Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘life’

Breathing Adventure: Travelling Back In Time At Las Casas (Bataan, Philippines)

I think I have fallen in love. No, not with some Prince Charming or some knight in shining armor. I have found basking myself in the glory of history. It’s a place where the past is immortalized through houses of grandeur, their stories resonating in my pure, Filipina soul. By the time I have stepped back into reality, I was never the same again. I think I have just left a piece of my heart in Las Casas.

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan is a place owned by Jerry Acuzar, one of the most succesful and richest men in the province. It was built in 2010 but it is continually being developed until today. 

To get there, one has to take a three to four-hour bus ride from the Genesis bus station in Cubao going to Balanga (that would be Php200) and about an hour’s jeepney ride from Balanga to Bagac (Php50). Then, take a Php50 tricycle ride to the very site. I recommend you to leave at around 7 am even if the check-in time is at 2 pm. We were very lucky because our jeepney driver had agreed to take us straight to the resort while charging us only Php80 per person.

Stepping through the gates of Las Casas is like stepping back in time. It embodies everything Filipino, right from the building structures, the camiso de chino and the baro’t saya the staff are wearing to the true blue Pinoy values they are exemplefying. Their friendliness and hospitality are very welcoming for us. I even felt a little embarrassed when they have asked us to carry our bags to our room.

I couldn’t contain my excitement because everything is overwhelmingly IG-worthy. By the time we have entered our overnight abode, I screamed. With that, I was ready with my OOTD. I have to make sure I’d jive well with the place.

A jeep would carry us from the reception, to our quarters and to the little village where las casas (yes, the place literally means “the houses” in Spanish) stand. All houses, which were restored or remodeled, have story to tell. Some of them are linked to our national heroes, some had horror stories but others will just simply bring childhood memories of your old grandma’s house where the smell of burning leaves waft in the morning air. I assure you one day is not enough for all of these tours and activities.

One of the tour guides demonstrating some of the most curious things that could be found in an old house.

A room full of curiosities

Many statues like these playing children are placed in the village

Murals that replicate the works of great Filipino artists in one of the houses.

It would be good if you spend an overnight stay on the weekend because they have cultural shows on Saturdays and special activities on Sundays. One of them was the carabao race, which we have missed unfortunately. Still, we were able to watch a play at the end of the tour, which is about the value of the Filipino.

The carabao parade! We should have followed them to see them race. 🙂

Nighttime at Las Casas is very romantic. I don’t mind not having a date because the sound of the singing violin from afar is enough to melt my heart. If you’re wondering where that sound came from, that was from the open Italian restaurant in the village.

I warn you the food in this place is quite pricey but I can also assure you it won’t disappoint you. You just have to choose whether you like Filipino or Italian cuisine. We have chosen Filipino food because it is good for sharing (one viand costs around Php300-Php500 but a cup of rice is Php50). It is very fulfilling because it is tasty and it is really heavy in the stomach.

Ginataang langka

Liempo

Breakfast is just as good as dinner. Oh, the breakfast buffet is part of our overnight package so we can have as much bread and coffee as we want. I would say again the food is satisfying and superb. It’s enough to keep us going through the rest of the day.

That’s daing na bangus with eggs and fried rice, paired with lomi, fruits and coffee, along woth bread and jam. Who says we’ll be hungry the whole day?

The sea was not swimmable because the waves were dangerously strong. Don’t worry, there’s a small pool near the beach where you can waddle for a morning swim. 

Even after check-out, we can still tour the place in the afternoon. We did not miss the kalesa ride (about Php75 per person) but we were not able to take the balsa ride (which should have been at Php250) because it was beginning to drizzle. We’d rather horse around the rest of the day.

Meet Makisig, the strongest horse in town. I couldn’t imagine him carrying six ladies around town. 🙂

As always, we took a visit at the souvenir shop. I would have loved to take a picture while wearing a traditional Filipino dress at their Photography studio but the minimum price is Php800 to Php900! Nah, forget it. It’s not my pre-nup yet. 

Surprisingly, we only remembered to take a bite at around 3 pm (I told you the breakfast is superb!). Let me remind you that puto (rice cakes) at their snack bar costs at around Php110 for every five, small pieces. Kikiam (a type of Filipino dumpling) costs at around Php90! Oh well, we’d be willing to try it for the sake of experiencing them.

We ended the tour (and the picture taking) past 5 pm. If you don’t plan to bring a car at Las Casas, advise you not to leave the place around that time because there would be no more jeepney going to Balanga. The last jeepney trip would be around 4 or 5pm. The tricycles did take us to Balanga but it’s a bit expensive. 

The gateway to the beach.

We all had our hangovers when we had left the place. If only we could stay longer. The place and the experience Las Casas offers are very satisfying. I’d recommend you to take a room for six if you’re going with a large group because that only costs Php10,800 or Php1800 per person during the weekdays (rates are more expensive on weekends). It would be great to visit the place with your best travel buddies.

