Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Roundup

This 2017, I can say overall, was a good year for me. Sure, some pitfalls here and there, but looking back, this is the year that I was actually able to check all of my resolutions─AND tick a couple of items off my bucket list. Long-time wishes finally fulfilled this year, and it surprised me even. I guess one of the things that made it happen was grabbing the opportunity when it presented itself, and working hard on making it possible the moment you grab it.

I remember telling myself last year that the moment I watch Coldplay, my year is made. How wonderful it is that it didn't turn out to be the case, it was just the first of many things that made this year extra special. The first month was horrible as one of my closest cousins finally succumbed to cancer, and that broke me quite badly. The rest of quarter was slow, with me just going out on long drives around Negros and draining my bank account even further. I went back to Manila for the concert, and I remember just swearing to stay away from Bacolod the rest of the year because I got so bored and sick of overstaying there for four months. By March I was telling everyone how much I miss Manila. 

The second quarter was spent travelling and enjoying the freedom, plus also going back to the gym with my need to regain some sense of fitness. That didn't last long though, because mid-year I started working and most of everything centered around my new job. A lot of my schedules had to be reconsidered, most of which to had to be for our Japan trip. Year-end, my childhood dream of going to Japan was finally fulfilled, and that was expectedly surreal. Looking back, I can say this year made me even more excited of the next. 2018, I have you planned out─it's a matter of making it happen.

Bacolod's Art District, La Carlota's Pasalamat Festival and Cafe Racer in Dumaguete

My Top 2017 Whatevers

Wow Moment: Biking over the bridge at Katsura River in Arashiyama, Kyoto and seeing the subtle changing colors of the foliage at the end of the bridge. That was the moment it sank in that I was in Japan. That was the Japan I wanted to see, the view that I’ve been dreaming of seeing for as long as I could remember. That was surreal, and I can still remember that smile of disbelief that ran across my face that very moment.

Around Negros

Coldplay's Head Full of Dreams Concert

Unexpected: Getting to watch LANY perform live. I mean, Coldplay was planned, but I found out about LANY less than a month before their free show, and I wasn’t expecting that I’d get to make it just in the nick of time to watch their performance because I had work that day. It was just meant to be. And the Japan trip was actually also unexpected, but everything just fell into place.

Most Stressful: The whole month of August was just the most tiring time for me this year. I felt like I was being choked by time pressure every day for the whole month. I was so miserably stressed 80% of the time.

Scariest: The bus ride from Sagada to Baguio. It was seriously the scariest road I ever passed through. There was the real risk of the bus just falling off the edge of mountain and us dying all together. It was awful! While my friends were fast asleep through most of the five-hour ride I was wide awake holding onto my seat for dear life. There was no way I could fall asleep seeing where the bus was plying. 

Banaue, Bontoc and Maligcong


La Union, La Trinidad and Baguio

Worst: Waiting and seeing one of my closest cousin die in front of me. That was a horrible horrible thing to watch everything transpire and be so helpless at the situation.

Un-luckiest Moment: Day-trip in Nara, Japan. I got bitten by a deer on the butt. I picked a non-electric bike. Very wrong. We finally found the café we were looking for five minutes after they closed.

Stupidest: There are times when I just am. I blank out and miss the most obvious of details. This one mostly happens at work.

Regretful: Not getting to spend enough time in Japan, especially Kyoto. There is always that regret of cutting the trip short to save on money...only to realize that money can be regained when we get home, but that missed-out possibilities had we stayed longer is much harder to regain.

Most Frustrating: PLDT! Working online and losing your internet access for a week was a real hard and irritating experience. Every time I called the PLDT hotline they tell me that all I can ever do is wait for the technician to be assigned in our area. It was also the time when both my housemates went out for trips, leaving me helpless for several days.

Most Kilig: Hearing the voice of Chris Martin live. Oh-My-God, it melted my heart and weakened my knees. Too much fangirling happened that night.

Proudest Moment: Reaching my savings account to the amount I want it to.

Cutest: Hugging Biscuit, a corgi puppy. Just, pet goals.

Most Fun: Going on long drives alone just to see the landscape scenery around Bacolod and compiling them into short timelapse videos. 

Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon. I've always been curious about that fiesta. It was truly a must-experience sight fiesta.

Wildest: That spontaneous moment when two of my friends and I decided to go to the Mountain Province and explore without much itinerary. It felt like a real adventure. A supposed 4-day trip, we suddenly decided on the trip back to take a detour and extend another day.

Most Challenging: Surviving work. Seriously, there are days when I am mentally challenged to getting the job done.

Magical Moment: The whole concert of Coldplay. It was a dream-come-true, especially when he sang Magic.

Mesmerizing: Watching the sea of clouds from the peak of Mt. Kupapey, and seeing the rice terraces beneath the clouds.

Awe-Inspiring: Manila Fame, seeing how far the quality of local products can compete and fare in the international market.

Best Feeling: Walking along Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove…it gave me sense of peace and pure joy that very moment.



