Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Happy List: Random List #11

Writing this one right here right now because I have been aching to do this in a long while, and I’m feeling laidback today!
  1. That broke-but-happy attitude #thanksAlanisMorissette
  2. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Penny, Amy, Bernadette, Stuart!
  3. Narcos S02 and having a crush on the Steve Murphy actor
  4. Another mini-writing feat (which happened a while back but still makes me happy to this date so…)
  5. Seasoned fries
  6. Levita’s pork sisig, my all-time favorite
  7. Lanterns on display in front of our house making me look forward to going home every night and to CHRISTMAS
  8. Giving poetry a shot, not caring if my poems sound elementary, but still hoping deep inside they don’t sound like that at all hahaha
  9. Coffee by Miguel / Breathe by Rhodes
  10. Realizing that I’ve been to the beach seven times this year; that's major!
  11. Surprising a dear friend
  12. Trying even when there’s a low chance of getting that something. It’s the trying that matters. :)

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
Charles Spurgeon

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

                                                                                                                                   – Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Laiya 2016: Years Later, What Changed?

Some places strike me as ordinary
To me, it was all this was before
Yes, it’s the beach, but nothing about it’s noteworthy
Some sand, some shore, nothing more
A little bit fine, a little bit pale, that’s all
I know I’ve been to prettier places
Too proud, too smart, too tall
But that was no excuse to be savage
Looking at you now, things have gotten better
Regretful, I was just blindsided
All these ill remarks, blandness a-waiver
Much was left unexplored, undiscovered
By me, who deemed herself tall
Sorry I looked at you small
Sorry I looked at you small
Laiya is different from the one I’d been to before.

Laiya is coastline pretty, but what good is its long strip of sandy shores if not for some leisurely stroll? We went a number of times during those two days, first upon our arrival early in the night, then a couple more on our second day. We happily went resort hopping, but that was just as far as being able to see the facades from the shore would go. I mean, of course we wouldn’t be let in. Lol! 
The high-end resorts’ frontages really got me wanting to enter them. They were fancy, decorated with deluxe benches, hammocks and lifeguard stations. They were inviting, taking on themed ambiances per resort.  They were intriguing, because if the facades were already that pretty, imagine how much more the rooms and pools could be.
I am not sure how many we were then, maybe around 40 people?! That was a lot. Imagine all of Jason’s clan adventuring together. This was also why we stayed at the budget-friendlier side of the beach (I couldn’t remember the exact name of the resort though), because of the expenses, which was not a problem at all because none of us were finicky. Besides, we weren’t there for the accommodation; we were there for the beach, and the beach was the same anywhere we looked out there.

Well, actually, not really.
I mentioned a while ago that we went resort hopping, right? And since we couldn’t get inside the resorts because we didn’t pay one dime for anything, we just dipped in the saltwater (now that’s free stuff haha, priceless even haha) in between walks to forget the fact that the resorts could stay a mystery forever. So while swimming, I observed how the sand underwater in front of and near our accommodation was fine and a bit rockier on the farther side of the beach where some expensive resorts were located.
And since the last time I had been to Laiya was way back six or seven years ago, I couldn’t help but notice how much has changed. I remember how limited the things we could do around the area were. Aside from swimming and sunbathing, there wasn’t much of anything else to kill time. But that was long before. Right now, an evident improvement in the area is the availability of other activities. Boatmen offer island hopping, parasailing, flying fish, kayaking, and banana boating packages, the last of which we excitedly availed.
Renting a banana boat, we divided our group into four to five batches to accommodate everyone and all our different riding conditions. You see, the oldie aunts and uncles didn’t want to make the boat flip, but us younger ones so wished to fall off it many times. It was already my second time doing this, but the adrenaline rush was still so high. But know what was even nicer? More than the thrill and action, it was the landscape. You might say, “Again?!” But what can I tell you, landscapes are pretty! Some spots in Laiya can only be seen and/or reached by riding a boat. We didn’t land ashore, but we didn’t have to just to appreciate the beauté.
Even without stepping foot on these new shores, I’d still even go as far as saying that maybe the parts I saw could be more beautiful than the common strip of shore where most of the accommodations are situated. Why? Two things: because some look like they are as is, you know, not yet exploited by commercialization, while the others look like they’ve already been bought exclusively and are now undergoing development – two opposing conditions but both promising.
By the way, one can take either of two roads to Laiya: via San Pablo, Laguna then Quezon or STAR Tollway then Ibaan Exit in Batangas. We followed the former which took us about three and a half hours, more or less.
With all that I have experienced in this trip, I feel a bit regretful. Not for this trip but for the past years that I had lived underestimating this Batangueño gem. I was so naïve to think so little of this accessible paradiso. I wouldn’t get so hyped whenever we’d visit here. Conceited me would just go, “Uh, uh-kay.” Wow.

So what if Laiya was a bit raw before? A beach is a beach, something one doesn’t get to see every day in the life.
This getaway wouldn’t have been possible if not for Sir Ronnie and Tita Nida’s outpour of love. You see, it was their 23rd Wedding Anniversary, a feat truly worth celebrating. And since this couple has been in servitude of the Lord for many years already, it’s no wonder they're lasting this long. I can even attest to this couple's being #goals, and not just in the cutesy and superficial criteria but the real deal, as in the quality kind. They put God above everything else. They value family so much. They help. Selflessly, they share, take this outing for instance. Thanks to them for sponsoring and for having us to celebrate their marriage with them.
This has been my second trip this “-ber” season, and I’m just overjoyed because I didn’t expect to have an extra outing in Batangas this year. What’s more is this will not be the last for me this season. Yes, another beach trip is in the works.