From the left Tina, myself, Lans, Ross and Ritz…all aboard to new adventures.

What I love most of all in Las Casas is its tag, “Pride in the past, hope for the future”. Such houses are rarely found in the cities. It is sad many modern Filipinos do not have a sense of history. I admire Mr. Acuzar for keeping the Filipino spirit alive by rebuilding these houses. I hope it is not only the experience the visitors would bring home. I hope everyone who visits Las Casas would also carry the vision Mr. Acuzar has in preserving the Filipino heritage.

Rebooting decisions

I’ve come to a point where I’ve been harboring regrets over the choices I’ve made. There are days when I wonder if I have been richer after taking up psychology or IT instead of Mass Communication. There are also nights when I mourn my decision to leave BPO to pursue the media industry. I could have been at odds with my former co-workers, performing as a manager like them instead of festering my wounds in my failure to become a famous reporter. The 30-year mark in my life (add it with two more years) is another milestone to look back and evaluate myself. What I’ve found was disappointing as I have failed my dreams, my ambitions and myself.

I had shifted from dream to dream as a child. I’ve wanted to become a teacher, a world-renown writer and illustrator, a TV reporter, an advertiser and then a filmmaker. That’s how I’ve ended up in Mass Communication. All I had was passion. I did not realize my college course would never define my final niche. 

I went from job to job. I was given a chance to work as a TV reporter and a segment producer in a small TV station. I attempted going up the ladder by getting into a bigger and more popular station but I did not survive its toxicity. I went back to the corporate world, still not knowing where I should be. Here’s where I’ve recognized the importance of practicality over passion. If I had forseen this twenty years ago, I might have been a richer and a more successful person by now.

But success cannot be found in money or position.

Isn’t it comforting to know that despite of all these circles I have been through, God has this promise imbeded in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I will never forget that peace that washed me like a cool river when I have made my full decision to leave the media industry. God confirmed it even more through other people. It struck me hard when I heard Kris Valloton saay in his teaching (which I will paraphrase) “It dosen’t matter whether we have failed our foremost plans because God still has plan B, C and so on…what matters is His purpose for us.”

I believe I am yet on my way for my purpose to be fulfilled as I continue jumping from crossroad after crossroad. Despite of disappointments, I keep on picking up gems of wisdom. In the end, it is not fame or position that will make me a better person. All these lessons I’ve learned in life will help me find my niche in this life, as well as guiding me to take up the right pathway to my destiny. 

​Vacation Forever

My seatmate kept me awake on the bus by loudly talking on her phone. Smartly dressed in a light brown office coat, she assured authority as she kept on instructing her colleague to close an order because she was getting late to the office. She was almost slumped sadly on her seat while her young, tired face starred at the window longingly. She made a number of calls to her boss, clients and other VIPs. Her tone, which shifted from being demanding to apologetic to friendly and then strained, revealed that she was vexed out in her job. Her stressful aura made me think about my hierarchy in the office world. The first thing that popped up in my head was never go up the ladder. I did not want to become like her.
I never desired to be on top of the career niche all throughout the ten years I’ve been working. All I wanted was a decent job and a good pay. I had this fear that when I get to the executive position, I’d loose my freedom, my social life, and my sanity. 

I only had this ambition to get into heights when I took a job in a media company. I did get a high-end job as a segment producer in a huge media outlet. This was my chance to become a popular reporter! In the end, I was not able to handle the toxicity of this job. 

Every time I feel bored or jaded in a job, my initial thinking was to resign and leave this toxicity behind. I’d change gear in my life plans, believing I’d be able to survive by becoming a missionary, a YouTube star, a philanthropist, an artist, or a hobo. I envisioned myself living daily under a grove of coconut trees while drinking cocktails before a clear, blue sea in the Bahamas. I breathe the air of freedom every time I resign, waving my arms like a freed slave from a maximum institution. However, this season of paradise is being slapped down by the reality of being financially empty. 

I was struggling during the first time I’ve resigned. I tried venturing into agriculture but was not successful in culturing earthworms. I tried doing freelance jobs but I was too scared to face foreign clients. I thought of becoming a missionary but there was no confirmed calling. Being a bum made me a bit depressed for a while. My savings were almost gone. I had realized reality at its finest. I need to look for a real job.

This is a dilemma for most millennials like me. Unlike the former working class, our minds are not wired to survive in one industry alone. We have multiple choices to choose from and we want to try all of them. When we are forced into hard labor, we give up. There is a gap between the older workaholic bosses whose excessive hardwork was able to build empires and the young freedom-loving yuppies whose existence is fueled by an unrelentless sense of exploration, passion, and entitlement.

