8.3.2020 Goodbyes and Endings

We say endings are just beginnings but nobody told me about the pain that comes with the transition.

Today, after 6 years and 5 months, I finally decided to end a relationship with someone who has been with me through my late twenties and all those transitions in my career, family and life in general. I guess the 7 yr curse came early. And in the middle of this pandemic I found myself realizing again that I can survive even the most hurtful goodbyes with a handful of loving, loyal and supportive friends.

So goodbye to a love that I nurtured for the longest time. Goodbye to a love that has left me with a lot of memories to smile about. Though the ending was bitter, there were a lot of things I was thankful for. Though trust was broken, I learned that I need to value what I have and protect it but at the same time know that more than anything else I should stand with the values I cherish. And yes, timing is everything. I didn’t consider this before but now I understand that it’s important for 2 people to be at the same stage of their lives.

Thank you for molding me into the person that I am now. I will gladly let you go so we can both grow.

Siquijor – my island home

I’m finally writing about my favorite place in the world!

This pandemic has prevented a lot of plans from happening but there isn’t anything more frustrating than my inability to come home. It is very quiet as I am writing this and I feel at ease thinking about the leaps the world is taking to come to terms and live with Covid 19. Its been almost 8 months since I last visited the island, Summer has come and gone, the Rainy season pronouncing its arrival with heavy rains and thunder but I will always think of Siquijor as a beacon of sunshine – nothing else but happiness.

You see, no matter where I am, where I’ve been or where I want to go, there is no other place in the world that could give me such comfort and true rest than my beloved island province. Since this heart’s been longing for home (and the many home-cooked meals I dearly miss), here are the things I love and miss about SIQUIJOR.

1. Family

This is literally the last time the 4 of us are complete. We attended the wedding of my cousin in Cebu City (the very last travel I did outside Negros Oriental before the lockdown also) and had a few shots taken for souvenir. Who knew we won’t be seeing each other for this long? I normally come home for holy week (that trip was cancelled) or our annual fiesta (happening in less than a month but it seems I’ll be absent still) but this pandemic had taken much of my family time. Here’s to hoping I can come home SAFELY soon and see my fam again ๐Ÿ’›

2. The Beach

Oh the beach! How I miss the sand in my toes, sunshine on my skin and salt water embracing me in comfort. I miss lazy afternoons spent staring blankly at the horizon with the wind blowing softly and waves crashing again and again into the shore. Or those early mornings spent with cousins looking for shells/food in the shallow waters during lowtide. To be in Siquijor means to live close to the water, having most celebrations of all kinds and reasons held beach-side. Oh , how I miss the sea!

These were taken in Tulapos Marine Sanctuary – a not so common activity among tourists but a very memorable one for me. The clams were unbelievably huge and deadly – the accidental cut on one tourist’s foot that day was terrifying enough to remind us that keeping a safe distance is an advice we must seriously take.

3. The Tour with Friends

We usually take our friends around the island as a complimentary service to their visits. I miss inviting my friends over the weekend, visiting friends in the island and just enjoying a day tour in wherever destination our time permits. Looking back, it was such a luxury we all took forgranted. The time spent with friends, maskless and laughing freely, sharing food, drinks and stories remain to be something I long to do the most.

When all of this is over, I look forward to creating a virtual tour of all the must visits in the island. Until then, stay safe and healthy!

Xx

Late Night Thoughts 05.12.2020

Do you dread your social media notifications? Or is it just my anxious self?

I never intended to make a permanent record of what I’ve been thinking or feeling lately but I felt like the very reason for the existence of this online journal would be defeated if I only choose the seemingly “blessed and happy” life to be published.

Honestly, I have this unexplainable, unfounded anxiety or fear whenever I turn on my mobile data and hear pings from apps. It isn’t so much as the fear of missing out but more on the fear of what worse could be happening. I feel like being on an extended quarantine cut off my ways to cope with stress – meeting friends and talking about things that bother me over a meal, a few hours singing my heart out in a Karaoke or a short trip away from the city. Seeing only very few people, having repetitive routines day to day, work stress, missing my home and family, and the uncertainty of the future turned me into an emotional overthinking mess.

These days I feel like there is too much noise in the world. Everybody has an opinion about everything! And whilst I cannot yet get away for a day or two to a quiet beach, I think a few days or weeks away from all social media apps would actually do me good.

So, why write this incoherent rambling here? Who knows?

XX

A Ripple of Kindness

A ripple of kindness in the midst of a pandemic. Idealistic but not impossible.

The tendency for self preservation is an automatic reaction embedded in our genes. The animal kingdom teaches us that the strong prey on the weak and the fittest survive. In our desire to keep ourselves safe, we don’t mind taking much more than we need (just in case) or using influence to get ourselves tested (just in case) when those who badly need it had to be in line, at least here in the Philippines.