OMG Moment: Seeing a full bodied apparition of my brother’s doppelganger glide pass in front of me, less than a foot from where I was standing. It didn’t scare me as I imagined myself to react if I saw a ghost. It’s more of when the realization sank in I simply thought to myself, “Oh my God, I think I just saw a ghost.”

Disappointing: Dan Stevens disappointed me so badly when he turned into Prince Adam. Why? He looked wimpy and nothing like that full-chest-bedazzling-princely-turning-of-the-head-to-Belle of Prince Adam on the animated version. 

Best Discovery: Learning how to automatically rename the files in Adobe Illustrator. It was a turning point to naming all my artboards. 

Favorite 2017 Drink: Rosé…I’m trying to transition for beer to wine. Rosé seems like a good start in this effort to learning how to appreciating wines. And fresh buko juice! I try ko drink at least once a week whenever possible as I feel an instant improvement in my system whenever I drink it.

Favorite 2017 Food: I craved a lot of cheese flavored things this year. Cheese pizza! There are only two pizzas I crave for, either margherita or plain cheese pizza. I also found myself eating a lot of chorizo at the latter half of the year. 

Best Thing I Ate: That slice of toro shashimi I ate from Tsukiji market dipped in soy sauce was divine, and Emma Lacson's Chicken Empanada is something I cannot stop myself from eating until there's none left in sight. 

Favorite 2017 Dessert: Pablo’s soft served cheese ice cream. 

Favorite 2017 Restaurant: Alab, Hey Handsome, Motorino



Unforgettable Meals: At Hakko Raphael’s in Nara, Japan. We actually only ate a slice of cheesecake and a cup of coffee. But it’s not just the meal, rather, it’s the lasting impression and memory made during that meal. Our dinner at Van Gogh is Bipolar was also one of the more memorable meals I had this year. It was interesting. A dinner at Hey Handsome ignited my taste buds, and it helped me taste food again. Their Fried Egg dish was seriously addicting. And how can I forget the first time I ate nga-nga at Maligcong? 

Favorite 2017 Hang Out: SM Aura’s food hall. It’s not really my favorite, but I found myself staying there a lot whenever I had to wait for the 12:15pm mass at Pedro Calungsod Chapel.

Favorite 2017 Songs (Not necessarily new songs, just the tracks I listened to most this year): Tila by Clara Benin, Burnout by Dancel-Danao-Dumas, Magic by Coldplay, Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay, Saan Man by Alessandra de Rossi, Awit ng Paghahangad, LANY Pink Skies, Jess Glynne Take Me Home, OneRepublic If I Lose Myself

Favorite 2017 Movies: Sakaling Hindi was the first movie I saw this year and I loved that it's a pinoy movie done in a way that's not made with a mainstream formula; Beauty and the Beast Live Action...because OMG Beauty and the Beast is my favorite classic Disney movie and seeing Emma Watson take on the role of my favorite Disney princess brought emotionally-happy tears to my eyes; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales...because Pirates of the Caribbean is my favorite adventure movie and I'm biased to just loving all of their movie releases.

Various food that I found memorable eating this year.

Random whatevers that happened this year. I was so inspired with making a quick fanart of Beauty and the Beast that I made a 20-minute doodle after watching the movie.

Will Be Most Missed in 2017: The places I went to...because it'll be many years before I can return to some of then. 

Achievement Unlocked this 2017:
  1.  Seeing a ghost
  2.  Reaching my savings account goals
  3. Actually checking all my 2017 goals, and more!
  4. Seeing the rice terraces up close.
  5.  Stepping foot on Japan soil.
  6. Getting into the habit of fixing my bed first thing in the morning.
  7. Going on our first official family trip abroad.
  8. Drive up the mountains and go on solo road trips.
  9. Finding a job.
  10. Watching Coldplay and LANY in concert.

2017 Realization: I think I know what I want to do for the next several years of my life now. I finally think it’s time I do what I’ve been telling myself “not yet” for the longest time. At some point this year, I found myself the urge to push through with it, as if my gut and fate is telling me that “it’s time.”

Lesson Learned for 2017: A lot can happen in a year, and it can suddenly shift mid-way.

2018 Bucket List:
  1. Next stop, Taiwan.
  2. Pursue my long-time plan of starting a food business and expanding my product line for Teacup Ideas.
  3. Go on a solo adventure.
  4. Be awesome by the time I turn 30.
  5. Refocus on my health and fitness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Rushing Through Kyoto and Arashiyama