My mother always remind me, “A rolling stone cannot gather moss.” Perhaps we need consider well before taking an offer. We need to switch off our dreamy selves before we embark into a decision. We need to learn how to be patient, to persevere, to find joy in every circumstances. One day, we have to pass down every valuable legacy to the next generation. If we keep on escaping every defiance in life, the next generation would learn nothing but escape and the underestimation of reality. Life is not made of holidays and sandy beaches. I had learned this the hard way. I have learned that I would be able to pursue my dreams when I have the right resources and I am focused with an orderly life goal. But I hope every industry, every executive and every boss would learn how to value their own workers by not pushing them into toxicity. Besides, we don’t need pushy bosses and loads of work to prove our worth. We, human beings, are more valuable than the services or the products we could produce and deliver for this rueful world. 

Pressured To Marry

She’s nice. She’s cheeky. She’s bubbly. She’s your typical story-filled housewife who got some good cooking. Until she blurts out. “What a beautiful girl! Does she already have a husband?”

Ok. I’ve encountered this question a hundred times. This time, she was asking my mom while she was eyeing me whose head to toe is donned in my favorite yellow, flowered dress. “No.” My mom replied as a matter-of-factly.

“That can’t be,” she gasped, just like any typical gossip-obsessed housewife. It came with that typical warning that never failed my irate eyebrow rocket towards my hairline, “You’ll grow old a spinster. You should have children.”

With that sympathizing look, she made me look like another human casualty in the evolution of genetics. Fine.

If I would point out my argument in the middle of that dusty, rural street she would never understand. Just like hundreds of married people who have asked me that same question.

I just couldn’t understand why they have to pressure me with that farcical question.

Our Asian culture dictates women to marry at a young age. Women at their thirties are considered too old to marry, more so get a boyfriend (I’m sure I’d be fatally labelled a “leftover woman” in China). As time and culture evolves, women are becoming more empowered, independent and are given more choices to challenge themselves outside the confinement of motherhood.

I am one of those women who have chosen that path.

Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to marry. I would like to fall in love and be loved. I would like to see myself wearing a wedding gown and kiss the man who is destined to be The One. But I am not in a hurry. Why should I marry if I am not in love and no one’s in love with me?

Just like many modern women today, we are given a wide range of choices and paths to take. Be the CEO of a prestigious company. Go into extreme sports and adventure. Explore the Mariana Trench. Manage fifty lucrative businesses. Achieve the Air Force with flying colors. Claim the Miss Universe crown. Win a presidential race. Save the world.

This is the viewpoint of women (and even men) who live and work in the metropolis. But not those who live in the rural life.

I would honestly never forget my chagrin when a member of the Badjao community had told me I should get married so I can have kids who would bury me when I die. Girls as young as 13 are marriageable to this group of people while 18-year old ladies are considered a spinster among them. I could not believe the limited perspective these people have nurtured throughout generations. 

This line of thinking is almost similar to the people living in my community. Partly rural and partly urbanized, most residents living here are below middle-income earners. Some were not finished in schooling. Basically, their choices are limited, as well as their resources. This leads them to the pattern of living-eating-marrying-working-have kids-die.

Ok, it does not mean one dies immediately after giving birth. But my point is most of them believe this is the same pattern everyone should go through. And every women should marry in the age history had dictated on man.

Or maybe, the age that our ancestors have dictated on man.

“Thirty! You’re too old to get married.” Rolls eyes.

“I’m married at 18 but I’m happy.” That’s your happiness, not mine.

“Would you like me to recommend somebody?” Shows me a picture. Throws up in the trash bin.

“You should marrying –” Shhhhh!! I don’t have a boyfriend! You mean I’d marry my toenail?!?!

I have sighed endless of times at those sickening questions. Gentle warning, some would say. But for me it’s the gripping reality on how limited a cultural perspective could be. 

I am not in a hurry to get married. I don’t worry about not having children. Too many marriages are broken because they have served their own selfish urges or followed the dictation of society without testing it through wind and fire. Marriage comes with careful consideration, prayer, commitment, and refinement. 

No one could ever understand when one is different among them. A single lady living among married contemporaries is as odd as the house of the Mad Hatter standing among the same tattered houses. Society dictates us to go through the same path they have gone through. They call it normal. I call it boring.

One’s destiny should not be dictated by the majority who knows no other way out of the box. Our age and status is not the basis of our purpose in life. Man’s judgement is not the fulfillment of things. No one has the right to taint the purity of our choices as only we ourselves can understand why we have chosen this path that’s different from them. Only God knows the best for us and society can never grasp that for our sake.

A Penny For A Thought

Ever wonder if the King of kings is fascinated with the cheerful laughter of an innocent child amidst the formalities of a Sunday service?

Or the silence of the winds on the trees while the drums blare wildly?

Do you ever wonder if these unnoticed signs say more than those we think say already much?

When are we going to communicate with our inner being that can secretly reach the Almighty without rocket science?

