Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bye 2013, Hello 2014!

Whew! 2013 has been a year full of surprises.

For the past year, I was faced with so many challenges, I received tons of blessings and a huge wrecking ball most commonly known as heartache broke me down into tiny little pieces. (Hold that thought. This is the last day of the year and I just want to exhaust all negative vibes so my new year will be filled with only positive ones so let me be.)

Let's start with my lighter sentiments, the things I am most thankful for. First off, I want to thank You (my God, my universe) for being there for me whenever I needed you. At times when I felt that I was abandoned, You  were there and You saved me. 

I am also very grateful for the family I have. I know the road to where we are today was very rough but they did not hesitate to take me in when my world fell apart. My mom and dad would just listen to me and hold me as I cried buckets. They also did their best to take my mind off my sadness. My brothers who were usually a pain in the ass always drives for me whenever I ask them to come and get me for a rescue mission. 

I wouldn't know what to do if it wasn't for my beauty queen bestfriend. Bes, thank you so much for being there for me constantly. Who would have known that we would grow closer even if we are hundreds of miles away from each other?

And to my other best friends with super hearts, thank you. I know you rarely see me broken and a mess, but thank you for still sticking with me when the times got rough.

The people at work are also something I am thankful for. The comradeship we have is something I will never forget. Even if there are some office problems, I think everything can be solved with an open mind and open hearts. I thank you all for believing in me and trusting me.

And there are also other people who made an impact in my life. A family that I will always think of as good, generous and loving. They know who they are. I will not be here standing as me if it weren't for their help and love.

And lastly, I am still thankful that I met the person who broke my heart. Except for the breaking my heart part, you should know that you are the best thing that ever happened to me. I am so sorry for all the shortcomings and mistakes I made. I will forever treasure the friendship and love we had. Those years we had were a huge chunk of my life. I laughed, I cried, I learned, I grew up, I loved, I got hurt, I became stronger, wiser. I will never wish to the universe to erase that part of my life. And as the new year unfolds, I wish I can finally be able to forgive you. And I truly wish from the deep of my heart that you find happiness.

(Ok, so that drained me a little bit. I guess this is it.)

So cheers to another new year and let's all start 2014 with smiles in our hearts and love for the people around us. Leave all the trash and baggage to yesterday and make every day the best day you could ever have.

Happy new year and may you be showered with love and blessings all year round!

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Right after the Bohol earthquake and a week before Typhoon Haiyan, my family and I were in Cebu for our outing. The city looked fine with very few broken buildings so we decided to push through. After all, the place of the whale sharks (aka butandings) is four hours away from the city.

My mom rented an Innova for P3,500 to bring us to Oslob. The driver was very nice and he has been chauffeuring for my mom before. The other option was to take the bus to Oslob for less than P200 each but comfort is our priority since we had several luggages in tow and my mom even bought a guitar.


About two hours from the city, we stopped at the Carcar Market. I only read about this from Our Awesome Planet. This is a market which sells the best lechon for only P290 a kilo. Like a typical market, they have stalls and we chose the one by Aling Guiling. All stalls offer free taste of the lechon and the lechon skin so you can have your pick. Puso (the Cebuano rice in leaves)is also sold here for only P5 each.

And don’t forget about the chicharon here. They say that you can buy the best chicharon in Carcar. We bought the packed Mat-mat chicharon only to find out that you have the option to choose the chicharon, have it weighed and then packed. Just keep walking around the chicharon area in the market and you’ll definitely see this stall. There’s also one stall that lets you choose the chicharon about 5 minutes away by car from the market (on the way to Oslob).

See the boats on the right part of the photo? That's where the whale sharks go for the "Meet and Greet".


My siblings and I were all excited as it was our first time to see and swim with the gentle giants. The rates were P500 for the locals and P1000 for foreigners. I loved it that they had a more affordable rate for locals - great way to promote local tourism. The rate already includes the snorkel and the mask and the 30-minute experience. Flippers can be rented for P50. I brought my own snorkelling gear but they did not allow the snorkel to be replaced by the fins. If one does not want to go swimming with the whale sharks but want to do whale shark watching, the rate is only P300.

