Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Happy List: Random List #5

It’s been a long time since I last wrote something from this thread, time to be reminded of happy things again!
Daddy's leaving again, but I'm just grateful that we got to spend time with him.
Safe travels, Father! :)
Photo by Tita Evelyn
  1. Beach trip memories never failing to make me smile and helping me get by on an ugly day
  2. The beautiful epiphany that, unlike my previous confusion that it’s merely because people like to drag me to these places, I actually find myself genuinely relaxed when away, on the beach, with the best scenery staple all over me – turquoise ocean, blue skies, magenta dusks, lush greens 
  3. Online orders delivered on our doorstep a day earlier, yaaasss
  4. Said orders being really cute and pretty
  5. Ber months AGAIN! ALREADY! BRRR!
  6. Burgasm that comes cheap with the mushrooming of unique, small-scale burger joints around my area ~ can’t feel my nape hahahaha
  7. Finding time for movies again
  8. Upcoming hangout with the college mates, the keepers of my balance, this weekend
  9. Moments spent at home, just being at home, with everyone, the whole family
  10. Listening to Mommy and Daddy exchange childhood memories, what a precious chance
  11. Comfortably and trustingly sharing a part of me to someone
  12. Dates with the boyfriend/bestfriend – dinner or lunch, planned or spontaneous, grand or just at home, eventful or just us playing a fool of each other, doesn’t matter – I’ll never get tired of them anyways
  13. Coming up with this list of happy things so quickly because happy things are everywhere! :)

Hope everyone’s having a nice day! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cebu 2015: Seeking Thrill for Thrill

*In a trance: Cebu’s effortlessly majestic landscape, adventures like never before in my life, high school friends I’ve always wanted to go away with all coming together

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be there again right now; what I wouldn’t give to be doing again what we were doing back then.

Following a jampacked Siquijor escapade, my friends and I immediately headed to Cebu the next day for another round of adventures.

What else could possibly be worth spending half a day of travelling and transferring from boats to buses then tricycles to single motorcycles than a full dose of adrenaline rush in our system courtesy of canyoneering?
Canyoneering in Alegria is fast becoming popular among tourists because of its intense nature. From the starting point at Kanlaob River in Alegria, adventurers go through more or less five hours of nonstop rappelling, trekking, swimming, and jumping through huge rocks and strong water currents up to Kawasan Falls in Badian. But due to our late arrival and long struggle at the first cliff, we had to cut our trip short and exit somewhere in the middle of the river since the sun was already setting. It was still all bits of crazy and unforgettable, though.
Truth be told, I wasn’t prepared at all. During the planning when I learned about all the jumping off rocks and cliffs, I instantly blocked the thought off my mind. I didn’t want to torture myself with worries, as they might scare and stop me from trying. The personal mantra became come what may and whatever will be will be.

But that moment on the edge, one foot on the soft, muddied soil and the other on that little rock that seemed to have just protruded, calm and cool were immediately replaced with dread and panic. Looking down at the violent gush of water matched with the uneven form of the cliff caused my knees to shake and weaken. Things were worsened by the pressure felt not just by me but by everyone. But despite them all and a hundred nerve-easing, life-on-the-line, at-the-top-of-my-lungs cursing later, I finally got to let go and be 15 feet off the air.

Let’s get this sh*t over and done with.
That was what was in my head minutes before I let go. I badly wanted to do it. What was the point of even going if I wouldn’t try, right? Also, everyone was screaming at me, and I was doing the same to those who came before me, so I was feeling peer pressure. I had to prove to myself and to them that my words weren’t hollow. Besides, I also wanted to make sure I get my money’s worth, so I already knew I was going to do everything that needed to be done. And I did. Courageously. Successfully. HOORAY!
I know others will see this as petty stuff, but this is one proud moment for us all. It is something we were able to own up to, something not everyone will get a chance to do or something not everyone can have the guts to get done, so yeah.

Caution: To those wishing to bring their action camera during their jump and canyoneering, be sure to grip and seal them tight to your hands. You don’t want to lose your gadgets and spend money just to find them.

