10 Things I’m Loving Now – say summer

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. -Gertrude Jekyll

From life’s simple stuff to grandiose pleasures, bring it on!

1. Summer

A summer place in Geneva

It’s the best season ever, no matter how hot it is gonna be.

NEXT: Thank God It’s Friday

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: labor day weekend at Pangasinan

It’s another long weekend for the people in the workforce like us, as we just got lucky again to have May 1 fall on a Friday.  It is another day out of 365 in a year that workaholics feel giddy about.

It’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  In my case then, this means for another adventure. This time around, it’s Pangasinan!

I joined with my friend’s colleagues for this trip. We left Makati by 5AM and arrived in Pangasinan by noon. Then by afternoon, off we headed to Bolinao.  All the while we thought that it could be feasible to hop from Alaminos to Bolinao in plainly 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the ride took us 2 hours more (there’s a detour, boo!). We reached Puerto del Sol when the sun was about to set.

Puerto del Sol is amongst the popular resorts in Bolinao due to its cliquish accommodation and services. Of course, staying in this resort doesn’t come cheap. Yet like any other places, Bolinao’s shoreline is offering a rather different experience. It is still worth the price, nevertheless.

the sunset at bolinao shore

the sunset at bolinao shore

the sand turns golden yellow, nice!

sun and sand is a match made in heaven.

moi @ puerto del sol

moi @ puerto del sol

even rubber duckie is on vacay!

even rubber duckie is on vacay!

a perfect sunset gives me a purrfect glow.

a perfect sunset gives me a purrfect glow.

A bit disappointing that we only had a quick stay at Puerto del Sol. Not being cheapskates to be exact, but, Bolinao was just squeezed in our itinerary.  I could have had enjoyed the fascinating view, the pool dipping at night, the cozy accommodations, and sumptuous meals at its homey, Filipino-inspired restaurant. Okay, I’ll hold these picturesque thoughts until I come back to Puerto del Sol! Say what?

We woke up very early the following day to prepare for the much-anticipated trip of all. It’s Hundred Islands, baby!

[i digress! :: Manawa ka, Perps! Manawa ka! Isla ba ang gusto mo, eto sayo! – could anyone translate this in english, for my foreign audiences to enjoy? *chuckles* try using google translate!]

Let’s have Hundred Islands one OH one.

Scattered along Lingayen Gulf covering an area of 4,557 acres, the Hundred Islands National Park (for Pangasinense it is called, Kapulo-puloan or Taytay-Bakes) boasts its 124 islands (123 at high tide) which are believed to be already 2 million years old.

I just love reading folklores. So here’s one for Hundred Islands:

Once upon a time, a brave rajah, Rajah Masubeg, together with his son, Datu Mabiskeg, once ruled the peaceful and prosperous kingdom of Alaminos. One day, an enemy force was heading straight to their kingdom. A hundred of their brave warriors led by the rajah’s son went into a tragic battle. The kingdom was saved, but its soldiers were all slained. A week after the tragedy, the townsfolk found small, verdant islands and islets spanning across their shore.

Back to regular programming, children!

We first visited this island named after the former president, Ferdinand E. Marcos. The island has three mounds, a helipad,  and a dose of artfully sculpted mermaid statues. The highlight of this visit is a walk at the 50-meter trail that ends in a 70-feet drop leading to the cave named after Marcos’ better half, who else, but Imelda. The cave is a haven for edible-nest swiftlets and insectivorous bats. The island’s flora and fauna include: kalampang, molave, dapdap, igyo, maladuhat, bani, and pandan; and white rumped swift, glossy starling, little pied flycatcher and long tailed shrikes.

We were about to stay in Children’s Islands but there were too many tribes conquering it, so we opted and searched for a more secluded, less populous island. We found Claves.

Claves Island has good diving offshore. As a matter of fact, UP (University of the Philippines) initiated a program to restock giant clams to the area.

Only if I had known, I could have snorkeled. Well, I learned it too late. Mind you though, our stay in Claves Island was a great one. For one, I don’t stay in the water too long, but I couldn’t turn this island down. I totally shrugged the idea that it’d ruin my fair complexion and rather convinced myself to get a good tan. I dipped into the water and basked under the sun all throughout the day.

I also enjoyed the fun games and (my fave) photo shoots. It was absolutely a super fun day at the island.

on the way to the hundred islands

on the way to the hundred islands

we are at marcos island.

we are at marcos island.

fhm cover page, NOW!

fhm cover page, NOW!

palibhasa lalake [just because theyre men?]

palibhasa lalake, in english...

A trip to Hundred Islands National Park is a great diversion from the hustle-bustle of urban life.

Two thumbs up!

Galaera Diaries: “puli kami sa iloilo” (going home to iloilo) – final part

Guimaras Island is a favored destination by both foreign and domestic tourists because of its picturesque beaches, waterfalls, springs, off shore islets, and its famous mangoes, which is considered one of the sweetest in the world. Guimaras is an island province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Among the smallest and youngest provinces, its capital is Jordan. The island is located in the Panay Gulf, between the islands of Panay and Negros.

