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Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

A colleague shared these spoof videos of a Hitler movie–one in favor of Manny Villar; the other for Noynoy Aquino—that made me laugh today. Well, this is what the Philippine presidential elections has come to: a big joke.

Pro-Villar spoof:

Pro-Noynoy spoof:

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Question: What is an island on a lake in an island on a lake  in an island on an ocean?

Answer: Taal Volcano

 

 

Taal Volcano up close

 

Taal Yacht Club in Talisay, Batangas

Getting near Volcano Island

That’s how our tour guide slash bangkero described Taal Volcano as the motorized boat leaves the Taal Yacht Club in Talisay, Batangas. We reached the Volcano Island in minutes and from the boat, we saw the Tagaytay Ridge. “For a change we’re viewing Tagaytay from Taal,” I told my officemates, smiling as our other colleagues took a photo of us from another boat. “I hope this volcano doesn’t act up while we’re here or we’ll swim for our lives.” 😀

the welcome party at the foot of the volcano

so near yet so far

no pets allowed in our hike

Taal Volcano, said some online sources, now seems a small volcano but it used to be one of the world’s largest, towering 18,000 feet into the sky. Small as it may seem, the hike to its crater rim wasn’t very easy, but it was enjoyable. We chose to do the walking trail instead of riding horses, which we felt would take away the fun in the experience. We were so right. The hike took about an hour and we stopped several times to either take photos or simply enjoy the view.

enjoying the view after a long hike

taking it all in

The view from the rim was breathtaking (after all that walking? why not! Haha) as much as it was calming. Not content with the the view, we decided to hike down to the crater lake and yes, we swam in its sulfuric glory. Haha. 🙂 It was good for the skin, the tour guide said, but it was bad for the clothes. Haha! I didn’t mind it—the experience of swimming in a volcano’s crater lake made it all worth it. I just wished I could kayak my way around it, like I did in Coron, Palawan.

rushing to swim in the lake

the island on a lake in an island...

Our stomachs were our guide to stop swimming and take the hike back up to the crater rim and then down to the foot of the volcano. The boat ride back to Taal Yacht Club was like a roller coaster ride, no thanks to the nasty waves that made my officemates repent for their sins on the spot and prayed to all the saints they know 🙂

I got quite scared alright but I chose to enjoy the moment while it lasted: I sat near the front end of the boat, talking all the face-slapping from the waves, occasionally closing my eyes as I listened to the mad waters, as if asking for more, telling myself that no amount of exhaustion or worry or fear should take away the fun in this nature adventure.  And boy did I enjoy it.

Taal Volcano crater lake

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2009 is coming to a close and so I thought of doing some reminiscing of the past months to identify the 10 newsmakers and noisemakers in 2009. Here goes my list, in no particular order: 

  1. Nicole a.k.a Suzette Nicolas: She recanted rape story against US lance corporal Daniel Smith, mocking efforts of feminist groups that lobbied in her favor, leaving many wondering “sino ba lasi? sino ang tunay na baliw?”
  2. Ted Failon: The broadcaster who was made primary suspect  for his wife’s death, but was proven innocent
  3. A(H1N1) or swine flu: The only kind of pig Pinoys won’t dare touch
  4. Hayden Kho: His sex videos with actresses Katrina Halili and Maricar Reyes put some porn films to shame and his license for medical practice to eternal rest
  5. Cory Aquino: Her death reawakened a sense of nationalism in many and made her son Noynoy the ‘sentimental’ candidate for the presidency
  6. Ondoy and Pepeng: The uninvited that ravaged Manila and parts of Luzon, making Pinoys realize that LVs and Secosanas are both equal in floodwaters 
  7. Manny Pacquiao: Pacman makes history with five boxing titles made more interesting with a cover in Time and an alleged illicit affair with starlet Krista Ranillo
  8. Ampatuans: The megalomaniac clan who are allegedly the masterminds behind the Maguindanao Massacre with the main suspect pleading insanity to be scot-free
  9. Efren Penaflorida: The Tondo boy who was named CNN Hero of the Year for his kariton classroom that educates streetchildren in Manila

 

Who do you think should complete the 10?

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This is another sharing on Ondoy experience, but this is all about me and this is not a sad story.

Don't come again, Ondoy. You're not welcome here.

Don’t come again, Ondoy. You’re not welcome here.

It’s been over three weeks but the typhoon Ondoy experience still feels like it was just two days ago. I think maybe it’s because I haven’t really gone back to life as usual. Everyday as I travel the ‘long cut’ to work and back using public transport, I keep remembering how much easier life was before Ondoy, at least for me. Now it feels like I don’t have a choice but to live with its aftermath until, well, life is back to normal. Heaven knows how I hate not having choices.