But haven’t we learned anything from the great book of life? “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. ” In this time of crisis, the virus won’t easily kill us, it is our selfishness that will. Too selfish to share and letting others suffer in hunger as a result of poor food supply, high prices or inability to make money. Too afraid to run out of mask, alcohol, rice and toilet paper leaving others with no other choice but to face a battle defenseless and fearful.

They say sympathy isn’t necessarily a good thing. It is feeling sorry for others who are in worse situations than you and unknowingly feeling good about yourself. These days, we don’t need selfishness nor sympathy – we need action!

I feel guilty that I couldn’t do anything with much impact or be as productive as others while on community quarantine. I feel guilty that I only want to stare blankly at space or watch a drama or sleep. But I guess that’s just how I am and how I cope. These days I feel like I’ve been more prone to explode in a rage or cry over little things. I’ve become too sensitive and I have to literally drag myself out of bed. I’m uninspired! And anxious, fearful, worried – all those negative emotions coming out ugly all at the same time. Hay! What a time to be alive!

This fear is the reason why I applaud our frontliners – people who are willing to work despite fearing for their own lives to serve others. Thank you our dear medical personnel, supermarket staff, bankers, delivery guys, wet market vendors, pharmacist and many many others!

Though we may think that we are not doing enough, may we appreciate the effect of keeping away from others. This is the least we can do for others and ourselves. This is simplest act of kindness we long to ripple through.

Keep safe!

Camping under the Stars – Don Salvador Benedicto

 

When was the last time you tried seeing the stars?

Have you noticed how your days seem to be duplicates of each other? Waking up at the same time each day, going to work, answering emails, scrolling through people’s social media posts on breaks, calling it a day then rushing on our commute, going home relieved only to repeat it all over again the next day? The monotonous routine of an office worker’s life like mine is a dreadful cycle. Once in a while, I crave for a quiet moment in nature to inspire me, thus this trip.

In time for my 27th birthday, my friends and I decided to go on a short trip to Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental. We planned to do a simple camping under the stars and trekking to see the nearby waterfalls. Just a break we all needed.

Simple as it was, it remains my favorite trip in the Philippines so far!

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Coming from Dumaguete, we took a 4-hour Ceres bus ride to San Carlos City. Since we were planning to cook our own meal like true campers, we bought our necessities at City Mall – rice, meat for grilling, hotdogs, drinks & wine, chips & chocolates, marshmallows (smores + bonfire is as cliche as ever) and even breakfast food. We then took another bus to Murcia. Our destination is just along the highway.

We stayed at Jomax Peak, a simple highland resort with overlooking view of the mountains, a sea of clouds and the majestic Mt. Kanlaon. It was amazing! The temperature was cool, the sky is so clear and scattered with stars and the company was great. The BEST.

 

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We rented out tents for our accommodation and did a small bonfire. The staff, seeing that we bought our own supplies, also kindly cooked for us for a minimal fee. It was an amazing feeling to be sharing stories with people that matter, sipping cheap wine but feeling rich.

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The next day, we hired a local guide to guide us to Malatan-og Falls. It was about an hour’s trek from our accommodation. If you plan to do this, remember to bring waterproof shoes with a good grip since slippers can be tricky given the trail.

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We spent little to enjoy a little break but the memories were priceless โค

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Photo credits to mt friends Franie, Kuya Farley & Wendy โค

The Best of Palawan – El Nido

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There is something about Palawan that makes you automatically think about soft waves crashing, karst islands in turquoise water and teeming wildlife among colorful corals. Are you hearing the ocean? Is your imagination fired up now?

I have been to Puerto Prinsesa and Coron before and I thought El Nido would be a pricier identical twin. No one prepared me for this mind-blowing beauty!

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To get here (the economical way), fly in through Puerto Prinsesa and take a 5-hour van ride to El Nido. If you have money to spare though, you can book a direct flight with Air Swift for convenience.

There are a lot of accommodation options available for you whether you prefer exclusive resorts with villas over water or is a budget traveler looking for a decent place to stay. I was travelling with 4 other friends and we got aย  simple but clean hostel just a few meters from the beach front. As simple as it was, waking up to see karst islands in front of you is overwhelming!

We booked 2 days of island hopping, ate seafood in almost every meal and had best time of our lives! The beauty underneath El Nido’s emerald waters is beyond anything I have ever seen prior. The corals are alive, the fishes teeming and wherever you look, there isn’t any bad angle for a photo.

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Experiencing the beauty of Philippines’ last frontier, I have never felt so lucky to call Pinas my home! XX

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Photo credits to my friends Franie, Kyle and Kuya Farley โค

Gigantes Island: BIG on Beauty

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NO filter beauty

Summer 2017 was that time I converted a friend into a budget traveler. What better way to introduce him to the budget-wise wanderer’s life than being in a seafood-filled, sunset-bathed island in the most affordable destination I have ever been.

