Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for February, 2016

Breathing Adventure: Fluttering Fun On the Weekend Where Everything Flies at Clark Airbase (Angeles City, Pampanga)

Tourism has been one of the main highlights at Angeles City in the province of Pampanga. When looking for a good restaurant or an amusement center, Angeles City would have one at every corner. Deca Wake Park is worth the visit even if it’s located in a quite isolated village away from the main city. And with Valentine’s Day smooching the air two weeks ago, Clark Freeport Zone has been packed with tourists that fell in love with everything that flies at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. We were one of the first visitors to check in just to see hot air balloons for the first time.

(I acknowledge my friends Cristina Sison and Ritz Ricardo for their pictures in this wonderful one-day event. I am awestruck by the beauty of their shots.)

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Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta:

12734128_552344794932700_9105380592415042712_nWe had a nearly fifteen-minute walk along the dusty highway from the point where the tricycle was allowed to pass. Tired but happy, we stopped in for a late lunch at a mall near Clark Freeport Zone. We were expectant because all of us were first-timers at the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

The Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is a yearly airshow event where aviators from around the world gather to showcase the beauty and awareness of aviation. Entrance to this event was at Php300 (US $6.31). February 11 was the first of the four-day event  and a lot had already arrived.

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A paraglider

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Kites littered the sky

I was thrilled at the sound of jet planes zooming above us. Paragliders jumped into the air like rainbow dandelions, gently dropping upon the green treeless field. Kids and adults alike raced around the open spaces with their fancy kites dancing with the wind. Sights and sounds filled the air with excitement. Everybody was waiting for the flight of the hot air balloons at dusk and most of them were there since morning.

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Various booths were set up all around the venue while everyone was waiting for the day’s12743731_552336404933539_2509382586622421281_n main highlight. Some of these booths are from the Philippine Air Force, where visitors could try their military gear and machinery. I smiled as I posed for the camera while wearing the heavy bulletproof vest, helmet, and safely locked gun. It’s no joke lifting these weapons around. I wonder what kind of discipline these soldiers undergo to wear such heavy gear while going into battle.

IMG_20160211_165949The interesting part in these photo ops was the military camouflage. Imagine my uneasiness while wearing grass all over 12688241_552341161599730_1024070137905064264_nmy body while trying to focus on the target (even though there was not one). I then poked around the exhibits of various military air gear, other weapons such as hand granades and smoke bombs, and military planes and other vehicles. It’s a privilege when we civilians have been given a glimpse of how a soldier’s life goes. Because of what I had experienced and seen at the exhibit, I salute the Philippine soldiers for their discipline and stamina to serve the country.

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Exhibit of military air gear

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Exhibit of hand grenades and smoke bombs

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The balloons carrying the name of various sponsors

The announcer at the main stage gave everyone a heads up that the balloons might not fly that day because the winds might be too strong. If the balloons fly when the winds are fast, it might pose danger to the balloon and to the operators of the balloon as well. Fortunately, some of the balloons were able to fly at dusk. However, most of them were commercialized balloons.

So, did we get to ride on one of them? Nope. We don’t have budget for that yet. How much would a balloon ride be? I better not guess.

After some minutes of balloon showcase we went around to check on some of the booths we haven’t seen. We passed on more military planes on display. When we thought that the

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A baby dinosaur is coming out of its balloon shell! Roar!

hot air balloon showcase was over, more of them came up into the night sky!

Too sad our cameras could not catch the beauty of some of these fancy balloons in the dark. Besides that, the gang wanted to go home to catch the bus to Cubao early. I was fortunate to take a ride straight back to my hometown in Bulacan. And it was the last trip of the day!

I assumed that the last day of the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival would have had more fancy balloons than the first day. Still, we had fun at our visit and I would like to return again to see more fancy balloons next time.