Once we do, would we be surprised if we discover new treasure folds of wisdom more amazing than the most mysterious of galaxies?

Freedom Off the Walls

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Let it go, let it go…

My life is a bit like my struggle with skating. The fun and breathless freedom every skater catches when he glides through the ice can never come if I remained on the wall. I did not realize this until I got into the skating rink. Imagine how my excitement was washed away when I began to struggle against the ice.

Insecurity and fear pushed away my excitement when I came into the rink. Insecurity because I was not good in balancing. Fear because I was scared to fall down and crack a bone. In the first thirty minutes, I looked like an old, frail, ninety-year old granny without a cane. I felt lonesome as my friends were drifting (even while struggling) into the middle of the rink. It’s miserable, as if I was imprisoned on the walls.

I tried to request for an instructor. I waited for a few minutes hoping it would be my turn. But I decided to go on my own.

Let it go, let it go…

And there I was again, struggling like a little toddler on the glass wall. I tried to fend off the embarrassment of falling on my knees. With a little nudge and encouragement from my friends, I had to let go of those walls.

One of my good friends, Lans, who helped me glide along the ice :)

One of my good friends, Lans, who helped me glide along the ice 🙂

Blag! I tried to cower in embarrassment but my friends just laughed it off and helped me up. I had to fall to realize that I can’t stand and even learn on my own. It wouldn’t be fun skating without a friend.

First fall...ouch!

First fall…ouch!

And so, little by little. I was able to glide a bit on my own. Soon, I was skating in the middle of the rink! Yey! I could never have felt that freedom if I had not let go of the walls I had dearly held on.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the earth and sky

Literally, I was singing that while gliding through the middle. The fear I had felt at first was like when I was swimming through the middle of the pool. That short moment in the ice gave a glimpse that I had been holding a lot of baggages in life…

My pride…to keep me from embarrassment when I make a mistake

My false humility…so I would not be criticized

My insecurity…so I would not be called a fool by the greater authority

The past…to bask in the old glories

 

Shoes of courage

Shoes of courage

Like those cold, lifeless glass walls, I had to let them go. I don’t have to waste my life clinging to them or I will spend the rest of my life being boring and pointless.

Would you wait for me again, little skating rink? I hope I would be able to skate a bigger rink, not here, but maybe where Queen Elsa lives.. 🙂


Let it go, let it go
I am one with the earth and sky…!

Like a little baby

Fun all the way…!

 

 

Awaking the Dreamer From Within Through Dreambook

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I remember that day very well. My best friend and I were pouring our hearts out at a fastfood restaurant, right after our working shift. I was nearly depressed, losing insight of where I was going, boxed in our back office work. She talked right to me on having a goal — or on looking back at my dreams. In an unexpected turn, we began to write our dreams at the back of the small receipt. In it were five year goals. Where should we be after five years? One of those dreams was to become a reporter, being reminded that broadcasting is my first love. Five years after, it came, it was made, and it was done. 🙂

I never thought it would be. I had written loads of other dreams wherein we transferred to bigger sheets. Too bad,I couldn’t check on them for I couldn’t remember where I kept it.

The five-year goal has passed. Now, I am at the limits of my four-cornered world (again) but here comes another blessing in a helpful form.

Instead of a small receipt paper, I am blessed to have Dreambook. Joining its launch at the World Dream Day last September 27 at Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, I was one of those who participated the activities with other dreamers who want to inspire the world.

Led by life coach Claude Sta. Clara, we took a review on the dreams we aspire, and take track on its progress. I got the best surprise when I was picked to have a weekly version copy of the Dreambook journal.

Now, the Dreambook is more profound and helpful than that crude piece of paper. In it are guide questions to recognize your strengths, passions, and your dreams. Like any activity book, it keeps me engaged, with its colorfully designed pages highlight encouraging quotes. It also gives enlightenment on what you may have missed or what you lack to keep you from getting to your dreams, and how to get rid of them. Aside from answering guide questions, you can keep track on where you are by checking your timely status. It keeps you focused on your goal — to fulfill the dream or dreams that you have been long keeping.

The Dreambook is highly recommendable for all. Everyone is a dreamer, and this defines our very purpose on this earth. These dreams are not only for us, but it will bless the many others. Our dreams can come into fulfillment when we pursue them, ignite them, and live them.

And so, I have entered a new dream — dreams, rather, in the Dreambook After five years, I would be able to look at the Dreambook, and see where I would be by then. After dreaming of working in the media a little more than five years ago, I now dream to work in an international media company, and have my own show.

You can grab a copy of the Dreambook at all Powerbooks branches in the Philippines. I guarantee that the inner dreamer in you will be inspired and will rise up through this life coaching journal.

A little glimpse om what's inside Dreambook :)

A little glimpse om what’s inside Dreambook 🙂

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