Bicol 2013 Part 2 – Calaguas

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Going to Calaguas was probably the most anticipated part of our Bicol trip. I had read much about how much of a beautiful paradise the island is and was really looking forward to seeing and experiencing it for myself. We had a run in with really bad weather in Legazpi, so we were so glad that we were blessed with clear skies on the day we went to Calaguas.

Getting to paradise was one of the biggest challenges of the trip. Coming from Legazpi, we had to take the two hour van ride back to Naga because there were no direct vans from Legazpi to Calaguas. From Naga, we rode the van headed to Daet – another two hours – followed by a 45 minute van ride to Paracale, where the port for the boat ride to Calaguas Island were located. We arrived in Paracale at 5 PM so we decided not to continue on to Calaguas until the morning because it was a scary thought to be lost at sea at night. Also, the boatmen were hesitant on taking people to the island because the trip would take another hour and a half! Basically, it would take almost 7 hours to get from Legazpi to Calaguas!

Since we had read that there are no restaurants, no hotels, no electricity and no signal in Calaguas, we had to buy our food and supplies from the Paracale market place before heading over to the hotel to rest after nearly 5 hours of travel.

View as we approached calaguas

The next morning, we headed to the port. We were able to befriend one of the residents while doing our supply shopping and she was able to provide a boat for us for only 2,000 Php (all in, both ways! There were just two of us so we paid 1,000 each. Not bad considering the rates that we saw being posted on other websites). We left at 7 am and arrived a little past 8, and Calaguas definitely did NOT disappoint. There were other people on the beach but it still felt that we had the entire beach to ourselves. The water was so clean, so blue, so cold – that I spent almost the entire day just submerged in the water (I left Calaguas five skin tones darker).

On our little fisherman’s boat

If you want to get away from everything, Calaguas is definitely the place to go. No electricity, no WiFi, no mobile signal – just you and the beach. Of course there are some bigger sacrifices that had to be made. First of all, there was no decent bathrooms. There was no flush and you had to pay P10 per bucket of water for flushing and for taking a bath. Second, there were no hotels, no soft beds, no night lights. We spent the night in a tent. This wasn’t much of a problem since the sand was really comfortable to sleep on and I managed to sleep for a solid 10 hours.

With our backpacks and our tent!

With our backpacks and our tent!

After spending an entire day in paradise, we experienced probably one of the most frightening moments of my life – I’m not even exaggerating. Our boatmen woke us up at around 6 am by telling us “Neng, tayo nalang ang tao sa isla. May bagyo. Signal #2 (Girls, we are the only ones left on the island. There’s a storm – signal #2)” We bolted up and haphazardly packed up our tent and jumped onto the boat. All this within 10 minutes. The waves were turbulent. We were being rocked and pushed on the ocean and it was terrifying because we were riding a small fishermen’s boat that, with enough wave strength, could just capsize in any moment. It was like riding Log Jam but on a real ocean. Fifteen minutes into the trip, our fingers started to prune up from all the water that splashed us from the ocean, as well as the rain that was pouring from the sky. We could barely see anything in our surroundings. Both of us were heavily praying that our boatmen knew were to go. Thankfully, they did. We managed to reach the shore after two hours in the water. Props to our boatmen. They really did an amazing job navigating the small boat in the crazy waves and almost 0 visibility skies.

Despite this nerve-wrecking near death experience getting back to Paracale, I would not hesitate to go back to Calaguas. It’s that kind of natural beauty that you shouldn’t experience just once in your life. I’m being cheesy but the pictures don’t do any justice to how beautifully serene the island is in person. I would definitely do it all over for another day in paradise.

Gorgeous sunset in Calaguas <3

Gorgeous sunset in Calaguas ❤

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Bicol 2013 Part 1 – Legazpi

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On the first week of August, my good friend Kath and I spent five days in Bicol. I know, i know – it’s smack in the middle of typhoon season and we went to a region that was on the path of the storms. We expected that so the mid-day showers throughout our trip was no surprise for us. In fact, it added to the adventure and excitement of our trip!

We arrived in the Naga Airport with our backpacks on our backs and a mix of excitement and nervousness. We hadn’t completely structured our trip so we would be playing it by ear. After stopping by SM Naga for lunch and supplies, we rode the van headed to Legazpi. The van terminal was just across SM Naga and the ride was just a bit over two hours. Just like in my Siem Reap trip, we hadn’t booked a hotel so we asked our tricycle driver for his recommendation. We ended up staying in Night & Day, a newly opened budget hostel, for 600 pesos (300 pesos each) – not a bad deal as the room had air conditioning, a television, and two decent sized beds.

Since we only allotted one day to explore Legazpi, once we settled in our room, we headed out to see the sights. Our first stop was the Cagsawa Ruins. To our disappointment, the skies were pretty cloudy so we did not have the perfect view of the Mayon Volcano that we went to Legazpi for. Nonetheless, the Cagsawa Ruins are beautiful on their own merit, with or without a perfect image of Mayon in the shot. A few minutes into our picture taking session, it started to rain. We decided to continue our tour in the morning before leaving Legazpi.

