Mar 5, 2018

Kindness of strangers

At most times, I am a lone traveler and have enjoyed the company of myself the past years. I set my eyes into a place of my choice, schedule, save, then I get the ball rolling. Three months ago, I scheduled a trip to explore the northern part of the Philippines. It was a travel with my sister supposedly but I found myself alone on a bus on the date itself. Nevertheless, I tried to make that trip worthwhile.

My frustration with my sister not coming resulted to me not providing myself with an itinerary. But a friend texted after seeing my Facebook post, asked if I am going north and offered himself to be my virtual tour guide. It was a help I never expected but that was a relief for me. He would wake me up in the morning with a lengthy text of my itinerary for the day. He would assure I negotiate okay and and made sure he is updated of where I am at.

Though the pleasure of being alone provides much more convenience, the struggle of taking a picture of yourself is real. On my way to the northern tip of the country, I’ve had plenty of sites visited. Those solo photos would’ve not been possible without a help of a stranger. None of them declined my simple request. With every solo picture, I repay that with a courtesy of taking their shot for them.

I remember that young man in Cape Bojeador lighthouse, who happily took the shot upon my request. He asked me if I was alone and then took off with a smile on his face and told me “to take care”. And so I thought, just like the old buildings in Ilocos, kindness from strangers remains.

Oct 18, 2017

Reply 1988 (Reflection)

I decided not to write a review about this series because it is already too late anyway, and there are tons of websites out there that already did.. so I'll be just reinventing the will.

The point of the reflection is to capture exactly what I thought about the series after I watched the last episode. Yeah this one was written two months ago. I couldn't contain the feeling after watching because it was that awesome! However, I felt like I ran out of words while writing this so I might have missed some details. But at least I'am able to state the whole point why it has to be watched by any kdrama afficionado.

Have you watched it? I bet some of you did and some of you don't. If you are looking into a series with a great storyline, superb characters and actors. This one definitely does not disappoint, I can vouch for it. Been watching drama series for a long time and, finally, I have found yet another beautifully woven story of growing up. I don't know how to explain this but this series completely had my heart in all places. Very touching, loving, emotional, and poignant at that. It deviates from the usual romantic-comedy plot that gets famous every now-and-then because of the cute love-story and aegyos of actors. This one is completely different, each character stands on its own but blends well with the others when combined in one scene.

Since it is all about remembering the past, it captures the feeling of nostalgia - youth, family, friends - the familiar neighborhood that has seen almost everything. I really commend the writer and director of this series for the amazing script, plots, twists and turns. This is such a wonderful story about family, adolescence, friendship, and love. It has all the emotional ploys enough to make anyone cry, laugh, squeal,and most importantly reminisce childhood, teenage lies, and puppy love.
This drama deserves those awards, and the actors too! I have included it on the list of the best series I have watched so far.

But I also think that maybe younger generation will not appreciate this one unless they are already in transition to adulthood, because they might not get the feeling that this series is trying to evoke from viewers. But seriously it is daebak!

Aug 26, 2017

A trip to a grape farm

I still remember the funny trip we had up north which transpired out of boredom and urge to seek for something new.
Back in 2015, I decided to organize a day trip to a newly emerging grape farm in Bauang, La Union - the Gapuz Grapes Farm. The farm is owned by the Gapuz family who were once a worker of a large grape farm in the province and then decided to grow their own grapes after acquiring a land where they could plant on.

Ate Mabel and I, take a pose with Danica.
The daughter named Danica, that we happen to interview in a Go Negosyo event, became very instrumental in popularizing and bringing their farm to mainstream. She graduated from Saint Louie University, aside from managing their own grape farm she keeps a job in Makati related to marketing and advertising.

