Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Puerto Galera 2016: Third Time’s The New Charm

The thing is, when people think of Puerto Galera, first thing that comes to their mind is the beach. While this is entirely understandable, the reality is – there’s so much more to Puerto Galera than just its beaches, not that people are tired of its beaches already, never, but new things are new things, something to be excited about, something to additionally pile on people’s experience list. And as for me, this is what I also work hard for.

Work brought me back to the beach once more. Though to the same place, the experience was different in many ways.
This trip showed another atmosphere of White Beach. It felt so different. This was when White beach had been most peaceful. The height of people’s vacation was over then since our trip happened a week after the Holy Week. This was when the beach was least crowded. The beach aired serenity everywhere. It was nicer to walk around. It was easier to find a vacant table in restaurants. There were fewer people to bump into in shops. There were more space for whoever wished to enjoy some alone time. There was less to block the sunset view. There was less trash. These are little things, but they make a whole lot of difference in the way I experienced White Beach.
 
There are basically two tour options upon stepping foot on White Beach, Puerto Galera. Since our department already did island hopping last summer, we obviously went inland touring this time. Our package covered four tourist spots near White Beach.
One would think there would at least be a little trekking or hiking involved when going to Tamaraw Falls, but the crazy thing is it is actually situated along the highway, so all we had to do after travelling was get off our ride to see the beaut. It was there, standing mighty and tall right in front of us. It was so high I couldn’t see where the water was coming from. Such was its mystery. I think this falls was only intended for visiting since there were barriers, but I saw a pool looking like a catch basin below the highway bridge. There are a few cottages too, so maybe that’s where people can go swimming and chilling if ever.
At the Mangrove Conservation and Eco-Tourism Area, people get to walk by the bakawan (mangrove) through a long wooden bridge. It was low tide by the time we visited, so portions of the mangrove under the bridge weren’t deep in water. They were dry that we could already see their giant roots. They looked vintage and raw, and they took over the whole place making it look forest-like. Those mangroves far from us that were deep in water looked incredible too. They looked smaller, though, because the roots were hidden underwater. I was fascinated because I used to only see them on television.
We also stopped by the Viewing Deck for a bit. It was overlooking the island of Oriental Mindoro. Majority of what I saw was, of course, blue because of the huge body of water with patches of green where some islets may be seen. It was a really nice spot for sightseeing, as there wasn’t much blocking the view even if it wasn’t too high a spot. We spent a good few minutes looking out to as far as our eyes could see before we moved on.
Ponderosa Golf and Country Club in the foothills of Mt. Malasimbo was the major capper of the tour. It was hella crazy how it didn’t feel like summer up there at all. It was super chilly and breezy. Well, being thousands of feet above sea level, that shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore. Lush green was the most abundant color on Mt. Malasimbo with different plants and trees draping the landscape making it extra cool to the feeling. Its altitude is also why it has the prettiest view of the whole Puerto Galera, even better than when we were at the Viewing Deck.
Moments when I am surrounded by big mountains and huge water forms make me realize just how small I am. But in a good way. It neither scares me nor makes me feel insecure but only shows me how blessed I should feel to be surrounded by all this vastness because at least I become a tiny part of it even for just a few moments.
Ponderosa Golf and Country Club is best known for its extreme activities from which the zip line looks the most fun. It is hundreds of meters long, but the whole ride only takes less than two minutes. While one slides through a cable from point a to point b, the mountain offers a scenic view. Three of my workmates tried it, and from the looks on their faces I could tell they enjoyed it. I was not so keen on trying it because the length and height of the zip line looked scary, but after seeing the smile on their faces, I got a bit jealous and envious. Maybe next time I could gather more courage for myself.
As luck would have it, we also got to try two extreme water activities.