Cagsawa Ruins

Giant cloud blocking Mayon

Raining!

Posing in the rain :))

We had dinner in Waway’s Restaurant because we were enticed by the 250 Pesos buffet that they advertised. It did not disappoint. For dessert, we headed for 1st Colonial Grill to try out their Sili (chili) and Pili ice creams. The Pili ice cream was delicious! The sili ice cream was definitely an experience. When it touches your tongue, you start to think, ah this tastes really good! But the moment it gets to your throat you feel the aftereffect of the spicy flavor in the ice cream.

Sili Ice Cream

On the way out of the restaurant, it started to pour. We didn’t have any umbrellas so we asked for plastic bags. They gave us the small grocery bags and just as we were running out with just the plastic bag over our heads, the very kind staff of 1st Colonial Grill approached us with giant garbage bags and made makeshift raincoats for us!

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That evening, we found out our college classmate and friend, Kat, was on her way back to Legazpi for the long weekend so we made plans to meet up. The next morning, Kat picked us up from the hostel and after having breakfast in another buffet that was beside the airport, we went to Lignon Hill for a view of Mayon. This time, the sky was kind to us and we were able to view the Mayon Volcano in its entirety.

With Kat!

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Lignon Hill

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Posing in front of Mayon

The other side of Lignon Hill

Finally having seen Mayon, we decided it was time to go to our next destination: Calaguas. So we bid goodbye to Kat and rode the van back to Naga. Getting wet in the rain in Legazpi was just the beginning of our rainy Bicol adventure!

Bacolod 2013

My parents and other relatives often wonder where I get my wanderlust from because I come from a family of homebodies. My mom and my brother are very satisfied in just staying at home while my father has no special interest in getting on an airplane and spending on a three day trip to an unfamiliar location. This is why it pleased me when my mother booked a family trip to Bacolod City, which is a 45 minute plane ride away from Manila. It’s not as intense or adventure-filled as the trips that I take with my friends, but it’s a good change from our usual family trips to the Philippines which mainly comprised of staying at home and going out just for shopping or eating.

We only spent two full days in Bacolod, so we decided to visit all the sites on our first day. We decided to start our day early so we wouldn’t miss anything.

Our first stop was the San Sebastian Cathedral which has gained infamy for the giant Team Patay/Team Buhay tarpaulins that were put up during the election campaign period. Despite it being months since the National Elections, the tarpaulins can still be found posted on the face of the cathedral, which is a shame since it is such a beautiful church and all the tarpaulins do is distract us from its beauty.

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Most decent shot of the San Sebastian Cathedral I could take. Tried not to include the tarpaulin but a part of it still made its way to the picture.

 

Our next stop was the Mambukal Resort which is located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon and is known for its hot springs. Being from Laguna, the scenery was not very different from what we saw growing up. Nonetheless, the place was beautiful. I wish we were able to spend the night in the resort so we could explore the area more. We were only able to walk around for a few minutes and visit the Butterfly Garden before heading off to our next destination.

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After our trip to Mambukal, we visited the Pope John Paul II Tower which was built to commemorate his visit to Bacolod in the early 1980s. There are seven floors in the tower and each floor is themed differently, with pictures, paintings, and even the Papal Chair that JPII sat on during his visit.

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We then had lunch in SM City Bacolod which is right across the John Paul II Tower. Afterwards, we left Bacolod and headed to Silay which is known for their beautiful colonial houses. Since we were pressed for time, we were only able to drop by Balay Negrense, which is the ancestral house of Victor Garson, son of one of the pioneers of the sugarcane industry in Negros Occidental. The house reminded me of the Syquia Mansion that my friends and I visited last year in Laoag. Basically, it was a house that was turned into a museum, complete with a tour guide who will tell you about how the family lived their life decades ago. I really have a fascination towards Spanish period homes and furnishings. Going into these houses really makes you feel like you’re being teleported to the past, or at least that’s how I feel when I visit one. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture of the house, but here’s one of me with one of the displays: an old school motorcycle!

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After our quick visit to Silay, we went back to Bacolod to visit the Ruins. This was what I was most excited about because every time I told someone I was going to Bacolod, the first thing they would tell me was to visit the Ruins! This definitely did not disappoint. Despite really just being the remains of a burnt down mansion, the Ruins was such a gorgeous sight to see. It definitely is one of the most photogenic remains of a burnt down mansion I have ever seen. It’s amazing how it was transformed into a tourist destination. It was the most tourist packed location that we went to that day and most of the tourists were foreigners! The tour guide was very entertaining. He explained the history of the family and the structure itself in a very engaging manner. I didn’t stay long for the tour because I was too captivated by the environment. Ten minutes into the tour, I separated myself from the group and decided to go around and take photographs of the place. It was simply majestic. Hands down my favorite stop in our trip.

