Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

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Breathing Adventure: Bring Home the Bagnet (Ilocos Tour Day 3)

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Scramble (pink shaved ice topped with powdered milk and chocolate syrup) is a childhood favourite. If they are scarce in Manila, they now abound in Ilocos.

Food is something the Ilocanos are known for. Among the most popular are the Vigan longanisa (chorizo-like sausage), chichacorn (a popcorn-like snack, except it is crunchier than popcorn), empanada (pastry stuffed with meat) and bagnet (deep fried crispy pork belly). I love bagnet especially if it’s paired with pinakbet (a viand of mixed veggies). Our tour guide does not want us to miss that, so we headed first a pasalubong store to hunt for some nice, crispy bagnet.

I was so excited for the pasalubong, I wanted to go home to sort them out (especially the ref magnets haha). But more things were lined up in the last day of the tour because there are more to see in Ilocos.

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Baluarte is something that tourists would never miss during their visit to Ilocos. If Ilocos Norte is the abode of the Marcoses, Ilocos Sur is home to the Singsons, another political clan. Chavit Singson’s name gives a ring to most Filipinos as he became the governor of the province of Ilocos Sur. Oh, he was also the sponsor of Miss Universe when it was held in the Philippines in 2016.

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Singson’s love of the game and wildlife gave birth to this place which was located just beside a golden structure which they say was his house. It’s like a shadow of Ocean Park in Hong Kong, but some animals could only be viewed through a shuttle ride. By the way, the entrance was free, but the shuttle was not.

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There was also a museum for taxidermied animals caught and hunted by the politician years ago. Beside them are pictures of Singson holding a rifle beside a prized animal that he caught. I must honestly say my stomach fell when I saw the collection of animal heads mounted on the walls. I felt so sorry they had to end up that way. 😞

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We returned to Vigan for a calesa ride. It cost only P150 for four people per hour. The sun was so hot, but it did not stop us from touring around the city to see the church and the pottery house.

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I was quite disappointed that Vigan has a lot of modern establishments. It’s like Intramurous forced into modernization. The romance of the quiet glow of streetlamps is gone and the sun was raging above our heads. The roads were filled by tourists who only ate their fill at fastfood chains.

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We opted to simplier meals along the street. Imagine our joy when we discovered sinanglaw, a soupy meal filled with beef and goat meat. It looks so simple and unattractive, but the Ilocano vinegar gave it a superb taste.

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It’s good to pair sinanglaw with the sweet taste of barbeque.

We left the city before the parade started. Today was Ilocos day and roads will be blocked once the street dancers step in. We’d rather not risk our time staying there because of the seven to eight-hour travel.

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The trip did not end without stopping by the La Union grapes farm. La Union is almost three hours away from Ilocos. The fruits there were small and not so sweet, with some a bit sour, but I enjoyed the experience of grape picking.

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51095749_329816040971629_5483897703337295872_nI’m so glad that we made friends with our fellow tourists during tour. The tour guide was so kind to us, I assured him we’d be joining them again. I’d definitely join them in another destination, but my wallet needs to recouperate. 🙂

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Breathing Adventure: The 8D 1D Challenge At Cavite, Batangas and Tagaytay

Visiting eight destinations in one day may sound tiring but it’s worth the try. This travel tour on Facebook gave us the chance to take a day tour around three places in South Luzon: Batangas, Cavite, and Tagaytay.

1. Marian Orchard

This sanctuary in Batangas was our first stop. This place is perfect for peace seekers, as well as for those who are camera-obsessed. It would be good to stay here to medidate but that would be impossible if only 40 minutes were given to roam around.

2. Taal Heritage Town and Taal Church

These two are joined together as the 2nd and 3rd destinations in our bucket list. Like this picture below, many of the old Spanish houses in the town are well preserved. I would have loved to visit each one just to see what’s inside.

The church itself is the main site to visit in this area. But we were not able to come any nearer because we only had an hour…

…to enjoy a bowl of Batangas’ hot, steamy, special lomi. Lunch time, folks!