We stayed at Joson’s workmate’s home that night, but only her grandparents were there to accommodate us. What came before settling down in their place was like something you would see on a horror movie. Imagine six stranger girls in what looked like a deserted barangay, total darkness except for the moonlight and very few lit bulbs in some houses, dogs barking and howling while cornering us, very few vehicles passing by, and no person outside we could ask for help. Oh, no! Until two kindhearted persons heard us and led us to the right house.
Huge thanks to Lolo and Lola for all the kindness, care and love they had shown us. They made us feel so at home, like it wasn’t the first time they met us. Thank you also to Kuya and Ate, the two persons who had been nice enough to assist us until we were able to get all settled down that night. We forgot to ask for their names, but that’s okay. God knows who they are.
Whale shark (butanding) watching was my most awaited Cebu adventure. It has always been on my bucket list, and to have finally done it gives me a different sense of happiness and fulfillment.

The contrast between the whale sharks’ enormity and docility has always been amusing to me. In my eyes, they are just like any other pets, very cute, like rabbits and dogs.
At the Whale Shark Briefing Center
The next morning, we were set to meet with the so-called gentle giants. They were swimming just a few meters away from shore. They were that near ashore. Only their heads were exposed above water while they grabbed food being thrown their way, still cute. But the first moment I saw them underwater, I gasped in fear because they looked magnified. They were too close we could already touch them if we wanted to and so very huge they could swallow and chew us and our whole boat like chips. 
My initial fright turned into amazement when I saw how calm and comfortable they were around people. They would swim around us, no problem. Some of us would even accidentally get in contact with them, no big deal. They were that awesome. We spent a good 30-45 minutes playing with these babies. To say that we had fun would be an understatement because the truth was we had way too much of it.
This escape was very different from all my other travels since this was the time I had really been most adventurous. I would usually go away for some rest and relaxation, but during this one, I opted to seek action and excitement where they were plenty. There was something so fulfilling about discovering new things about one’s self, extending one’s horizons, and going beyond the limitations one had set for one’s self. Amen!
Aside from my first time on a plane during this Siquijor-Cebu trip, this was also the first time I got to travel this far with my high school girlfriends which made it absolutely one for the books! Special thanks to Joson for bringing me up in the air and to Faith for taking care of my needs the whole time. I owe these angels a lot.

I wish to go back to Cebu again because, apparently, all that we have seen hasn’t even covered an eighth of this splendid island yet. I heard that it still has many other beaches, natural spots and attractions that need much exploring.

You know what they say, live a little. Well, I’m trying.

*Photos by Erika Pablo, Katrina Tolentino, Justine Dador and Faith Ugates!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Siquijor 2015: Exploring All of the Island in One Day

I know it has already been weeks since this trip happened, but what still baffles me in happiness is how clean all forms of water in Siquijor Island are. Everything is just unbelievably clean and clear. The moment we stepped foot on the port, I was already amazed at how blue green, not brown, the water was, to think that we were on the port. And this condition, I think, is not merely because the locals are taking utmost care of their falls and beaches but simply because these gems have not yet been ransacked or abused by outsiders knowing that the place has not yet been fully commercialized.
Diamond De Siquijor Beach Resort
We were prepped for a day of touring around the island, never on pause. We would either be in transit from town to town in our ever so comfortable multicab, catching our breaths after an uphill and downhill trekking, whisking water here and there while soaked in some naturally flowing water or taking photographs at whatever we would turn our heads to because everything was just photogenic.
Even when we didn’t go swimming at Lugnason Falls since it was a bit crowded with locals on the day of our visit, I have to say it was still great seeing this beautiful piece of nature. The area is just small enough that the moment you step in front of it, you can already see its entirety. It radiates calm from every angle, the kind of calm you only get when around nature, so I bet it would’ve been really nice to hang out there if not for the number of people that time.
Cambugahay Falls, on the other hand, was where we had more fun. Aside from swimming along two layers of cold flowing water while being blanketed by shady trees, it was really the long and thick baging (vine/creeper) that won us over. We would swing with it like kids in the wild, let go and end up swimming in the water. Then we’d do it over again. And again. This is how they spell out playtime in the province.

In between water activities were visits at some of the island’s architectural landmarks like that of St. Isidore The Farmer Catholic Church which is said to be the oldest church on the island and, just right across from it, an old convent which, though not functional anymore, still exudes historical value.
A quick stop at the old Enchanted Balete Tree was something of a break considering all the travelling we were doing around Siquijor. Instead of scaring us out, this huge tree which was said to have been there since hundreds of years ago was a rather marvelous sight. The natural fish spa by the area was another treat for us. 
Different kinds of fish nibbled on our toes, and none of us could endure such sensation for long because it was very, very ticklish. Well, except Joson. She had too much fun there.
Love potions on sale!
Truth be told, I didn’t know Siquijor has quite an assemblage of scenic beaches. We were lucky enough to enjoy two of them. The best spots were saved for last.

