Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Roundup



This 2016, there may have been a lot of global historical pitfalls, but to me it was a steady-gradual-in-the-middle year. Not too many highs and lows, just a year in between. Though I never forgot to keep my promise to myself last year of reaching new places locally, to the extent of my remaining savings, I was not able to get a new stamp on my passport this year. It was a year of certain news, and a whole lot of budgeting involved.

The year opened with a couple of freelance jobs to keep me busy the first few months, then subdued mid-year, and I was back into bazaars by year-end. The constant question that remained was whether I was ready to go back into the workforce or not. At the end of it, as it turned out, I was no longer that interested in a regular job. The freelance lifestyle has been really practical, especially when it comes to avoiding the rush hour and unfortunate days when thunderstorms bring in a hard time to leave the house. I'm no longer, for several months, used to the regular time schedule of a 9am-6pm office employee...for a time, I slept at 2am-9am. I am still my own boss, though a whole lot poorer this time around. Still, looking back, I made it through. Just when I thought that my money has reached its bottom limit, something comes up, and that's how I survived the rest of the year with a few vacations in between. A lot of the time my freelance was somewhat related to weddings, from prenup to a bridal shower to actual weddings...either a stylist or a coordinator. It may be draining, but it is definitely a more rewarding feeling than a collared job. 

Another thing about this year is that my brother and I began hosting parties just for the heck of it. Mostly it's intimate dinners with a couple of friends, other times it was just a drinking session that often ended with several empty bottles of beer and brandy. It came to a point that some of our friends would "book" us and our place for their birthdays, free of charge of course. This year we started collecting chopping boards and dining wares specifically for hosting purposes. It's part of the perks of having our own place where we can be ourselves, no worries about being told "It's late! Get to sleep!" at midnight. When we're tired, we go in our room and sleep, leaving guests to decided on their own...which is the part that makes them even more at home with us. Because that's the kind of host my brother and I are. And we do it without apologies. At the end of it all, we create great memories with everyone right under our roof─plus several leftover food for the week ahead. Win-win.

My Top 2016 Whatevers

Wow Moment: Getting an invitation to appear on PTV’s Good Morning Pilipinas show for Teacup Ideas to do a guesting on their Artsy Crafty segment last December 15. Never imagined to be made as a guest for an interview and demo on live television.

Heart Pumping: Just yesterday, December 30, when I was at the edge of the boat and realized that I was about to jump off a probably a twelve-foot height and into the water where I could not see the bottom because it was that deep. I have a certain fear of deep waters, and having a life jacket on did not completely remove that fear.



Davao City


Most Stressful: Trying to get a hold of Coldplay tickets for their concert in Manila next year. For an entire week I was so stressed finding any means to making sure I get them. I was seriously losing sleep and hair from the moment they announced they were about to release the tickets and everyone wanted one! Especially when the preselling of the tickets was sold out in a matter of minutes!!! 

Scariest: At Davao’s Eden resort, when we did the Sky Cycle, wherein we had to bike on a cable wire that is suspended about sixty feet off the ground for about fifty meters. That initial release of when the bike slid off the ramp and I looked down and saw that the only thing that is holding onto me was the harness on my back and the cable between the wheel. And the less you pedal on the bike the longer the agony, and the faster you go the greater the cables wobble. So yeah, that was awful...my niece even complained peeing on her pants, while my other niece was crying throughout the ride.



Lakawon Island, Cadiz City. The last time I came here it was barren, and the beach was clad full of starfishes and sea urchins. Now it's full of cottages and has no starfish or sea urchins, though the water is still itchy just like 20 years ago.

My overnight birthday trip to Legazpi was chuck full of bad lucks and frustrating memories.


Worst: It was also just yesterday, December 30, when I jumped off the boat with my life vest on, and for some stupid reason I jumped off laughing, so by the time I dropped in the water I was out of breath. In those few seconds after feeling the painful impact of the water I could feel myself suffocating, and it was the absolute worst feeling that I might be drowning because I was struggling to reach the surface as my lungs were collapsing. I could not hear anything under water and it was deafening, it was murky that I could not see anything but translucent teal. The greatest relief came when I broke out of the surface and was able to catch my breath again. Other than that, it was frighteningly fun.