What can I say about Kyoto the city? Well, I have not seen enough of it to give a real impression except of a few firsts. The memory that really stood out was the regret of not staying long enough to take in the sights. We arrived in Kyoto late in the afternoon via Shinkasnen from Tokyo, and we went directly to Tofukuji Station in hopes of checking in our Airbnb so that by 3pm we could start exploring the city. That was the tricky part─finding the exact place in a location that's not that easily locatable with a GPS. For almost an hour we were going in circles. We were got close to the pinned location, but then we were either standing on the opposite street that we cannot cross because of a wall or we kept walking to a direction that looked completely different on the map; it was so frustrating that at some point we told the rest of our family to wait in one spot and we'd come fetch them the moment we find the house. Because really, it was sad to watch us haul our huge bags on the streets back and forth.  This led us to ask a few locals and experience what a lot of tourists had been claiming─how willing people are, to go out of their way and help lost-clueless tourists like ourselves. A girl walked us all the way to the police station and talk to the officer when she didn't know where it was. Surprisingly the police also didn't know where that street was because he was using this old area map...and so the girl assisted us to asking around and never left us until we stood at the door of our Airbnb. The whole thing must've took more than thirty minutes...precious time and effort that I'm sure not everyone is willing to do for strangers. I truly appreciated us getting lost even if that incident caused my mother to complain about how scared she got the whole time we stayed in Kyoto, because that gave me a first-hand experience of how well-meaning and valued courtesy is to the Japanese.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

Recipe: Strawberry Lavender and Poppy Seeds Shortcake

Taken last October 29, 2017...just a few weeks ago during a friend's birthday celebration. This was the most decent shot of the three taken by my brother to be posted on his IG stories. We barely got to take any photos of the food because were rushing to fetch our aunt that day. It's a funny story actually...we were buying groceries the night before the party when our matriarch called, telling us that she wanted my brother and I to accompany her to visit a wake. She's one of the people I we can't say no what happened on my friend's birthday, we left them on their own at our place to accommodate our aunt. Long story short, we were the last to arrive for the party that we supposedly were hosting. The guests were left to entertain and feed themselves while we were away. 

So anyway, my brother and I had been planning to bake this almond and poppy seeds muffin for quite some time now, but we always found ourselves cancelling the bake last minute. Our constant dilemma about baking something that's fit for a dozen has always been, "how will we consume the whole thing?" Weeks passed and the mix just kept still in the pantry. Slowly I found myself finding the ingredients I wanted to add that'll make the muffin extra special. I had the vision in my head, until finally, the perfect opportunity arrived just when I have gathered all that I needed. Fate has declared, and it shall be done.

This is actually the first time, in a very long time...years really...that I found myself baking again. The last time I baked something that's well thought of was when I actually made the Mixed Whatevers Bread Pudding for a recipe blog entry in 2014. This time it was a little special; I was baking it as a birthday cake for a friend. Actually, it's a muffin that was baked in a cake pan so it's shaped as a cake. And well...unfortunately it came out of the oven burnt because I was distracted with making other dishes that day, still in the end I'm glad the birthday boy liked it. I liked it as well. The taste is refreshing and hearty, a combination of good flavors. I'm sharing the recipe because it's something that's a little more interesting in terms of the blending of flavors. I'm actually a fan of poppy seeds, but it took me years of search before I finally found an imported muffin mix box. One of the muffins I enjoyed eating years back was the lemon and poppy seed one, but was eventually phased-out...and that was the last of my favorite muffin.

Don't judge me, the base muffin came from a pre-mixed box...but the twist comes in the frosting and the added ingredients that accumulated in my head after weeks of delay.

Frosting Recipe:
8 oz. Cream cheese block
200g Cream cheese spread
1 stick Salted Butter
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 drops Lemon Essence 
Lemon Zest

Just mix them all together until smooth and creamy, adjusting the sugar according to preference. The turn out will actually be a little flat because of the cream cheese spread that easily if you don't want it soft, you can use another cream cheese block for a firmer frosting.

Muffin Recipe:

1 box of Betty Crocker's Almond Poppy Seeds Muffin Mix
    ...I think they require an egg and oil to be added to the mix
1 tsp. Lavender Extract
3 drops Lemon Essence
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
Fresh Strawberries

Mix according to the box's direction plus the added ingredients and bake...making sure not to burn it like I did. Assemble the cake by cutting it in half crosswise and filling it in between with the frosting and slices of strawberries, topping it off as creatively as you can and dust it with powdered sugar if the strawberries are sour.

A month ago I came into a realization in a form of a dream...a voice called out to me and said that I should go into a food business. That it's about time I pursue something that I love and share what I can beyond my own circle. I've been stopping myself from going into a food business because of so many doubts even if people had been telling me for as long as I could remember that I should go give it a try...but I guess deep down I had always been waiting for a sign to tell me if and when I should start. I felt that gut inkling churning in my stomach after I woke up from that dream...I think I got my go signal. It's all a matter of time and preparation. The vision is in my head, I'm gathering the ingredients's all about meeting the perfect opportunity by the time I have gathered all that I need. My heart is set. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Scary Stuff: Part 3

Here we go, another year has passed and most of everything being featured on TV and online is either horror or anything related to it. Time for some scary stories from my real-life experiences or first-hand stories of friends who experienced the paranormal. This year, I'll share three stories, two of which happened to me this year while one was told by an officemate years back that I never shook off from my memory because it was a good-horrible experience to share.