There are many theories on how Guimaras got its name. Available historical documents can attest that pre-Spanish Ilonggos had knew Guimaras as “Himal-us” though some Spanish historians had written that Guimaras may have been named after after a peninsula in Portugal called Guimaraes, or from names of places in Spain such as Guimaron in the provinces of Leon and Galerea, Gimenia in Catalonia, Gomera in the Canary Islands, and Guimaraon in another province. On the other hand, Ilonggo folklore reveals that Guimaras, formerly known as Himal-us was named after the ill-fated romance of Princess Guima and slave Aras, who betrayed the tradition tribe to enkindle their forbidden love. They were able to ride a small raft and escape Aras’ arranged marriage by her father to another nobleson. Unfortunately, they disappeared in the raging seas, never found again, and from then on, people seemed to hear the repentant father’s calling of the lover’s names “Guim-Aras” echoed in the wind during stormy seas, thus, the name Guimaras.

Most likely, people would associate Guimaras with its mangoes, which is their most important product and the Philippines’ best export quality mangoes. They are grown in mango plantations spanning more than 8,000 hectares throughout the island, which create an awesome verdant landscape and the characteristic ambiance of rural life in this “Mango Country”.

Guimaras mangoes are considered as one of the sweetest in the world and the only mango variety in the Country certified as pest-free by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The variety of mangoes produced are also best for making dried mangoes, jams and other delicacies. The best time to enjoy Guimaras’ mangoes is during the Manggahan Festival held every May 22 to commemorate the province’s charter day.

Guimaras is also well known for its white sand beaches, pristine seas, and secluded off shore islets. Among its most popular destinations include Alubihod Bay with its calm waters, and Guisi Beach, where visitors could enjoy the province’s natural beauty.

White sand beaches, multi-colored corals, fish, and other marine life are also found in Igang and Tando Bays and Taklong islets. For those who opt to relax in a secluded and luxurious destination, there’s Costa Aguada Island Resort in Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island Resort, and Isla Naburot.

We stayed the whole day at Raymen Beach Resort in Alubihod Bay, Nueva Valencia. It can be accessed through a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo City to Jordan Wharf and a 45-minute jeepney ride from Jordan Wharf; or a 1-hour boat ride direct from Iloilo City.

We spent our afternoon with another island hopping adventure. First, we visited the Pawikan Caring & Feeding Station at Barangay Lawi and had a personal encounter with the endangered pawikans. Second stop was at the snorkelling site. It bored me to death because unlike in Galera, there were no fishes around. It looks like they all disappeared after the oil spill incident. Then, we stopped by to this another uninhabited white sand beach. The finale was our visit to one of the caves in Guimaras. It’s my first time to get into a dark cave. Creepy but thrilling and exciting at the same time!

“Damu salamat, Guimaras! Balik kami dira.”
[Thank you very much, Guimaras! We will come back.]

A single day in Guimaras isn’t again enough. We missed visiting Guimaras public market and Trappist Monastery for mango shopping (literally, mangoes!); and historical landmarks such as the McArthur’s Wharf, Guisi Lighthouse, Punta Blanco Target Range, Navalas Church and Roca Encandata. We could also opt to relax in more secluded island resorts such as Costa Aguada, Inampulungan Island, Nagarao Island and Isla Naburot. If we even stayed really longer (until the end month of April perhaps), we would also witness the start of Manggahan Festival!

So many places to visit, so little time. Oh yeah, I’m officially 27. And I served a freshly grilled pampano, hot la paz batchoy, and warm cooked rice on my birthday! Hahaha! Yay.

Reference: exploreguimaras.blogspot.com
Reposted from perkyperps.multiply.com

Galaera Diaries: “puli kami sa iloilo” (going home to iloilo) – part four

Sixth day of our stay in Iloilo and we were now starting to feel weary and a bit homesick. Not that we miss dad and brother, not really! Haha. It’s just that mom wanted to get back to her business routines. I, on the other hand, was yearning for my bed, again! Well, make it my entire room already. Haha.

We decided to slow down and parted ways to do our own thing. Doing her most favourite hobby, mom went out to the public market to buy rare finds. I stayed in the hotel for a dip in the pool. Actually I don’t swim at the beach. I just like to hang around, feel the sand, the wind and the heat of the sun, and enjoy the view. After the hefty food splendour, I can already feel the heavy bulge that I sense the need to swim in laps to burn these calories, pronto!

Late afternoon, mom asked me if I wanted to visit other towns, this time at the north side, especially Zarraga. Upon hearing that familiar place, I said yes!

If the church in Jaro is perceived as more patriarchal, Molo Church on the hand is dubbed as a feminist church in the Philippines. It is because female saints stand on each church’s pillar. This church earned the moniker “women’s church” because of the presence of 16 images of women saints inside. The centrepiece in the retablo is the image of Sta. Ana, the patron saint of Molo.

The Molo Church is one of the most familiar landmarks of Iloilo. Built in 1831, the church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry.

the exquisite molo church early in the morning

the exquisite molo church early in the morning

The Molo exudes a blatant expression of Gothic-Renaissance architecture, the one of its kind outside Manila. The interior is a fusion of Gothic and Romanesque architectures, there is a constant alternation between the overpowering features of Gothic and the recessive characteristics of Romanesque.

