Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Diamond Christmas Dinner 2015

Tradition is tradition

Even when all of us already lead different lives – family, work, business, school, etc. – we still couldn’t let this Christmas pass without spending even just a few hours of our time to each other.
Unlike the parties from previous years, my high school friends and I opted for just a simple Christmas dinner this time. It was the most ideal thing to do since none of us could work on organizing a party anymore and everyone’s schedule was so packed. Also, this arrangement was what guaranteed an attendance of more than five, so we grabbed it!
It was a nice dinner on a Sunday evening at RSM Lutong Bahay. With a very nice, un-crowded, relaxing, and homey ambiance, we were so at home the whole time we were dining there. It was like we were the only people there with all our noise and wildness, and we had zero care what others would say.
Though there weren’t any program or parlor games, what was good about this kind of gathering was we were able to leave more time and space for the talking and kamustahan part since there weren’t any other things to distract us anymore. This was a welcome idea because I believe that that was the most important thing about this Christmas dinner. Every second spent exchanging words became our priced gift for each other.
The regulars like Joson, Katrina, and Faith didn’t get to come, but good thing the other classmates of ours like Josan, Vangie and Sarah showed up and saved our night. :) And there were even kids, baby KC and Misha! You know how get-togethers with children mean – kiddie cuteness overload. It felt strange how all the parties I’d been to have been kids-filled, but I am not complaining! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my St. John Colleges’ Diamond Batch 2008 Family! :)

Photos by Rochelle Mangilin and yours truly!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Housing Departmental Party 2015

Second to my series of Christmas parties was the one I celebrated with my Housing and Settlements Department Family. :)

Even though it was a rainy night last December 16, we still wanted to push through with everything, and we did.
What I liked the most about this year’s celebration was how everything was so organic, pretty much like an outing. There was no catering. Many of the materials and props were made by my officemates. The program was simpler. The games were more hands-on and fun. The performances were fewer, but at least the participants willingly presented. Everybody still got to go home with more than the arms could carry. Everyone was able to contribute a helping hand one way or another. Even I myself was able to actively participate in the execution of the party which I’d say was really gratifying and made me absolutely feel and enjoy the night. This was our departmental party I was able to involve myself the most, and I’m really glad about it. :)

I couldn’t find any decent photos from that night, that’s why I just posted the few shots I took of the venue pre-party. :)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friendsgiving x Baby Shower 2015


It’s still that season, so it’s not yet too late for a greeting. :) How have you celebrated Christmas? I celebrated mine through a series of Christmas parties which started as early as the 13th of December.

I’d say Friendsgiving 2015 is the closest college reunion to my heart to date, as this is the final leg of the major events Justine and I organized for our college bestfriends this year. We put in so much time and effort planning and preparing because of two things – because our friends deserve nothing but the best time and because we really wanted to end our duties as organizers with a bang. And based on the attendees’ reactions, I’d say we were able to deliver! Woohoo!
The attendance was record-breaking yet again. Aside from the 16 of us classmates present, Kreng’s family, Masa and a bunch of kidssss were also there! It was a total riot inside the bar!

One couldn’t go to our party energy-less and unprepared because everyone would be shouting, slamming, beating, and laughing at each other because that was just how we were last Friendsgiving, like how we would always be whenever we celebrate. Basically, all we ever did was play games, exchange gifts, make fun of each other in between munching on a lot of food and photographing every scene. I couldn’t have asked for a better get-together!  
This particular Friendsgiving was also special because we were not just celebrating our friendship but also the coming of the new addition in our growing Abakom family – Baby Amber, Kreng’s little angel.
We surprised Kreng with a few gifts for the baby, some heartwarming messages, the presence of her family, and our all out support. She was in tears, and so were most of us! She’s due to give birth next week, and we are excited and nervous at the same time! We only wish for her safe delivery and Amber’s good health when we welcome the baby.
The surprise didn’t stop there just yet, as we also got our November and December celebrators, Liezette and Kreng (again hihi), a little special cake. Belated happy birthday, guys! See, it was three celebrations in one, so much fun.
I will definitely miss being a planner. It definitely hadn’t been easy, but it was all a labor of love, all worth it. In spite of all kinds of problems arising, it had still been fun and rewarding. Also, after everything that we had done, I was able to take home with me some lessons and hacks that I may also apply in life’s other aspects.
One highlight of this celebration was our take-home souvenir. We used the photos from our could-have-been college coffee table book and turned them into a collage instead. The result was very much appreciated by everyone.
Here are a few thank-you messages to particular people: a) to Sarah and her relatives for being kind enough to provide us with materials and a venue, b) to Ate Bhec and the rest of the Maligaya Family for helping us with Kreng’s baby shower, c) to Ago for working on the souvenir, d) to Jerome and Paul for being the helpful extra planners we needed, e) to our friends for being the foolproof, cooperative and fun people they’ve always been, and f) to Jusz for being an ever so game, understanding, and patient co-planner (we made it out alive, can I get an amen?! hahaha!).