Here are links to the first two parts of this annual series I started in 2015.
Scary Stuff: Part 1
Scary Stuff: Part 2

Tracing the Scent of Cigarette 

I'll start with my most recent experience, one so fresh that I can still distinctly remember the smell as a went out of my room one morning. It actually happened a few days ago, just last week. I'm off from work on Mondays, so I usually wake up twice, first from my routine waking time that takes less than five minutes for me to use the toilet then go back to sleep, then wake up the second time at a more reasonable hour. The first was at 7am; I got up to use the bathroom and saw that my brother has already left for work, so, alone again. Meh. I went back to bed, closed the door and just before I could go back to sleep felt like someone entered the the condo as I heard some movements from behind the door. I assumed it was our friend who stays over to sleep with us arriving from an evening shift. So, I slept again and woke up two hours after. I got up and opened the door and could just smell that burning scent of a newly puffed up smoke from a strong cigarette wafting the whole unit. I thought our friend decided to smoke inside and throw the cigarette butt in our bathroom trash because I traced the smell coming from the bathroom, but the smell filled the air from my brother's room all the way to the dining area.

I rolled my eyes; not cool. We don't allow smoking inside as my brother and I don't smoke, so I immediately assumed it was our friend who dropped by to pick up his things that morning and puffing a stick and throwing it in the trash before heading out because no one was there when I went out of my room. I waited the rest of the day to tell our friend off about smoking inside, but he didn't arrive until the next day. The moment he opened the door, I had to ask, "Did you drop by yesterday and lit a cigarette inside?" To which he was quick to answer with a perplexed expression, "No, I didn't go here yesterday." My eyes sort-of widened saying, "Really? Because the unit smelled like cigarette smoke when I woke up yesterday." Well...he really didn't know what to say after my claim. I do believe him, because he recently quit smoking and shifted his habit to vaping, using only watermelon and strawberry juices to his puffing habits. After a few seconds he said, "Maybe it came from outside, someone might have passed by while smoking." I wearily replied with a, "Yeah, maybe." But of course, the doors and windows are closed and locked that time, and we live on the fourth floor. 

New Building Elevator Nightmare

This story was actually told by an ex-officemate during my advertising agency days. Now, to those not aware, ad agencies have one of the most toxic working hours that usually ends between 10pm - 2am, some even until 5am due to very tight ungodly deadlines. This happened back in 2011, when our company decided to vacate our old office to transfer to the newly constructed One Corporate Center building in Ortigas. The building was so new, we were one of the first few companies to occupy one of the the floors. Several of the floors were still under construction. I know this for a fact because there are days when I'd stop by an uninhabited floor, whenever I need some time and space outside of my cubicle. These floors were usually just a pile of hollow blocks and construction materials, and never did I spot construction workers in any of these unfinished floors at one time. 

One morning I saw some of my officemates huddle in a circle with one of the account executives looking flustered. I didn't really bother at first but decided to ask him what happened when the crowed dispersed. He stared at me with gaping eyes and said, "I went down for a smoke break last night because we were trying to finish a presentation for a pitch. I think it was around 11pm, and as I went back up to the office my elevator suddenly stopped on the 14th floor, when the doors opened it was pitch black. I was alone in the elevator and I repeatedly pressed close as I stood in one corner, but the door wouldn't close. I can't go out of the floor because there was nothing there, so I just faced the wall and waited for the door to close. After what seemed like forever, it did close and was able to reach the office." That sent chills down my spine knowing that I was usually one of the last to leave the office, so much so that I get to lock the office at times. I said, "Maybe you pressed the floor why it stopped or something." He answered, "No, I'm pretty sure I only pressed our floor because I was alone on the ground floor when I entered. It had to be pressed from the fourteenth floor elevator button outside for it to stop there." I kept on, "Maybe someone was playing a prank on you on that floor. You know, they'd press the floor then hide to scare you." But he insisted, "Not possible. I went to the fourteenth floor this morning and found the place to be bare and empty, no construction going on, nothing. And here's the twist...we don't have a 13th floor in this building, so 14th is considered the 13th." 

I couldn't stop myself and dared him that we go check it out. He took me there and I found his words to be true. No 13th floor, and the 14th floor was just an empty unfinished space. No construction on going for and workers to work on. It was just a bare floor with unpainted cement walls and exposed wiring with no bulbs whatsoever. I turned to him and asked one last time, "So what did you do in the elevator while this was happening?" He replied with a flustered expression, "Nothing! There was nothing I could do. The doors weren't closing and I'd rather stay inside the elevator than exit to this floor. I just pretended to be brave and wished the doors would shut at every press. That really shook me." Yeah, I'd be shaken too if that happened to me. I'm glad it didn't, up to the day I packed my stuff out of that building. As another officemate with a third eye would attest, there are spirits roaming in our floor. We'd know when she's seeing them because she would suddenly stress out or fall quietly uneasy. So a new building does not guarantee a paranormal-free experience, not even on the 29th floor.

Seeing My Brother's Doppelganger  

This is probably the ultimate dream of a curious soul, seeing a full bodied apparition in front of your face, just to validate that the stories are true. For years and years, from my childhood down to this day, I have always wondered what spirits look like, and if those who describe them are accurate in their telling. This year...about three months ago, I finally saw one, and it confirmed so much of the details being told by friends.

