Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘friends’

Breathing Adventure: The Roadless Trip to Calatagan, Batangas.

We were going nowhere as we had no plan to live by. The sun was beating hard on the small, dusty Batangas road, but we kept our chill as we searched for the nearest beach. Borat Beach was already closed, and Google did not give an update about that. Stilts Beach was a romantic one, enough for a couple in love to own the place for themselves to fulfill their dream wedding on a scorching Friday morning. We were on our own and we were depending on Google Maps, who pointed us to a small beach called Manuel Uy Beach.

Manuel Uy is for the budget warriors, costing only Php200 per head for the entrance and Php150 for an overnight stay. We had two tents in store, making me live off with my remaining Php650 for the food. I did not mind the leaves falling or the sand flying above our heads, because I felt like a little kid having a picnic by the beach for the first time.

Road trips are never adventurous without Tina and Lans. 🙂

Now, I don’t know why is the beach named as such (we can only assume that it was owned by some rich, Chinese scion called Manuel Uy). It looks a bit boring at first. The heat was enough to melt us beneath the tree, unable to imagine why the people were scrambling to the middle of the sea in the midst of a hot, cloudless, summer midday.

We spent the whole day dozing off and trying to shield ourselves from the sun, which seemed to follow us because it disapproved of our remaining fair skin. Somehow, this is the camper’s life I’d like to live on a sleazy, Friday day-off. For once I’d like to forget my desk, my computer and the thought that I was a robot.

Our duo tents that were never slept in. 🙂

Exploring the beach became a part of our game when the sun was beginning to set down. It was still hot, but the waters were a bit warm and comfortable enough to forget the scorching heat that persecuted us the whole day.

The beach is safe for kids because the deepest part of the waters were five feet (just don’t go beyond the line and don’t be a stupid parent). The fun part was trying to show off some swimming skills, but it looked like a bad idea because I forgot my cap and my googles. So, I just settled with some fancy sunset photos.

One thing I had anticipated in this trip was stargazing. Sleeping under the moon and the stars was a lovely idea, except when you’ve forgotten to carry a mosquito-repellant lotion. The breeze made me cozy as I slept with my face up to Orion and the rest of the constellation, who showed up when I was in the middle of my dream.

I almost could not sleep as I tried to wait for some obscure shooting star in the wee hours of the morning. The dawn broke very early at 5 am and we rushed to the refreshing waters again. We wanted to have one final soak before we leave at around 8 am, the time when beachgoers were beginning to flock the beach on a sizzling, summer weekend.

Ah, the summer roadtrip…the trip home was made better with bulalo (cow bone soup) and buko pie (pie filled with coconut meat). These are just some of the things I miss about Batangas. The next time we come there, we’ll try the other beaches. I just hope nobody’s getting married that day.

*Would like to thank Valcres, too, for accompanying us on this trip! We would not have survived without you. 😃

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Stirring Up the Sleeping Palette

I kept on dreaming colors. They swirl around me like icing on a cupcake that makes me hungry for more. I mix and mold them together until they become trees, mountains, a sunny landscape and a smiling me. I was so inlove with them, I buried them in the secret cupboard in my psyche. But here they are, giggling before the partly opened door after a long hibernation.

It’s been ten years since I messed my fingers and my brush with watercolor. I stared at the newly-bought acrylic tubes with a bit of consternation. However, my excitement was tingled even more by the warm, afternoon sun. It’s like releasing the joy of childhood again. It’s awakening the magic from within.

I thought art was a childish hobby to play along. But I did not realize art is actually a part of my soul. Art is an expression for me. I could do art in Microsoft Paint, Photoshop or in the PicsArt app. But I realized digital media cannot take away the power of art in physical form, particularly paintings.

Just as I love the smell of books, I love the enigma paintings can bring. They carry emotions and nostalgia. They also carry the soul of the artist who made them. That’s the reason I’m always fascinated with the artworks at museums at Ben Cab Museum, the National Museum and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. They are channeling us deep into one’s heart and insights, as well as in another time and space.

As for me, I just love stroking my brush as I try to replicate landscapes and childhood memories. This one is one of my favorites. And it was born about fifteen years ago.