Un-luckiest Moment: Crap, I still feel the air of bad luck whenever I think about it. It was supposedly an awesome spontaneous birthday adventure with a few friends, to go to Legaspi for the weekend and have an ATV trail up Mt. Mayon…but things turned from exciting to stressful when we realized that there was a typhoon coming in that weekend. As the bad omen was brewing my friend asked if we could rebook the flight, but I had to refuse because I was leaving the next weekend for another vacation and it will be over my birth month by the time I’d come back. So, we had our plane tickets, hotel reserved, and our itinerary ready for the trip. Our flight was at 5:30am, at 11pm, a few hours before the trip Cebu Pacific called saying that our flight was cancelled for reasons they did not bother to explain. We pushed on, accepting the 9:30am flight…by 7am we were at the airport…by 9am it was announced that the flight will be delayed for 1 hour…three annoying hours after we departed for Legaspi at 1:30pm. We arrived very late for our schedule, in turn had to give up two activities off the itinerary. We got to the hotel, the rain started pouring in, and just when my friend said, “It could not possibly get worse than this!” just like on cue for a comedy, the air conditioner stopped. The powers went out…there was a black out. We all shrieked in laugher at how miserable we were.  That night we pushed on our trip to Sorsogon for the firefly watching…we were the only ones who were there in the middle of the night, searching for fireflies under the rain, a little bit wet. The next day, we went to the ATV place as planned…and it was practically showering all the way through, at least we weren’t soaked to the bones. Our biggest disappointment was that Lady Mayon did not show herself, save for her feet. We really wanted to see her up close, but that did not happen. Also, we practically starved for two days because we never had a proper meal save for one dinner that we had at 10pm, other than that we skipped through two lunches at breakfasts. Apparently, I was with a group of jinxed people as I was NEVER that consecutively unlucky for the entire duration of the trip…in fact I have good luck when it comes to travelling…but I was overpowered by a three-people-bad luck-combo.

Stupidest: Locking myself out of the condo because I was shooing a fly out. It landed on my cup and I was quick enough to trap it in…and since it felt like a gross idea to kill it inside my cup I was kind enough to release it outside. The moment I stepped out the door, the wind blew real strong, pushing and shutting me out of my own place─on the day I decided to wear a real thin shirt with no bra. Just when my stupidity sank in, a horde of people started passing my area that I had to pretend it was my intention to watch television through the window…that was luckily open that time. It took three attempts and a lot of muscle pain before I finally, successfully, climb up the window and get myself in. If people saw the CCTV footage, I swear it would pass for those funny home videos. Urgh! Stupid fly!



I've always wanted to see the Good Friday procession at Baliuag, Bulacan. It is as grandiose as they the news states. 


I must've spent many many hours playing this game, Elvenar, this year. I love elves, and this game muses me.


Regretful: Delaying my visit to one of my lolas. We had planned to visit her a month before her birthday, but concluded that it would be better to visit her on her birthday as a surprise. Unfortunately she died a few days before her birthday. It was a painful move, and regretful most of all.

Most Kilig: Finding a new guy to crush on?

Coolest: Riding and driving an ATV up the Mayon trail. The feeling of the engine roaring, and that power of the wheels above the uneven terrain was a pretty cool feeling. It was especially cool maneuvering it through mud-rocks out a newly cemented road and seeing the beautiful landscape below. I could still remember the smirk I had when I saw the sight. 

Heart Warming: Getting a letter from Save the Children Org that I've done something amazing, and that I'm making a difference for children. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right.



A few of the highlights of my freelance job this year.

Proudest Moment: That moment I saw myself being interviewed for a TV show.

Cutest: Holding Baby Abram at his baptism. It was the first time I got to hold a really cute baby after so many years.

Most Fun: My trip to Catanduanes with a group of old and new friends. It was just a light group to be with despite long hours of being stuck in the van.

Wildest: Just allowing myself to do a few extreme activities this year, from ziplines to biking on a cable to diving off into a really deep water.

Most Challenging: Still, as forever has been, time management. Because I don't live by routine, my body clock was all over the place.



A view from the port at Tobaco. Mt. Mayon showed itself to us the first time I went there. The upper right photos are from Binurong Point. It was an awesome view, though we were pressed for time. The lowers pics are from Puraran beach.

Masungi Georeserve at Rizal. It was a tiring but breathtaking trek to experience. So much beauty in nature here.


Magical Moment: Staring at a whole bunch of mangrove trees flickering with thousands of fireflies in the middle of the river. I've seen fireflies, one or three zoom pass me, but not in the thousands. I could remember the stillness of the night as we stared in awe at what looked like nature's Christmas tree. And although holding one on my hand kinda semi-freaked me out because it looks like a cockroach with its butt on fire, seeing the natural glow was magical.

Mesmerizing: Watching dozens of hot air balloon take flight in the sky at the break of dawn. It's one of those that make you stare up the sky in silent contemplation, almost unmoving until you see it disappear at the distance.

Awe-Inspiring: Seeing Mt. Mayon's in all its majestic beauty.  

Best Feeling: Getting hold of the Coldplay tickets. It was really just the best feeling I could describe that in an almost impossible feat, I made it happen. Though the struggle was real, I got it in the end.