A vineyard is probably one of the least fruits Filipinos see with the naked eye, along with apple and orange (or a persimmon tree?). And I never knew, Philippines has its own vineyard. So when I knew of the farm, I immediately took interest and kept Danica's business card hoping I can make use of it in the future -and I did. 
Who to travel with is always my dilemma in planning for a trip, because choosing the right people is a very crucial factor in enjoying my travels. Gladly two of my friends agreed to come and were excited because they haven't seen one too!
The funny thing is, I would've wanted it to be a two-day trip but they decided to make it a day only because my other ate had other things to do the day after. And so I went along with the idea... 
We took the old-bumpy bus that only comes once a day in Baloc (we waited for two hours! urggghh!). It was very frail that any moment it'll break - the seats handles are too rusty and gives the most uncomfortable ride ever. We laugh so hard at each bump as we were seated at the very end of it. As the old bus stops in Pangasinan, we again took another bus bound for Ilocos that will pass by La Union. I can't remember but I think it was a 2-3 hour bus ride, and we asked the driver to drop us off the arc saying "Welcome to Bauang, La Union". 
The farm is located quite off the road so we had to take the tricycle. Seated on the driver's backseat, we rode off to a neighborhood whose backyard's a vineyard instead of the usual ornamentals. My eyes were awed with the variety of grapes planted in each neighborhood until we arrived to a simple yet attractive vineyard in green with purple dangling - it was finally it and with quite a number of visitors. The harvesting already started early April, and we had the trip first week of May but still there were plenty of grapes to choose from. One of Danica's relatives taught us how to DIY harvest then gave us tiny scissors for cutting and baskets to place our harvest. The moment Danica posted  the DIY grape harvesting on fb it draw so much attention, a lot of people visited them already. We took photos as much as we can and ate our lunch there after. 
The only photo we have of Danica's father.
The family was very humble and keeps their doors open to relatives willing to help them with the business. Grapes are very hard to manage as it needs pruning and protection from rain. But Danica's father was a dedicated grape farmer who studied growing grapes for many years. And now it all paid off.

With no much time to stay at the farm, we took our leave after 3 hours of selfies and photo ops (hahaha), going back was even more terrible. We waited for the bus for 3 hours yet nothing came (and we missed the one that passed). So we decided to wait for the bus in San Fernando City. We were worried because we had to go back in time or ate will miss her travel by tomorrow so we decided to take a cutting trip - we took the bus bound for Cubao and dropped off in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Then took another one enroute Isabela which passes by San Jose. From San Jose we travelled by xlt (a public jeepney) to Munoz. Didn't I say we were in the aisle seat all through out that bus ride? because we do. We arrived at around 3am in Brgy. Maligaya. Yet we still managed to laugh (and took a selfie!) after all that crazy transportation dilemma.
But that was one of my memorable trips in Nueva Ecija, and the grapes too!

Are you interested to go there? For inquiries visit Gapuz Grapes Farm on their official Facebook page
or contact them at: Email:; Mobile:  0915 778 4594; 

May 21, 2017

Can-umantad Falls in Candijay, Bohol

There is a great deal when you visit falls anywhere in the Philippines these days, unlike before when getting there is just a normal hike with friends skipping hours of class to enjoy whatever nature has to offer. Today social media makes everything intriguing, from travels to food, parks and malls. 
Despite this generation's social media flare, I still think that rural areas are not overly infested of- the social-media fever - at least for now. That is probably why this falls is slightly known from outsiders. But recently a travel show featured it, and when they do, the place gets widely recognized and will later receive tourists popping out-of-nowhere. But before that happens, I visited the place, which is a unplanned visit by the way through hitching with my sister's friends. 

Located in Brgy. Can-umantad, Candijay, the falls is a 30-minute drive (by motorcycle or habal-habal) from the highway in Lungsod-daan. 

The road leading to the place is rough and uphill so a skilled motorcycle driver is needed. Anyway, habal-habal is easily available in Lunsod-daan so there is nothing to worry about transpo. But it is more convenient though if you have your own ride going there so you won't have to pay Php160 for a habal-habal ride back and forth.

The signage you see when you are close.

Ain't that a beautiful view?

