Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Journey of All Journeys

I just cannot describe the feeling when we saw our 7-week-old baby's heartbeat yesterday--giddiness, happiness, excitement, a bit of fear, and pure gratefulness.

The journey up to this point has not been easy. I had a miscarriage January this year, and after a series of false hopes, we decided to seek medical help. Followed by more false hopes, prayers, and just letting go, we are finally blessed with this miracle in my tummy.

And we know the journey is far from over. We've decided to forego the backpacking trip to Vietnam and Cambodia for next month though we've already paid for the tickets and hotel reservations. It's still a small price to pay to make sure our little one stays safe.

Dearest God, I trust in Thee for us. Anak, please stay safe in my tummy. Tatay and Nanay are so happy you've decided to finally arrive.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Puerto Princesa at Prinsipe

We bought the promo airfare tickets way back in February, and admittedly, we didn't feel like packing and leaving Manila again barely a week after Dumaguete. But hop on the plane we did to find ourselves in Puerto Princesa in Palawan.

The highlight of the trip was not, sad to say, the Underground River Tour, which was underwhelming. I'd taken this tour almost a decade ago--it didn't excite me then, and it didn't excite me now. Probably because getting there was tiring enough (2 hours on all surfaces of smooth and rough, peppered with zigzags), and the whole tour itself lasted for only 30-40 minutes. I think you would have to be a geologist or at least have some knowledge of geology to appreciate the place--how the cave formations had been shaped by thousands of years of dripping mineralized water, how unique it was to have a such a lengthy river flowing inside the cave, etc. But all the guides did was point out to the stalactites/stalagmites and tell us what shapes they took--the face of Jesus, a variety of vegetables, a melting candle.

And it didn't help that the day we took the tour was the only day it rained in Puerto Princesa.

So I guess the highlight of the trip was the food--the real star of the show being Kalui Resto, which had a limited menu, but had us looking at, and tasting seafood in a different light. The choice cut of fish was delivered fresh from the grill to our plates, and tasted like fillet mignon. There was fried eggplant coated in the most delish batter, and fish served in black bean sauce.

The other notable food find is Thamh-Tam--a carinderia-style eatery that served authentic Vietnamese food. Where else could you get a steaming bowl of beef stew rice noodles with all the complex and delightful flavors of Vietnamese cuisine for only 45 pesos? And the french bread--ooh lala! We took some to Manila, and found that the bread, when toasted, still tasted freshly baked.

We stayed in one of the rustic, resort-style cottages at Casa Linda (P1,100), only 3 minutes from the airport. And because it's featured on Lonely Planet, there were a lot foreign backpackers there, including a couple that stayed next-door to us. The walls were so thin; we could hear them engage in a grunt-filled fest of an afternoon delight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dining in Dumaguete

My birthday destination this year was Dumaguete, touted as the City of Gentle People.

And yes, the people were gentle enough save for the tricycle drivers who kept on barking at us once we stepped outside the airport. But that's usually the case in all parts of the country so I guess that didn't count.

We went there with no sense of itinerary. I was planning to spend an overnight at Apo Island, but Spanky wanted something that wouldn't eat too much into our schedule. I asked about the Dolphin-Watching Tour in Bais, but since it was lean season, prices were exorbitant--as in a jaw-dropping P5,000 per person.

Then before the trip, we found out that we had work deadlines so we both brought our laptops--me for writing, him for editing.

On our first day, after catching some zzzzs at Harold's Mansion (P800/night--not bad for a decent room with aircon, cable tv and wifi, and drink-all-you-can coffee and tea), we had lunch and strolled into Silliman University. We saw the Bird Festival exhibit at the quad, and we craned our necks, hoping to catch a glimpse of our friend.

We tried exiting the university at the other side but it turned out to be the wrong way. When we retraced our steps, we found our friend. Hello, Robert!

Robert was the reason why we decided to go the Destiny Wellness Center in Valencia the following day. After riding an "easy-ride" jeepney for around 30 minutes, and another 15 minutes on a tricycle, which piteously sputtered on an uphill battle, we found the place.
Robert and I did the colonics thing, and though it didn't work for me, I still enjoyed the healthy lunch of ginataang veggies, grilled fish, kinilaw, and passion fruit juice.