It was my first time to ride a dragon boat, the kind similar to banana boats. During our two falls, I couldn’t remember how many times we laughed over and over again. It was so much fun anticipating the fall and laughing hard when we see each other’s faces after falling off and as we struggle to get back up the boat. Aside from our priceless laughter, another thing that made this worth all the suntan and sore body was looking at the wholeness of the beach shore with mountains and hills in the background from afar.
Though this was already my second time, I enjoyed this year’s jet ski ride better simply because I got to drive it myself! I was hesitant at first, but the big words from my boyfriend and the guide made me do it. The whole time it was happening was a daze, though. It wasn’t easy like they said. I couldn’t let go of the handlebar even while water was splashing all over my face. There were even times I was driving with eyes closed, and I couldn’t do a darned thing about it! Boyf said I was driving too slowly and that I had the tendency to turn immediately. The best part was when the guide took over and speeded on our way back. I was hugging him the whole time. I was too scared of falling, and I had nothing to hold on to. Sorry, boyf. It was just a onetime thing. Lol. Seriously though, I was glad I did it. It was never on my bucket list, but now I could tell it was totally bucket list-material.
With all that we have gone to, there still are a lot of other Puerto Galera treasures that I have yet to explore. I have learned that there are other beaches and falls here. And based on what people say, these spots are promisingly beautiful too.
My third visit proved that I have no reason to ever feel so tired of the paradise that this place is. There is just so much to see and do. But more importantly, and I’ve already realized it the first time but my second and third times only validated this truth, and I can’t stress this enough, Puerto Galera has some real charm, a natural allure that it only has in itself. It’s friendly. It’s inviting. It doesn’t feel so far away because it feels like home in another form.
Three days was more than enough for me. I had plenty of time for enjoyment without sacrificing downtime for relaxation. Take me back anytime!

*Photos by Housing and Settlements Department, Mark Parducho and yours truly!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

ALL AMERICAN BOYS by JASON REYNOLDS and BRENDAN KIELY

#rashadisabsentagaintoday

It was just another day for Rashad. He just finished ROTC, and it was a Friday, so he was bound to party. He first stopped at the convenience store to get himself some chips until he fell over and was accused of shoplifting. The misconstrued situation would get out of hand that would bring Officer Paul Galluzzo to the scene and get Rashad sent to the hospital. From then on, the issue would drag on as something beyond just a mere case of petty theft, teenage rebellion or police brutality, surely way beyond.
Our silence is another kind of violence.

First things first, I’m happy to have read such an important writing. All American Boys is in every bit a writing made for every person in this world. It bears social relevance, as it is evidently all about racial discrimination in America. Although it is not in the local setting, I’d say it is still something that may be enjoyed and brooded over by anyone from anywhere.

This was no love story or family drama. The writing was simple and direct.  And without so much of the crazy turning and twisting of events, I was able to focus more on the content and message of the story. And even without the said twists, the book still remained to be a serious and heavy drama because of the intensity of its subject. It was impossible not to get caught up and drawn in the book.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. – Desmond Tutu

It provided awareness. It made me see things in an angle that was really descriptive. And more than providing awareness, it was also such a thought-provoking piece. It encouraged weighing in on the matter at hand.

It was one compelling read. With powerful statements, it was able to send really strong messages across. It made me realize how bad the situation is and how it is not yet a thing of the past. I’ve chanced upon some articles and shows about this issue before, and I thought I already know how bad things are. But after this, I saw just how worse everything is. It still shocked me to read about this specific situation which, though fictional, is still based in real life events.

This is yet another novel taken from the point of view of teenagers, two high school students, one being the victim himself and the other being a witness, a schoolmate who also happened to be really close with the accused officer. Like I said before, I’ve always appreciated the power of using a teenager’s perspective to make an impact because it’s always so effective. When a young character comes to a realization, it says a lot about how gravely real, serious and clear something becomes.     

If I didn’t want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things. – Quinn

Mostly what I liked about this novel was how it ended at such a hopeful and positive note. It was a little bit hanging, but it ended really well. It didn’t have any concrete end or solution to it, but what’s anyone to expect? Because how can anyone do that, right? And when you really reflect on it, it was actually more melodramatic that way.

Based on what I was presented with in this book, I knew which side I was on. That said, it also kind of got me feeling confused in a way because there was also another thing about a person’s call for judgment and perception. On this matter in the book, I was also shown that anything could’ve happened. Points of view would mean all the difference. Things could mean anything. It could be anyone’s fault. There would always be more to the story.  