To the organizers for 2016, Marfi and Sarah, good luck and make the most of it! We are just here in case you’ll need a hand or two. :)

Photos by Rendell Barrera and yours truly!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Every day and night, Rachel Watson took the same train ride. She had been doing it for a long time that she already developed a fixation for some things she would come across while in transit, particularly Meghan and Scott, her favorite trainside resident couple who she thought was perfect. After finding out about the infidelity going on between the two, she got so affected that she just had to involve herself. Still in the midst of her depression and alcoholism, she would accidentally mix her personal post-divorce issues with her new obsession only to later find out that things were actually not an accident and that everything was really engrossed with each other.
Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parenthesis. – Rachel Watson

The Girl on the Train is a unique and twisted story about members of three families related, separated and interconnected by human nature’s misfortunes. It’s crazy to think about how many novels right now are written about marital and familial breakdowns and tragedies. This is yet another dark venture into how much such things can affect someone.

Though the twist in the end was not the ultimate shocker for me, it’s not to say it hadn’t had an impact. I mean, I kind of already figured out who did what, as it became easy for me to connect the dots, but I was still surprised when everything unfolded because I was like hoping I was wrong.  It’s always the good ones, right? Hehe.  

There was a good play on perspectives and time frames also. They gave me the intended confusion to lead me to different possibilities, just enough kind of crazy, without totally boring or misleading me. They were careful and well-thought of, in fairness.

He never understood that it’s possible to miss what you’ve never had, to mourn for it. – Rachel Watson

Being a psychological thriller, the book was all sorts of haunting even when there wasn’t much brutality displayed. The novel invested on building and implanting horrendous ideas inside the readers’ head through patches of provokingly horrible thoughts in between chapters. There would always be something creepy about not knowing or barely knowing, and the story was written around such principle.

It became unputdownable for me because of the interesting plot and the flow of the story. It was so unlikely for something like such a thing to ever occur. It was this unlikelihood that made me want to go on immediately. I was on it after meals, before bed or just about anytime I had nothing to do.

Being the other woman is a huge turn on, there’s no point denying it: you’re the one he can’t help but betray his wife for, even though he loves her. That’s just how irresistible you are. – Anna Watson

I’d say it was also this unlikelihood that made the book less relatable. And because it was like a one in a million scenario for me, it became hard to put myself in the same situation, as I wasn’t sure if I would be doing the same things the main character did. I was a detached reader in this novel, distant and separated. That was a bit off-putting for me because as a reader, it’s important for me that I connect with what I’m reading, not necessarily seeing myself in the characters but at least holding onto the story.  

I enjoyed The Girl on the Train. It was not something I thought about long after I finished it, but I was consumed while I was at it. There was always something to look forward to. It was dark and twisted, and that’s something I always find amusing, a sure win on my reading list.

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://paulahawkinsbooks.com/

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Patar Beach 2015: Unfazed and Unwavering

Some places know charm too well that not even a storm can rattle their beauty.

Consider Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan.
Truth be told, I was both excited and hesitant while we were on the long ride to this beach. Not that I was doubting the place, I’ve heard and read a many good things about it, it was just that the area was badly hit by a typhoon days before our trip, so I was thinking maybe the beach was ransacked one way or another. Seeing recent photos online wasn’t helpful either. But lo and behold, I was so wrong. That I even thought about it was just plain stupid.