Some of the rules about swimming with the whale sharks:
  • Do not feed the whale shark
  • Do not touch the whale shark
  • Keep your distance from the whale sharks (about 4m away)
  • No flash photography
I found the rules quite ironic since the boatmen were feeding the whale sharks to lure them to the spot where the tourists are. And the whole area is a bit cramped so it’s quite impossible for you not to accidentally touch the whale shark. I was terrified so I kept avoiding them if they got too close but a whale shark’s tail accidentally brushed my brother’s foot. 

We rented an underwater camera for P400 and the boatmen were the ones who took our photos. Some of us had a little difficulty staying underwater (we kept on floating to the surface!) that the boatmen had to push us downwards just to capture that shot with the whale sharks.

Over all, the experience was exhilarating, if not too short. With the 30 very short minutes, I spent half the time fretting because I was scared (believe me you’ll probably be scared too if the mouth of the whale shark is a foot away from your face) and half the time drowning just to get the perfect shot. We got to see about five whale sharks with the biggest one about 8-10 feet long. According to the divers and boatmen, there is an average of 18 whale sharks a day that visits the area and the biggest is as big as a bus.

There were several food stalls in the area so we had brunch after swimming. Souvenir items can also be bought in the area. The key chains and magnets were sold for 3 for P100.

Read about where we stayed and what else we did in Oslob on my next posts.

It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! ~~my holiday ramblings

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's my first time to spend Christmas eve with my family after so many years. I usually spend it quietly with my grandparents for the past couple of years. The ironic thing is, I was asleep as 12 midnight came. I must be really tired from our trip down south. Now, I'm waiting for my brothers and sister to wake up so I can give them my gifts. Wake up sleepy heads!

For the meantime, I'm gonna rave about one of the coolest Christmas gifts I got. I got published online in Thought Catalog. Yey! (Read my post here) And yes, I was so damn good in making that list but I had difficulty in remembering all those things that I wrote. (Oh please, just let me write this last whatever post, I promise I'll turn over a new leaf by new year). Boy oh boy, I'm so not good in dealing with losses. Well, it was not nothing, at least not to me. Oh, I can't bear thinking of how I spent the past 5 new year's eves!!!

On the brighter side of the planet, the annual family reunion will be skipped this year (or is it now every year?) and the Phil-am folks will be spending Christmas dinner at home. It's gonna be a small intimate gathering compared to the huge one we usually have.

And oh, I am so thankful that I have my family and best friends. I am blessed that I have you even in my darkest hours and you did not desert me. My gratitude is beyond words. 

And of course, Jesus (universe or whatever), I know that You are always there. You have been my light and my strength. Funny, I never thought that I would one day seek You out. Even when I stopped believing, You were there when I needed You. Happy Birthday Jesus! 

Once again, Merry Christmas and let's all be merry!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reasons Why I love My 2013 Singapore Trip

I love travelling. Who doesn't? There were many things why this trip is very different from my previous Singapore trip and all the other trips I've been to.
  1. ALL the places I've visited this time were new to me. Even if Clarke Quay and the Merlion Park are very famous landmarks (which has been there for ages), it was my first time to visit these tourist spots.
  2. It was my first international trip with my work friends.
  3. I acted as the leader and navigator. I was the one who had to keep my companions on their toes when it comes to the itinerary and I was the one telling them what train station we had to transfer to or alight at. And yes, we never took a cab in this trip!
  4. I conquered my fear of heights at the Singapore Flyer! Yey!
  5. I loved Universal Studios. No explanation needed.
  6. We had a little side trip to Legoland Malaysia and I loved feeling like a kid-at-heart again.
  7. I realized that I am a happy backpacker. Well, not literally. My suitcase was so full that I thought I might exceed the baggage allowance. The point is, I was able to stay in a very crampy and cheap hostel! Yes, believe me when I say that it was not so comfortable but it can do since we only slept in the hostel about 5-7 hours per day.
  8. Charles and Keith is loooove. I went a little overboard with shopping but everything was so cheap and tax-free!
  9. Our airfare and tickets to the attractions were bought at a very good price!
  10. And most of all, I paid for everything. There's no mommy or dad or lola who paid for anything!