OMG Moment: Realizing that our guesting on TV was LIVE and not a taping with cuts and all─three minutes before we were asked to go on air! When the invitation of PTV for Teacup Ideas to appear on TV came, we did a few adjustments for us to be present on the taping. There were no instructions or too much details given, save that we go to the studio at 6:30am. Not knowing about the whole live-TV guesting thing, we arrived a little late due to not having a service that morning. So, we were there by 7am, got our hair and makeup done...we were then told to proceed to the studio, the host gave up sample questions then you know that moment when you just have to ask, "Is this live?" and she said "Yes." I just remember telling two of my friends with an OMG expression that we were going in with no take twos. Panic never had the chance to set in before we were told that we had to take our places because the segment was about to start. It's quite a funny story to tell, especially when I recall the faces we made upon that realization. It was all too sudden, that we were not able to contact any of our family nor friends that we were going on air. The conversation went something like, "When are we going to see you on TV?" and we go, "It's over."

Best Discovery: Manjuyod Sandbar in Bais. Seriously, it was the best swim I had this year, and probably one of the best swims I experienced─EVER!!!



Manjuyod sandbar at Bais. Yes, there are that many shades of blue in the water there, and the wild oysters are almost that big as the watermelon beside it. The water was really calm, it wasn't that salty, and it is as clear as it could get.


The first time I went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, we didn't made it in time to see the balloons, just the air show. This time, we slept the night before, and was one of the first to arrive, giving us premium position to see them take flight.


Favorite 2016 Drink: Malagos 70% Dark Chocolate being turned into hot chocolate.

Favorite 2016 Food: Crispy Chicken Sliders and Onion Cube from POUND by Todd English, and Vigan Longganisa with a side of Buttered Cabbage that I must’ve cooked for many meals this year.

Favorite 2016 Dessert: Profiterole from Paul Boulangerie and the Zucchini Cake from Karen's Kitchen

Favorite 2016 Restaurant: POUND by Todd English

Unforgettable Meal: The lunch we had at Cafe Tavera in Davao. That grilled tuna belly and tangigue ceviche was spot on. Also, the tuna sashimi that was freshly caught and specifically air-lifted via helicopter from Gen San to Davao as a surprise gift to the diamond couple. I'm usually allergic to uncooked tuna due to mercury content if it's not fresh enough, but that one did not made me turn red nor itch because it took a few hours from the sea to the table at the wedding reception. Man, Davao has good food...something to look forward to again on my next visit.



Clockwise from upper left: The Malagos Dark Chocolate I bought at Davao is worthy of its international recognition; The lobsters were bought at Puraran beach for only P200 a pair; The Satay Bee Hon from the International Street Food Festival at BGC that I went in line for two hours to taste; A third of our feast during our Christmas party with the family, wherein it was the first time the lechon was ignored because the rest of the dishes were divine; The Crispy Chicken Sliders from Pound is something I craved for a few times this year; The cheese room at Sprial Sofitel...that Camembert was heaven!  


Favorite 2016 Hang Out: My room, especially after I cleaned it up.

Favorite 2016 Songs: Nervous by Gavin James, ILYSB by Lany, Up&Up by Coldplay, Send My Love by Adele

Favorite 2016 Movies: Doctor Strange because it tapped into the whole new age theme that I like. And The Little Prince...I know it's a 2015 movie, but I saw it in 2016...and not only because I am biased as it is my favorite children's book, the animation is charming as the added storyline did not destroy the magic of the original one.

Favorite 2016 People: The people I went on a trip to Catanduanes with, because we became fast friends after meeting on the trip for the first time. And of course the three people involved who made it possible for me to get my Coldplay tickets. ~Oh angels sent from up above, you know you make my world light up, when I was down, when I was hurt~~~

Will Be Most Missed in 2016: I'm not sure...maybe if they ban firecrackers from the public, I'd miss the smell of the gun powder after the firecrackers explode, and that feeling of holding it or lighting the fuse. Other than that, there's nothing to look back on.



My brother and I really got into hosting dinner parties this year. We made a lot of new friends this way. I would do the cooking, and he would do the plating, while our guests did the clean up. Several celebrated their birthdays with us because of it. It's both fun and tiring though.


A few of the events I went to this year. And YES! That's the Coldplay tickets right there! <3 


Achievement Unlocked this 2016: 
1. Stepping foot on Mindanao soil─finally! I've been wanting to go to Davao for as long as I could remember, but it never pushed through until this year, when my aunt and uncle decided to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary there, bringing the whole family along.
2. Working on a project for Ayala Corp. even just for a freelance job. Ayala has always been one of my target companies to work for, and being made to do an artwork for one of their offices is absolutely an honor.
3. Driving an ATV. As young as I could remember, it has always been my dream to drive one.
4. Seeing the perfect cone of Mt. Mayon. It's been a curiosity since those grade school days when we were being asked to bring postcards in class, and the photo of the Cagsawa Ruins with the volcano peeking from behind has always been present.
5. Being an event stylist for a wedding. The opportunity finally arrived this year when we were asked to do the setup for the reception of a wedding, and it turned out well in the end.
6. Receiving a 5-digit commission for an artwork. That was a $_$ moment.
7. Appearing on live TV for one whole segment.
8. Sort-of cliff jumping. Well, it wasn't a cliff exactly, but it was high enough.