Walking was never this fun. Yeah right.

Let’s go jogging, anyone?

For the first time, I braved waist-deep flood to buy food from the nearest grocery from home, which was like walking from EDSA Central in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong to SM Megamall in Ortigas, Pasig. I didn’t mind the walk; it was leptospirosis I was most worried about. My mom was most concerned about my panic-buying tendencies. 😀

The other things Ondoy wiped out

The other things Ondoy wiped out

When ankle-deep water inside the house subsided the night of that Saturday, I thought Ondoy was over and we can go on with our lives again until we learned that roads outside the village were impassable and the only way out was to ride a tractor or a make-shift boat. I thought I could deal with it; I would just have to think of it like an adventure trip, backpacking and all, and pretend that it’s a new culture I’m immersing myself in. Ah, a preview of Tonle Sap, I thought.

Not all best things in life are free

Not all best things in life are free

But the first time I went out of the village to report to work, I had to line up for hours at the village gate waiting for the tractor ride. It was free ride alright, but the dump truck was filthy beyond compare and it took in as many bodies as it could, leaving people with no choice but to bear the one-hour ride sweating like pigs and smelling all kinds of odor known to man. Even my boy scout and ROTC years didn’t prepare me for it.

Not your typical street party

Not your typical street party

Going home that first day out of the village was no different. In the city rotonda, I lined up for hours again for the free ride. I sat on the street gutter like many did, unable to hold up standing after a tiring day at work, trying to amuse myself by downloading songs on my mobile phone. Birthday Sex by Jeremy. Apologize by One Republic. Tokyo Mix. Jai Ho. Daughtry’s Home. Ahh, how appropriate, I thought.

A day in the life of a chicken. Or pig.

A day in the life of a chicken. Or pig.

Several days after riding dump trucks and moving chicken pens and pig pens, we found a new way out of the village—the ‘long cut’ going to Taytay, Rizal. I have to take a tricycle passing through what they call a Floodway, a long stretch of residential homes, many shanties, where people crowd the street like it was part of their houses. I said in one of my previous posts that I have become numb, even blind, to poverty in Manila. That still holds true to this day, but for the past two weeks I have no choice but to recognize it because it’s right before my eyes.

Front-seat luxury on a truck

Front-seat luxury on a truck

All the conveniences of travel that I was used to because I always chose in their favor were all removed post-Ondoy. I say ‘conveniences’ to contrast my experience with many others who lost loved ones, their property, and possessions to the flood. I say that to remind myself of the many stories I heard on news and overheard inside jeepneys and buses of how people survived that day, or how many others didn’t. I say that to remind myself that I have so much to be grateful for and I believe that with all my heart.

While for others Ondoy opened their eyes to new realizations, it reaffirmed to me what I’ve always known about myself.

That I can adapt to the call of the day but that I refuse to accept anything less than what I can get for what I work hard for.

That I easily abandon the idea of having choices and making them in times of need because I stare at what is too long rather than on what else I can do.

That I’ve always hold on to the belief that one can still reach out and help, even when you yourself are wounded.

That I’ve already learned not long ago the lesson on happiness and fulfillment brought about by doing, not by having.

And that I can stand a long walk, a long ride, and a long day, but not bad odor. Never. 🙂

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One of the things that I look forward to in my job is out-of-town travels not only because I can take a breather from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, but I can also visit new places and experience new culture. And the best part is, it’s almost always an all-expense-paid trip 😉

Some weeks back I went to Davao City in Mindanao, south of the Philippines, for a brief 3-day business trip. Though the limited time didn’t allow me to visit the more popular tourist attractions like Samal Island and Philippine Eagle Center, among others, I still made the most of my first visit to Davao. 

Davao

  • Considered one of the world’s largest cities with a land area of 2,443.61 square kilometers
  • Ranked 10th in the Asian Cities of the Future by Foreign Direct Investment Magazine
  • Typhoon-free; balmy weather year-round
  • Home to the world’s largest eagle, The Philippine Eagle, which is also the country’s national bird
  • Named one of the most peaceful cities in Southeast Asia for its low monthly crime rate
  • Home to the world-famous waling-waling, considered one of the world’s most beautiful orchids, making it the “Orchid Capital of the Philippines”
  • Most celebrated fiesta is Kadayawan sa Dabaw Festival, which happens every 3rd week of August
  • Once home to Rafflesia, the world’s largest flower, found in Mt. Apo

Durian

Davao is also home to the famous durian, popular in Southeast Asia as the ‘king of fruits,’ but usually banned in hotels because of its distinct smell 😀 

And visiting Davao won’t be complete without trying the durian. But instead of eating the fruit, I opted for the ice blended durian coffee called durian larcepuccino, which you can buy from any of the Blugre Coffee branches in the city. I went to Blugre’s branch at the Matina Town Square—a hotspot for food, booze, and live band—just across Ateneo de Davao University.

durian in a coffee

durian in a coffee

Dare

A must-do in Davao City is the XCelerator zipline at the Outland Adventure (address: Diversion Road, MAA, across the GAP Farm; tel.nos.082/224-5855 and 082/271-6067).