*Photos by Ann Alcaraz, EJ Dela Cruz, Ronnie Dela Cruz, and yours truly!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

THE WKND SPECIAL Vol. 9

This is a late post but whatever. :)

September 01, 2016 | Phillip’s Birthday

Family time!

There’s no easier and faster way to gather the family than by the mention of *you know it* FOOD. It always works! Haha!

It was my cousin Phillip’s birthday + we also really wanted to visit his family’s new home.

The new home is huge! And pretty! And near ours so that’s great news! I’m so happy I got to visit! It has plenty of rooms and space, manicured lawns, a large balcony, high ceilings, nice furniture. Aaah! #GOALS Hahaha!

It was a pretty intimate night with mostly just us relatives there. Dinner was simple but complete with pasta, pork, beef, seafood, fruits, veggies, and desserts. The rest of the evening was mostly spent by the front yard. Cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and even dogs came and went sporadically. School activity, work, social life, and household chores could get in the way of people’s schedules, but we would always try to make do.
Happy birthday again, Phillip! He’s 26 now I think? :)


September 03, 2016 | Isaw Date/Spontaneous Road trip with College Friends

So this was supposed to only be just a simple and quick meet-up with friends. We were just really missing the isawan.

If you live in Tanauan or Sto. Tomas in Batangas or anywhere near this place, you’ll know which specific isawan I’m referring to! In my personal opinion, this isawan has the best street food out there. And the vinegar sauce, I can’t even explain how much I love this food spot’s suka.
This isawan played a great part in helping us survive college life. This place witnessed some crazy hilarity among friends, the coming and going of people in our lives and the stress eating caused by school deadlines. Hahaha, crazy!
After eating stick after stick after stick of chicken intestines and other innards, we had nowhere else to go, no plans. Since Aileen Mame was Lipa-bound to buy some lippies, we thought we should go with her for some road trip fun, so we did. We were, as usual, laughing the whole time, the laughter mainly brought to us by Mame, her driving skills and candid funniness. We were laughing out our nerves 70% of the time while she was driving because she is still new to this whole driving thing. It was even her first time to drive at the expressway which was nuts! Hahaha! It isn’t the safest road trip I’ve had but surely one of the most memorable ones, what with our lives on the line. At least it became an interesting story. LOL


September 16, 2016 | UPLB Fridate

Jason and I always go on our LB dates on Fridays because they serve as our simple workweek capper. Dates are always a good idea, and UPLB’s the nearest place that can get us going for a long time without boring ourselves out.

And finally, Big Belly’s again! Remember that last time in July that we were here? That time when it was *gasp* closed? Thank heavens it was only temporary.
We got there around past six after work, so we got to order and finish our plates of Cheesy Garlic Chickens in peace – no whiners, no panicky waiters, no long queues, very few occupied tables! I’d say it was a good time to recapitulate the whole workweek. :)
We then went strolling around the area, like we always do. Going in and out of shops to check out whatever, we were just basically killing time. We were enjoying ourselves too much that we didn’t notice the time. It was already 9, so we started looking for this particular food trike. I chanced upon this food trike online when my cousin posted a photo of it. It got me feeling intrigued, and it so happened to be in UPLB so win-win for us!
Interestingly, this food trike only comes over every 9 or so each night. The idea is the driver/server sets different menus every night, so it’s always something else every time. What manong offers is cheap, ranging from P10-P40, and pretty unique for street food fare. On that particular Friday, there were macarogna (obviously a play between the classic baked mac and lasagna), yema cake NHN (NHN stands for “na hindi nakakataba”) and pizza! They are good enough for what you pay for.
This food trike is perfect for students who are on the go and down to their last straw of allowance for the week.


September 24, 2016 | Antoniette’s Birthday

It was Antoniette’s or, as we so fondly call her, Tegs’s 24th birthday! How come she’s only 24? Boo, haha!

This has become a yearly thing for my college best buddies and me. How would this not become a yearly thing when the celebrant/celebrator knows how to cook so well and does not just prepare enough but floods the table with too much food goodness? Feel us?
Since it was also Zhello’s birthday last September 14, she, along with Antoniette, received quirky gifts from us too. When I say quirky, I mean something I’m not comfortable showing here and something they wouldn’t wanna use in public! Haha! Btw, Roc’s also a September baby, but he didn’t make it. He still contributed to the party, though. :)
We were all just either in Antoniette’s room lying around and making fun of each other or at the big table munching on food the moment we already felt hungry from too much laughing. Yup, laughing can be tiring. How can you not laugh too much while watching friends struggle to do sit-ups?! Imagine their crumpled facial expressions every rep? Haha! Aaaan yuuup, we were living the boss life for a day.

As for Roc, Zhello and Antoniette, I wish happiness and light and love for them!

Belated happy birthday, friends! xx

Photo sources: Antoniette Pulutan, Aileen Malbataan, Justine Dador, yours truly!

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