Lesson Learned for 2016: I can survive accordingly within my means─simply because I have no choice and nothing else.

First Time Places I Went to this 2016: Davao City, Tagum City, Legazpi City, Sorsogon City, Tabaco City, Catanduanes Island, Bais City, Tanay Rizal, Baliuag Bulacan

2017 Bucket List:
1. Going to a place for the first time. Anywhere, near or far, as long as I've never been there my whole life.
2. Deleting unnecessary files on my laptop, like old photos and that take up so much of my disk space.
3. Be in top condition at some point this year because boy, am I out of it.
4. Post more blog entries. I've gotten a lot more useless this past two years, considering the amount of time I have on my hands. Typical.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Stuff: Part 2



Amazing how it felt only a few months ago when I wrote three personal experiences of the paranormal, now it's that time of year again when all I see on TV and online are horror specials.

I wanted to start writing the entry around 1AM today...but I must've watched too many Halloween specials on TV that my imagination started playing tricks on me, you know, that feeling of paranoia that something might pop up in front me anytime soon, so I decided to sleep instead. I had my rest, and though I'm feeling a migraine coming on, I'll finish typing this down before the day ends.

Unlike last year, I'll just write two personal experiences for this year's scary story entry...my paranormal moments had been slow lately─not that I'm wishing for one any time soon. Both experiences happened during college days...which was like─OMG!!! D: ─ten years ago, because both occurrences happened in and around my school. Go USTe! And as promised a year ago, I'll tell you about my experience living in a dorm near our school.

The Hospital Turned Dormitory 

The dormitory I'm talking about is an all-girls dormitory right along EspaƱa Blvd. It's right across the main gate of UST, the old building standing on the opposite end of the foot bridge that is situated near the main gate. I was with my mom and my tita out dorm-hunting when we came across the building. My mother being named Concepcion felt at ease when she saw the name. We went it, and a nun gave a tour of the gloomy place. It had been around for seventy-five years when we came there, and apparently it was a health center during World War II. A piece of information I came by when it was already too late to back out. The nun showed us a couple of available rooms, but it was on the fourth floor, right beside the fire exit that we made a this-is-the-one moment. I can't remember the room number, but I could clearly recall that it was the only room out of all the rooms we saw that had a religious statue placed on top of a shelf. The room was an electric fan room for three occupants, and there were a lot of potted plants on the fire exit stairs, and a lone bathroom at the end of the hallway. It was a St. Anne statue, my mother's patron saint. The nun serenely explained that they leave the statue there and have it and the room blessed once a week a least. I assumed it was just a typical thing...but as it turned out there's a reason for that. 

As a sixteen-year-old who left her hometown to be on her own for the first time and is made to stay in an all girls dorm, but is left by her roommates on the weekends to be on her own. And on the weekends, when she's on her own, she feels like there's someone staring at her from the corner of the room. Yep, it felt like a plot-material for horror story. It was horrible! There were nights when we would hear someone knocking on our door only to open it with no one in sight. It happened often enough that we would even ask our dorm-mates whether they were playing a prank on us. But no, even if we would go out and check the down to the corners of the corridors if they were hiding, we never saw anyone. It was usually three light knocks on the door, sometimes louder, but often times it would repeat every few minutes and only stops if we open the door. It was because of that fact that I would sleep with the doors open whenever I'm on my own, other times I would invite other dorm-mates to sleep with me in the room. There was a constant feeling of being stared at by someone whenever I was alone, even in broad daylight. The moment I stepped in that dorm, they air suddenly becomes heavy and it was less than a delightful feeling. Huhuhu...I'm so happy I survived four whole months in there. 

At some point, other girls would give me subtle clues that they knew something I didn't. A month before the end of the semester one of my two roommates moved out because she was done with the review leaving only two of us...and that roommate of mine always makes sure to go home three days a week, urgh! Majority of those who stayed in the dorm were CPA graduates reviewing for the board exams. Right after the board, two thirds of the occupants were gone, leaving us poor innocent students on our own. There were also days when we talked about scary stuff, and they would claim that there are times when the shower in the common bathroom would suddenly open on its own, or a toilet would flush with no one in the cubicle. One even showed me a photo of a sort of distorted face posing behind their group pic on our floor...but no one would ever tell me anything about the room I was sleeping in. The staff would dismiss any question regarding the paranormal, while other girls would say they'd tell me only after my last night there. It was both frustrating and unnerving being told an open ended piece of information.  

Anyway, fast forward to my last day...I had finished moving out my stuff because I was to transfer to my uncle's townhouse in Cubao─thankfully─for the rest of my college life, I went to my friend who owed me a story. She said, the room I was staying in was the room of girl who committed suicide inside the closet. The story goes that she took the CPA board exams, lost faith in herself and could not contain the possibility of failing the board so she hung herself in one of the closets in our room. Thankfully not mine, but the one next to the door that we kept hearing knocks. To add to the tragedy of the story, it turned out that she passed the board exams...killing herself in vain. 