All American Boys may be treated as a protest, a plea, a reality check, or a call for action. There are different ways of looking at this novel, but whichever angle a person chooses to see, one thing’s for sure, it should not only be deserted after it has been read.

Are you done reading this book? What are your thoughts? I’d like to know them! Feel free to share them below!


Photo source: http://www.simonandschuster.ca/

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

THE WKND SPECIAL Vol. 6


Or should I say HOLY WEEK? Or HOLY WKND? HAHAHA! I’m so funny!

I am enjoying this series so much that I have decided to follow up just last week’s post with another one. Also, it had been a pretty eventful holiday weekend so why not, right?!


March 23, 2016 | Holy Wednesday

As for me, the holiday weekend officially began on the eve of Holy Wednesday. I believe, by this day, Catholics such as yours truly should already be taking a break from consuming meat products, but I was sadly unable to oblige because Cheesy Garlic Chicken Fillet Night happened.

This is something that my boyfriend and I had long wanted to do but kept on putting off until Wednesday. So even when I knew it wasn’t quite right, I gave it a go since everything we needed was already set and just awaiting our service.

The result? Perfection!!! According to my standards at least. Hahaha! Kidding aside though, our Home-cooked Cheesy Garlic Chicken Fillet was really good. I mean the sauce wasn’t that sweet. It was a balance of sweet with a little kick of spiciness. It was paired with coleslaw without the mayo as a side dish which made my taste buds even happier. Good thing it was a pretty successful project since it was the first viand we ever made. Now we are more excited to cook more. Hihi!


March 25, 2016 | Good Friday

As I always do every year, my Good Friday was spent for some sacrificial and devotional time. I once again joined in our barangay’s Way of the Cross in which we would go around the roads, farms and hills in our area while we pray the 14 Stations of the Cross.
 
There had been a few changes this year. Way of the Cross started at 5:00AM, earlier than the usual 7:00AM. I liked this schedule better because the sun wasn’t that bright yet during the whole journey. And because it started earlier, it also ended earlier as expected at around 8:30AM. There were also some changes in the trail leading to the end of the walk. And since Alyanna, my niece, and I woke up late and just had to catch up with the group, we had a hard time following because we didn’t know which route the group took. Good thing we were able to catch and keep up with the help of the other tardy joiners. The usual comboni pitstop on top of the hill wasn’t available that day too, so the group had to just rest somewhere by the road in the hill. It was tiring but ultimately fulfilling!
This Way of the Cross is one of my most precious traditions yet. It sends a freeing, cleansing, optimistic feeling in me. It’s something spiritual. I am not the most religious person out there, but taking part in an activity like this is something I am and always will be very proud of. And because of this, I vow to walk and pray until I’m old and grey, unable to walk long and steep hills because of arthritis. But until then, I’ll just do what it is that I need to do – walk with him.
 
March 27, 2016 | Easter Sunday

Rejoice for the Christ is risen! :)

I woke up this day after 11 hours of much needed sleep. And what was the first thing I was told? That we were going to have a family boodle fight! Whaaaat?! Much obliged!

This simple boodle feast was hosted by Ate Myra, Kuya Russell and their kids. They prepared adobong baboy, sinigang na baboy, salted eggs, mangoes with shrimp paste, bananas, and watermelons – so yummy and so Pinoy. It was the first time we had something like that, so I was really happy about it! Another family bonding!

I would not mind if we are going to make it a yearly thing. I actually hope that we do! I’ll even contribute some food too!

Then come early evening, I had Easter dinner with my high school girlfriends plus Jep and Archelle at Bugong Bistro in Halang.

It was basically catch-up and make-fun night with my girls over Thai food. We tried to update each other about what each other’s been up to lately. We then laughed and laughed about how we were so naïve and stupid as high schoolers. I know, I know. It’s the only thing we know to do when together, but this time we were able to un-box some really crazy HS memories that shouldn’t have been unearthed ever because they were just hella embarrassing. That we ever did or got involved in such activities was beyond us! Hahaha!
We squeezed in summer planning too since we are bound to go to the beach come May 2016. And even this part didn’t reach an agreement, hasn’t reached an agreement yet. What did you expect?! Haha!