That artistic silence was cut off when I needed it to heal me from a traumatic event months ago. That day, I stupidly sank my smartphone in beachwater while it was sitting in the pocket of my shorts. I could not enjoy my beachside trip in Marinduque because I had no gadget to play around with. I was so attached with my phone, I felt I have lost a loved one. I know that sounds stupid, but think of the hardwork I have done just to own a smartphone – for the first time! For a month without one, I then focused my attention on scrapbooking.

I did that for a few friends who were leaving the company. I gathered our other friends who unleashed their artistic creativity on paper. I searched for old colored pencils, brushes and art set. They need to be replaced. I need a new set of color tubes.

I was compelled to buy acrylic paint because I something to mark my newfound cane at Mt. Ulap. Months after, I was encouraged to go beyond this because of a friend.

For now, I would not reveal this part of the story. I just could not contain the joy of mixing colors and painting again. All I could think for now is to give away all my artworks because I believe art is for sharing. I hope my paintings would never serve a selfish purpose but it would bring encouragement and joy to many people.

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.

Breathing Adventure: Touching the Heavenly Abode At Mt. Ulap

There’s no other place like Benguet. Sitting beside Baguio, many have fallen in love with this place because of its fresh air, scenic views, and alpine-covered slopes that resemble a bit of Europe’s fairy-tale forests. Besides that, Benguet boasts of giant mountains that defy the deities by touching the heavens. Among these is Mt. Ulap, which lives up to its name because it welcomes its visitors into the cradle of the heavenlies. 

Is it a deer? Nope. It’s a cow hiding as a deer. How’s that for an enchanted forest? 🙂

We left Cubao at 10pm to ensure we’d arrive at Benguet by 4 or 5am. First-timers are estimated to take an 8 to 10-hour trek on the mountain. 

The glorious sunrise was a wonderful opening to this long hike. Ever since my old phone has been damaged due to this poor writer’s absent-mindedness at the beach, I never imagined I would be able to catch again a momentous moment that actually happens everyday.

The hike was not as tiring as I first expected. It was one of the most refreshing hikes I had since I had my first taste of wonder at Mt. Pulag in 2015. 

The wind was cool enough to lessen the sting of the rising sun. I was surprised I did not consume a liter of water as I only brought a small canister with me. I decided not to tire myself with a backpack. I wanted to have the liberty of freeing my back from such heavy load. Besides, I enjoyed having my own stick, which I had bought at the registration area. I can be a good memorabilia after the hike.

There are three peaks at Mt. Ulap. The first peak already has amazing views itself.

Stone markers that tourists would like to build as proof they were once here.

Along the way, I took a moment to listen to the bird that was singing its praises to the Creator, who had artfully sculpted the beauty that I saw all around.

The Gungal Rock, which was the second peak, has been the most challenging one. One has to be loaded with guts to cross the sloping rocks to pose for a rocking profile pic.

Most breathtaking of them all is the last and highest peak.

Mt. Ulap would never be called as it is without the clouds that had slyly curtailed our wide-eyed, sun-kissed faces. The evergreen slopes beyond was playfully peeking behind those rising white pillars while we pranced and jumped around to get that perfect, perfect shot!

After going down a short but very steep portion of the mountain, we were finally relieved when we dropped by Mt. Ulap’s 7-Eleven. Oh, yes! More ref magnets to collect!

The descent at Mt. Ulap has been developed by installing makeshift wooden stairs. Lans, my friend who organized this trip, told me there were no manmade steps when they first trekked here in 2016. Mt. Ulap has just been officially opened in 2015 so it only took only awhile to improve the more dangerous path.

What I’ve appreciated most in this trip was the camaraderie that has been developed among the group. Most of us were unknown to one another at the start but most of us have became clingy to one another at the end of the trek. That’s why hiking is more enjoyable than beach. The challenges we face in the mountains are actually refining us to become stronger individuals and to make stronger bonds of friendship. 

​The Magic of Dinner Over Movies (Eleventh Bite): Food Feast At The Carnival

This blog was supposedly written a few weeks ago but it was delayed due to a number of circumstances and loads of procrastination (sorry about that, guys!). But I still find this food hub worth sharing…and returning to again.

Food hubs are becoming popular in the Philippines and the city of Marikina would not miss out on this trend. There are loads of food hubs around the city, but The Carnival is one of the flashiest places to drop by and enjoy.

