Friday, September 23, 2016

Borawan, Puting Buhangin & Dampalitan 2016: Quenching That Pinch of Wanderlust & The Best Thing About Travelling

show me your eyes
all your inside lies
come undone
get gone
nothing to be scared of
there's only the beach to strip you off
no one's here to judge
maybe you just need a little nudge
it's just the bitchy waves and whistly air
with you here, all is fair
It had been three months since the last time sand graced my feet. It felt too long, and I was missing the breeze. I was actually supposed to go someplace else, not the beach but a relaxing one too. Long story short, things got in the way; it got cancelled. I was already feeling blue until this escape plan came into being. Ah, thank God I live just a few hours from some really pretty beaches.

Puting Buhangin Island and Kwebang Lampas

Puting Buhangin (White Sand) was the first island we visited as per the advice from our boatmen that we start from the farthest island to save time and be more efficient with the tour. This little paradise may be found after boating for 45 minutes from the drop-off point in Padre Burgos.
Personally, I would say Puting Buhangin is the nicest of all the three islands we visited. It’s best to go swimming here. It has the clearest water, that which is a play between the green and green blue gradient, so fresh to the eyes on a sunlit weekend. Its sand, as its name suggests, is fine white but that which becomes compact, the kind that doesn’t break or loosen under the feet.
Locals warn swimmers about the risk of salabay (jellyfish) in the area. Actually, all the islands have this. Good thing it is off season this month, so we got to swim quite freely while still being watchful. No one wanted to get stung.   
This is how you shower island-style!
It’s not that huge, though. Okay, it is actually huge, but there’s this Kwebang Lampas, a small cave/tunnel that divides the island in two. One needs to go through it and out to make it to the other side. I think it’s passable when tides aren’t that high, but I didn’t even consider trying when we were there. To me, the cave was already a treat in itself.
Kwebang Lampas consists of rocks and stalactites that add mystery and subtle beauty to it. More than anything there, though, is the fact that it has the beach inside and outside; water goes through it. From inside it, one can watch the beach through a huge opening with uneven borders and edges which form a dark silhouette that makes the water outside of it stand out more – dramatic and picturesque.  I’d say it’s the best spot to sightsee and take it all in, everything while swimming. Aaah, yes.  

If anything though, I wish we could’ve stayed here longer.

Dampalitan Island

After more or less 25 minutes onboard the boat, we caught ourselves in yet another pretty island, Dampalitan.
Setup-wise, Dampalitan is obviously the rawest among the three. What you see is what you get in this island. Everything looks as is, as though there’s not much effort to maintain and make it look inviting to tourists.
Based on observation, this has the best sand quality. It is white, soft and loose. So yeah, the best sans some natural trash found. There are dry leaves and seaweeds scattered ashore. Well, I guess it comes with being a raw island.
Dampalitan is filled with shrubs and trees, some of which resembling the ones in Anawangin Cove, Zambales. They provide natural shade and comfort since there aren’t much shaded portions near the water.
Lunch time was apparently not a good time to get here, as this is when it’s low tide. Also, the heat was insane at 12 noon, so we decided against swimming even for a bit. Our time spent here had been divided into strolling around, stopping here and there for some picture-worthy shots, resting on torn down logs, and eating lunch before we left again for our last destination for that day.

Borawan Island

Based on what I’ve read from other blogs, people who come here in Borawan often end up feeling disappointed because they make this crazy expectation about the place. I mean, I guess I get it because what else is anyone supposed to think when the island’s named from Boracay and Palawan, the two arguably most beautiful beaches here in the Philippines? (Sadly, I haven’t been to any of both beaches yet. Someday soon maybe!)
Borawan’s name is such because people compare its sand with Boracay’s and its rock formations with Palawan’s. I’d say this is bad advertisement, and people should give it credit for its own beauty. Its sand is of the color cream and in fine, loose form while the huge rocks are such a sight to behold from near and far. Strolling around is a great idea because of the island’s long stretch of greens, creams and green blues. People are not going to run out of scenic views to ogle at.
Our boatmen told us that people couldn’t land ashore this island in the past, as the water was always really high that its sandy shores were buried deep under it. Looking at the rock formations, some still have lined marks that tell just up to how high the water used to get. Time and again, the sand would disappear and appear until it stayed visible making the island visitable.   
Of the three islands, this has got to be the most developed, but that’s still not saying much about it. There are a few kubo-style cottages that can be rented if tents are not preferred, but I’d say it’s not really fit for sleeping for big groups. There’s a table and built-in seats inside each, but it’s not a closed unit. The shower and comfort rooms are decent and clean for an island. There’s even a protective net around a small portion of the beach to prevent swimmers from getting stung by the jellyfish. Some say water can sometimes get murky inside this part, though.
We spent our time here swimming within the net’s limits, sunbathing, snacking, exploring other parts of the beach, and people watching different sorts of other guests.