That was the only "real activity" we did. Robert went home the following morning, and Spanky and I slept, ate, and worked the days away. Our fave food find: Date and Walnut Daquoise at Sansrival Cakes and Pastries. In our entire stay in Dumaguete, we ate 3 slices of this, and took home two whole cakes for our families.
Batchoy at Kamalig Restaurant Good eats at Hayahay: Dumaguete Express: seafood in coconut milk, topped with fried pork bits.
Nearly finished Seafood Bouillabaisse

We opted not to take the tricycle to get to the eateries so we could have a "walking tour" of the place. We walked the stretch of the boulevard, filled with age-old trees held up by the thickest trunks. It was nice to see such flourishing greens.

To typhoon-ravaged Manila, we returned, refreshed and-- understandably-- a few pounds heavier.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Southern Exposure

Last August, Spanky and I hopped on a plane bound for Cagayan de Oro for his Downhill Biking Competition. I've only been to CDO once, around 3 years ago, when my mom used it as a jumping point for Camiguin. So I never really got the chance to explore the place save for the Limketkai mall.

This time, we got around more, thanks to my good college friend Bleng who's now based there.

She took us along a food trip, spread out across 2 dinners and a lunch, plus a pastel (local delicacy of a soft bun filled with condensed milk) shopping spree at the Vjandep Store.

But the trip, too, was action packed, thanks to the downhill riders, who had their usual share of slips and tumbles. Before their second run in the afternoon, rain poured, making the tracks all the more treacherous. Even the best of the best slid their way towards the finish line. And I'm proud to say that Spanky finished both runs safely.
photo by Aprilphoto by Joey

A day after the race, the bikers and we, their better halves, tried white water rafting. It was exhilarating, to say the least. It felt like we were on a 3-hour rollercoaster ride. I fell off the raft thrice. At one point, our raft capsized, and while underwater, I found myself breathing air. I was puzzled. It turned out that when the raft turns over, a bubble of air is trapped between it and the water; that's why I was able to breathe.photo by Bugsay

All in all, CDO was a fun experience. And really liked where we stayed (Bleng's recommendation): Yumi Pension House along Tomas Saco Street--easily accessible and convenient. The rooms were fairly new with aircon, hot water, and cable TV for P950/night.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

the passing of days

Random adventures this past month:

Hiking a bike trail with my dad for a total of 4 hours to get to a breakfast place and back.

An overnight in Pundaquit with matching food trips.

Getting new tattoos.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Artistic Endeavors

Backgrounder: Professionally, Spanky and I both work in media. I write scripts for TV and corporate AVPs while he edits the video. In our spare time, we like doing the same things, but with a personal, artistic agenda.

Some of our soul projects:
Agay's collab with visual artist JK that produced this Sagada-inspired artwork.

Spanky's rendition of our family's New Year celebration, which he shot and edited himself.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remembering How It Used to Be

Spending an overnight at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan was a stroll down memory lane in two ways--we were surrounded by restored old houses, the oldest dating back to the year 1780; and it was our first anniversary trip, making us recount the memorable moments of the year that was.

Las Casas (a Heritage Resort as described in the brochure) reminded me a bit of Vigan, albeit more stylized. The casas came from all over the country; some served as guesthouses, others as museums. The staff walked on the cobblestone pavement in Camisa de Chinos and baro't sayas. Ambient folk guitar music played the whole day in the "town square," where the occasional karitela made its rounds.

A walking tour of the whole place would give you a good work out. Our favorites were the cultural sculptures thrown all over the place--there was Lola Basyang in the middle of a story-telling spree, children playing street games (including palosebo!), and Pinoy mythical characters (aswang and tikbalang) holding up the bridge which led to the beachfront.

We really really liked our room too at the Escolta-inspired building. The furnishings harked back to the Spanish era, but with modern comforts. It was a glorious "staycation" as we flipped through the cable channels (we don't have cable at home) in full-blast air conditioning (we don't have aircon at home either). I especially liked the huge bathroom, the terrace, and the little coffee table by the window, which I'd imagine would be a great corner (home) office.

That night, over a huge bowl of pochero and of course, rice, we toasted our marital milestone, letting both the moment and dinner sink in.