The Balete Tree Near the Grand Stand

If you ever go to UST, notice that there's a huge balete tree on the left side of the stage behind the grand stand. It's the one beside the ROTC office and across the publishing house; a stone throw away from the Beato Angelico Building─my CFAD building. Below the tree there's a faucet there...and we were busy doing our plate then in one of the pavilions. I, needing to wash my paint palette clean, lazily decided to wash it using the faucet there instead of the one in the CR. I was alone when I did this, cleaning the paint off my palette using my hand and washing my hand after as well. It took a few minutes after washing my palette when I felt pain on my legs. I tried to ignore it at first, but the pain kept on. Maybe ten minutes after my using of the faucet below the balete that I went to the CR to pee, and when I pulled down by pants and saw my legs I was horrified with what I saw. My legs were full of black and violet patches, scattered all over were bruises reaching probably twenty individual small bruises that I could not explain. It was painful, and it hurt every time I took a step. I chose to ignore it at first, not really knowing how to handle the situation. On the second day it didn't hurt as much, but both my ankles started to swell like I was having a gout or arthritis or something. I could clearly remember how slowly I had to walk then because it was numbing to a point. It was actually the turning point in my life when it came to eating bitter melons because I hated that stuff, but I was constantly being told that it's good for blood circulation. For the first time in my life then I was forced to eat an entire serving of pinakbet without leaving the ampalaya on the side. On the third day I decided have it checked in the clinic. The doctor said it must be an inflammation of the muscles of some sort because I was too young for joint illnesses, so he gave my medication. I drank it for three days but nothing happened. It was during the weekend, five days after the incident when I finally told my family about it because I was not getting any better. The patches of bruise on my legs had turned yellow and starting to heal, but the sore on my ankles never improved.

I'm glad that one of my mom's sister was in Manila that time and I told her what happened. I was still staying in the dorm then when it happened, and it was during the weekend when I went to see my uncle and aunt in Cubao that I was able to ask for help. Luckily they know a mangtatawas...or taga tawas or mytical healer something, a guy who does rituals for those who are being bothered by elementals. They texted my full name to the guy and explained what happened. He did the ritual with a candle and I was told that a bunch of dwarves or tree druids did not like getting wet so they made me suffer for my actions. I was ordered to return to the tree and ask for forgiveness for what happened. Lo and behold, it took less than thirty minutes after the text that the inflammation on my feet healed, all pain completely gone. As quickly as I was hurting, I was restored. That experience made deepened my belief of the occult and elementals and faith healers...that there's more to the stories than simply being legends.

A week after it was a full cycle, I was back under the balete, this time I asked two friends to come with me so if I go down we go down together. I can still vividly recall that awkward moment of me talking and bowing my head to a tree apologizing while my friends giggled right behind me. To this day, I never went near that tree again...and my friends who witnessed what I did still laughs at me whenever we come across that topic. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Nervous by Gavin James



It's torture to have a Last Song Syndrome when you don't know the artist and the only lyrics that keep running in your head is something you can't Google nor ask your friends. In my case it's the "Ohhhhh-uhhhhh-whooooo-ohhhhh-whoooooo-ohhhhhh" part !!!! A very useless clue in the world of lyric-hunting. @#$%^&!!! I practically gave up, until, by some strike of luck I saw Gavin James being featured on MTV a week after my LSS. I don't normally watch MTV, but I was drawn to the channel earlier today, the BAM. Goosebumps. I felt my world stop for three minutes as his yodel sent chills down my spine and up my hair strands. Listening to this song is an experience. And finally knowing the title of the song and the artist is a relief. Now I don't have to make stuff up in my head to make some sort of assumption as to what he's singing other the ohhhhhhh.

It's only now when I'm reading the lyrics that the melancholy in the melody makes sense.



So I won't say I love you
It's too late

Monday, September 26, 2016

ILYSB by LANY



There is something very sensual about this song, and it helps that it's sung by a sexy voice. I've had this on repeat since last week because of the casualness of it all: beat, lyrics, and the works. 

The simpleness and the heartfelt chorus is what gets me. It describes perfectly the title of the song: I Love You So Bad


Oh my heart hurts so good
I love you babe, so bad, so bad
Oh yeah, oh my heart hurts so good
I love you babe, so bad, so bad



Saturday, September 10, 2016

2016 Birthday Series



My birthday celebration marathon started a few days before my actual birthday. It started with a series of unfortunate events on our supposed eventful trip to Legazpi City. How badly did it go? It began with a cancelled flight a few hours before the trip. The rest of the story will be told on another post though because I want to focus on my getting-a-year-older-day rather than the trip.