I woke up at 8am that morning with a bladder that's about to burst. I opened my door and immediately saw my brother pass in front of my face in a rush going to his room. A second after I saw our friend right behind him also about to head into my brother's room. He stopped and was shocked at my expression, we stared at each other and turned our heads to see the door of my brother's room swing as if someone had just entered as it was pushed then pulled back. I saw my brother go behind the door. I thought he forgot something and was rushing to pick it up before heading to the office as he was wearing his white polo. I turned back to our friend Andrew and asked, "You and my brother arrived together?" He gave me a most baffled expression, "No...I arrived alone. Your brother's not here." I was just as baffled, "But I saw you walking in a rush right after him. You arrived with a friend then?" He said, "No, seriously I didn't arrive with anyone, I came alone." I interrogated pointing to my brother's room, "Then who's behind that door?" He went to the room to check behind the door, "There's no one here!" I blurted, "But you did see the door move, right?" He agreed, "Yeah, but I didn't see anyone." I also agreed, but differently, "I also saw the door move, but I saw someone go behind it." this point we both got scared of our conversation, but I really had to pee.

I took my thoughts inside the bathroom, figuring out what might have just happened. I kept repeating in my head what I saw...only to realize that maybe it wasn't really my brother that I saw. I took to detail what I saw...I saw a figure of what I thought was my brother. He had the same haircut, and my brother had the same crisp white polo. I saw his side profile, the ears I could remember...but the face had no was smudged out as most have described when seeing ghosts. I could see the partition between his polo and his black slacks...but I didn't see his feet, and his movement in that split second of seeing him rushing, there was no striding action of the was like he just glided pass me. And that last frame when I saw him go behind the door, there was no actual pulling and pushing of the door, it's like he just moved to the side and went behind it without turning in any other direction. All that, plus the fact that several of my friends have experienced seeing other friends who are actually not present here at that given time, three of them actually also claiming to have seen me crouching out of my room and moving to the refrigerator while I was asleep sort of proves that maybe there is a doppelganger in our midst. 

So, what does it feel like to finally see a full bodied apparition? More than scared, I was amazed and curious at what I saw. Especially now that I experienced first-hand seeing what they describe as "ghosts" is actually what I saw is nothing less than extraordinary. So when people ask me, "Do you believe in ghosts?" I can easily claim, "Yes, even before I saw one myself, I already believed."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Snippets: Post Birthday Celebration

Taken last August 27, 2017. Today marks the first month of my final year of being in my twenties; next year I will no longer be able to say that "I'm twenty something." This year I had a pre-celebration with two of my high school barkadas and my brother, simply because I really miss people; and a post-celebration with new friends I met just over a year ago, because I felt like I at least needed to celebrate my last year as a twen-ager (I claim that word─I thought of it just now.) I am yet to celebrate with another set of friends to be able to say I celebrated my birthday. On the day of my birthday itself, it was a solo occasion as I attended the 6am mass alone, and spent the day toiling on several workloads, that I was no longer in the mood to celebrate at the end of it.

I wasn't in the zone that day, so I was not able to cook as tasty as I wanted it to for some reason. I felt something off with the taste. I was so stressed that time, I assume. There was so much struggle to cope up with, but my brother kept on bugging me to celebrate. SO, FINE! 

I cooked five dishes and baked dessert that day. A supposed lunch, we ended up eating at 5pm...because I told them to arrive late because the food will also be cooked late. My friends helped make some of the dishes, but our food theme was Korean-international-fusion, hence there were some Korean dishes, as well as non-Korean ones. My brother made the pretend-Sicilian salad, a friend grilled the porterhouse steaks, while I cooked the beef stir-fry thing, fettuccine pasta ragu using the porterhouse meat as the sauce base, samgyupsal, japchae, some kind of Korean stew using the Ifugao-smoked-pork etag as my meat base, and a tray of orange-essence-infused brownies. Our drinks were a combination of flavored soju, red wine, tequila, and rosé. We finished eight bottles that night.

It was a good day to celebrate, even if I was tired at the end of it. 

I actually posted this same photo on my Instagram with the caption, "Sometimes I think people celebrate birthdays to feed hungry friends." Yes, I thought of that quote, so I also claim it. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Snippets: Arashiyama's Bamboo Grove at Kyoto, Japan

Taken last September 6, 2017 at Arashiyama's infamous Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan. The trip was actually one major cause of my absence from ever updating the blog for the month of August. Other than the fact that it was my birthday month, having to work long hours five days a week and juggling pending activities, I was the one organizing our first official family trip to Japan. I've never been to Japan, and I never been out of the country with my whole family before; having to put two and two together stressed me out so much that I never had enough free time from the end of July up through mid-September.

But at the end of the day, nothing compares to the feeling of making a long-time dream happen. I worked hard for this, and I cannot clearly describe the feeling of finally being able to stand on the very spot where I used to only see in pictures, aspiring and wondering whether I can ever make it happen. More than just appreciating the actual beauty of the place, it's that sense of surreal elation that got me saying to myself, "Wow, I'm here." 