3. Villa Jovita

Participants in this trip were given the chance to take a dip and relax in this resort in Batangas. However, most of us were not in the mood to wade into the water, although we were given two hours to enjoy the moment.

I guess we love to capture every moment in our lenses instead.

The river beside the pool.

4. Fantasy World

Visiting this place is a wish come true for me. Who wouldn’t be curious to know what’s inside this mini-theme park? When we came in, we were stunned to see…

…fairies and wizards unleashing their power…

…monks of great wisdom gathering for a revolution…

…and, my, my! Be a queen for a day!

What’s best in this place is to be in your best OOTD with your friends.

Sadly, the theme park rides were all closed because of the rain and strong winds.

5. Gingerbread House

If ever Hansel and Gretel would visit Cavite, I’m sure they would poke their noses in this place. Fortunately, there’s no wicked witch to fatten them up. Visiting here is like having an early Christmas because everything here reminded us of sweet, childhood days.

The rain was a spoiler because it had caused a power outage around the place, making it quite a bit dreary. Still, it did not stop me from looking around the bakeshop that was peppered with everything cheery like this giant gingerbread man.

A Christmas dining table and other Christmas decors.

Make your wish upon this wishing well. The wish below is not mine, by the way.

If there’s something I would wish for, I would wish for loads and loads of money to buy everything here.

Instead, I had found out it’s free to fit in this gingerbread house.

They also have a souvenir shop (especially for the ref magnet hunters like me).

6. Diner’s Bulalo House

Any trip would not be complete without dinner at Tagaytay and any dinner in Tagaytay would not be complete without bulalo. It’s like a fitting salvo to the cold, drizzle that was pouring at that hour.

7. Sky Ranch

The last destination was this huge theme park. I would have been excited if it were not for the rain. Besides, it was already quite late to get in. At least, we had the chance to see it…finally.

Visiting eight places in a day is surprisingly possible. I just felt some of the visits were too short because we were given very limited time. I believe we could have had more time to roam around some of the places if the tour group was not late because of the early morning run. Still, I appreciate our tour guides because they were very accomodating and friendly. For a P1000 budget, the experience was not bad at all, especially when you’re with people you enjoy road tripping with.

Callouses On My Fingers

They are shedding once again. Gaining them was painful but they were my prized posessions. After the guitar has been returned to its owner, they were lonely, useless and dying. The callouses on my fingers are being taken off my fingertips and they can only be revived if I have my own guitar.

I am willing to endure the pain again. All for the love of music…

The Magic Of Dinner Over Movies (Tenth Bite): Relax and Take A Good Cup of Coffee at D’Cup Coffee Republic 

We all love cafés. A steaming cup of coffee is good to stir up so many memories with friends who are willing to share it with you. Many cafés are springing up in every side to cater coffee loving buddies who wanted nothing but a good cup and a place to hang out. This is one of those I have appreciated.

D’Cup Coffee Republic is a newly opened coffee house located at The Artisan Lounge inside Pioneer St. Market. It is very spacious and very simple in design. Although it still lack the usual furnishings of an artsy coffee house, their coffee is something to be anticipated.

Latte de Choc Nut

All hot coffee cost Php138 and yet every cup is worth the price because of its size and taste. One cup is really huge, enough to last for hours while my friends and I chatted much for the time we stayed.

Kaffe Hazelnut and Carrot Cake

The smell of real, fine coffee has soothed our nerves as they were infused with the sweet aroma of pandan (for the Kaffe Pandan), the sweetness of hazelnut (for the Kaffe Hazelnut), and the fine taste of choc nut (for Latte de Choc Nut). But let me advice you to mix Latte de Choc Nut well so the choc nut beneath would be mixed well with the coffee. I had my mistake by not doing so, that’s why I couldn’t find the taste of choc nut at the initial sip.

Kaffe Pandan and Oatmeat Choco-Chip Cookie

We partnered it with Carrot Cake (Php118), Ambrosia (Php88), and a gigantic Oatmeal Choco-Chip Cookie (Php78). We had a pair of Ambrosia for free since we ordered more than two cups. All pastries were fulfilling and they are all worth the price.