My birthday was on a Wednesday, so the weekend before we left for Legazpi, Albay where me and a couple of friends went out on the ATV trail up Mt. Mayon. We left Saturday then went home by Sunday. I remember sleeping practically most hours of Monday, while on Tuesday I went out with college friends for a 3-hour Videoke/Karaoke/KTV/Singalong night at Song Hits in Metrowalk, Ortigas. Prior to our rendezvous I watched the movie Kingslave: Final Fantasy XV because I miss playing the series so much, but I have no choice but to settle for video clips and the movie due to poverty. The movie was far better than the FF: Spirits Within, but seemed more like an extended prologue for the game than a stand alone story. Urrrrghhh! It made me want to play the game and explore the world and get my hands to bringing down those Behemoths. My last FF game was Final Fantasy XII...so...so...long ago.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Knots by Charlie Lim



Charlie Lim was first introduced to me by Spotify though their Ultimate SEA Indie playlist. It's basically a playlist of South East Asian artists with an indie vibe to their music. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am of Spotify for exposing me to so many great international bands that I could never have realized on my own. 

I have been repeatedly hearing that Charlie Lim is the John Mayer of Singapore as his love songs are meant for the brokenhearted─kinda like breakup songs...which leaves the whole love part out in the end. Anyway, I've played his song on repeat since last year, and I still love it until now. It's about not giving second chances. It's about shoving at his face that he's not getting another chance at you. Here are a few lines of his lyrics that just make you want to feel the burn. 

Wish you'd wrote it all on water
Watch it all go to waste
So help me understand why
Why you wanna go back
Still running to your past life
When there's nothing left

And sort of ends on this note...

Don't you think it's for the best
That we don't always get what we want
Oh how easy we forget
When we could've had it all

Lesson learned...don't screw up the first time by taking it for granted.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Snippets: Pre-Birthday Celebration Trip Up Mt.Mayon



Taken August 21, 2016 at an ATV trail up Mt. Mayon in Legazpi City, Albay.

A few years ago─rough estimate is about three or so years ago─when I realized that I didn't want to celebrate my birthday as parties, you know, the kind wherein you invite everyone over to your house and have them feast on your home-cooked buffet. I've done that far too many times that most of my birthdays were spent a blur because either I was too tired from all the preparations, or, too preoccupied trying to host the invited guests. It's like a rerun; year after year, like a stressful annual requirement that obliges you to experience that awkward moment wherein everyone gathers around to sing you the Happy Birthday song and you are stuck there unflinching in front of your cake hoping the torture to end. I mean seriously, what to you do when everyone is staring at you yodeling, "Happy birthday to you!"? My closest friends knows that I'd shut them up the moment they start singing. I like the blowing-off-the-candle-on-the-cake part though, because it means I get to eat the cake right after. Not a big believer of birthday wishes...if you want it done, bluntly ask the parties involved of making it happen, using your birthday as an excuse.

In any case, after much self-refection...I realized that what I want for my birthday is to experience a moment to remember a year by. Three years ago I celebrated it by torturing my friends into jogging with me. Two years ago, it was my first time to zipline at a mountain resort in my home province. I remember how my arms hurt a few hours after because I was holding onto the rope far too tightly. Last year, it was the first time I celebrated my birthday abroad, in Yangon more specifically. This year, it was this, riding an ATV up to the 2006 lava flow of Mt. Mayon. Pre-birthday because it wasn't exactly my birthday...but it was what I will remember most on turning late twenty-somethingish. Also, my fourth time to zipline that day. 

It was monsoon season, so it's no surprise that it rained that day. It was one of the unluckiest trip I went on...that story will probably come on my 2016 roundup post under the "Worst Luck Moment of 2016" section. I went to Legazpi two weeks prior, and saw the most beautiful volcano from afar─EVER!!!─not that I've seen a lot though...but I swear on its perfect cone that it is breathtakingly beautiful. On the day of the trail, where we'd go up to the foot of the volcano, she decided to go shy on us and veil herself in very thick clouds. We ended up just seeing a wall of white from the view point at the end of the trail. But despite that, it's the experience of riding an ATV for the first time, up a rugged and puddled path, down to a newly cemented road with the view of Legazpi City below is what mattered. I love driving off to scenic routes, and to be able to do that so much closer to nature, that was awesome. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Trekking Up Masungi Georeserve



I was planning on a long vacation to Bacolod when a friend said, "We have a hike up Masungi on the 26th! We've waited four months for this reservation to happen!" That's when I had to book a flight back earlier than should. Apparently all of us forgot about the reservation save for that one friend...who was also responsible for booking us all. Haha! She must've reminded us a couple dozen times not to make any plans on that day, but because of months of idle wait we constantly strayed from the thought. I mean, seriously, we booked February for a June slot. Although there is a higher chance for you to experience Masungi sooner if you book for a trek on a weekday, it's the weekends that are fully booked for months on end. They limit the tours to eighteen a day, which is why it took forever, considering the popularity of the place and the weekend-adventure trend going on.