The bamboo grove isn't exactly extensive, it's just long enough to look good in pictures, but does not stretch as far as the eyes could see. But walking through it gets you in a meditative state, wherein you feel nature touching you to your soul. Even at a supposed hot day, passing through in between the bamboo path gave out a cool breeze that wafted at my skin like a perfectly blended air to soothe down my tired limbs. This is one for the books, and as I've mentioned in my Instagram post that day, it was "An exceptionally tiring yet amazing day."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Van Gogh is Bipolar at Maginhawa

Van Gogh is bipolar, and he's a Dutch artist who lived a tragic life, one of the most prominent artists who we briefly discussed in my Art History class back in college. Van Gogh is Bipolar, is a restaurant, one we've been discussing about trying out since after college...and one I finally got to try last week. Ever since my brother experienced eating there a few years back he'd been repeatedly telling me about his desire to go back for a second. After agreeing that we eat dinner with a few friends at a new Korean restaurant at BGC, he tells me that he just made a reservation at Van Gogh is Bipolar because he forgot what we agreed on a few hours prior. But come to think of it, I think I was meant to go there because just two days before we went to the restaurant a friend posted a link on Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal as Van Gogh in a docudrama called Painted With Words. The beauty of the script lies in the fact that they used a lot of the words coming from the written letters of Vincent sent to his brother Theo. A word of caution though, the movie is a downer...because it deals with frustration, depression, loneliness, and art at the same time.

Here's the link to the 1hr.20mins. movie by the way: Painted With Words

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rooftop Poetry

I met someone on a rooftop, the same rooftop where I was asked a question that cornered me into a brief malfunction, and got me thinking long after I answered the question. He was tall, pleasantly charming, British, and in an advertising field in London. We spoke a bit about our travels, and I suggested some local beaches where he could go to because he's also surfer without much itinerary on his supposed three-week solo travel. A few weeks after I met him, I tried recalling that night and ended up with this silly poem. My interest in creating poetry ended in high school...which was over ten years ago, because at one point I found them to be too ambiguous and pretentious, that I just stopped it all together. Now, after maturing a bit, I'm trying to reignite my appreciation for poems by writing one. I wrote it in one sitting, uninterrupted, but this is just a casually written thought as to how I felt that moment of reminiscing. And no, I don't do word counts and rhymes in my poetry.  


An undefined moment
Of an unspecific time
In an indefinite place
I met your eyes with mine

It was an unsolicited chance
Of uncharted plans
But in that one instance
It felt just right

I may have forgotten your name
Your face now a blur
But in that fated encounter
We made ourselves smile
And just for that cameo moment
We were in each other's lives

Friday, July 7, 2017

Snippets: Hda. Remedios

Taken July 1, 2003 at Hda. Remedios, La Carlota City. OMG! It's been 14 years and a few days ago!!! I found this photo in an old folder I saw in my external drive, along with a few other embarrassing shots of my younger days.

This is the result of the first Gawad Kalinga village waaaaay back when it started to build concrete houses in exchange of the nipa ones. It took a village to build one, with a target of fifty houses at the end of the year, schools and foundations worked hand in hand to building the structure. I was amused when I first saw this view, with the bright yellow carpeting the center and uniformed videogame-like houses in line, that's why I took this photo. Fourteen years after, it's still nice to look at, but the paint has faded and the flowers are no longer blooming with patches of dirt in between instead of the lush green, and the people back in their old ways, waiting, complaining, hoping. When GK first started, the women of Remedios were taught to make candles, snacks, and other small items that they might be able to earn a living on. I even remember buying some candles during one of their bazaars in the city's public plaza. The men where taught how to make organic compost fertilizers, about half a hectare near the entrance of the village was dedicated to producing sacks of it at a given time...but after two years or so they say a tornado or hurricane demolished the place and production stopped. My vision of a farm goes back to my remote childhood memories of when we'd go there for the fiesta wherein everyone was celebrating in their own little ways, and another distinct idea of what a farm might look that stands out in my mind is the farm from the simulation game Harvest Moon. I thought it was as simple as sowing seeds, watering the crops, and harvesting them after a couple of sunrises that makes it thrive...but no, that is far from the reality that I see, from the stories being said to me. It takes hard work, and the hardest of which is dealing with people unwilling to share in your vision. 

So...over a decade has passed, a lot has the same time, in the end, at least for most in the hacienda...nothing has changed. What brings down an idealist? Lazy cynics and unmotivated dreamers disincline to do the work, instead, they focus on the unlikely chance that one day heaven might open and hand them a million pesos, to which they can be happy with, that is until they spend it all on temporary amusements and a day's worth of fill. And while I hear success stories from other GK villages, with this one, it's the same story all over's a sad one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Maligcong Rice Terraces and Mt. Kupapey

I wrote somewhere at the back of my head as part of my 2017 bucket list, I should make it to the rice terraces this year, but as some cases go, I did not only reach it, I went above and beyond it. I reached for the clouds and conquered Mt. Kupapey. Going to Maligcong was the highlight of my Cordillera trip. As seen in the photo, standing up there and staring down at the terraces at the break of dawn will give you a feeling that's hard to describe. Breathtaking? Yes. As for the other words, it doesn't matter, the only thing I can say is that it was euphoria to be in that state of present. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tila by Clara Benin

I just wanna share my love for Clara Benin's voice and music style. Right now this is what's been running on repeat in my head since they played the song last Saturday at the BGC Art Mart. It has a beautifully calming quality and has that nostalgic tune to it. She's also, as many may know, is the daughter of Joey Benin, the bassist of one of my favorite childhood bands, Side A. Tila is from her album, Riverchild. The lyrics tells of how she has this wishful thinking that you listen closely to the wind and might just hear in your heart the secrets she has told to the wind. Or something like that.