Brightly lit up, it can be easily spotted beside the road when taking a jeep going to Montalban, Rizal. Flocks of people kept on filling the site because everybody seems excited with what it has to offer. Its festive air and colorful atmosphere have brought thrill to every hungry foodie like me.

Each food stall has its own unique offer, whether it would be shawarma, burgers, sizzling dishes or fried ice-cream. At my first night, I already had my personal favorites. One of them is the Brewskie Pasta Hub.

Each pasta cost around P150 to P200. This creamy, chicken pesto was so good, I nearly cried at its first bite. But because it’s so heavy, I had to bring half of it home for breakfast.

My second favorite would be the Milkshake Lab.

Milkshakes go around P80 to P150, and one is also very heavy because of its abundance in sweet pleasures that overflow from the brim of the cup. This red velvet milkshake nearly knocked me down because it is really,  really tasty.

These two were paired with nachos which would be best shared with friends.

Because I did not have the chance to try the others, looks like I need to comeback. Visiting The Carnival is the perfect wrap up to our Marikina trip. But it seems to be also the perfect prelude to more visits to Marikina.

​Breathing Adventure: Flying To the Rocky Summit of Mt. Paliparan

My chocolate bar has already melted. I set it before the air conditioning vent so I can bite that sweet piece that would replenish me from that 11-hour hike (which included 2 hours of picture taking). Still, its sweetness is nothing compared to the joy of being in the outdoors again.

We were back in Tanay, Rizal to explore Mt. Paliparan. Standing at more than 500 meters above sea level, it was one of the newly-opened hiking sites that’s fit for beginners and weekend warriors like me. But this weekend warrior had to strip off her title for a while because her little adventure army has chosen Monday as a date to conquer new land. Weekends would attract endless crowds that are likely to clutter the mountain, the view, and our photos with photobombers. 

The grassy trail

Brgy. Cuyambay would be accessible through public transportation (jeep from Cubao to Cogeo, another jeep to Bary. Cuyambay, and tricycle to the baranggay hall where registration takes place). Since we have to reach the place before sunrise, private transportation would be more convenient and safer to take. 

We originally planned the Maysawa Circuit because we wanted to see the sea of clouds. But the tour guides gave us Mt. Paliparan as another option. They suggested Maysawa Circuit would be best visited in August because the rains would make the sea of clouds more visible. Besides, they warned us of the abundance of limatik (leeches) in that trail. Since Mt. Paliparan looked more adventurous, we decided to take their advice.

The trail to the summit is reminiscent of almost all of the mountains we had visited. The vast farmland leading to the trail reminded us of Mt. Talamitam and Mt. Maranat, the grassy slopes was like the trail at Mt. Maculot, while the assault leading to the summit brought Mt. Pamitinan to mind. The rest of the trail was easy except for the last trail leading to the summit.

The first peak

Mt. Paliparan has four peaks. All of these are marked with huge, towering boulders that were challenging to climb. The tour guides have told us the mountain was called as such because it was a site where small Japanese planes used to land during World War II.

The second peak

A small cave can be visited along the way. It is a perfect place for hiding from the nasty heat of the sun. 

The trail was littered with flowers and colorful berries that seemed luscious but not edible. Small amorseco (hitchhiker plants) have annoyingly clung onto our clothing. The tall grasses were not helpful in giving us shade as they managed to annoy and tickle our sunburnt faces. We relieved ourselves with the sight of Laguna Lake, the old cement factory and the wind turbines at a distance.

While the rest of the trail proved to be easy, the assault going to the summit was challenging and quite dangerous. This is the time when gloves are highly needed. The sharp and jagged rocks, though may be helpful in providing footing, can be relentlessly unforgiving on bare hands. 

It requires rock scrambling and rappelling to get to the very top of the boulder that sits on the mountain’s highest peak. It was tempting to give up because I was struggling to carry my body’s weight on the rope. But I was challenged when the tour guides told me, “Since you’re here, you’ll regret it if you don’t do it.”

I felt like a champion when I have scrambled on that rock. Once I got hold of the pink flag that mightily fluttered in the wind, I felt like I have conquered the cowardly giant in me. Everybody was a winner that day. We had to reward ourselves by resting in the Dumagat village which would take about an hour to reach.