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My brother and me playing chess on the mini golf course that was opened right in the garden area of the Ruins

 

Our last stop for the day was the newly built Bacolod City Hall. By this time we were already very tired from the entire day and so we only took some pictures before heading back to the hotel. It looks beautiful at night with all the lights.

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We were so exhausted from the sightseeing heavy first day that we ended up getting up at 10 am the next day! Our second day was more of a food trip day. We had lunch in Bob’s, where they have the BEST brownies ever, and dinner in the Chicken House so that we could have some authentic Chicken Inasal. We had cakes from Calea for dessert. The White Chocolate Cheesecake was definitely my favorite.

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Chicken Inasal!

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Calea’s White Chocolcate Cheese Cake

 

I’m really glad that my family has decided to be more adventurous now. Even if it was just two days in another city, we were able to have some really fun and cultural family bonding time. I love traveling with my friends but it’s definitely a completely different experience traveling with family. My parents and my brother seem to have enjoyed this trip so I am very hopeful that this is not the last trip that we all go on together.

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Complete family picture in Mambukal 🙂

Retrospect and Prospects

PicCollageA bucket list is just a bunch of meaningless words if you don’t start acting on it while you still can. I think that is the biggest lesson that I learned this year. I would like to think of 2012 as the year I started trying to take control of my own life – as the year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and actually start acting towards my dreams. I’m not there yet, I haven’t accomplished a tenth of what I thought I would by the time I reached this age but I’m getting there. A few years ago I kept my life on hold because I thought that the world didn’t want me to succeed. Upon much introspection, I realized that the reason I’m lagging behind on my aspirations is that I’ve never given myself the chance to try getting away from my self-imposed misery. I would spend days and nights sulking at how much better my life would be somewhere else instead of working on ways on how I can get myself out. I think it’s because I’m actually really scared that I won’t actually be able to do it.

By keeping myself stagnant, I ensured that I won’t walk into any failures, I secured myself from any damning mistakes that I would eventually regret but I was also keeping myself from any possibilities of success. I wouldn’t try because I was too afraid to fail but I would never succeed because I never tried. Out of my own fear to make mistakes, I was making the biggest mistake I could ever make and it was hampering my own growth. There was no one else to blame for that but myself. Thank God I realized that now.

2012 was the year I finally threw caution to the wind – when I took my first risk – and it was deliciously rewarding. Early this year, I decided I wanted to tour the United Kingdom. This was something big for me because for one, I don’t have a stable enough savings account that would allow me to get through this without it taking a huge hit. Flash forward to a few months later, I sit here typing on my computer, proud of myself for being able to do it ALL BY MYSELF. From the first step to the last, I managed to hold my own and fulfill one of my biggest wishes in life. I had always wanted to go the the United Kingdom as it was the birth place of my favorites, Harry Potter and Doctor Who, and my fan girl fantasies finally came to a fruition.

The whole experience gave me a huge stepping stone towards accomplishing my future plans of continuing to check off things off my bucket list. This mainly consists of travel destinations. I promise myself that 2013 will be a year of travel, that I will be able to go to at least 3 new international destinations next year and many more local destinations. I promise that in 2013 I will take more risks. I won’t stay in my comfort zone. I promise in 2013 I will start living my dreams instead of dreaming of a life I’d want to live. This is it 2013, you’re full of potential and I’m ready for you! Thank you for the amazing year, 2012! You were a good teacher. Now it’s time for me to live up to my promises to the new year. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

Ilocos 2012

I love the fact that I have amazing friends who are willing to brave the rainy days of July and go on an out of town trip of me when they can very well just travel around without me on months with better weather. Last year, we went to Puerto Princesa. This year, we decided to explore Ilocos!

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Laoag Airport with Cheston, Camille, Raisa, Benise, me, Kath, Tam and Mar!

We stayed in the Palacio de Laoag Hotel for our entire trip. The hotel was very comfortable. The people were very friendly and hospitable. I wish we could say the same about their in house restaurant! They were just bad news for the entire trip! Tsk. But I’d rather not go into that… Look at how pretty the lobby is!

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Lobby of Palacio de Laoag: Cheston, Camille, me, Kath, Tam, Benise, Raisa, Mar

Day 1: Vigan

Our first destination in our Ilocos adventure was Vigan, where one of the country’s few UNESCO Heritage sites, Calle Crisologo, is located. Before we reached Vigan, we stopped by the Juan Luna Shrine where we were treated to beautiful paintings and a very interesting history lesson!

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The story behind Juan Luna’s The Parisian Life was one of our favorite take-aways from the tour!

The first place we went to in Vigan was the Bantay Lighthouse. One thing that I am proud of myself for during the entire trip was that I actually survived all the climbing and walking! I’m not fond of going up stairs because of my asthma but fortunately, it didn’t act up the entire trip 🙂 Anyway, the steps leading up to the bell tower and the stairs going to the top of the bell tower were very much worth the climb! The view was beautiful and the interior was as well!

