Achievements


2014 has been a remarkable  year so far. I have been able to cross out a lot of things in my bucket list. Here are some of them:

1. Fire a real gun. I got lessons from the son of a general when I was in Guimaras last May!

Bang!

Bang!

2. Have my passport stamped. I did not just get a stamp. I also had my first visa! My South Korea trip was so memorable because it’s my first overseas travel, and well…it’s South Korea and it was autumn! :)

<3.

<3.

3. Conquer my fear of water….slowly. I love beaches but I don’t snorkel, dive or do any sort of water activity that requires me to put my head under water. But when I was in Balicasag Island in Bohol last August, the life under the water was simply too beautiful to pass. I dipped my head in the the shallower parts of the sea just to witness what the fuss was all about. And boy, I am glad I did! :)

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(Seoul Diaries) Sawa dee Krap


You might find that there’s a disconnect in the title of this post. It’s related to my travel to Seoul but talks about the Thai way of saying “hello”. You see, I had very interesting tales associated with this greeting when I was in Seoul last October.

Upon arrival in Seoul, I and my friend Me-an immediately braved the cold streets of Myeong-dong to look for food, the best dollar to won exchange rates, and cardigans to augment our cold weaponry. I was in  awe  not just of  the number of people in the area but the variety of things that can be bought. Myeong-dong truly lives up to its name of being one of Seoul’s premiere shopping destination!

Myeong-dong for you!

Myeong-dong for you!

After happily walking out of a small stall, my spirit was blown out of my body when a man selling bags greeted us  a with a very loud, “Sawa dee Krap!”. We just laughed  so the man smiled back. Perhaps he was thinking “I got this in the bag”. Too bad just we laughed out of shock and the hilariousness of being mistaken as Thais.

On our 2nd night, we ventured to the more artsy street of Insadong where I found out street performances and magic shows are just ordinary happenings.

Yeah. Figure it out.

Yeah. Figure it out.

Paintings for sale at Insadong.

Paintings for sale at Insadong.

While quietly checking out the stalls, we were surprised again when someone shouted at us, “Sawa dee Krap!”. By that time I figure out I really probably looked like a Thai.

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Photo Essay: Baler (Part 1)


I am trying to catch up with my travel diaries  but since my work and graduate school activities also involve a lot of writing, I barely have time to write for this blog. My backlog has now totaled to four travels and this does not even include my  unfinished Ilocos travel series. So, I thought of a roundabout solution about my dilemma and I realized photo essay is the way to go!

First stop is Baler, a town in the Aurora province of the Philippines. It can be reached through five-six hour bus trip from Manila. I went there around the end of January this year. It was an unplanned trip. A friend called me  up to ask if I want to go to Baler on a long weekend. Being the wanderer that I am, I accepted her invitation.

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Rocky cliffs of Baler.

 

It was very cold  and a bit rainy when we went there. It was the peak of the northeast monsoon int he Philippines so temperatures were around 12-18 degrees Celsius.

A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!

A falls by the highway! Yup! Just beside the highway!

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I Fell in Love with Autumn


Months ago, I bought a plane ticket to Seoul, South Korea to satisfy my wonder of what it feels to walk and live in the place whose culture I am so fascinated with.  Little did I know that beyond quenching my wonders, I would also fall in love…. with a season.

The beautiful trees in Changdeokgung Palace.

The beautiful trees in Changdeokgung Palace.

It was my first time to see autumn, and boy, it was love at first sight. It was such a surreal experience for someone from a tropical country to witness the changing of seasons.

The Deoksugung Palace Wall.

The Deoksugung Palace Wall.

The best displays of autumn foliage were on the countryside, particularly Nami Island and the area around Petite France. Nami Island is hands down a beautiful, beautiful place.

It wasn’t even the peak of autumn yet, yet the countryside was already so beautiful. How magnificent would these places be at the peak of autumn?