It was a rather short trip but a good one.

Was the money worth it? Considering that we didn’t actually spend a lot but still got to check out three nice islands, it’s safe to say that it was!

We were happy campers!

There are a lot of bests about travelling. The most fundamental of which is discovering oneself. People often think travelling means discovering new places, but subtly and actually it is a revelation of oneself. It is a chance for us to re-create or, better yet, modify ourselves. Travelling is adventuring. Adventuring is surprising ourselves because we get to surpass our own limited estimate of what we are capable of because finally we get to jump off cliffs, chase waterfalls, dive from the sky, swim with whale sharks, rough-ride 4x4’s, free fall, and so on. And none of these things we thought we could do. Until that moment we let our feet take us somewhere. Travelling is proof that we can
Borawan Island
One can be a whole new being out there - free and unafraid. He/she is not scared of acting silly. I know this is something I take advantage of many times because how often are you given the chance to be someone else you want to be? Or at least try to tweak something about you? Without judgment? It’s not pretending. Maybe some people just find this to be a way to completely detach themselves from everything.

Or you know, if you happen to fall on the other side of the coin, you can be just you, the real you.
Puting Buhangin Island
Because many days, for some of us, we have to put on a face of strength, determination, control, power, of whatever it is that our daily life requires us. Travelling lets us let our hair down. And where else is the best place to do that but when you’re away, where no one, again, is there to judge or exploit you.

Travelling is a lesson in motion.

Don’t do it because it’s the “in” thing; do it because it naturally occurs to you.

Extending my thank you to: a) Ate Vanessa for quickly attending to all our concerns and arranging the tour for us and to b) Tatay Omeng and Kuya Dino who had been such accommodating boatmen.

Should you wish to visit the mentioned places, feel free to hit her up at 0915-106-7594. I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to assist you. :)

Fees and fares:
two-way fare Turbina-Lucena Grand Terminal
two-way fare Lucena Grand Terminal-Padre Burgos
P1500-P1800 (1-8 pax)
island hopping fee for Puting Buhangin, Dampalitan and Borawan
P800 (1-8 pax)
island hopping fee for Borawan only
entrance fee in Puting Buhangin for day tour/overnight stay
entrance fee in Dampalitan for day tour/overnight stay
entrance fee in Borawan for day tour/overnight stay (with unlimited use of shower and CR) (discounts for senior citizens and students also apply)
tent rent in Borawan/Dampalitan
tent space fee in Borawan/Dampalitan
cost of water per container in Dampalitan

*All photos by me!

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Ever since their childhood, Lochan and Maya had always been the closest among the five siblings, for they had gone through all the ups and downs of their lives together. The moment their dad left and their mom slowly lost interest in them, Maya and Lochan took it upon themselves to raise and look after their younger siblings which led the two to become even closer. This closeness would turn into something more intimate revealing a deeper feeling, that which was beyond fraternal love, that they had for each other all along.
Seeing you, being with you every day but not being able to do anything – it’s like cancer, it’s like this cancer growing inside my body, inside my mind! – Lochan Whitely

Upon reading Forbidden, not to brag or reduce my impression of this book, first thing I realized was how this book was mainly intended for a much younger audience. One could easily tell this by way of the themes, the characters and the writing. This caught me a little off in the beginning, but it’s worth pointing out that this was also why it became such a breeze for me to read. I may have thought this was a little too young a writing for me, but it eventually got me wanting to sink deep in Lochan and Maya’s lives.