Kagusuan Beach was where we chilled out and talked the longest that late afternoon. As told by our tour guide, the beautiful Kagusuan Beach once catered to a commercial resort. There was very little left of the previous establishment, but the few remaining relics added drama to the feel of the beach. 
Kagusuan is like the cotton candy of beaches. It has the softness of pastel colors everywhere – the water, the foam, the sky. Yummy seas!
We capped off our tour at Salagdoong Man-made Forest and Beach Resort. 
It is a favorite among tourists because it’s a great spot for cliff diving and sliding. The resort has two ramp levels for cliff diving, one 25-feet and one 30-feet high from the water, and a slide lower for less adventurous tourists. But for really boring people like Jusz, Katrina and me, we opted to just watch and support our brave friends. Tita Pabs, Faith and Joson accepted the challenge of jumping off the 25-feet high ramp. This didn’t happen quickly, though, as it took all three of them a total of another three hours, more or less, before being able to let go and jump which also earned Tita Pabs a bruise so huge that made people think she underwent some frat initiation rite. Funny! But still, good job, you guys!
Contrary to what one may initially think about the people of Siquijor Island, the locals we met had been nice and accommodating during our entire stay. I guess we just expected worse because of all the weird stories we heard about this place. Oh well, so much for myths and urban legends.
Big thanks to Kuya Joam for being the informative and accommodating guide who really took good care of us. He also made sure we get our money’s worth by giving us the total Siquijor experience. He would stop where he knew we could take pretty photographs even when it was in the middle of the road. Faith found out about him through a blog, so I’m also going to recommend him here if you want your trip to be just as fun as ours.

At the end of the day, beyond all the urban legends attached to its roots and people, Siquijor Island is but a virginal beauty that has so much to offer. I am just so blessed to have discovered and experienced this paradise firsthand. I stepped foot on this island without a clue as to what would welcome us here and went home rich with memories and a newfound respect for this treasure. Siquijor simply blew me away.

*Photos by Erika Pablo, Katrina Tolentino, Faith Ugates, and yours truly!

You may contact Kuya Joam at 0927-693-2095.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lobo 2015: Lost Behind the Mountains

Oh, what beautiful paradise have I gotten lost in, so beautiful that I would not have minded not finding my way out.

The long travel leading to Lobo from Batangas City was roadtrip material on all counts – zigzagging roads, rural living nuances, fresh air, luscious green trees, and mountainside scenery. It has everything. Though the trip was long and draining, the view was able to lift my spirits up. Thinking that I went to Batangas just from Laguna with all the tiring transfers and travel experiences only makes it sound so ridiculous.  

Punta Verde Dive is a part of the two-division Punta Verde Resorts, the other one being Punta Verde Sands, found in Lobo, a gem of a municipality in Batangas. Dive is the hidden haven which exudes that raw, disconnected-from-all-things-citylike, home-away-from-home ambiance. It’s the perfect getaway that makes one think of all the things it’s missing by being away from a place this serene and pretty.
The beach resort didn’t feel crowded at all despite the other guests present the day we checked in. The huts were strategically built far from each other, as in many hill steps away (*panting to death* lol), while the lodges were on the other side of the resort. So even when there were other visitors, it still felt like it was just us in a world of our own, no bumping into random strangers, no breaking of moments. Amen.
While other beaches boast sands so fine and white, Lobo Beach is best known for being a pebbled beach. This is not to say that it’s all pebbles. There’s also another portion of the beach which has fine sand. Best of both – WOW, LOBO. It’s also a favorite spot for divers because of its rich marine biodiversity. The water’s clear. We saw it during low tide upon our late afternoon arrival and during high tide first thing in the morning on our second day. The pebbles of different shapes and sizes were nice to look at and play with. It’s also because of this stones that walking barefoot in this area is the worst you could do. We were alone in our own shell during that morning dip by the beach because it was just us there yet again, like all the world’s ours to take in.
The infinity pool is something else. This huge pool sits atop the resort cliff and offers water just the right mix or warm and cold. It’s also not that deep, so I definitely enjoyed swimming. Overlooking the entire beach, you can only imagine how beautiful the sight is. It is the spot to be for the perfect viewing of the vast ocean. And because it is so far from the city, there wasn’t anything that felt out of place in sight – no commercial building, no billboard, no cable wires. Even when I tried extending my view at the farthest part my eyes could reach, I barely saw anything unnecessary. We spent quite a long time in this area – lying on the pool benches, sitting on the poolside and floating along the edges while finally being able to shake and laugh off all that took us to get here.
The rooms and amenities are all very nice; I’d even say they are still somewhat new. They have pavilions, huts and lodges which are very affordable already, considering the quality of service and accommodation. Aside from swimming, activities like kayaking and museum visits are also being offered. Although we didn’t get to try out kayaking (kayaks were under repair), we were able to go to the small museum which houses the owners’ collection of photographs and other memorabilia that are a part of Philippine history. Pretty interesting collection, I must say!
Aside from the place being the paradise that it is, it was also all that we went through that made us appreciate everything that this place has and is even more. We almost didn’t make it to the resort. How I would have been so disappointed if that really were the case. No commuting jeepneys or tricycles were available. Apparently, only one tricycle (two at most) makes such trip daily. Luckily, one jeepney carrying grocery supplies from the city (I guess) along with other passengers passed by, and the driver let us hitch a ride. Province feels!