I'll give a brief walk-through of the hike. To begin with, expect a lot of steps to be made. My friend recorded a total of 14,100+ steps after the trail, which took us five hours to complete because we weren't exactly built nor made any preparations for this endurance test. They say three hours should be ample time to finish the course, but having to wait for so long it'd be a shame to take the view and photo opportunities for granted. Also, what I meant with course is that the trek is in a loop, so once you begin the only way to exit is to go through all of the point-of-interests. It's not a linear trail that once you reach the end point you have to about-face and retrace your steps back in order to make your way out. And as the guide said, "Take your time to enjoy the view." 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Up&Up by Coldplay



It's mid-July and I have yet to write a post...so instead I'll just share this awesome music video of one of my favoritestestest band Coldplay because I've been looping this on Youtube for a while now. 

This is a good source of inspiration, visually and audioually. It says a lot about our generation of go-getters who are lost in our struggle to get through a messed up life. You know, the quarter-life-crisis thing. We want so much in life that we end up frustrated, but Chris couldn't be more right with these lyrics:

We're gonna get it, get it together right now
Gonna get it, get it togther somehow
Gonna get it, get it together and flower
We're gonna get it, get it together, I know
Gonna get it, get it together and flow
Gonna get it, get it together and go
Up and up and up

Ohhhh~~~oohooh Oh!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Recipe: Chicken Annatto Adobo Flakes Fried Rice



That long title basically explains the entire recipe. When I got home from Bacolod I brought with me a box of inasal, with it the addictive chicken oil, a recipe I can tell you as a side note. Another Ilonggo food item I brought with me is adobo flakes cooked with atsuete...it's also known as adobong pula. It's actually my favorite kind of adobo as it's one of my mom's specialty and it has a lighter flavor compared to the one made of soy sauce and vinegar.

*To make adobo flakes, simply simmer the adobo until it's so soft that the meat breaks apart when you flatten it with a fork. So you just shred the adobo until it looks like fibers, then there's two ways to make it...deep fry it or dry fry it on a non stick pan until it turns into a crisp brown substance resembling the floss-of-the-floss-bread-topping-part of Breadtalk.

**As for the chicken oil, you can either ask your local inasal place (like I did) to pack it on your take-out order or make one from scratch. There's the authentic version where you use the oil from the insol or chicken butt and infuse it with annatto, or my quick version of using vegetable oil and frying in the annatto and garlic then adding chicken bouillon until everything infuses then straining it in a glass container.

This fried rice recipe came together after I needed to consume the adobo flakes I made but got bored with it after eating it over white for three meals. The recipe is also great with kimchi on the side.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Me Before You



Some random conversations I had with the movie Me Before You:

Friend: Oh-ehm-gee! I can't wait for Me Before You!
Me: What's that?
Friend: A movie based on a novel that I'm reading.
Me: Ohhh~ (pretends to sound interested) Who's the actor?
Friend: Sam Claflin (with dreamy eyes and a wide smile)
Me: Who?
Friend: The guy from Love Rosie.
Me: Oh! Finnick!
Friend: YES! (shows movie poster)
Me: Nice! He got paired with the same girl from Love Rosie! They look good together.
Friend: No, that's not Lily Collins.
Me: Of course that's her!
Friend: Nope
Me: How can that not be her!?!
Friend: That's Emilia Clarke.
Me: Who?
Friend: You know, from the Game of Thrones?
Me: Noooooe...! (disbelief) 
*watches trailer*
Me: Oh-ehm-gee! I can't wait for Me Before You!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Three-Day Nostalgia at Luang Prabang, Laos



Luang Prabang, more than anything, feels a lot like home. It was strange that the city felt so familiar despite me being there for the first time. No, it wasn't deja vu, rather, the atmosphere almost completely resembled that of the city I grew in. Low land-to-human population, lots of trees, fresh air, having a small town feel despite being called a city, residents practicing a narrowed down lifestyle, good food, and the slow-laid-back pace is how I would sum up my observation after staying there for three days...or was it four? 

Although the view is without doubt miles better than my hometown; but if I closed my eyes, breathed the air and heard the gecko in the background, I could mistake the moment as being back home, aimlessly waiting for dinner to be served. Yep, it's the perfect contrast of a metropolitan life─the haven of those wanting to sit back and respite from any stress-related thoughts. Because how can you possibly think of work when you're hugged by sloping mountains and serenaded by happy chirps!? In a city two thousand kilometers away from home, I found my sanctuary. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Phoenix Cruise at Halong Bay




A little over two years back I went on a Halong Bay cruise, two years later the memory that stood out the most is not the view, it's the food.

For a little over a hundred dollars to experience all that I did, it felt a more than a bargain. It was worth more than what I had assumed. We paid $155.00 for a 2D-1N stay on a small cruise ship around Halong Bay; this included hotel pick-up, accommodation, a tour, kayaking across one island to another, and food─THE FOOD─urgh, so so good. T-T It was one of the few occasions that I totally enjoyed eating more vegetables than meat.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Snippets: Sunrise at Angkor Wat



Taken June 2, 2014. This was the sunrise I was seeing back then, almost exactly two years ago at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. I remember getting there still dark, yet the crowd had already taken all the good spots, so I just used them to my advantage, after all I had no plans of turning my photos into a postcard. They say it gets even more crowded during high-tourist season...so this is basically nothing compared to peak seasons.