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Next was lunch! We ate in Cafe Leona where we tried the Longganiza Pizza. It was surprisingly good and the taste of Longganiza was not at all overwhelming. Definitely worth the try 🙂

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After lunch, we visited the Syquia Mansion, where we were greeted by an interesting caretaker who briefed us on the history (and gossip!) that surrounded the mansion and its family. The mansion was beautiful and huge! We then went to the Pagburnayan Jar Factory where the amazing god of pottery mesmerized us with his pottery skills. He made it look so easy! Finally we visited Calle Crisologo. It was definitely my most anticipated location to go to and it did not disappoint at all! It was beautiful. I felt like I was transported back to the Spanish era. Mar and I went ahead and walked along the road just observing the calesas that were passing by. I swear I could just walk back and forth all day.

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We stayed in Calle Crisologo until dark. We attended Mass in the nearby Church then had dinner in a pretty restaurant in the Mestizo district called Leila’s Cafe.

Day 2: Pagudpud

I think one of the most fun moments in our Pagudpud trip was when we were in the van and using “Pagudpud” in a sentence. “Mag-pagudpud ka naman dyan!”. According to some stories, the name “Pagudpud” comes from the tagalog phrase “Ako’y pagud na pagud at ang sapatos ko’y pudpud” uttered by a Batangenyo peddler back in the day. This day was really a treat for the eyes! We visited beautiful sites with beautiful sights: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Blue Lagoon, Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct and the Ilocos sunset in Saud Beach.

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Of course no vacation is complete without me being a complete clutz. In our Kapurpurawan Rock Formation tour, I managed to survive the horseback ride and not break my neck while riding or getting on or off the horse but I did manage to trip over a rock which led me to plummet to the ground and giving me scars to add to the collection that I already have. Good thing our tour guide had betadine and I was prepared with band aids. So with Mar’s help, the wounds were quickly attended to. If there’s one goal for me next vacation, it’s to survive the entire trip unscathed.

Day 3: Laoag City Tour

This day was definitely the most exciting day of the tour! We started the day with Sandboarding and a 4×4 ride in the lone desert of the Philippines. We didn’t expect the 4×4 ride to be CRAZY. We all ended up covered in bruises but it was completely worth it! It wasn’t an ordinary 4×4 ride. We were told to stand at the back and the driver sped through all the sand dunes freaking us out by going faster at steeper slopes. It was a bit scary because we get worried that we might lose grip and fall off the vehicle. O_o Despite that, it was so FUN! Probably one of the most extreme things I have done! Initially, I was worried about going sand boarding. I felt like I might not be able to maintain my balance and fall off the board, but after having gone through the intense 4×4 sand dune ride I felt that I could surely be successful in sand boarding, and I was! Although not as exciting as the sand dune ride, it was worth the experience!

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Survivors!

We went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have breakfast then we went around Laoag and Paoay to visit the tourist destinations there. We managed to go to the Sinking Bell Tower, the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, the Paoay Church (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site under the Five Baroque Churches of the Philippines), and Paoay Lake. Raisa, Tam and I also got to make our own Batac empanadas! Yum!!

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With that we ended our Ilocos trip. It was such an awesome trip in that it wasn’t a usual barkada get away where we would go to a beach and chill. It was a trip where we learned so much new information not only about Ilocos, but about our own history as Filipinos. We experienced so much culture in this trip, from the stories from the caretakers of the heritage homes that we visited to the well-preserved landmarks that have lasted the centuries. I hope that our next trip will be as satisfying and as stimulating as this trip was!

MoMo and Cupcakes!

The night before I left for Saudi, we had what Mar tagged as “SSSS: Sarah’s Second Saudi Send-off”. I picked Cheston, Camille, Benise, and Raisa up from their respective homes (except for Camille who was at Escriva Drive with Nikko) and we set off to the venue of our dinner: MoMo Cafe in the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

After going around the area for several minutes looking for a parking spot, we finally found parking at the Makati Stock Exchange building since we refused to walk from Greenbelt. We were the first ones to arrive so we looked through the menu and took some pictures to pass time. A few minutes later, Justin, Jude and Jonathan arrived and we proceeded to order our food since we were already hungry.

While we were eating, Tam dropped by! So glad to have seen here for one more time before I left. I gave her my very much delayed pasalubong from Saudi (I know right) and she stayed with us for a while since she had to catch a movie. After a few minutes, Mar and Kath joined us as well.

Top View

The food was sooooo good. The winner of the night would have to be Benise’s Creamy Crabby Seafood Casserole. Everybody loved it! The Beer Battered Fish and Chips that I ordered was not bad either! We attempted to surprise Justin with some dessert which ended up being a fail when the waiter asked Justin who the birthday celebrator was. Still, we got to get Justin his cake!