I guess it wasn’t really lack of information, as all necessary warnings have been laid out before us, that made us go through such ordeal. It was mainly just us really wanting so very badly to go because the place was so inviting for our taste. We made up our minds, blocked negative thoughts and worries off our minds then off we adventured, not minding the things we were about to face.
The popular lighthouse in Punta Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas
And our spot, that part where our hut was stationed, I believe has the best view ever. This is what we would see every time we would come out. Need I say more?
I have a number of takeaways from this beautiful and experience-packed trip – that there still are places that enthuse rural living, that pebbled beaches can be just as calming as fine sand ones, that being atop the world is nothing short of a blessing, that destination sometimes more than makes up for the long, winding and harrowing journey, that Lobo is something else, and that a part of me hopes the place stays the same because there is beauty in its lack of things.

It’s never too late to celebrate birthdays.

Hope to be back! This time with a car of our own! :)

You may check the resort’s website at

*All photos are by me!

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Catherine Ravenscroft was dumbfounded to find her long-kept, dark secret exposed in The Perfect Stranger, a book she didn’t know existed. She was even more unnerved when copies landed in the hands of her husband and son. Who did it and why it surfaced when she thought it was just her left who knew about it kept on getting in the way of her life. She was bound to face her past one way or another in order to put an end to her nightmare even if it meant jeopardizing her relationship with her family.
The act of keeping the secret a secret has almost become bigger than the secret itself. – Catherine Ravenscroft

A thought-provoking and heart-wrenching suspense is what Disclaimer is.

It literally gave me the nerves. It was good like that. There was something rather eerie about the writing that made my heart thump as the anticipation grew. The darkness and weight of the story also lured me in deeper.

What a sad story – it was just heartbreaking to experience through words the tragedy of two families broken by secrets and further destroyed by revelations. I couldn’t consider it a common real-life scenario, but still it hit home and became relatable for me.

It is extraordinary how much strength anger gives one. – Stephen Brigstocke

Truth be told, it was a bit of a struggle for me at first because I couldn’t find the connection between what seemed to be two separate stories. I couldn’t get a hold of where the story was headed and what it was about. Disclaimer was told at different intersecting and overlapping time frames matched with alternating character points of view, most of which were Catherine’s and Stephen’s. It was easy to think that to confuse was one of the intentions of this novel.

You have to be cruel to be kind. – Stephen Brigstocke

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy such complexity. Though the play on the shifting time frames and character perspectives was very tricky, this was also one main reason this book had been way more intriguing and thrilling, as it really stimulated my mind to make my own assumption of what was going to happen and further focus on every event on the book. It just made me not want to miss any detail. Gripping!

The big twist in the end was a jaw dropper. I couldn’t believe how the characters were reversed and the plot turned upside down. What a twist! I also loved the little revelations along the chapters, which were real page turners as well. Because this book was, I think, intentionally slow-paced, they helped keep the momentum going. There goes the reason suspense will always come first before romance in my heart over and over again.

Basically, Disclaimer teaches us that our secrets can haunt us forever. And the truth, especially the uncomfortable and ugly ones, it will always have a way of coming out to catch up with us, so either act on it or let it trap you forever.

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


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