Parts of my journal that day reads:

"I may have slept as late as 12am, but I woke up even before the alarm struck at 4:30am. We went out at dawn, just before day break to see the sun rise at Angkor Wat. The sun rose and it was splendid.... By the time we arrived at the hotel, I was limping from fatigue and from the blisters I've accumulated.... The day ended with a traditional Khemer massage, sort of like a Thai massage, but less brutal."

And I was not able to write then the terrible sunburn I got from touring the temples. I felt my skin burn the next day and I could see the tan line on my arms go from sort of normal-color-me to four-shades-darker-me just under my sleeves. It was one of the worst sunburns I got in my life, really, worst than some of my days on a beach. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Snippets: Pad Thai in Chatuchak



Taken May 31, 2014. Exactly two years ago (time check 10:30pm) I was at a hostel somewhere in Bangkok resting my feet from a day's worth of walking around Chatuchak Market and Terminal 21 mall. This was my lunch at Chatuchak that day, a nice plate of pad thai at one of the open air stalls in the middle of the market. It was nice and refreshing, but I do prefer my bean sprouts slightly blanched. That plump freshwater prawn was a nice touch, and the noodles were sticky and oily at the same time. The simplicity of the dish is what some Thai restos overlook here in Manila. I only have three shots of the dish, two of them blurred because I was starving then. I didn't even have the energy to stand up and take a proper photo of the plate.

I miss Thailand. </3

Part of my May 31, 2014 journal says:

"Woke up a little late today as I was really beat last night. Ate another 7 Eleven breakfast. Today is our last day in Bangkok and I'll be spending it for shopping. Amazing how I am now missing the life of a nothing. I look forward to getting home and do nothing."

It was our 11th day on a cross-country trip from Vietnam-Laos-Thailand down to Cambodia. When you pack so much itinerary in a short amount of time the tendency will be getting burned out along the way...which is why I want to avoid too much jam-packed trip after that one. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

International Street Food Festival 2016


Truffle Lechon worth for effin P350.00!!! It was really good, but the skin wasn't crispy, the serving so under-portioned.


When rumors first came out that the World Food Congress 2016 would be held in the Philippines, I got giddy, and when it was revealed that the venue would be in BGC, I had no excuse not to go. And it was amazing how the news spread like wildfire, almost everyone I knew had heard about the event, and almost all of them had intentions of going. This made me realize how much foodies there are out there. Shortly after posts of how bad the line was and how pricey the choices were, a lot of my friends backed out. But apparently, this post proves that nothing swayed me from getting my fair share of the street food feast, and a few of my friends as well.

I went Wednesday at 7pm...the line stretched for two blocks, and I had to wait in line until 8:15pm before I got it. What helped me through the ordeal of the hunger was the sound of Up Dharma Down serenading us onstage. I only wish I wasn't as hungry nor lining up outside when they were playing. Getting in was one thing, getting my food was another series of waiting, from queuing up to pay which took me about twenty minutes and another thirty in line to claim my dinner. I got fed a little over 9 o'clock with food that was the sized a bit smaller than a salad plate. The sad part was that a lot of the vendors were sold out by the time I got in the venue, so I had to settle for other options...which I didn't regret in the end. Although I must comment that the first day of the event there were a lot of confusion in the line, and there's nothing worst than waiting for twenty minutes only to be told in front of the counter that you're on the wrong line and must go to the back of the other line to claim your food or order. They did correct this with a signage when I returned on the last day though.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Recipe: Kani Salad Turned Kani Sandwich



I've been having major cravings for the taste of the kani sandwich I ate at Bankok about two years ago. It's actually just a 7Eleven kani sandwich, but the taste was far cry from the 7Eleven sandwiches being sold here in Manila, the kani sandwich in Bankok is actually really good. Their breads are better there...and the filling is actually spread on enough to taste, unlike here wherein you barely taste what's between those two slices of bread. For probably three consecutive days I ate that fake-crab-and-egg sandwich, sometimes two if I'm in the mood to splurge. For one...it was one of the cheapest items there, and that added up to the happy memory. I usually ate it with chocolate flavored soy milk or a large cup of milk tea being sold by a middle-aged lady in front of the shop. Those were fond mornings indeed...  

So yeah, and since it's a Holy Thursday today, Lenten rituals calls for abstinence from red meat...and this became my solution to that, a perfect excuse to create a recipe based on that memory. But as it eventually turned out, I had forgotten the taste of the sandwich, so I ended up making a nice kani salad instead...but also slathered it on bread and topped it with another bread turning it into a sandwich anyway.

In my unprofessional field of home cooking, I find no need in exact measurements as it is unnecessary to repeat the exact taste over and over, so instead I'll just put in the ingredients I used and leave it according to personal taste.