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Breathing Adventure: Riding the Waves at Deca Wake Park (Angeles City, Pampanga)

Angeles City in Pampanga is just one of the Philippines’ sought after tourist spots. From restaurants to amusement centers, most of these were made to cater tourists, especially the foreign ones, who arrive in the country from Clark Airport. But local tourism also abound in this area. As Valentine’s Day arrived two weeks ago, it was also celebrated with the yearly Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark Freeport Zone. But before we went balloon watching, we first tried another, action-packed amusement park in the area.

Deca Wake Park:

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The air was cool but the sun was beginning to scorch when we arrived at the Deca Wake Park. We came an hour earlier from its opening time which was at 9:30am. While munching on some chips left over from our two-hour travel from Manila, we chatted excitedly on how we would glide over the pool now glimmering beneath the cloudless sky a few hours later. Now should have been the perfect time to go wakeboarding. But half of me was musing to back out of it while still early.

12717555_552330858267427_2206368371811374102_nDeca Wake Park is one of the exciting places to visit when dropping by Angeles City, Pampanga. Water sport enthusiasts and adventurers alike plunk their boards and surf through the waters while being towed by an electronically-maneuvered cable. Looks easy for the sun-tanned surfers here. For beginners like us, it’s a dread.

For me, at least. It’s been nearly ten years ago since I first tried wakeboarding at a

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The author now putting the wakeboard on water in the beginner’s pool

company outing. But I never succeeded anyway. Besides, I’ve witnessed how one of my friends had an injury when a loose cable pulled her arm after she fell into the water.

That same friend was with us at our second attempt to go into this sport. Lans did not have a bit of that injury or even that dread as she lined up at the beginner’s pool. That’s where every beginner should be practicing before flawlessly surfing over the main wakeboarding pool. We need to succeed…well, at least make a perfect round.

Thursday is a lucky day for girls at Deca Wake Park. It offered a 50 percent discount for the whole day wakeboarding experience for ladies only. Usual price for whole day stay is at Php

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The lucky ladies: the author (left), Lans (middle), and Ritz (right)

1000, but we got to pay only half of it provided that we stay here for four hours or so.

Back at the beginner’s pool, I was ready to quit at the back of my mind. I thought of just keep on falling into the water until we go to our next itinerary for the day. But I kept on coming back. I appreciate the instructor for specifically pointing my mistakes before I begin again.

Then, ride the waves again. Then, fall. Over. And over.

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Our instructor demonstrates how to wakeboard

Until I gained balance. But that did not guarantee I could make a 360-degree turn in the pool. That was the hardest part. The moment I got at that point, I forgot every direction our instructor told me. Then, I drowned…

Of course, I did not. The pool was too shallow for that to happen. And we were wearing life vests and helmets. But I had to get out of the pool fast or I might get injured by the then loose cable.

To keep yourself safe from loose cables, you can duck your head into the water or just keep it low as you get to the shore as fast as you could. Having legs good for swimming could help, too.

Soon, I felt pain on my arm after countless rounds and endless failures. That’s why stretching  or a daily workout is important before getting into any sport. But I was not keen at that for the past few days. So, I had to stop.

I forgot how I gained balance over the water when I stopped for a moment. Oh well, I have 12743530_552344434932736_4272592829614872366_nto go back to zero. But in the end I did not make a turn. None of us made a good turn. Some of our friends, who did not try wakeboarding, wanted to leave. We had to run for the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Besides, we haven’t had a good lunch in the afternoon.

We promised ourselves that we’ll save up for our return at Deca Wake Park. And we’ll make sure that we’ll come on a Thursday. By that time, we’ll make sure to surf a 360-degree turn at the main wakeboarding pool. Trying wakeboarding has been a reawakening of confidence for me, since I realized I could try something impossible at the beginning.

So, did we ride the hot air balloons after? That would have been a feat. But you will know that on my next blog. 🙂

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With friends Rico (far left), Lans (left), the author (behind middle), Ritz (right), Tina (far right). My travels are made memorable because of them 🙂

Breathing Adventure: Windy Adventure at Mt. Kalisungan

IMG_20160131_151834I felt I was ready to be blown away like a wingless bird. The wind was blowing hard over the green grass taller than any of us. On the top of the mountain, we could see Laguna stretched before us. In a few hours, it will soon be sunset. I thought coming here was quite too late. But seeing that we have Mt. Kalisungan to ourselves, I guess we came just in time.