It’s always nice being fancied. It’s always nice being wanted. Even if it’s by the wrong person. – Maya Whitely

Finding out what the story was really about made me feel uncomfortable and unsure because incestuous relationships don’t particularly make for an appealing topic. It was sometimes harsh, sensitive and complicated reading this story. I would even catch myself frowning. It didn’t quite feel all right. Of course, it didn’t. As the story progressed though, I became a more open-minded and accepting reader until the awkwardness paled and paled while other emotions broaden and prevailed. 

More than love or equally, Forbidden is also about family. This aspect made the story a whole lot more interesting, relatable and complicated. It got me boring a deep sympathy for Lochan and Maya. Anything and everything in it that has an effect to the familial aspect surely had a great impact and was really heavy.

It’s horrible, being ashamed of someone you care about; it eats away at you. – Lochan Whitely

The buildup until the climax was really nice. It had gotten to the point of all good things, and bam – a major heartbreak. It had been progressive. And when it finally peaked, the emotions stayed for a while longer. It had been a long-enduring pain, as the details and events unfolded. And as with the mentioned heart-wrenching scenes, they absolutely were! Some pages of agony never failed to give me that pinch while bigger scenes effectively showed the incomprehensibility of the situation.  

I couldn't come up with my own theory as to how the story was going to end for both characters. It was too complicated a situation. But when it ended the way it did, I was taken aback. I wasn’t expecting it to take that path for a conclusion. But the more I think about it, what other possible ending could there have been?

There are no laws, no boundaries on feelings. We can love each other as much and as deeply as we want. No one, Maya, no one can ever take that away from us. – Lochan Whitely

Forbidden is a balance between an easy read and a serious page-turner. It leaves something to the readers – an invitation to put themselves in the shoes of the characters and be lost and confused there.   

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

Photo source:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

birthday blues

I was far from excited about my birthday. The closer it came, the more anxious I felt.

And every birthday since I hit 20+ has been like this. It’s like a formula. Every nearing of a birthday is reason for self-evaluation, one which clings more on my negative side.

I don’t like where I’m at right now.

It’s official. I’m literally in my quarter life, and it’s not looking cute. It’s easier to say age is just a number, but that number hits you like rock – because with that number comes a long list of dreadful life issues.

I know I’ve already ranted talked about this a couple of times here and here, but it’s only now that I can say it’s been most real.

I was petty, and I’m being petty again. But what can I do?

I begin with the trivial physical differences. I was used to being the youngest one anywhere I go, may it be in school, at work, in cliques. But not anymore. Even with the artists and musicians I follow on TV and social media, the ones who are my age are now either getting married or having children. The popular it-girls and bands of today are years younger than me. Everybody’s younger than me. Yuck me. To think that this nonsense celebrity blah-blahs never used to bother me one bit.

Then come the youth of today. They are the walking and talking reminder of how much I’ve already been left behind. I can see them girls running around in their school uniform or hanging out in their ragged attire, with no or not much makeup on, still looking sparkly and full of life. Then there’s me. I have to exert so much effort on my face putting makeup on, fixing my hair, myself just so I can at least come close or, if luck would have it, match their effortless freshness.

I see wrinkles forming, and I am all like, “Where did that come from?! WTH?” Add to that some grey hair popping up here and there. But what’s worse, you know what’s way worse? Get this, flaaaaaabs! Ever since I hit my 20s, bloated-ness has been an issue for me when my tummy used to not endure three cups of rice before. There’s apparently this slow metabolism thing. Don’t ask me about it. All I can tell you is it eats away my self-esteem one lumpy fat at a time.

It’s all dawning on me now. I’m recalling just how many times I have taken my own youthfulness for granted. Okay, maybe I didn’t really neglect it. I had an awesome time, but it is a regretful feeling now that this youthfulness is slowly walking out on me.

I’m not being stupid and shallow. This loathing of physical aging is normal, comes first in this crisis most of the time. Don’t dare tell me it’s just me. Are you going to be that hypocritical?

I don’t know where to fit. There’s this constant struggle of having to weigh myself using the age scale.

“Am I already being childish for still doing blah-blah?”

“Is this not cute for me anymore?”

“Girl, you aren’t supposed to do that just yet.”

“Grow up!”

Everything’s revolving and evolving faster than I want. I am just unable to control and slow life down, and that scares the hell out of me. I’m scared. Aren’t we all?