Justin, our resident Chinito cutie pie and his "surprise" cake

We decided to go get cupcakes at the Fort so we left the restaurant early, but not without having more group pictures taken!

Some of my favorite people! Boys (L-R) Cheston, Jonathan, Justin, Jude, and Mar; Girls (L-R) Kath, Me, Raisa, Camille, Tam, and Benise

Almost 100% successful Wacky Shot

Since I couldn’t fit everyone into my car, we divided into two groups and set off to the Fort. While waiting for the others to get there, we passed by Fully Booked and I bought two books that I wanted to bring with me to Saudi. We went to Sonja’s and waited for them there. They got cupcakes while Jude, Raisa, Jonathan, and I went to the neighboring gelato store and bought gelato.

Since it was very very humid, we decided to go into Coffee Bean where I got a bit annoyed because everyone started ignoring me. After a while I decided to just go out of the coffee store to get some air because I didn’t want to spoil my last night with my friends by being so grumpy. When I got back, everyone was up and ready to leave (and that didn’t really help my mood at all). So I got my stuff and walked ahead.

They found some nice place to take pictures so they forced me to be part of a group picture. I hesitantly sat down and they crowded around me while I forced a smile. 1 – 2 – 3 SURPRISE and Jonathan dropped a giant box of cupcakes on my lap. Apparently they’ve been so aloof because they wanted to surprise me at the end of the day. Thanks guys. 😛


There was even a card with the sweetest messages from them all 🙂
God, I love my friends.

Palawan 2011

My friends and I went on a trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last month and I must say it was an amazing amazing amazing experience! Great company, great activities, great food, and great place to stay in! The flight had been booked since March so we’d been excited about the trip for a while, and I’m glad the trip reached a greater peak than the anticipation ever did!

Day 1

We met up at the airport at around 2pm. Kath, Enzo, Nikko, Camille and I fell in line at the Cebu Pacific counter. Camille and I jumped up and down from the excitement! It was the first time we would go beyond Batangas together.

Enzo and Kath in line

Camille Nikko and me, with excited looks on our faces!

But wait! Who took these paparazzi pictures? There was a surprise in the works. As far as Kath, Nikko, and Enzo knew, there were only 5 of us going on the trip together. I wasn’t supposed to know, but Camille was worried I wouldn’t be comfortable with the surprise so she told me the very day it was planned.

While we were waiting for boarding time, Camille excused herself to go to the bathroom. As she returned, I noticed two people walking on the other side of the aisle. Ah the surprise! I had to pretend I was surprised since the ‘surprisers” did not know of my awareness of the surprise. Alas, epic fail. I just stared at them. But I guess they got their expected reactions from Kath, Enzo, and Nikko! So who were these picture taking paparazzi surprise planning additional members to our now seven person Puerto Princesa tour group? Mar and Kris!

Funny thing, Mar would, on occasion, chat me up on Facebook and tell me how bad he felt for not joining us and promised he’d join us next time, and I just sat there fighting the urge to tell him I knew of the secret surprise plan.

Anyway, after all the added excitement from the expansion of our group, we got on the plane ready for the adventure of Palawan!

We got to Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast, and WOW. It was such a beautiful place!

Palo Alto

Palo Alto at night

our room

at the viewing deck!

It was already 6PM when we were done settling in in the two-floor room we reserved for the group so we decided to go out, explore the city, and find a nice place to eat.

After walking around, entering restaurants only to leave them after seeing the menu and avoiding sketchy looking establishments, we decided to eat in Nokinoks, a small restaurant in the middle of the city that made some of the best halo-halo and mais con hiejo that I have ever tasted.

Nokinoks!

From Kris' Camera

We went home and had some drinks. While the others decided to sleep a bit early since our van would pick us up at 7am, Mar, Camille, and I decided to stay up to watch the Azkals game. We didn’t stay up for long though, Mar went up to the guys’ sleeping area and Camille and I decided to turn the TV off to let Kath sleep in peace.

Day 2

Since I’m not good at sleeping on beds that aren’t mine, despite being the last to go to sleep, I was the first to wake up. After waking the girls up (Kris was in charge of waking the boys up), having some really good breakfast c/o Palo Alto and getting in the van, we headed to the port for our Honda Bay Island Hopping tour!

at the port

boat to pandan island

Pandan Island!

Hut

Our first stop was Pandan Island, named for the prevalence of pandan trees on the island, which had a beautiful underwater view! It was my, as well as Camille’s and Kath’s, first time to go snorkeling so Enzo and Kris had to give us some tips.

a view underwater!

Kath!

Me!

