Galaera Diaries: Revisiting my Lakbayan Grade

Here is my map today…


My Lakbayan grade is C-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

My map used to look like this two years back. Can you see the difference?

If only I visit Palawan, Ilocos, Batanes, Bicol, Bohol, Siquijor, other parts of Cebu, and some parts of Mindanao like Cagayan de Oro and Davao, my Lakbayan grade will get upgraded. Yes, I’m giving you folks a hint.

What the Shrek Just Happened?

It took me another month before I formally blog something here again.  Call it another writer’s block moment, distractions are everywhere!  Believe me, I would already be in the flow until something (or someone, a cute kind!) gets my attention. Just like that, the words and ideas would take a back seat over and over I’d end up posting something quick instead, like for my mini-series, Spend-a-Friday-NightI-Super-Want-to-WatchCoffee Reads, Apprendre la langue francaise, etc. UPDATE: Plinky might help.

After my birthday, I felt like days passed right through me I just wasn’t bothered, except now.  May be the year added to my age hasn’t sinked in yet, that’s why.

But how can I ever forget it of course?  The trip to Mindoro was indeed a break away from everything in the city. It was another chance for me and Nature to become one (yeah, the drama).

And finally, I was able to visit the much talked about island situated in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, the Apo Reef Natural Park, which is acclaimed as “the best in Asia and second largest in the world, a diving mecca in the Philippines.” Yeah, another marketing spiel.

Welcome to Apo Reef Island in Mindoro

It's another summer view to enjoy.

Perfectly blue, it is!

Top view of the island, you can see how far and wide we snorkeled around this island. Ehem, well not entirely. Though on our way back, we passed by an area where the dead corals are, which were brought by illegal fishing. Call it another dead place under the sea. This explains why they closed this island to public for many years until recently.

And this is what you see when you go deep under, say, 20 to 30 feet? This is not from the aquarium of Manila Ocean Park, mind you. But yeah, you'd feel you are in it. But still, this is a much closer encounter, a real one! So, boo to Manila Ocean Park! Hehe.

Nemo and his kinds are just cute! These fishes were just being watchful because I heard they can really strike back when they feel threatened. Enlighten me, can they? They just look so harmless!

I hope you can see it from this photo a camera-shy reef shark we just passed by. Truth is, I got quite scared. Apparently, he got scared from us.

It wasn’t really tough to get there as I had imagined when we decided to travel by bus and boat. Just expect the long hours of travel, of course. You can take the Dimple Star bus stationed at Cubao in Quezon City and bound to San Jose. It will take 2 to 3 hours until you reach Batangas Pier. The bus will be loaded on the Roro boat headed to Abra de Ilog at Occidental Mindoro and another 2 to 3 hours will be spent at sea. From Abra de Ilog, the bus will travel again on the way to Sablayan for 3 hours. If you cannot endure this long travel, take by plane via Cebu Pacific or PAL Express bound to San Jose and from San Jose, take a bus ride that will only take an hour until you reach Sablayan.

Remember the dessert treat-out at Gelatone I blogged about several weeks back? Just for fun, I sent this blog post as an entry to Gelatone‘s anniversary photo contest and lucky me, our entry won the top treat. Yey!  Since Dylan and Janet seemed to be that unavailable, and Mahros eventually begged off because it’s a Sunday and she didn’t wish to travel that far, and the anniversary treat was a one-day affair despite asking the favor to have ours re-scheduled, I then decided to tag my family along instead.  As usual, we enjoyed our bonding moment together with loads of pasta and lots of Italian ice cream in store for us.

Perps, Mahros, Janet & Dylan, congratulations!

Mom, dad, brother and I are spending time together at Gelatone.

Our photo-op with the owners of Gelatone. Many thanks and congratulations!

I cannot withstand this ice cream stand. I can't!

Temperature’s rising up to 38 degrees and so was the election fever in the Philippines. It’s a hot, hawt national event of the year because this is the country’s first attempt to dish out a mano-mano (manual) electoral process and speed it up by placing counting machines named PCOS that speak to you the now-famous catchphrase popularized by another masa’s noon delight, “Congratulations!”, upon successful casting of your vote.  I could have voted (for the first time, ironically) because I was curious over the new process as I’d imagine this seemed to be a lot easier now for a regular voter like me. It turned out not that easy, again.

Apart from this curiosity, the strong influence of social media today has been so contagious that the election campaign joined the bandwagon.  Even though I ended up not registering (again), I placed my bet on Gordon and somewhat campaigned for him personally over Facebook, Twitter, etc. What was even more interesting, on the election day itself, local TV stations had gone sci-fi’d  with their coverage that they got their viewers amazed with the touch screens, iPads, and holy-mother-of-pearl, a Star Wars alike hologram! Add to that is the million votes per millisecond speed that we had witnessed as soon as they began processing the electoral returns. Yes, we were bombarded with everything techie that this time people left clueless on whether they got cheated (again) or not. We’re so accustomed to the usual tallying and it’s easier then to point fingers. Now, well, point your finger to a PCOS and it won’t bark back. Isn’t it that easy? Not.

