based upon fairy tales anymore; that love will never leave me because I already have the love that I need within myself; that the journey to self-love is never-ending but is worth-taking; and that love will always blossom around me because I deserve it too like everyone else.

It’s 2012 and it is the start of something fantastic. I can feel it.

 


‘Bulcachong’ is unlike your ordinary ‘bulalo’

12 Dec

The yummy bulcachong!

From exquisite landscapes to extraordinary treasure-trove experiences, Davao City speaks of nature’s beauty and the trappings of modern life all at the same time. And when it comes to unique, extraordinary food offerings, the city has a long list of must-see restaurants that can sate the rumbling stomach.

The long list includes various seafood cuisines and other delectable nourishments that one can choose from without having second thoughts.

One particular eatery in the downtown area which carries an intriguing name stands out as it has become a talk of the town for locals and tourists alike. It has become a favorite stop-over for travellers, too.

The name of the eatery is “Bulcachong”. It carries a tagline that says, “Rapa sa Toro, Sarap para sa lahat.” In Pilipino that’s “delicious carabao dish for everyone”.

The restaurant offers a unique dish that one must partake to capture its essence. The dish is also named bulcachong, a concoction whose secret is known only to its master chef—Chong.

Bulcachong is a buffalo meat recipe which can be similar to bulalo (Filipino beef shank and bone marrow stew) but is uniquely different when it comes to appearance, aroma, and taste.

Bulalo

The chunks of meat are meticulously cooked for three hours until it becomes very tender. It is then mixed with various ingredients that include atsuete (lipstick plant or annatto); a natural coloring, and a minute amount of flour which makes the soup orange and thick. It has a strong aroma which fills every nook and corner of the restaurant.

But what makes bulcachong particularly different and loved is its gingery taste which gives an extra spicy kick that lingers in the partaker’s mouth for at least a minute. It is not the most appetizing description to a dish but certainly a Davaoeño favorite. In fact, it has become a must-try exotic food like that of the famous durian fruit.

For a first timer, the first reaction is to back out due to its strong aroma, but as the thick soup slushes down the throat and the extra soft meat melts in the mouth, the wonders work by itself where the partaker finds himself or herself keep stuffing more into his or her mouth until his or her stomach can take no more.

And what’s the other secret? The calamansi juice which can be poured over the soup which makes it all the more mouth-watering that one opts to order again.

The master chef, Chong, commonly mistaken as a Chinese, is a Filipino. He is a gourmet cook and he likes preparing esoteric dishes such as the bulcachong which have gained popularity among locals and tourists alike over the years. He cooks the way he lived his life—meticulously and very properly.

The bulalo special which is good for 3-4 persons is sold at Php300. For the bulcachong, which serving is normally good for one person, there are two dining options. One can choose to dine outside the restaurant amid fresh air at Php75; or inside with an air conditioner which is served at Php90.

The main store is open for 24 hours. Its peak hours is from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. It has become very popular among locals who look for a hot soup to bring them back to a sober state after a night of drinking session.

While there are many restaurants and eateries that mushroomed all over Davao City, the Bulcachong restaurant continues to thrive because of its secret ingredient that no one has succeeded in imitating yet.

Since the Bulcachong restaurant was built, many locals would tried to mix and blend several ingredients just to come up with the exact exotic but delightful taste of the bulcachong but only to no avail. The secret ingredient, Chong said, will remain a “secret” in him and his most trusted co-chef who have worked for the restaurant for 18 years now.

After dining at Bulcachong, one, for sure, leaves with a satisfied and delighted stomach and exclaim: “Lami ah uy!”

That means: “unbelievably delicious!”

My Durian-eating challenge in Davao

7 Dec

Davao City is known to be a dazzling cornucopia of things to see and do. It offers a wide range of exciting and extraordinary adventures and activities that any tourists, even locals, won’t dare to miss.

Davao has been very well-known in housing the tallest mountain peak in the Philippines which is the Mount Apo. It is also home to the very rare and exquisite orchid—the waling-waling. Aside from these, it has also been inherently identified as the haven of the Philippine eagle.

But among all these treasure-trove offerings, the most exciting and must-try experience (for me) is eating the durian fruit. In fact, Davao City has been dubbed as the “Durian City of the Philippine” for this exotic fruit grows abundantly in this city.

As to why eating durian became a very extraordinary and really a-need-courage-all challenge for first-timers is because of its foul odor that would make you puke the moment it is stuffed into your mouth. The odor is like a fume from the unknown jungle (I might be exaggerating here but really the odor is no good at all). After eating, too, the smell in your breath won’t give up that easily. It would last until the morning even after having mouthwash or bubble gum.

I have observed from the durian eaters, though, that they would eat the fruit with their bare hands. This, they said, makes durian-eating all the tastier. Of course, I thought, the odor of the durian would stick on to their hands. The folks, though, gave a very simple hint that could wash the odor away. And that is by pouring water in the durian’s shell and washing your hand in it. Same thing goes with relieving the smell from your mouth. Pour water in the durian’s shell and use it as a gargle.  I did not try this tactic but these folks attested its wonders. I might try this when I get a chance to eat another durian fruit. I promise! It is not the most appetizing description to a fruit, yes, but certainly a Davaoeño favorite. In fact, it’s Davaoeños famous dessert.

And to give you an idea how this durian fruit looks like and how I struggled to stuff it into my mouth with all the super powers I can summon, take a look at the photos below.

The exotic Durian fruit!

I nearly puked!

Trying all might to swallow it.

One chunk down! Yahoo!

Success!

Just some of the left-overs.

I was able to finish four huge chunks! Yehey! And for an adventure-seeker, must-try-it-all person that I am, this is one of the challenges I’ll forever cherish. It wasn’t really easy to keep stuffing it in your mouth but indeed it’s worth a try.

After surpassing such challenge, for sure you’ll say: One more!