For the first time, I came hiking with a totally different group. I was invited by a friend’s friend because I was of her same age. Besides, it would be her first hiking experience. She was worried she would be out of place as most in the group are young people (wait…I also belong to that age group, don’t I?)

I easily befriended the girls as we had much time to get to know each other at a fastfood restaurant along the metro rail transit. The smell of breakfast meals, coffee, and burgers did not tempt me as we waited for the boys for two hours. Banana and crackers were enough for me. I feared that the carbs from the burgers would weigh me down.

It was 8am when the boys arrived. I was dismayed that we left too late for a day hike. The

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Calauan, Laguna

estimated travel time from Manila to Laguna would be two hours or so. It was high noon when we arrived at Laguna.

We had to start our hike immediately after a quick lunch. We were welcomed by the rain when we arrived at Mt. Kalisungan’s jump off. Thus the soil became damp and muddy, my shoes becoming soiled easily. The sun then shone again, making the hike a bit humid. Fortunately, there were much trees along the trail that lessened the heat of the sun. Though I was exhausted easily at the first leg of the journey, the cool breeze was becoming more refreshing the higher that we get on the mountain. My spirits were lifted up more when the view was becoming clearer at a higher plane.

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The little shack filled with gold 🙂

But the remarkable part of the journey was finding gold in the middle of wilderness. We don’t mind it in the city but it becomes valuable when our water canisters are empty.

We found that in a little shack near the steeper part of the trail. It was actually an improvised store that offers soda. No water. Only soda.

Still, it’s a good thing for me. As long as it’s cold and it’s something to drink, I’ll take that. Even when it’s double the price.

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The gold in the mountain 🙂

The last part of the hike was more slippery as it was steeper than any parts of mountain. I had a hard time clinging to trees and plants as some of them were thorny. My leggings are even more littered with these green hitchhiker-like plants. When the trees were cleared by the tall, looming grass, I knew I was almost there — and I was struggling even more.

At last, I found myself on the top of the mountain. There goes the wind, blowing like mad at me. I never thought it could be that strong!

We checked out the summit of Mt. Kalisungan. But the 360 degree view they were talking about was covered by even more tall grass. We might as well return to the other peak and enjoy the clearer view there.

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When grass becomes taller than man

No other group was on the mountain with us. The sun was also calmer was it was preparing to land at the far horizon. It was the perfect moment to enjoy the mountain. At that point, the others were already planning to return here soon enough.

Mt. Kalisungan reminded me of Mt. Jumbo of Benguet where the winds were cooler and the breeze almost strong. I would have loved to wait and watch the sunset but we have to leave at 4pm. We had already taken 3 hours on our ascent. We hoped that our decent would be lesser than 3 hours. That means almost no rest on the way. And it was trouble for me.

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A view of Laguna at my background

That’s when I missed my friends. We had this bond that made us know of each other’s

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Dusk at Mt. Kalisungan

strengths and weaknesses. Although one of the boys did not leave me, the one being slowest in the group, I would have enjoyed the “left behind” moment with another close friend. Or maybe with a really talkative tour guide who had a lot of stories to tell. Besides, we had no common memory to talk about. I was not even in the mood to get to know other people.

Dusk was beginning to hover over the horizon. The man who owned the little store near the summit had gone before us with his horse.

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Mang Roy and his horse. They sped faster than us

No matter how many times I have tripped, I was already running on the trail, as if the darkness was chasing me. I realized another mistake at this point. I had no headlamp. And the need for it came at the day I did not expect it.

The tour guide came back for us. The light from his phone was weak enough to battle the darkness that already covered our trail. Perhaps he was not expecting this darkness, either. Still, he kept on looking back at us, trying to hear our footsteps crunching upon the stones on the trail.

Everybody clapped when we reached the end of the trail. It’s was like surviving a long

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Twilight at the end of the trail

hard journey. But the experience was worth the memory. I just hope this experience is also worth the lessons I need to apply on the next hike.