After snorkeling, it started to rain but that didn’t stop me, Kath and Enzo from running around like crazy in the rain and playing in the water. Mar,  Nikko, Camille, and Kris decided to stay at the hut and wait for lunch to be served. During lunch, I experienced one of my firsts again! It was how to remove the shell from shrimp. (I’m used to them served to me in pastas and in other forms where the shell is already removed). Nikko and Enzo tried to teach me and I eventually got it after a couple of tries. Enzo was nice enough to offer to peel the rest of my shrimp, but I did not want to give up!

Our next stop was Snake Island, which, thankfully, was not named such due to the prevalence of snakes. It was an S-shaped island that we were unfortunately unable to explore due to the sudden downpour of HEAVY rain. We remained in our hut the whole time telling stories, which wasn’t really a bad way to spend time but we would have preferred there to be sun.

We got back to the hut, and the attendants were nice enough to open two more bathrooms for our use. See, we had to wake up really early that morning to be able to allow 7 people get showered before 7am and we only had one bathroom to do that. So we now had 3 bathrooms to use. After getting dressed, we attended Mass in the beautiful Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Enzo lighting a candle

We decided not to ask the driver to pick us up so we could explore the city more. We divided ourselves into two groups (Nikko, Camille, Mar, Me / Kris, Kath, Enzo) and we took a tricycle to the city center. From there, we followed the advice of the second group’s tricycle driver. He told us that there was a good Chicken Inato place not far from where he dropped them off. We started to walk and walk and walk until we realized that it was not as near as the tricycle driver made it seem to be. So we then took a tricycle again to the place which was definitely not a distance we could walk to and not watch me faint in the middle of the road from exhaustion.

tricycle ride

Still, we were glad we followed the tricycle driver’s suggestion to try the place out because they served delicious chicken. Best.chicken.ever. Not bad, Mr. Tricycle Driver, not bad. I did some research and apparently the restaurant is called “Haim Chicken Inato”. The girls all ordered the regular, unspicy chicken inato, while the boys all ordered the spicy inato. Perhaps to show their manly ability to withstand the spicyness of the chicken, more likely because they just actually like spicy chicken.

Boys!

girls!

Chicken Inato

Seaweed in Soy Sauce

Grilled Tuna

We got back home and they played some sungka. I was sure I would lose so I didn’t join in. After that, everyone else went to sleep. I couldn’t sleep yet so I went on facebook (the B&B had really fast WiFi! I guess it’s because we were the only guests left) and chatted with some people until I felt ready to fall asleep.

Kath vs. Enzo

Camille vs. Mar

Day 3

On our third day, we went on the tour that i didn’t tell my mom about until after I got back: The Dos Palmas Day Tour. I knew my mom would flip because if the history of the place, but it did happen more than a decade ago so I wasn’t as worried.

Thank God the weather was cooperative that day! We took pictures on the boat. We were brave to stand at the end because the waves didn’t look like they were about to topple us off the edge.

we on a boat

🙂

When we got to the resort, Mar and I went ahead to secure a hut while the rest of the group took pictures. Apparently, the drummers were to not stop drumming until everyone has crossed the bridge and it took them a good 10 minutes before they decided to cross. Oops.

Since we wanted to maximize the sun’s presence, Mar and I signed up for kayaking while the others were fixing up the hut. It was my first time to kayak so I had no idea what I was doing. Yep, definitely a vacation full of firsts! As it was my first time to ride a kayak, it was also my first time to fall off it. (My mom thinks it’s because Mar was unable to handle my weight. Thanks mom, my self-esteem is gone.) My foot started bleeding and my legs are now scratched (the marks are what I now refer to as my battle scars) since we fell on rocks. On second thought, I fell on rocks and Mar fell on water since he apparently did not get any scratch on his body.

Nonetheless, I had so much fun kayaking! I did lose my sunglasses and my scrunchie when the kayak overturned but I still had fun learning how to do it! When we left shore, Mar already warned me that I shouldn’t panic in case the kayak decided to overturn. Maybe he, like my mom, questioned his ability to handle my weight. Haha.

After that, I decided to let my foot rest so I stayed at the hut while the rest made their rounds around the resort. Kath stayed with me and we talked about how much we were enjoying the trip. We then watched Nikko attempt to teach Camille how to ride a bike and you can guess what happened. Enzo, who claimed he didn’t know how to ride a bike, took his “first ride” and went around the whole resort on bike like a pro.

The buffet lunch was part of the tour so we happily went to the clubhouse to get  an early start on the food. Once everyone got there, we attacked the buffet table. I have never felt so full in my life. I felt so full I didn’t even want to move. I just wanted to throw up. So while the others went around to take pictures, I decided to go to the hut and rest for a while. A few minutes later, I see Mar walk back to the hut. Apparently he fell asleep on one of the hammocks and when he woke up they left him (Oh Mar!). He sat beside me, we talked a bit, then he proceeded to go back to sleep.

Dos Palmas Buffet!

While he was sleeping, the lady from the neighboring hut approached me and we talked for a bit. I walked around the area of the hut to try to help melt the food in my stomach and I guess it worked because by the time the others got back I was feeling a bit better but I was unsure if I could manage to snorkel again given that I still wanted to throw up.