Outland Adventure is the largest ropes course facility in the Philippines and its XCelerator Zipline is the only US-certified zipline in the country that’s also the longest speed zipline in Asia.

The adventure is made more fun because before the actual zip ride, you first take a 10-minute uphill hike (bring a bottle of water!) and ride a bamboo raft to cross a lake.

bamboo rafting (credits to outlandadventure.org)

bamboo rafting

a thrilling ride

a thrilling ride

upside down adventure

upside down adventure

Photo credits: outlandadventure.org

I took the “Superman” ride and enjoyed flying over the lush greenery and a large fresh water lake, feeling the cool rush of wind on my face as I shouted “I’m aalaaaaiiivvve!”

And travels—like the one to Davao—give me that same kind of feeling that I’m truly alive; of an experience that’s more for the spirit than for the body and mind.

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DSC03626

One of Cory‘s sons-in-law gifted me with the book Poems, Prayers, & Letters from Ninoy & Cory a few years back. I was surprised to find out that one of the prayers included in the small book is Cory’s Prayer For A Happy Death, which she wrote in 2004. Here’s the prayer:

“Almighty God, most merciful Father, You alone know the time. You alone know the hour. You alone know the moment when I shall breathe my last.

So remind me each day, most loving Father to be the best that I can be, to be humble, to be kind, to be patient, to be true, to embrace what is good, to reject what is evil, to adore only You.

When that final moment does come, let not my loved ones grieve for long. Let them comfort each other, and let them know how much happiness they brought into my life. Let them pray for me as I will continue to pray for them, hoping that they will always pray for each other.

Let them know that they made possible whatever good I offered to our world and let them realize that our separation is just for a short while as we prepare for our reunion in eternity.

Our Father in Heaven, You alone are my hope. You alone are my salvation. Thank You for Your unconditional love. Amen.”

 

Five years later, Cory’s prayer for a happy death was granted. One only needs to see the outpouring of love and respect for Cory to believe this.

Cory magic? Maybe. Power of prayer? Absolutely.

 
photo credit: rog3rs

photo credit: rog3rs

 A life well lived,  Tita Cory.  Thanks for your contribution to Philippine democracy.

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so natural, so magical

Summer for me begins in February, when not many think of hitting the beach or traveling to their favorite destination. At least not yet. And that’s the best thing about it. I can have the place to myself or share it with some few others who are smart enough to travel before the sign says “peak season,” which means long lines at the airport and shrieking hobbits with their parents at the resort. I’m a people-person, but I shun crowded places when I’m on vacation.

So imagine my excitement when some great friends agreed to go to Coron in Northern Palawan last February. I thought it was the perfect timing for a great summer destination. And Coron didn’t disappoint.

Gateway to a 'wow' experience

Gateway to a 'wow' experience

Discovering Kayangan

Discovering Kayangan

Inviting waters of Kayangan Lake

Inviting waters of Kayangan Lake

So clear you can see its 'soul'

So clear you can see its 'soul'

virginal Banol beach

virginal Banol beach

Twin Lagoon

Twin Lagoon

Los Siete Pecados

Los Siete Pecados

Hot soak at Maquinit Hot Springs

Hot soak at Maquinit Hot Springs

kids at Maquinit Hot Springs

kids at Maquinit Hot Springs

Coron town

Ala-Hollywood

Pigs not allowed :)

Pigs not allowed 🙂

there's peace in solitude

there's peace in solitude

View from Mt. Tapyas

View from Mt. Tapyas

sunset in Coron

sunset in Coron

back to land

back to land

another day is over

another day is over

As I said, nothing amazes me anymore now. But Coron did, even without trying—its sights are almost magical, the people are nice, the whole experience is priceless.

 

And there’s a certain kind of calmness to it that not many tourist spots in the country can offer. The kind that makes you want to come back to experience it all over again, and so much so because you can’t find that sense of calmness anywhere else, not even at home.

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