But then again, above the obvious physical change lies the more crucial change, that of priority setting.

I have to take care of everything about myself now – from taking over the basic chores at home, taking care of my own expenses, making my own big decisions. I can’t depend on my mom and dad anymore because that would only make me look irresponsible, and I’m just not up for the sermon. Even when this didn’t happen instantly (I had the time to make gradual adjustments), I still felt loaded.

Then again, it can’t only be just myself.

Now, I must also look after my family. Not because it’s payback time, but because now I think I can. Don’t get me wrong. I want nothing more than be able to serve my parents. I’ve never loved them more than I have now. But my question here is, am I really capable now? I’ll tell you what, NO.

Now this next one’s a favorite recurrence.

Everyone enjoys expecting so much from me – to get promoted, to get married, to bear children, to get my own house. Guys, is there a formula which equates to me getting all these things at once without losing my sanity? And do they all have to happen now? How about, can I work on them at my own pace? Time here is the enemy, but sometimes it’s hard not to confuse time with people especially when they’re acting up like mad dogs on the loose.

Every damn time.

What follows is another string of questions affecting each other. It just makes me question just how much I’ve already done (devaluating what I’ve already accomplished in the process of course), contemplate what else needs to be done and examine self if making enough. Because all these things just really get in your head, believe me.

This, of course, leads me into comparison with other people. You know, because that can’t be avoided. And that’s when I eventually sink into a tiny piece of human being because I’ll get blindsided and all I’ll see is their good life and my pitiful situation.

So now you see what I mean?

All these things are why I was hating on my birthday.

Apparently, this is a good thing.

Can you believe it?

It’s a good thing – not the feeling bad part but the spilling of emotions part.

Apparently, this is a sign that I’m growing old, instead of just getting old.

It’s a reminder that my observations, the changes are all a part of progressive transitioning. And based on what I have written now and what I had written before, there have actually been changes as per my dilemmas. I have learned to let go of some, improve on some, embrace some, completely solve some. Some new struggles have surfaced, but there are also some from before that have been resolved and forgotten.

If anything, if there’s a good that adulthood has caused me, it’s that I’ve learned to let go of physical things. I’m not being literal, just saying I’m at that point where I’m old enough to not lust over much material stuff. Maturity is finding happiness in what’s intangible. This I’d say is a bigger deal than I’m letting on.

Just on my birthday, I asked for two things – one for me, the other for my family. Both are non-material things.   

I’d like to think that this so-called crisis is eventually going to lead me to maturity, and that should be a good thing, right?

Besides, there’s no escaping adult life.

This is not to say though that I’m already over quarter life crisis, not yet.

What? You’re just 19? Oh, you just turned 20? Wait until you hit 25. Good luck!

*I began writing this days before July 1, 2016, my 25th birthday, when my emotions were in need of an outpour. And even when it’s already August and I’m feeling better now, I thought it would be a waste not to post this. I am leaving this here with an open heart and mind for future reference.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


An early throwback.

Be warned: This is a long post because this is about my whole July.

July 01, 2016 | My Birthday

It was a good thing that I was on leave on my birthday since I opted for just a simple celebration at home. I ran some errands that morning. Then late in the afternoon, I went to the supermarket to buy some ingredients for dinner.

Birthday dinner celebration consisted of some home-cooked dishes by Mom and the company of my family and my boyfriend. It wasn’t fancy, but I’d say I had more than what I needed.

I was actually having a, I wouldn’t say breakdown (that would be too much), an ugly moment perhaps? I wasn’t feeling good about getting older. A bulk of realizations came crashing down on me. I let out some bad emotions days before, in written form. (I should probably post about that here. I will. Soon.) I even thought I wouldn’t have my spirits lifted on the exact day of my birthday. It was that bad. But I can say I’m past that now, not totally because there will always be bad days and bad days trigger ugly feelings, but at least I understand my situation and know myself better now. Everything has purpose.

That dinner gathering meant more than just some dinner to me, and it did help me feel good.

My thank you goes out to all the people who greeted and remembered me on my birthday. I love greetings, especially those that are sincere and heartfelt. THANK YOU! :) :) :)

Belated happy birthday to me! A year older and a bunch more accepting – yey!