Say Hello to Gigantes Island! Honestly, we’ve been spoiled rotten with the freshest sweetest scallops, “wasay-wasay” and fish that I thought none of these in the city will ever be good enough for me. And the sunset – oh the sunset – the most beautiful pastel colored sky I have ever seen in this lifetime. I kid you not, the blazing red sun is one you should never miss out while you’re here.

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There is no direct flight to Gigantes island. We booked flights from Cebu to Roxas City, Capiz and took the Ceres Bus to Carles, Iloilo. There we rented out an entire “kubo” or native hut good for 10 people (though we were just 6) and paid 1500 per night. What a steal right?

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For the island hopping tour, I coordinated with the place we were staying at and one of the staff arranged a small boat for us to rent the next day. That cost around 1,700 to 2,000. Still pretty cheap considering we visited 5 places. Lunch was purchased in one of the islands and for only P100 we got 100 pieces fresh and live scallops. The best! We got 1 heaping serving of wasay wasay (Looks like big mussels) for P200 and grilled fresh fish for P200. The best 500 peso meal of my life! Bonus: we had so much scallops we even had them til dinner. Talk about bang for your buck.

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Scallops galore~

You see, everything we spent here was divided into 6 people and among us, we only spent less than 1,000 pesos each for the whole experience – including transportation, stay and food. AMAZING.

What are you waiting for? Even the cheapest of us will agree this is the MOST you can get for the LEAST moolah ๐Ÿ™‚

 

WINNER and this Inseo

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All smiles with Inseo friends Kyle & Abigail while lining up for Everywhere Tour – Nov 2018

 

3 more days! 3 more days to finish work (and work real hard to catch all deadlines) and I’ll finally live with a happy Innercircle’s heart!

 

WINNER, the K-Pop Boyband that I dearly stan will be coming to Manila this January 25 for their 2nd Concert. The Cross Tour will also be my second time to see them perform live having attended the previous Everywhere Tour last November 2018. I couldn’t be any happier! As in hearts in my eyes happy ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

I know I seem like an eager teen fangirling over a Kpop BB at almost 30 years old (I’m 31 now in Korean age lol) but really, attending a Kpop concert is one of the most positive experience one can ever experience. I know it seems shallow and the peak of commercialism but my heart swells with so much joy seeing them live – even from afar!

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My first ever Inseobong!!

 

Last November 2019, this fangirl went to YG Place in Lotte Young Plaza Myeongdong because I wanted to buy WINNER’s lightstick for myself and two of my closest friends who are Inseos (WINNER Fans) too. I braved the cold negative 2 weather and dragged/forced the friends I’m travelling with to come with me haha! We got lost after but I was too happy I didn’t even care.

 

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Looking too excited to care in YG Place

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Ngiting tagumpay! Freezing but not bothered coz I finally got what I came to Korea for

 

Purchasing tickets is also an adventure in itself. December 29 was the official ticketing date and luckily I was back in Dumaguete from Dec 27 to attend our college reunion. Living in Siquijor means poor internet connection and getting tickets would require you atleast 3 things: fast hands, reliable internet and a good credit limit in your card! We needed to queue online and make fast decisions to complete the transaction within the alloted 10 minute window! Wew! Got our desired seats after getting one transaction error! Cost of the same seat area we had in 2018 more than doubled but this fangirl is still the happiest! This is my personal Christmas gift ๐Ÿ™‚

There wasn’t any seat sale that covered our plane tickets to and fro Manila from Dumaguete and we ended spending more than our concert tickets. The reality of living away form MOA ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Money well spent though. All for WINNER haha!

And then here comes me, waiting for 3 more days, writing my feels because I’m so excited to shout my fangirl’s heart out. Got our concert shirts ready, lightsticks tested & packed, flights checked in & boarding passes ready, accommodation booked and Cross Tour setlist on repeat. Saturday come faster already!

My Korean Heart

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Hallyu or the Korean wave is known as the spread of Korean culture and products (food, make-up, fashion and music) all over the world. I first fell in love with Korean culture around 2005 when I started fangirling over Lee Dong Wook, the lead star of my then-favorite K-drama MY GIRL. Since then, I’d been that young high school kid who almost always gets an earful from my parents for staying-up too late to watch Filipino-dubbed K-dramas only to gossip over how cute the lead male is the next day with my friends. I remember Princess Hours, Full House, Lovers in Paris, Endless Love series, Coffee Prince and oddly Attic Cat.