A pair of Ambrosia bars

I am fascinated by the words of inspiration attached to every meal. Beside every cup and pastry was a card filled with light factoids or words of encouragement. The café’s operations manager, Rezzhel Sanchez, told us they aim to give inspiration to every visitor coming through their doorstep. I appreciate the café’s crews and owners because they were very accommodating and genuinely amiable. They do not only function as a business but this café serves as a place of rest to anyone who would drop by.

Some of the books you could find at the reading lounge

A reading lounge and bookstore stands nearby. They encourage every visitor to take the time to read and check out the books on sale. Inspirational books are up for grabs on the shelves. I’d love to drop by again to check out more of their books while drinking coffee.

My friends with the cafe’s operations manager, Rezzhel Sanchez.

I’d recommend this place especially for those who are sick and tired of crowded commercial coffee houses. D’Cup Coffee Republic could be found at the 2nd floor of Pioneer St. Market, inside the HMR Parking Compound in Mandaluyong City. You can get there by taking a tricycle from Robinsons Forum if you’d be coming from MRT Boni Station. Hope you can drop by there and say hello to the friendly crew.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 690 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 12 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Rush to Comfort

Fridays. They’re always action packed. In order to get a bus ride home, I am forced to become a Lara Croft running around EDSA. If it is not as freaky as that, then it’s not a Friday.

IMG_0829[1] I would have this theory that it goes this way because people can’t wait to go home. My other theory is mall sale, which usually does not happen occasionally. So, I’d stick with my first theory. Every Friday, especially in rush hour, commuters fill the roadsides, even the no loading/unloading areas. A lot of those cars and buses move side by side slowly on the road. In Manila, commuters are willing to crowd and stand in a bus for two hours.

People are always in a rush. I wonder what causes us to race against one IMG_0832[1]another to get to a bus. A good seat? A ride home? I’m one of those guilty. I remember how I recalled a zombie scene in Resident Evil 4 when the ladies flocked and almost stuck themselves at the door of an MRT train that paused to give a ride. That was when there was no queue system yet. It was freaky. Like zombies, we can’t wait to rush in and gobble that good seat.

Come to think of it, what are we running after? After all, all of us will get a chance to ride or to sit. If our goal is to go home, we will go home. There are buses until late at night. A lot of reasons maybe, like not wasting time. We’re excited, I understand. But competing with another just for that ride is even more freaky. We’re too impatient to get a good ride. We have lost this sense of patience.

My mom, the calmest person in the world, would always tell me  to wait. This irritates me. But when we do, we still get to our destination. No reason to rush, she would remind me, unless it’s really urgent. Let me rephrase it, if there’s no urgent reason to go, then don’t rush.

We all get to where we need to go. Rush and impatience had been in our system for a long time. Can we blame the lagging system of transportation for this? I don’t think so. I guess, we all need to relearn how to be patient again. Besides, it keeps us away from road dangers. In the end, we all go home.

 

White Board Challenge

It’s my first time to loose my voice. Never will I think that a day of occassional coughing would lead to this.

To communicate without words was hard for me. I can’t get my thoughts that quickly. That most heartbreaking thing is that I couldn’t convey my jokes easily (so I only have myself laughing at my own weird thoughts).

In order to say something, I have to use a white board and a pen. It’s very convenient, except my hands are loaded and it takes more time (as if this is the grandfather of the modern tablet :P).

Despite of this, I had fun expressing. My facial expression and gestures say it all. Instead of laughing, I would clap loudly or dance or roll myself in the office room (well, not really that wildly). Stress? I don’t have to make myself stressed. Only when I had to read two of my news. *ehem ehem* (I sounded like a pipsqueak! O.o)

But what matters most is the people around you. How they understand you. I guess it really takes patience and love to get the message through.

Need I say more? I guess not. I guess I just need rest to regain my voice. Or better yet, rest my fingers from talking on cyberspace too much. Let the normal be back to normal. 🙂

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