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Dreamy


Siquijor is a quaint small island in the Central Visayas, Philippines. The island is perhaps best known for its tales of mambabarangs or sorcerers.  I visited Siquijor last month and I was quite surprised that its beauty goes far beyond the mysteries that people have associated it to. Its beaches are untouched by urbanity and its waters are one of the most turquoise I’ve seen in the Philippines. The picture in my previous post was in fact taken in Salagdoong Beach, in the town of Maria, Siquijor.

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What caught my attention the most; however, were not the beaches but the Tupalos Marine Sanctuary and Tree Houses. The locals built a walkway and tree houses among the mature mangrove trees. The tree houses were even for rent! My favorite was the walkway that extends beyond the mangrove forest to a cottage in the open sea. The view was outstanding and I thought how nice it would be to live in such place and wake-up to the peaceful view. So dreamy!

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Check out more dreamy places at Daily Post .

Three Lives


I remember in December 2013 I posted that  I felt so “out of life” by the year-end. I concluded that I was not good at multitasking–juggling work and school. I am now wondering what I felt that way when my activities this year and last year were almost the same. It generally revolves around work and school. Then I realized the difference:  I traveled more this year. On the contrary, I only traveled twice last year. That two travels were not enough to sustain my enthusiasm for the rest of the year. It’s now October and so far I’ve been on four trips since January. I still have two coming up. My savings are dwindling yet I haven’t felt this sustained kind of happiness and enthusiasm for a while.  I  guess this saying really applies to me:

“I travel not to escape life but for life not to escape me. “

Travel has been my means to keep in touch with my sanity and to remind myself that there’s more to life that just my cubicle at work or my virtual classroom for school. It’s my means of getting in touch with nature and of relearning the simplicity of life. It’s my way of rekindling with friends and  rediscovering why we have been friends in the first place.  It’s my way  of discovering that despite every thing I learned, I still know too little about life, of what it means to live and breathe.  I officially caught the bug and I don’t think I will be able to let go soon.

So, forgive me if I have been on hiatus. I have been here and there, trying to juggle three lives. However, I will surely but slowly share what I experienced in life lately.

In a recent to visit to Siquijor, Philippines. Now or never.

In a recent to visit to Siquijor, Philippines. Now or never.

(Travel Diary) The Ilocos Adventure Part 3: Burgos and Bangui


August 10 of 2013 ( I know, so late!) which was a Saturday was spent travelling to the northernmost towns of Ilocos Norte. These places are among the most popular tourists destinations and you will see later why. These three towns have some of the most beautiful natural attractions I’ve seen in the Philippines!

We started the day the very early. Before going to Ilocos, I already contacted a tour operator, Kuya Bhoy, to pick us at La Eliana at around 6 AM. We were already up as early as 4:30 AM which allowed us to witness this very beautiful sunrise from our hotel room:

Laoag sunrise.

Laoag sunrise.

Kuya Bhoy arrived late at around 6:30 AM because he had to drive all the way from Pagudpud which was about two (2) hours away! We were already very hungry by the time he arrived so we dropped by a Jollibee drive thru before embarking  on a road trip. Just a little after a hour on the road, we already reached our first destination the Cape Borjeador lighthouse in the town of Burgos.

Cape Borjeador Lighthouse

Forgive the sun.

Forgive the sun.

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Playing with Silhouettes


I love silhouette shots. I love them more especially if they are taken during the golden hours (sunrise or sunset). At such circumstances, one need not be professional photographers to create beautiful shots. I hope I did the silhouette theme some justice. I have accumulated  them (again) from my various trips  in the Philippines.

Somewhere in the roads of Bohol.

Somewhere in the roads of Bohol.

Playing in the islands of Caramoan.

Playing in the islands of Caramoan.

Sunset by the Iloilo river esplanade.

Sunset by the Iloilo river esplanade.

More Silhouette shots at Daily Post.

Philippines: In Textures


The Philippines is such a good subject for photography. One can get every imaginable texture because we have every landscape imaginable…volcanoes, waterfalls, limestone cliffs, etc. Who knows there is also a distinct advantage in being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and in being in the path of typhoons? The only thing we probably don’t have is glaciers because obviously we are a tropical country. Here are some interesting “textures” I have come across for the past 2.5 years since I have started exploring the Philippines:

(Clockwise from L: (1) The rocky beach in Diguisit, Baler, (2) rocky cliff in Caramoan, Camrines Sur, (3) smooth limestone structure in Kapurpurawan, Ilocos Norte, and (4) punctured cliffs in Talicud Island, Samal.