After the failed attempt to remove these clingy plants off my leggings and washing myself of from the mud and dirt, we need to reward ourselves. The town of Calauan in Laguna seem

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Treating myself at the end of the hike 🙂

to have its own duck-breeding business, we had to try at least a dish made of duck. Adobong itik everyone?

I hope I can return soon to Mt. Kalisungan. But when I do, I will return with my hiking buddies. There’s nothing like having adventure with your closest friends, isn’t it? 🙂

The Reluctant Dog

Dogs are adorable animals in my opinion. But I couldn’t have one, since I don’t want to leave it lonely at home while I go to work. Besides, my mom would never have any other dog ever since her favorite dog died decades ago. We used to have dogs before, but they don’t last long. So, whenever I see one, I just look at it with fascination…and even make friends with them.

I can quickly make friends with dogs except for this one. And I don’t find that adorable.

When we came to visit relatives at the far end of the metro, a small pack of dogs greeted us with incessant barking. All of them stayed outside of the house, except for this one who always follow her masters. Her name was Benjie.

Benjie looked like a brown, jumbo hotdog with a small head sticking out of it. Whenever she lies down, her body spreads on the floor like a sagging pillow. She was fat, they said, because she sleeps on her favorite spot right after she eats. Like a spoiled brat, she dashes to her own sofa in the cluttered living room after finishing a plateful of left-overs.

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But during the times we stayed with them, Benjie starred at me. Her big dark eyes, seemingly painted with yellow spectacles around them, couldn’t get off my direction. And when I try to touch her, she dashes away. Even when I walk towards her, she whisks away from me.

For the first time, I have seen a canine that was shy — really, really shy. I don’t understand why it was so scared at visitors. No matter how I tried to give it food, she ignored it. She only let me pat her head once — and never again.

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Our relatives said that she had been traumatized by the loud, booming blow of fireworks every New Year. My mom said that the dog was obese enough to have a weak heart. Whatever the reason is, I tried to ignore the dog. If she doesn’t like me, then I don’t like her, too.

Still, she served her masters well. She was as good as a cat when catching and killing mice. Yes, she’s a dog that kills mice. Her masters said she just licks them and plays the little vermin in her mouth, like rolling a candy on her tongue. Soon, the mouse would be lying dead at the dog’s feet.

I guess Benjie was so used to the people in the house, she was not used to having visitors. She loved her masters very much, Benjie just enter into my cousins’ rooms and lie beside their bed.

Whatever the dog’s reason was, I don’t find her cute. Maybe because I did not get the attention I wanted from a dog, inasmuch as I want the attention of a friend. Maybe, not getting her friendship was good in the end, because I would not have the trouble of detaching from a dog after a few days of staying with them.

Ink On My Fingers

I did not expect myself to become a fan of modern calligraphy. I just joined a workshop

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Messy firsts at the workshop…

for the sake of seeing my friend Jenna again. But when I learned how to do cursive strokes with that calligraphy pen, it was magic. I got a new hobby.

I used to be interested with calligraphy when I was in highschool. Back then, I used to have a calligraphy book, which was a guide for writing various fonts. I bought it to copy artistic lettering using a ballpen. But I did not bother looking for an appropriate pen in writing these fonts.

Now that I had my own pen holder, nib, and ink, I was a little mad looking for scribbling pads. Although this hobby is beginning to spread here in the Philippines, items for this art

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Another messy first 🙂

can only be found in specialty stores. I had to order pads online as I cannot find a store that sells these wondrous calligraphy items (which was an agony waiting for my order for days).

My first works were messy. I used too much ink in some of the letters. I even had the trouble of writing these letters, especially that I am left handed. Calligraphy ink would not dry easily, so I had to wait some time for the letters to dry. I had to readjust on how I handle the pen.

The more I improved, the more I enjoy it. But for the meantime, I wonder where would I use this newfound skill in the future. As for now, I’ll just enjoy scribbling away.

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Jenna and I showing off our works of art 🙂

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