Tila humihinto ang aking panahon

Walang naririnig kundi huni ng ibon


Dinadala ng ihip ng hangin

Tila gumaganda ng lalo mga rosas

Sabay, sabay silang sumasayaw sa hampas ng hangin

Dumadampi at bumubulong sayo

Naririnig mo ba ang bulong ng puso ko

Binubulong ng hangin

Tila ngumingiti ang araw sa umaga

Mga paru-paro'y naglalaro

Sa hampas ng hangin

Dumadampi at bumubulong sa'yo

Naririnig mo ba ang bulong ng puso ko?

Binubulong ng hangin

Sana nga ito ay marinig

Binubulong ng hangin ang dama nitong dibdib

Naririnig mo bang tunog ng puso ko?

Binubulong ng hangin

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bontoc Day Trip

My first encounter with Bontoc was through Google maps. Our intention of going to the area was for Sagada and Maligcong, Bontoc was the entry point to our destinations. I didn't know what to make of it then except that it's small and has a huge river in between. Arriving, I was half-asleep that I didn't see the bus enter the city until the driver stopped and said we had arrived. It was only when we got to walk around a bit did I get an air of nostalgia. It was was as if I was walking in the streets of Luang Prabang, Laos. The city is situated in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountain ranges with a wide river passing through its center, dividing the city into two. The low and laid-back population gave it a charm, but their habit of spitting chewed up betel nuts made the streets look unhygienic as blots of red are stained all over the city. It sort-of became our game, to spot the biggest spits and just laugh at figuring out how huge some got. Two main streets cut through the heart of the city, and at its center is the plaza. At most, it's a walking distance to everything you need to see within the city center (just a lot of incline walks though,) and just beyond are smaller barangays that possess a quaintness of their own. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Burnout by Dancel-Danao-Dumas

I've always had a love-hate relationship with OPM's; it's either I hate it or I love it. This, I absolutely love. The collaboration of the three beautifully-voiced-artists is something that makes me excited about the local music scene. Johnoy Danao is someone I admired since I first heard his voice on a commercial. His songs has this quality that hits home, you know, the one that makes you say it's Filipino music. His melodies and voice makes you want to chill on a hammock made of rattan, and sway yourself under a mango tree. Ebe Dancel is also another singer who I most especially liked during his first Sugarfree album way back in high school, and is actually the brother of one of my former bosses...I just didn't get to connect the dots as to why they sort-of look alike and have the same family name until I left the company. One day I saw an FB post of the two together, and that's when it hit me. Shunga! As for Bullet Dumas, it's the first time I heard him sing in this video...and I have to admit I hated his voice at first because it's so different from the two that I sort of didn't get it. That was until I peeked into his solo performances that I got into learning to really like his voice. His style is unique, and quite frankly hard to blend with other singers, but when he sings solo, it sort of has this ethnic-shaky-vibe to it that resembles with old folk singers. Something to appreciate, the uniqueness of his tone.

As for the song Burnout, it simply talks about love that's falling apart because of a relationship burnout. And of course, there's always one who will hurt more than the other.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trekking Up Mt. Pinatubo

Over a year after the trek, and months of promise that I'll be posting about that trek to the summit of Mt. Pinatubo, I finally found the motivation to edit photos and write about it. Actually, it took that long before my friend decided to post the photos of the trek that I'm now using for this entry...because we're very up-to-date and strive for ATM feed updates like that. 😒 For a lack of proper excuse, I didn't bring a camera that day─and they did─so I was at their mercy to use their photos for this...which they gladly complied with one-and-a-half years after.

For this trek we joined in the Travel Factor group to make the arrangements for us. We decided to go because friend offered to pay the trip as a Christmas we needed a new environment to celebrate our annual Christmas party. We did the hike December 19, 2015. As for the entirety of the trip, I remember like it was just yesterday─not!─I've forgotten certain details save for the immense bad luck I had that day. To begin with, we left Manila a little late because of some misunderstanding with the Travel Factor group and the bus they had reserved. We left Ortigas dark and arrived in Porac Pampanga at around 7am. After a short brief, we signed the waivers, and off we went to our respective 4x4's. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Coffee Project in Taguig

It has come to my attention that it's been a while since I last posted an entry about a coffee shop...oops. And so what a relief it was to see this cafe pop up close to home after months of being away from the metro. I have been meaning to go to Alabang just to try the place...because again of the interior, but one scorching hot summer day─yesterday─I saw the name COFFEE PROJECT embossing out the wall of what used to be an appliance area of All Home, just above CBTL. Apparently, it's a Villar-owned coffee chain that aims to grab a niche from Starbucks and CBTL as evidence shows. Now I'm not into the coffee-shop-cliche-looking logo, but the warm ambiance plus the strong-enough coffee base of the drink that I ordered got me. Plus, it's hipsterrr-ish. I like it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday in Baliuag, Bulacan