The Dumagat people are one of the nation’s indigenous tribes living in Luzon. If you were lucky, they would cook tinola or pinikpikan for you (these are local chicken dishes, one is made with soup). However, there were no chickens available that day. We ended up with buko juice and pansit canton. 

The adventure would not be complete without visiting Tungtong Falls. The trail, which would take another hour from the Dumagat community, lingered around giant, dark, round rocks and cool streams. The waterfall was small but refreshing. Instead of diving, I took a short nap because I was so tired from the trip. 

The tour guides were wise enough not to bring us to the highest falls which required rappelling again. We were so exhausted from the very, long trail. One of us had sprained her knee and ankle. We enjoyed the final stretch of the trail by taking our own slow paces back to the starting point. 

Despite the strenuous journey, I was revitalized with the beauty of nature. Experiencing this is a privilege because it is a gift from the Greatest Artist in the universe. Seeing, touching, and feeling such immense creation is like seeing the very heart of God who made these things because He loves us greatly. It’s something you won’t find everyday in the mechanical jungle called Manila.

The river trail

As I closed my eyes to sleep in the van, I kept a clear picture of the pristine waters, the warm summer heat, and the vast sights from the summit. The memory I had treasured that day was the ability to conquer my secret fear of heights. That instance made me dare for more. I hope that little courage gained would not abandon me on my next adventure. 

The adventure team

​Keeping Real Friends

I was on a mission to sort out my list of friends on my Facebook account to remove clutter: the non-existing account, the one-time friends and the total stranger. I was surprised to find over a thousand names linked to my account. Most of them were colleagues, former colleagues, relatives and former classmates (including that crush and that bully). Truth is, I could only count my closest friends with my fingers. But I was hesitant to remove most of those in my list because I’ve had acquaintances with them in the past.

When Facebook was first introduced, I hoarded tons and tons of “friends”. Social media became a platform to connect and reconnect. But it also became a tool to make us feel “closer” to our secret crushes (too bad if your crush only posts once a year). 

Because the longing to make friends is an inborn quality in young millennials, we easily add to Facebook anyone – just anyone – we meet for the first time. That kind of friendship, I realized, is platonic because they vanish overtime.

Even without meeting them personally, some people kept on adding to their list anyone who’s connected to a mutual friend or who belong to the same affiliation as theirs. At first, I accept their friend request out of courtesy. But I realized later that might not be helpful.

My former colleague told me once she would always accept a total stranger’s friend request because her purpose is to inspire. I argued back then it would be too risky to accept them because I don’t know who I would be dealing with. Now, there’s more risk at accepting friend requests of unknown and sporadic characters. They might be spies to the Dark Force *Wears 3D glasses. Eats popcorn. Star Wars theme blasts in movie house.*

But most of all, they could be assets to the gossip world, especially when they read posts such as this.

“Monday. Office drag day. Only your smile can turn it into a happy day.” Forward ko ito kay boss para di sya pumasok. Haha!

“Jeepney makes a wrong turn to Shaw Blvd. I need a detour to go to your heart.” Tse! Lalagyan ko ng barricade at barbwire ang dadaanan mo para di mo ko makita (as if ikaw yun…)

And worst yet…

“I only have 100 left in my wallet. But I have a thousand more reasons to love you.” Pare, may pangmaryenda na tayo! Aabangan natin sa kanto!

Ok, that sounds too exaggerated but sometimes, stalkers are really born out of social media. 

Having a thousand friends on social media does not mean you are the universe’s Ms. or Mr. Congeniality. Sometimes, they are just there to taunt you (because of a bitter feud you’ve had with that person), to make business with you (“open-minded ka ba? Kasi ako hindi harhar!”), or to linger in your memory. As I grow older, I realize my truest friends don’t go beyond a thousand…even a hundred. A few of them don’t even have Facebook accounts. The rest can only like and comment with flattering words but those who really matter are willing to go out of the social media world to see you face-to-face.

Social media has created a universe that is different from the real world we belong. It gives us the capacity to become perfect in everybody’s eyes by acting like a star on this virtual universe. But only real friends know you for who you are. They follow you not because you’re an internet sensation but because they love you are you are. That’s why I need to clear up clutter because I only like to keep those who matter to me. Besides, Facebook was originally meant to connect with friends, so why not just keep the real friends that you have?

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