The water is greenish, clean, and cold. Entrance fee only costs 20 for adults and 10 for children - very cheap. You can actually drink the water in the bukal not far-off, if you're perched. 
However, it is important to note that the activities within the falls is until 5:00pm only.

When you pass by this bridge turn right to go to the main falls.

And there it is...

Stay under the raging water falling and you'll get the best hydro massage there is - instead of paying for it, this one is totally free.

Somebody must have put those stones there for photo op! hahaha

There are plenty of places in Bohol that are yet to get tourist influx, so if you are ticking all those falls found in the Philippines - try to include this one. Many people have not been there yet.

May 10, 2017

Boracay 2017

I, oftentimes, call it overrated and, probably, isn’t in my priority list for traveling - but being impulsive in most of my travels really gives more surprises than the planned ones.
My travels are dictated by promo fares, and last year there was a lot of it bound for Bora. I was one of the takers.
That promo ticket costed at most Php1, 800, and we got the one bound for Caticlan- which is the closest airport to Bora.
Like other prominent tourist destination in the Phil, Bora’s very tourist-friendly as everything is already organized from transpo to fees, there’s no need to ask anyone. And once you get to the island itself - everything is hassle-free.
But as a new comer, probably, it is imperative to know that there are three (3) stations in Bora (saying this because I didn’t know too). Farthest point is Station 1, where most fancy hotels are located; then Station 2,where most of the tourists stay because of its proximity to almost anything - food, adventure, and cheap lodgings; and the last station, Station 3- the closest to the port and the most serene area. The last station has the cheapest hotels too, and in case you are wondering, this station is less infested by algae so...
But actually, we stayed in non of those stations, yet at least we thought we’ll stay in station 3 before coming there hahaha. But, well, silly us because we booked a hostel far from the beach without having an idea that it isn't in station 3. Nonetheless, we did not regret our whole stay in the place because we’ve met such amazing people.

I sought recommendations from those who have been there, but the hotels they mentioned were a bit pricey. So, I had to do the search on my own. And then I found My Hostel Boracay in Nida Rooms website. It was the cheapest and cleanest room I came across with - so I had it booked right away.

Advantage: It is secluded and away from the noise. So if you really want a good all-night sleep, I recommend this one. Booking is also inclusive of breakfast. Plus, the proprietors are also nice people.
Disadvantage: It is far from the beach. This was quite a dilemma to us during our first stay. But we managed to get a motorcycle every time so it wasn’t really much of a problem.

Bora is really like an island-city, only that, it neither have SM nor Ayala malls. But really, everything’s there (and too pricey!) haha
But for poor like us, the beach and the view were enough.
When we arrived, we went over for a walk along the beach and took some pictures..

I paid Php20 for this photo. (Yeah, they do that as a living there). And the authorities actually forbid building sand castles because it destroys the structure of the beach sand itself, but they still do it anyway.
On our second day we went helmet diving and island hopping, that costed Php 1, 300 which is a pretty good deal. We haggled the price which was originally Php 1, 500.

Helmet diving. This is a must-do, and I encourage those with brave hearts to try it. However, this activity is not recommended for  PWD's and those with heart ailment.
Hija de Puca known as the Puca Beach, is just one of the places to visit in the Island-hopping package deal.

More pictures of our stay

This was the first and last dinner we had during our stay, and already the cheapest. Both of us spent Php300 (relatively expensive) considering that we only had simple pasta and sautéed kangkong.
For the rest of our stay we ate at Mcdonalds and Mang Inasal, but the prices are still a bit expensive compared to their branches anywhere. hahaha
Mangoholic for dessert! This was lined-up by people who love cute and sweet stuff, and that include us.

Met these amazing successful Aunties who have enlightened us with the beauty of life at 60.
Groupie with the amiable owners of the hostel.

Boracay sunset!
This sunset view deserves a timelapse. Watching the sun go down and disappear before my eyes while relaxing on the beach, was definitely something you need to do when in Bora.