Eventually, I decided to join them snorkeling. It was amazing tho because there were some fish that were amazing to look at that weren’t around in the first time we snorkeled, but then I got a bit dizzy. As we were going back to the floating hut, I started feeling dizzier and dizzier and water started to creep into my mask. I also didn’t realize that I had blood coming out of my foot and leg. I apparently had scratched myself somewhere while swimming.

We washed up and rushed to the boat that was ready to leave. It was a bit difficult for me since I now had three different scratches on my left foot which made it hard to walk with sand trying to get in the wounds. With all that had happened that day I fell asleep so soundly on the boat that Camille and Kris were worried I wasn’t breathing. Haha I love you guys.

On the way back to the boat

When we got back to the room, Dr. Nikko and Nurse Camille fought a battle with me while they were trying to put betadine on my wounds. I kept fidgeting around because I worried of how much it would sting me. It was such a sight with Camille holding my foot down, Nikko trying to drop some betadine on the wound and me screaming and flailing my arms and the others laughing at how I was reacting.

After fixing up, we went to Ka Lui, one of the hardest restaurants to get a table in due to the demand. Mar and I had read about it beforehand so we made reservations the minute we got to Palo Alto. They had delicious food. We all ordered the same thing, which was the daily special. I regret now not writing down the names of the dishes but what i do remember is that there was Steamed Fish in Mango Sauce, Fish Steak, and Crunchy Eggplant.

Ka Lui!

what to eat??

They also gave us complementary dessert which was fruit salad in half a buko! It was so good. After eating, we spent an hour taking pictures inside the restaurant. They had this beautifully lit area which was probably built for the purpose of having pictures taken in it.

outside Ka Lui

We got home and everyone was tired. Kath, Kris, Mar and I were the last ones standing and we played cards (and I kept losing)  while drinking some of the leftover drinks. It was our last night so we had to consume everything we bought from the previous days. Nikko, Camille, and Enzo were sleeping soundly but Nikko woke up after a while and had a drink as well. Then we all went to sleep.

Day 4

It was our last day in Palawan. How sad. We woke up early to pack our stuff because we would have to rush to the airport right after our Underground River tour. We rode the van which we shared with four other tourists and set off to Sabang where the Underground River is located. The Underground River is in the running to be declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and rightfully so! It is a definite must see for anyone who plans to go to Puerto Princesa. It goes to show how brilliant nature truly is and how it is able to create something magnificent.

ready for the underground river!

The rock formations in the Underground River were truly amazing! All you need is some imagination and a story can just be brought into life while you’re in the cave. Even if you don’t try hard, you can still visualize what the tour guide is saying. Amazing. I was just staring and listening and staying quiet the whole time so I can take in the whole experience.

Even the outside of the Underground River was really pretty.

"wacky" shot

After that we had a buffet lunch by the beach. The food wasn’t as great as the food in Dos Palmas. It kindov reminds me of those family picnics that we used to have when I was younger. There was one dish that was made of nothing but fat. Was it the liempo? I can’t remember. But every time I would go and get some it would be all 98% fat 2% meat. I complained about the omnipresence of fat on my plate and Mar tells me to eat it anyway since the fat tastes good and a good five minutes later he makes the same remark that I did that he countered himself. Very good.

On the way home, I was a bit freaked out by the way the van was just speeding through the turns on the road. I think Enzo noticed it because we started talking a bit while everyone else was fast asleep in the van.

When we got back, we quickly collected our things and then left. We had little time the previous day to buy some presents for our friends so we had little shopping left for the airport. While waiting for the plane, we got key chains as our reminder for the trip. Kath, Nikko, Camille and I got the Starfish, Kris and Mar got the turtle, and Enzo got the Crocodile.

With the Palo Alto staff!

We got back to Manila safely and we knew everything would go back to normal. They would all go back to work and I will carry on with the rest of my vacation in Manila. I would have to say it is the most fun I’ve ever had in a while. Looking at the pictures make me sad that we’re no longer there but at the same time I’m glad that we got to experience an amazing almost hassle free vacation together! I’m hoping we have one for next year as well! Thanks guys, for the amazing Palawan experience!

Goodbye, Palawan! 😦

** Photos (except underwater shots) courtesy of Kris and Kath. You guys have such beautiful cameras.

On Plagiarism

On October 15, 2010, the Philippine Supreme Court made a decision that would lead to the death of academic and intellectual integrity in the country. Justice del Castillo was tried for allegedly plagiarizing international literature in his court decision and was cleared of these charges.