 

More take on Texture at Daily Post.

Post Summer Lovin’


The summer is over in the Philippines. In fact, it’s been rainy for two months now! We even had a very strong typhoon last week. :( BUT in honor of this week’s theme, here’s some summer lovin’ photographs which I took last May when I went to a vacation in the provinces of Iloilo, Bacolod and Guimaras:

My friend, Cez, and our turtle friend.

My friend, Cez, and our turtle friend.

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In front of Jaro Church, one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.

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Braving the heat just to take advantage of this beautiful cemetery.

 

Is still sunny in you part of the world? More “summer lovin” pics at Daily Post.

 

 

Learning and Living


Yesterday, I heard someone (a lady) tell another person (a middle-aged man), “Why do you even bother paying for her matriculation fees? She is not even your child. You should stop doing that.”

There could be several explanations why the lady said those words to that man. The man could be paying the matriculation fees of an ungrateful child. He could be borrowing money in her behalf. Or…it could even be as simple as he wishes to a help a person who is not even his own child.

I don’t know the whole story so I am not in position to judge. However,  if the lady’s statement is related to the third scenario I mentioned, it’s so sad that she harbors such kind of beliefs. Since when there was a rule that we should only send  someone to school if she/he is our child? It violates every value I know about education, and what does this make me, my siblings and every person out there who was   able to study through the graciousness of other people?

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Relic


A old Spanish lighthouse overlooking the Guimaras strait:

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This is considered to be the 2nd oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. Basing on its appearance alone, it might have stood witness to thousand of stories, and survived several weather disturbances.

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It saddens me that since the lighthouse is made of metal… it will surely rot with time. One day, Guimaras will just wake up realizing the their lighthouse has already been a part of history.

More “Relics” at Daily Post.

 

Thrill


It’s been a while since I’ve done something extreme. The last was probably my white water rafting adventure in Davao City in December of 2012. I don’t even know what made me do it back then. And I am not sure if I will ever have the guts to repeat that kind of experience.

 Last Friday, I was reminded partly of the thrill I experienced in Davao. I and few of my officemates decided to try out the ramen at Ramenagi at SM Mall of Asia. After dinner, I had a sudden urge to ride a bump car so we proceeded to the SM Mall of Asia Amusement Mark. We first tried a spaceship-like ride where the passengers are whirled in all sorts of direction possible. Because of its action, we even nicknamed it “The Drier”. Afterwards, we tried out the bump cars. The car was slower than I imagined it. I maneuvered it with ease reminding me of all the days I spent part paring for bump car rides in high school. Lastly, we tried the ride where we were bolted suddenly up in the air, then dropped at a rate even faster than we were holed up.

 At one point while suspended in the air, I opened my eyes and saw the bright lights coming from the streets and the mall. I thought it was such a good view but my bigger question for myself…why do we seek such kind of extreme experiences? The obvious answer is the thrill we experience from doing something extreme can be exhilarating…too exhilarating that some even make it as a form of living. But then again, why do we need to feel such kind of thrill? Why do we need to defy every possible law of gravity we’ve known?

 It’s a hard question to answer. I myself can’t explain the elation I feel why I am suspended up in the air while riding a zip line or even when I am just climbing a 500-step stairs not knowing what waits for me at the end of the climb.

 It’s one of the wonders of being human. The extent to which we are willing to put ourselves in just to explore the difference facets of our existence.

Cave and Contrast


There’s a very interesting cave in Guimaras Island cave the Baras Cave. It is situated separate from the main island so can it only be reached via boat. The island cave is full of contrasts…from the sharp and smooth stones inside, to the shallow and deep parts of the lagoon inside it, up to the light and dark contrasts created by several small entrances in the cave.

Baras Cave, Guimaras Island

Baras Cave, Guimaras Island

 

 

Check out other “Contrast” entries at Daily Post.