By the end of the summer month, I caught myself hitting the gym again. This time, I joined Fitness First. Yeah, I belong to the fag circuitry now, I’m such a fag hag now.

Kidding aside, I can say that I’m more focused and determined than the last time I was in the same endeavor, er, two years ago?  It’s even coming to the point now that I set manageable but pretty challenging diet and fitness goals.  As a matter of fact, I keep track of the calories I consumed and burned through Livestrong.com. It is a rather helpful, interesting site. It does not only provide you useful tools like food/fitness diaries, BMI calculator, recipe logs etc., but it also provides good tips on all aspects in health and fitness. Admittedly, I’m hooked!

So in case you are interested to see what I have eaten and what I have suffered myself from just to burn them away, check out my Livestrong.com profile.  It’s an open diary.

Wish me luck. I hope I can lose 10 pebble stones off my weight, easy and fast! Liar.

Did you watch? I didn't but it could be worth watching, right?

Galaera Diaries: My Birthday Ice Cream at Gelatone

After having dinner at a quaint Japanese resto, my friends and I decided to take a long walk not only to burn off the calories, but also to relish a delicious dessert. Yes, we’re just taking the calories back into our systems.

Without the blatant talking to each other (again), we  went straight all the way up to the second floor of Greenbelt 2 and stopped by at Gelatone. Apparently, this was our first time being together in this yummy store. I do drop by once in awhile for my sweet tooth.

No one raised their hands and contested. Instead, we ran towards the large ice cream bin and pointed our fingers at delectable targets.

We then sat as prince and princesses when our ice creams arrived. When the lady-attendant saw our cameras, she told us about the photo contest and volunteered to take our picture.  May be we got excited from what we just heard, we then said, (Italian) cheese!  🙂

We were naturally all smiles on the camera with the ice creams of our choice. Call it another Kodak moment.

Of course, they had a fair share of the spotlight, too! Because, theyd be eaten after. No mess. No evidence. All finished. Yum.

Continue sipping…

My Top Everything of 2009 – my best places

1. Iloilo

It was ten years ago when I first visited this Visayan place that is gifted with rich culture and history. A random invite to say the least, mom and I visited the quiet islands of Concepcion, the majestic churches of Jaro, Molo, Miagao among others, and the country’s Island of Mangoes, Guimaras.

More than enjoying the places, the food, and the people of Iloilo, my bonding moments with mom were truly worth it; no matter how at times, we’d get into petty fights and troubles along the way! I was able to picture out mom’s life snippet in Iloilo as she showed me to places where she lived, studied and enjoyed. At this point too, I was able to personally meet her closest girl friends. It was very fascinating to see these three female musketeers jeer at each other’s misadventures (or even the lack thereof). There were no dull moments with them. I suddenly felt so belonged in this (old) ladies group.

I was able to visit my great, great grandfather’s humble monument in Zarraga, and found out about my ancestry. Later on, I was also able to meet a few people who introduced themselves as part of the clan. As I now keep them in the loop, chances are high for me to fulfill my goal in tracing my roots.

2. Boracay

Our very first out-of-the-city escapade together – Dylan, Janet, Stephen and I – was in Boracay. Despite the unexpected circumstances days before we left Manila that could have had called off our much-awaited travel and buried this dream in perpetuity, it turned out that a lot of fun moments awaited us in the end.

3. Alaminos and Bolinao of Pangasinan

I spent Labor’s Day holiday at the Hundred Islands in Alaminos. I also had a quick stay at Puerto del Sol in Bolinao. This year, I have spent more days beach adventuring than I used to before. My love for the beach has just gotten better. Definitely in 2010, I’ll be yearning for another beach escapes.

Continue sipping…

Galaera Diaries: Boracay Trip with Friends

Photos taken by Dylan Yap-Gozum, Janet Borja, and yours truly.  A long overdue blog task, I’ve posted everything at last. It’s my New Year’s gift for myself and for Dylan, Janet and Steph. A remembrance for the year 2009, folks! Good times.


Five days before the trip, a tropical storm named Feria started lashing southern part of Luzon. We were really praying hard to the heavens above. We can neither reschedule our Boracay vacation nor ask for refunds.

By the time we heard that Feria had already gone out of our territory, we were jumping for joy until we heard another breaking news: a Zest Air plane overshot the runway of Caticlan airport. Luckily no one was seriously injured but a lot of passengers, including us, got their flight schedules jumbled.  We were born lucky nonetheless that we were able to get through the busy hotlines of Cebu Pacific and got rescheduled to an early afternoon flight.

Come hell or high water, we still persisted to go to Boracay.

Continue sipping…