In July 2010, a case was filed against Justice del Castillo on the basis that he directly quoted several authors who wrote on topics related to the case he was handling without proper citations. After proper proceedings, he was cleared for of the following reasons:

  1. The legal researcher accidentally deleted the proper citation
  2. Microsoft Word failed to supply a mechanism that will allow it to check for copy-pasted material
  3. There was no malicious intent to pass the work as his own

It is absolutely preposterous for the Supreme Court to have agreed to this faulty reasoning presented by del Castillo. First of all, it is unfair for the legal researcher to receive the blame for del Castillo negligence. A legal researcher provides information such as literature and other cases that could supplement the points made by del Castillo in his defense. If he puts the blame on the legal researcher then perhaps it is an implication that his legal researcher does everything for him. If he were diligent enough, he would have at least reviewed what his legal researcher did, if he was too busy to write his own ponencia.

The second argument is just pure ignorance on his part. Bill Gates might as well sue the Philippine court for (further) tainting the name of Microsoft. Microsoft Word is a word processor. It is a typewriter with aesthetic functions, so obviously it does not have plagiarism detecting features. Maybe the Supreme Court should invest in something like turnitin which actually does check for plagiarism.

Finally, there’s the issue of not intending to plagiarize. I can’t find a definitive source that is not a dictionary or university pamphlet that presents the dangers of plagiarism, but in general it is the lack of or wrongful attribution of an idea to the original source. When I was still in uni, the concept and consequences of plagiarism were always drilled into our heads. Plagiarism is not citing a source. Plagiarism is citing the source wrongfully. Plagiarism is citing the wrong source. Negligence is never an excuse, just as ignorance is never an excuse when it comes to the law.

Plagiarism is a major issue in intellectual integrity. It can stain your reputation. But now there is a Supreme Court Justice who gets out of the case scot free. This has implications on the intellectual and legal development of society.

Of course the most obvious implication is that on intellectual integrity. In clearing Justice del Castillo, the Supreme Court has opened the floodgates for more (student) appeals with regard to counts of plagiarism, wherein they could state that it was not their intent to plagiarize.

Another implication is that on future cases. One valid source of court decision is precedents. By principle, if a case has the same facts as another, a decision is valid based on the previous case.  Although plagiarism is not a legal concept, in the growing prominence of the knowledge economy could lead  to more cases of this nature. It makes fighting against plagiarism in the future a losing battle.

How does one prove intent? And does the lack of malicious intent remove the fact that the crime has been done? In a more extreme case, you accidentally drive into the wall of someone’s house causing the roof to collapse and heavy damage on the part of the house owner. Even if you did not mean to crash into the house, there is fault. Perhaps you were not focusing or you forgot to refill your brake fluid. It was an accident, but it was from one’s negligence. That is reckless imprudence.

Plagiarism should be taken seriously, especially in the case of Justice del Castillo, as he is in a position that expects moral conduct and integrity. If we allow people like that in such positions, what does that have to say about the society we live in.

At the end of the day, all you really own in the world is your integrity. Once you give that up, you don’t ever get it back.” – Julian Baker, One Tree Hill 8×04

To the Supreme Court, especially to you – Justice del Castillo, David Tennant does not approve.

Wake up, Krasner, September has ended.

I haven’t been able to blog for a while, one of the biggest reasons being my thoughts are not as coherent as they are at the moment. Between today and my last post, things have been crazy. On a personal level I had strained a muscle so bad I could not walk without support or move  without any reverberating pain on my back to my thighs. It was horrible.

But I know I was in no right to complain. The day after I strained my back, the tragic De La Salle Bar Exam explosions occurred and my friend, Raissa Laurel, was involved in the incident. She lost both her legs to the accident. It was then when I decided not to complain about my leg pain, but rather rejoice for the pain because I still have legs to feel that pain.

After that I was just ashamed that I actually complained, while my friend Raissa took everything so well. She even took her own circumstance better than I did. I could not think properly given that everything that had happened seemed too close for comfort. Tragedy is put into perspective when someone you’ve interacted with is the one who is hurt.

Of course that is not the only mind-blowing incident that happened that day. As I was telling my best friend Henry, it was a horrible weekend for me, with everything just falling on my lap and it took me time to absorb all the information.

I felt if I blogged, I would be all irrational and just spew out all my emotions and regret it later (It has happened before).

To avoid this being a blog about blogging, I shall add: I have been preoccupied lately back watching Veronica Mars and Doctor Who episodes. I am rather enjoying Doctor Who, while the cancellation Veronica Mars remains to be one of The CW’s biggest mistakes.

Raj Raj Raj Pilipinas

The Philippine bet for Ms. Universe, Maria Venus Raj,  got into the top 5 of the competition. She finished as 4th runner up. I honestly do not see her as one who would fit the conventional notion of Filipina beauty. She has this very… different.. kind of pretty. I can’t really point it out but there’s something that radiates from within as well. I think it’s her confidence that makes her so appealing.

Congratulations, Venus Raj, you are the Universe’s 5th most beautiful woman.

This is a breath of fresh air given the very serious mood that surrounded the country yesterday. This deserves a little dance.

He’s saying “Raj Raj Raj”