Then came Boys over Flowers – that hit series everyone raved about in College. I spent a lot of money on internet cafes just to watch this drama and admire Lee Min Ho’s beauty! Money well spent if you ask me LOL. It was also around this time that Super Junior’s Sorry Sorry became so popular, almost every dance presentation in school included a cover of their choreography. Then 2ne1 debuted and I became aware of Big Bang’s existence! I confess I was never the biggest fan – buying merchandise or concert tickets or albums or light sticks. I wasn’t even really dreaming about going to Korea to fangirl. After college, I was just listening to K-pop acts I know from college while I move on to a little bit of adulting.

While working in Cebu I became interested in a lot of things – I liked hiking & was constantly walking a mountain somewhere with my friends; I liked fashion and lifestyle blogs (even before it became such a common job as it is now) and would spend at least an hour a day reading write ups from my favorite bloggers (local & international); I was engrossed in American drama series (which seems to never end btw lol) and basically K-Drama and K-pop took on the back seat. Of course I still watched a few notable movies and dramas but I was never really following any particular group or personย  anymore.

Then came the decision to move back to Dumaguete City in 2016. 2016 saw a resurgence in Filipinos’ (and my own!) K-drama interest as Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Legend of the Blue Sea and Doctors were released among many many other good ones. Living alone in a dorm, K-dramas became my stress reliever and outlet as I adjusted to my routine in a new job. As a natural progression, I loved their OSTs too and that lead me to artists and groups. I started following a few on Spotify, ended up listening to an entire album or an entire playlist of their most popular songs and eventually I found myself in a rabbit hole of Korean content. K-variety became an alternative night time entertainment and K-beauty dominated by shopping carts.

2018 was the year of answered fan girl prayers. I flew to Korea for the very first time and even attended my very first K-pop concert. No regrets at all. MONEY WELL SPENT ๐Ÿ™‚ Winner is a favorite among all the other groups because I find their music mature and quirky enough for me. It’s such a bonus I like their personalities too. Then there’s BTOB, Mamamoo, EXO and Twice that I really wanna see live. Of course the Super Junior, Big Bang and 2ne1 fan girling continues to this day and it’s always my dream to attend even a single concert of theirs too.

And this year, though I failed getting Twice and EXO’s concert tickets (cause SM Tickets is a pain when you’re not living in a major city), or given up on RAMF to see Winner, Mamamoo, and 2ne1’s Bom & Dara or have basically cut-down on k-drama or k-variety consumption, this Korean heart of mine is excitedly looking forward to my November trip back to Seoul! Plus I’m diligently learning Korean reading, writing, conversational phrases and simple sentence construction so I can communicate better online (hello fan comments in Hangeul) and offline (Eolmayeyo? come in handy anywhere! haha). The dedication! haha

Thinking of injecting a little Korean content in this blog. What do you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

Laboracay 2017

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Boracay went through a much needed break from tourists last year as mandated by the Philippine President. It was the last resort before losing all that remains of the island paradise. Thankfully, after overhauling policies, demolishing non-compliant businesses and making the preservation of the island’s beauty a top priority, Boracay is slowly on its way to becoming the pristine beauty it once was (more on that on my next blog).

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Smelly, algae-filled water! A big turn-off

We had the unfortunate memory of Boracay at its worst though. For summer 2017, my friends and I decided to go for LaBoracay – the famous Labor Day beach party in the shores of Boracay. From its state that time I must say the island really did need rest! The place was teeming with people and businesses you can hardly tell if your in the beach or amidst a busy city street.

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Are we back in the city?

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Found Wil Dasovich & Daniel Marsh! Kilig faces despite the heat lol

We stayed in Station 1 and walked by the beach to stations 2 and 3 where all the parties, celebrities and activities are. From the photos, you could see green algae and the water slightly yellowish.

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Parties – complete with drunk people in bikinis and drinks in hand – were wild and noisy. Clearly everyone was there to party – hard! It was chaotic and too much for my introverted self.

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Despite everything, there is no denying how incredibly beautiful Boracay’s sunset is. It is a great respite from being in a small space with too much eager tourists!

Thankfully, we stayed in a hip backpackers innย  – Chillax Flashpackersย , a value-for-money accommodation option at less than P500 complete with breakfast, warm bath and simple but clean dorm rooms. It was the very first time I tried staying in a dorm with other travelers (we were with a Korean solo traveler and 2 Europeans) and I think getting out of my comfort zone actually made me more confident in connecting with others. The Inn is made of upcycled container vans that were stacked cleverly. They have a small rooftop pool and bar which we thoroughly enjoyed. I think drinking leisurely somewhere quiet always beats the millennial parties I don’t seem to relate to anymore.

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Another plus for staying far from Station 2 is the luxury of a well-preserved beach a few steps from our inn. Unlike the main beach, Diniwid is much more quiet and clean. We enjoyed a few hours of beaching before heading back to our responsibilities.

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P.S. Stay tuned for my Boracay 2019 blog for updates on the island after rehabilitation. ๐Ÿ™‚ย