No photos, duh. Lol.

July 02, 2016 | Ate Delee and Kuya Jerry’s House Blessing | Haya’s 7th Birthday

I am so happy for Ate and Kuya. They’ve always been a nice couple. Maybe they’re not perfect, but when people see them, people see a married couple who is happy. It’s easy to say they really do love each other.
Their love and hard work paid off as was evident during the house blessing of their new home. I found out that they were both really hands on while it was still under construction, so I could only imagine their happiness during this special day. The family, with some of their friends and other relatives, was invited for some lunch and a house tour.  
When Mommy and I got to tour around their three-story house, I saw a lot that I wish to incorporate in my dream house too. I am talking about glass walls, a high ceiling, a rooftop, a walk-in closet! Dreamy! My most favorite of all is this particularly cozy reading bedside just after the stairs. It’s perfect for cuddling and reading, perfect for mornings and midnights!
Congratulations, Ate and Kuya!

Mother and Ate Delee!
Then come the late afternoon, my workmates and I attended the birthday of our officemate’s daughter.

It was suddenly raining hard, so the party program had to be rushed before the situation could get worse. After eating, when it was already dark, we decided to play by the photobooth before heading home! Souvenir-ing!
I love going out with my officemates. It’s not often that I get to bond with them outside the office, so I make the most of it every chance I get.

Thank you to our officemate Yeye and her husband Jervin for having us!
Yeye's family!
Happy birthday again, Haya! May you grow a healthy and kind daughter!

July 05, 2016 | Impromptu Night Swimming

We were taking a drug test when Jason’s phone rang to an invitation for a night swimming. It was the middle of the workweek, a Tuesday, but since the next day was a holiday, we said yes!

Jason’s clan rendezvoused at Southwinds Resort in Pansol, Calamba. Even when we opted for a public swimming resort, we were still lucky that it wasn’t packed that night. Few gazebos were occupied. Also, we got in early, so we had first dibs at the clean pools.
The truth was I’d been missing swimming in pools. I’ve had my fair share of water adventures last summer, but all of it was at the beach. Living near a lot of pool resorts and going swimming to many of them all my life, maybe I got tired of them for a while. But lately, I’ve been back to appreciating and craving swimming in pools again. Water in my system is always welcome.

Jason’s family is nothing short of pool-loving people. I had tons of fun trying and failing miserably to mount a pyramid, fearfully sliding in the semi-kiddie slide, and being helplessly played a prank on by his aunts and cousins.  

July 17, 2016 | Post-birthday Celebration

Obviously, not much happened on the very day of my birthday, not that I was unhappy about it. I always believe the exact day of birthdays should be spent with one’s family, usually at home. When there are other birthday plans, they must be done another day.

A few weeks late but at least my boyfriend and I still got to go on a post-birthday date somewhere. A whole day was spent strolling around all the Solenads in Nuvali.

A lot of walking must be compensated by a lot of eating as well. We had late lunch at Banapple upon our arrival. We ordered our ultimate favorite, Hickory-smoked Barbecue Country Ribs! Serving was huge like always, so we were full right away. And then right after emptying our plates, we had Banoffee Pie. This, my friends, was a revelation to me. I’m not really adventurous when it comes to desserts. As much as possible, I order the staple cake flavors. I am glad I tried this one because it tasted so good! The fresh bananas balanced the cake’s sweet taste! No photos though because the pie was too good to delay. Lol!
Since we were already being adventurous with food, we then went to Café Seoul Hwa: Korean Dessert Cafe to try out another new food. We were on a roll. This shop is best known for its bingsu which is basically a shaved ice dessert that comes with different sweet toppings. We had Chocomilk Bingsu, and it was sooo good. And sooo cold inside the mouth! Yay!

And for our last meal of the day, Nonna’s Pasta and Pizzzeria was the choice for two reasons: 1) because it’s obviously my name right there sans the extra n and 2) because we wanted to try brick oven pizza which was another first for us. 
Nonna’s is the sister of another great Italian resto in Solenad, Mama Lou’s. Our pepperoni pizza paired with the resto’s signature honey sauce was the major bomb. We would’ve also ordered pasta, but we knew we would not be able to eat everything if ever. Next time hopefully!  
I’d say I may have compensated way too much because at the end of our dinner, I was feeling like all that I swallowed wanted to come out. Ugh, no!
This has been the grossest and funniest thing ever because I’m not really the type who gets sick and pukes easily. The truth is the last time I threw up was when I was still in elementary, so when it did happen on our date, it was so odd and awkward for me. Too odd that my boyfriend was laughing at me up until the last seconds before I headed to the comfort room because he thought I was just playing a prank on him. Thanks, Jake. Oh, my God! Hahaha! Absolutely memorable!