Good thing we had the restaurant all to ourselves because we were too loud like always, and I could only picture out how others would react were there anyone else aside from us there at the moment. Imagine eight female voices battling it out on the table! Crazy!

We hung out some more at Starbucks before calling it a night. :)

***

And that’s it about me. Hope you all made the most of your time through happy and meaningful moments with Him, your family, friends, and loved ones just like I did over the Holy Week.


Pray and love!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

THE WKND SPECIAL Vol. 5


Or should I say WKNDS? :)

Some things happened over the two consecutive weekends, so I’m going to indulge myself by oversharing.

To briefly sum things up, I spent some good quality time with my family, friends and boyfriend.


March 12, 2016 | Saturday

This was the day I paid a long overdue visit to my school, Lyceum of the Philippines University – Laguna, for some good time with a few of my friends. There was nothing like bonding with friends in the same place that got us all close together. It was a well-timed visit since the school was celebrating its 15th Foundation Anniversary that week.
Though catching up with friends and school was my primary reason for going, I also went because of PNE (Parokya ni Edgar). Despite already watching PNE perform there before plus the other time I did when I was still in Grade 5 or 6, I still wanted to see the band again because why not??? The guys know how to put on an entertaining show for everyone through romantic/comedic lyrics matched with humorous banters. It was a no-brainer go-go. :)


Rekta, a local band led by our good friend Kuya Bogs, performed as a front act too, so that was a bonus.
The crowd sang and clapped along, and we did too. I was not able to keep count, but I think the band played not more than 10 songs. That was fine because at least I enjoyed all of them. The concert ended a bit earlier than expected, around 9:30PM, so we still had time to have late dinner before calling it a night. :)

We spent more time in front of the stage, so catching up wasn’t given much attention which is why I hope to see them again soon.


March 13, 2016 | Sunday

Whenever there are family gatherings, I make sure to make time no matter what. Even when I already have a prior appointment, I find a way to squeeze in a few minutes or hours to attend family events, especially really important ones, because they don’t come along that often anymore.
Last, last Sunday, my family on my mother’s side gathered to join in the celebration of Baby Gaile’s 1st birthday! Her actual birthday was last March 14, but it was a Monday, so Kuya Gian and his wife had to adjust their daughter’s party in consideration of the invitees. It was a simple lunch catering for the adults and afternoon party for the kids. It had been a chance for the family to get together for even just a short while, so I was glad it happened. :)
Gaile brings so much joy to everyone in the family despite her being a bit shy and aloof. That’s most likely because she doesn’t see most of us that often, so that’s cool. Besides, she’s a baby, a cute one, so whatever she does or however she acts out is excusable. Haha! :) Personally, I am delighted every time I get to see and cuddle her. I want to carry her around even if that entails crying on her part because she doesn’t really know me well. Hahaha!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN, BABY GAILE!

I love you! Kisses!


March 19, 2016 | Saturday

This Saturday was spent making up for my birthday treat for the boyfriend that had to be postponed several times because I decided this time I wanted to prioritize catching up with friends too because I felt like I had been neglecting them which was the last thing I wanted to do. Sorry! Haha!

Jeck’s birthday was last March 8, and we went out March 19. It was still March, so I’d say that wasn’t overly delayed and still a valid date. Haha!

I chose to just take him out on a date. It wasn’t fancy or anything unique; just a simple one was enough for him for as long as the thought of reciprocating his efforts was there. He would always be the one to take me out, so I decided it was about time he got the same treatment because guys deserve as much appreciation from girls too. :)
Faustina’s in UPLB was the perfect place because it was just this small, quiet and cozy restaurant that I was hoping it would be.
Food was magnificent. Everything we ordered was its bestsellers and for good reason. Silindro Ribs and Peach Mango Pie a la Mode were the absolute bomb and most probably the reason we’ll come back.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JASON!
You already know what I want and need you to know, so I’ll just leave things at that. You know the rest. Thank you! Kisses!

***

I missed writing one for this series. Something about it is so relaxing. It’s like The Happy List Series with the joy it brings in me except it’s purely all about life events here.

Bye for now! :) Time for a break! Time for Holy Week! 

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