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/

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