Thank you so much for the date, Jason!

July 22, 2016 | TGIF Date with the Girlfriends

After a couple of postponements, my girlfriends and I got to sit down together for a dinner date. The struggle to be with these girls lately is major, but they are worth it. :)
It was catch-up night with lots of talk about adult things, adult as in buying a car, getting a house, wedding planning among other major responsibilities. Wow, look at us! There was also a little bit of post-birthday celebration for Jusz and me, but only I got the birthday song and ice cream because Jusz came in a little late. :) Thank you, Shakey’s. Haha!
And because my boyfriend was with me that dinner date, I asked him what he thought of my friends. He said they were just like me – bubbly, funny, loud mouths! He said he enjoyed their company even when it wasn’t obvious. Haha! Hope he talks more the next time he joins us for dinner. He was too quiet. Hmp!

July 23, 2016 | Heidi’s Birthday Celebration | Heidi and Tita Hazel’s Despedida

Another bonding with Jason’s family!

I was invited for a two-in-one merienda celebration one weekend afternoon. Jason’s family’s favorite hangout place, their kubo, is the perfect Pinoy merienda spot. Situated at the back of their compound, it has a farm of rich green leaves as its background where clean air and nature’s sounds pass through freely.
Pancit na puti, spaghetti and tuna shanghai were the best! His family is a family of really good cooks, lucky me. Haha!

Tita Hazel and Heidi are hustlin’ and werkin’ it in Manitoba, Canada right now. Hoping for the best for them. :)

July 29, 2016 | LB Date

We were being spontaneous human beings when Jason and I decided to go to UPLB. We went there because we missed the place, and we wanted to hang out somewhere not so near but not so far either.

I’ve always loved UPLB because of its vibe. It’s always full of energy. Students are everywhere. Shops of unique accessories, cute apparel and creative things are always open. Food chains vary their offerings from desserts to heavy meals. Coffee shops know how to set the mood too. In general, I love how, even during late nights, people are still out and about.  

Just when our mouths were all set for Big Belly’s Cheesy Garlic Chicken and Krispy Kare-Kare, lo and behold, the resto was closed! *tears* We were not sure if it was just closed that day or permanently. (Hope it’s the former!) 
Instead of moping around though (what good would it do us anyway), we decided to just head to Chubby Habbi Mediterranean Grill. I ordered Beef Koobideh which tasted a little sweet for me while Jason had Shawarma Plate which was what you would expect from it. Both were really good! They mixed so well with the garlic sauce. I wish the servings were bigger, though. I wanted more, but my plate was already empty. Hahaha!

July 30, 2016 | Tintin and Jeff’s Wedding

It was a reunion with my Reyes Family!

Tintin’s an elder cousin from my father’s side. She got married to his boyfriend at a private resort just last, last Saturday. The sun was at its peak, and everyone was out to celebrate with them. I attended with my Kuya Leo Dan, Ate May, nieces Nicole and Elaine.

The best part was seeing some old faces again. In the few known faces to me, most were of aunts and uncles. I could tell they were also delighted to see us. Though this was the case, I was still awkwardly shy because I didn’t know what to say or how to start a conversation. Smiles were mostly all I could offer to the attendees I wasn’t familiar with. We didn’t stay for long, but I was glad we came. Maybe when Daddy comes home, I should go with him to visit our relatives on his side, should be fun.
Big regrets though that I wasn’t able to even snap a few photos for souvenir and, more importantly, so that I would have something to send Daddy. All I got is this photo of the fondant cake giveaway which tasted really nice, not too sweet for me.

Best wishes, Tintin and Jeff! With a baby on the way, congratulations and good luck too!

Photo sources: Sweet Photolicious FB Page, Heidizel Dela Cruz, yours truly


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