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
― Marcel Proust

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Merlion Park and Living Again

After a little bit of hiatus in my life, I'm so back and ready to live my life again. There's so much beauty surrounding me it's a pity if I just take these for granted. It's time to see the world again with a fresh pair of eyes! So here's my last set of photos from my Singapore trip ages ago.

Will post highlights of this trip soon as well as my recent trip to Laoag and my not-so-recent trip to Oslob. 


It's not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again.
-Vince Lombardi

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gardens by the Bay

View from the Singapore Flyer
Panoramic view of the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands
One of the domes can be seen behind us from the observation wheel!

Inside the cloud forest

Huge tree-like structures greeted the horizon after our ride at the Singapore Flyer. It was mid-afternoon and I could not help but wonder how it would look like at night. I'm sure it would be magical.

Fast forward to a few days after, I finally annoyed my travel buddies that it's time to visit the Gardens by the Bay. I practically rushed them and shooed them out of the inn we were staying at (we have a schedule to follow ladies! :)) and we made it by late afternoon. *click*click*click*. After dozens, if not hundreds, of photos, we were finally inside the Flower Garden. By the way, there were two domes there - the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest.

The Flower Dome was filled with precious and beautiful flowers, as well as age-old olive trees (gnarly but still a sight to behold). The Cloud Forest on the other hand was far more interesting for me. It was freezing cold inside and there were lots of crystals around (the only crystals I could identify were amethysts). We also got to go around in a walkway that was very high. It gave me the creeps but I was able to overcome my fear. Documentaries and interactive games about energy conservation and environment protection were also available at the end of the "tunnels".

The best time to visit would probably be about 3pm in the afternoon. Don't worry if the weather is a bit hot since it is airconditioned inside the domes. Plus, you can utilize the natural light which would be great for taking photos. And when dusk settles in, the man-made trees would light up dramatically with accompanying music.

And by the way, these trees were not made just to make something different. Yes, it is unique but it also has an environment-serving purpose. Would you believe that these trees can actually harvest and recycle energy? If only more structures and parks were made to help the environment, I'm sure the world would be a better place not only for us but for our future kids and grandchildren as well.
Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.
 ~Stewart Udall

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Night in Clarke Quay

I was on a very touristy mode for this trip and I visited all landmarks and tourist spots I've never been to before. I visited Universal Studios, Legoland (in Malaysia), Gardens by the Bay, Clarke Quay (pronounced as "Clark Key") and the Singapore Flyer. I saw both the Crane Dance and the Wonder Full Show as well. 

Here in Clarke Quay, we took the river cruise at about 7 in the evening. It was just perfect since we were able to see the splendor of the city with all the lights glittering and shimmering (I bet it was also beautiful during daytime, I just prefer the drama of the night). The barge had an ongoing film showing where the guide on the TV pinpointed the landmarks, and the stories and facts behind each spot. 

Initially, I thought the cruise would take us to the two quays but we never reached the other end. When we asked the driver about this, it seemed like it was really only one quay and he looked puzzled so we just let it go.

Afterwards, we hunted for a place where we could satisfy our rumbling bellies. There were tons of places to choose from either side of the river. We ended up at the Forum Seafood for some shrimps, beef and noodles. Seafood was a bit pricey here and it's still best to have seafood fare in the Philippines.

And before I forget, the extreme rides (Extreme Bungee and Extreme Swing) can be found here. These were the screams we could hear all the way from Sentosa while waiting for the Crane Dance. Even if I wanted to conquer my fear of heights, I could not subject myself to that kind of horror. Check out this video I took of the Extreme Swing: http://instagram.com/p/cPBFYCNjpa/.


Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
Benjamin Disraeli