I don’t mean to say it wasn’t affected in any way. It actually was. We saw remnants of the damage along the way up to the beach. There were trees tilted to the side, huts gone roofless, areas still deep in flood, but Patar still managed to retain its charm.
Patar Beach is unfazed and unwavering. It is this underrated beach spot in the heart of Bolinao that houses shady palm trees, pale cream-colored sand, somewhat mossy rocks, and clear water with playful waves. Though soft, the sand seems to have quite bigger particles compared to the really fine ones, but it is just as calming to the feeling. The rocks became the unique dramatic prop for camera sessions with the perfect ocean backdrop.
The ocean water remains a beautiful mystery to me, like it’s always been with all the other beaches I’ve been to. How its gradients from white to green to blue green to blue to dark blue beautifully and seamlessly meld with one another, it’s beyond me. All I understand is that such colors make swimming so much more enticing for the eyes and the soul.
The waves were what gave us the heartiest happiness. Being in the south, the waves from the beaches we first went to were mostly steady. There wasn’t anything much to them, so it became a different experience for us this time. The waves in Patar Beach weren’t strong, but they weren’t dormant either. They had just enough force to carry us a little and to give us that playful feeling. We were the juveniles who would kneel in the shallow water waiting in excitement for the silly waves to (fake) crush us. Good times!
First thing in the morning the following day we were brought to Bolinao Falls, at No. 2 to be exact which is said to be better and safer than No. 1 which is located just on the other side of the falls. We took the long, rough road (and I don’t just mean patches but a whole road of nothing but uneven rocks and gravel) uphill for an hour to the falls
Travel was all worth it because Bolinao Falls is like something taken out of a painting. I have not been to a lot of falls yet, but this is the prettiest I’ve witnessed so far. All rich colors of nature were there. We spent a couple of hours bathing in nature’s beauty, chilling by the water and rocks. We were not able to come really close to the falls though because of its raging torrents. But our two friends managed to jump off it, cool.
We also opted to visit the Enchanted Cave that is said to be the nicest among the three caves in the area. The others are named Wonderful and Cindy’s. Before getting in the cave, there is this small garden to satisfy the eyes. 
The cave has a small pool of sorts inside where one can go swimming for a bit. We didn’t spend much time there because other visitors began filling the place. Besides, there wasn’t much to do. It was enough that we got to experience it at least.
I am grateful for my college co-adventurers who were ever so game even when none of us had an idea as to what we’d have upon arrival. Just like Patar is, they are also unfazed and unwavering. 
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
St. James The Great Parish Church
I have already said this many times, but it bears repeating –every new place is just another testament of how blessed I am to have met my travel soulmates. We always end up on the same page when it comes to these things – where to go, what to try, what to do. We are never the fussy type.
This trip is also special because this is among the getaways I managed to plan and pull off successfully this year with my co-planner and partner in crime, Justine. Congratulations to us! 
Planning can be really hard sometimes because a lot of things could go wrong, and they could all go wrong when it’s almost time to go. Imagine our faces while everything starts unfurling in front of us. But it’s also these struggles that make all trips extra worthwhile, memorable and rewarding. Stepping on the sand alone instantly washes away all the worries and stress, the freest therapy out there. And for all of this, I am happy.
Thank you, Bolinao!

Budget Breakdown:
P200           – Two-way bus fare (Turbina - Cubao)
P1000         – Two-way bus fare (Cubao - Bolinao)
P350           – Trike rent (P1200/trike is divisible among group members, includes two-way                   transfers from the town proper to the beach + tour around the other                              sites)
P350           – Accommodation
P200           – Food
P250           – Entrance fees and parking fees (Bolinao Falls + Enchanted Cave)
P150           – Allowance/pasalubong
P2500        – TOTAL

*Photos by Jerome Satera, Catherine Nhika Marfil, Antoniette Pulutan, Justine Dianne Dador, and yours truly!


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