A couple of years back─about twenty years exact─I never imagined that I will be spending the Holy Week somewhere far from Valladolid, as three generations of family tradition dictate our responsibility to manage the Santo Entierro for procession every Good Friday. For as long as I could remember, it was a solemn time to be with family, wherein select members would devoutly pitch in, from the preparations of the bathing the wooden statue of the dead Christ, to stitching his garments, to selecting the perfume that will be used to wipe his feet after every kiss of the faithful, to buying the flowers that will be used for the carroza, down to preparing the meals for those who will be taking part the tradition throughout the night. It's our family's "panata" or sacred promise started by my great grandfather, to take part in the town's Good Friday procession every year and be the one responsible in taking care of the Santo Entierro. We are only one family of so many throughout the country doing this year after year.

And every Black Saturday back then, I would see in the news featuring the procession of Baliuag, and it was only last year when I saw the scale of their carrozas that made me realize how minute ours was in comparison. The town seemed both quiet and festive at the same time with the arrays of grandiose carrozas lining in the streets, each beautifully prepared for the processional rites. For the first time, I was there to witness what was being showed on TV for the longest time. Some larger-than-life-sized statues don intricately designed clothing, and it overwhelmed me to know that there were over a hundred carrozas that will be paraded for the procession, with numbers going up every year. 

I took a lot of photos, but I'll only be showing a quarter of the lot because some were blurred...and I wouldn't want to upload a hundred photos for this post. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

QLC Moment #13

I went out to meet with friends yesterday. It was one of those days wherein you sort of make plans, yet in the end nothing goes according to plan. It was not simply because of a series of unfortunate events...I mean yeah, it did rain and we had to force our half-asleep-selves out of bed just to push through with the trip, but the main culprit was that we were consciously making spontaneous decisions of changing the plans. From a supposed relaxing drive up the mountains and dipping in a hot spring, we made sudden turns that led us to various far flung restaurants that never managed to satisfy our palettes after three different places─a full stomach but an unsatisfied tongue. The recurring statement the whole day was, "I don't know what I'm craving for."

But of course that's not the "forever plan" I was talking about. At the end of the day my friend, who has the habit of blurting out snippets of what she's thinking, suddenly said, "I thought that was it, but now I'm down to this." [Referring to her plan of applying for a job overseas.] She was still recovering from a horrible heartbreak she experienced late last year. And when a friend decides to talk─really talk─you shut up and listen.

She went, "The papers were done. My supposed uniform for my job was already ready to be worn. Everything was set. We already talked about it, I had made the decision to go out and set my life with him. I really thought I was gonna be going out of the country because he was setting a life for us abroad, then all of a sudden he just calls me and that's it. That was my I don't know what I'm doing." A quick back story of the call was that the guy called from abroad to inform my friend [his then gf] that he met his high school sweetheart where he is living now and they hit it off. And only then did he realize that his high school the one. She continued in a more high-pitched humorous tone, "He said he was sorry. SORRY! SORRY!? But then what can I do with his sorry!? What more can I do than just hurt. How will he react if I stab him on the back and just say oops, SORRY! What will he do with my SORRY if I already stabbed him!?!?" After getting some loud giggles from us she got more serious, "I wonder what went through my mother's mind when I went in her room and said that I was not pushing through with the plan? I saw the disappointment in her stare after she was caught off guard. I wanted to explain, but I didn't want to cry in front of her, so I left her room and cried in mine."

When she realized that she made herself vulnerable enough in front of us, she stopped. Then my other friend simply said, "You got it better because you're not yet engaged. Remember [insert girl's name here]? He called it off right after they got married. And this is exactly why I don't want some guy coming in my life and destroying my plans. He can wait, when I'm stable and able to live on my own terms!"  

That confession made me think, what would have I done if I was left crumbling in that situation? But then were never really a priority above my own. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day Trip to Manjuyod, Bais

A couple of months ago I saw a video of what they're claiming as "The Maldives of the Philippines" with a sandbar stretching as far as the eyes could see. It was a promotional video, others were posted by video bloggers with the caption "Choose Philippines" or something like "Breathtaking Areal View of the Philippines." The drone shots were stunning. I HAD to go there, and it didn't matter who I went with as long as I make it. From the initial idea of coming in with a bunch of friends, around 15...four of us pushed through, and that did not stop the experience of being there become less breathtakingly memorable. It. Was. Magnificent. 

We didn't have a drone to hover and see what it looked like from above, but just from the focal point of where we were standing, glorious hues of varied blues reflected all over. It was enough to make us gawk on the pump boat. At one point I remember my brother declaring about not wanting to swim when we left the port, but when he saw how beautiful the water was, he was the first to jump in.

Here's a quick 360° view of what it was like to be on the water.