The interior is rich in Gothic elements. There are five gothic altars which are made of wood while beautiful paintings dominate the walls. There is also a pair of interestingly decorated pulpits contrast the entire structure.

The Spires of Molo are yet the most interesting colonial skyscrapers in Iloilo City aside from the Neoclassic Belfry of Jaro.

molo church belfry from afar

the beauty is still standing up to now

the beauty is still standing up to now

Molo church is very sturdy and has survived fires, earthquakes, and artillery barrages in 1945. Molo church was made as an evacuation center for the civilians during WWII. One tower is said to have been destroyed by the Americans after suspecting it was used for military purposes by the Japanese during the Second World War. The bells still bear the scars of bullets shot at Philippine resistance fighters in the second world war. The National Historical Institute declared it a national landmark in 1992.

experience europe in iloilo

experience europe in iloilo

In front of the Molo Church is the district plaza and its bandstand, a typical feature of Western Visayas towns.

leganes church

leganes church

Off we went to Leganes and we visited the town’s church, the Church of San Vincente Ferrer. Declared as a diocesan shrine, the imposing baroque structure stands facing the town plaza as it struck passers by with its captivating beauty. The facade is an elaborate example of the usual baroque church common in the Philippines and in other countries around Europe. Without the canopy, the facade would have shared a lot of similarities with the Church of Saint Theresa in Lithuania. Though it was just recently rebuilt, the architects and engineers did choose the best details that could make an astonishing facade that depicts nothing else but elegance, faith and magnificence.

zarraga church

zarraga church

When I was researching over the Internet, there was nothing much to read about Zarraga. I just got to know about it when dad was invited to visit this town for the inauguration of the monument of General Poblador, who apparently is, my great, great grandfather! Oh holy cow! Who wouldn’t get excited to see my lolo [grandfather] still standing firmly after hundreds of years eh? Haha. Peace Lo!

Upon reaching Zarraga, the first familiar place to visit was definitely its church. After a few minutes of prayer and picture-taking, I immediately ran and searched for my lolo’s monument. I first found this statue near the municipal hall, which I joked about. I said it waved back at us when we dropped off, with a thought that it’s my grandfather’s. It turned out a different one. Oops. Sorry, wrong statue!

I can truly say now, Wala kayo sa lolo ko, LOL!

I can truly say now, "Wala kayo sa lolo ko, LOL!"

So we started asking around, and we later found him at the other side of the road, at the town’s plaza. For a few seconds, I was dumbfounded and gave him nothing but a blank stare. Sorry to say this, lolo, but I was expecting you’re wearing something, uhm, a bit more fashionable and trendier! Then I suddenly realized that such outfit of his was a trend at his time. Sheesh. How inconsiderate I was! So I did ecstatically rush towards him, as if I could hug him tightly and he’d hug me back. Hey you couldn’t blame me, I was a proud apo [grandchild]!

ang rebolusyonaryo (the revolutionist)

ang rebolusyonaryo (the revolutionary)

Apparently, our family is a known bunch of revolutionaries during the Spanish and the American eras. And surprisingly, the most popular of them all in the family is no other than the Joan of Arc of the Visayas, Teresa Magbanua. Yay!

teresa magbanua, joan of arc of visayas

teresa magbanua, joan of arc of visayas

Teresa Magbanua is a native of Pototan, Iloilo. During her childhood, she was someone described as a tomboy or lesbian for she enjoyed the company of boys over girls. She enjoyed boy activities like climbing trees, riding horses and water buffalo. She was the one defending her brothers when they got into fights. This behavior put concern on her parents who sent her off to a local finishing school and two colleges in Manila.

She returned to Pototan after her studies and began teaching. She transferred to the town of Sara where she met a wealthy landowner who became her husband. She left the teaching career and focused on the plantation where she helped in managing the farm. She had the opportunity to get back to the activities she loved most when she was a child–riding horses and practicing her marksmanship.

When the revolution began in Iloilo, her brothers: Pascual and Elias joined the Katipunan and became leaders. Elias became a Major in the revolutionary army albeit he was only a teenager while Pascual became a Brigadier General in the same army.

Teresa was indeed destined to be a heroine. Her desire for deliverance and love for her country kept burning inside her heart that despite the objections of her husband, she enlisted under General Perfecto Poblador who was her uncle. The General first refused to take her in, seeing weakness in her being a woman; but she objected and showed her determination, making her uncle to heed.

She did prove herself. She commanded a group of equally patriotic men who would attack under her every command. She was called “General” although wasn’t really designated. She fought against the American forces in Jaro in 1899, never declining until it was really futile. She disbanded her men and returned home.

She felt lost when her two brothers died. It was a product of treachery made by Filipinos who were behind the assassination. Elias died at the age of 19 from the bullet of a Filipino guide who was working for the American forces. Her brother Pascual’s death was even more tragic because bandits murdered him. They threw his body into the river and was never recovered. It was believed that the reason behind the murder is jealousy for Pascual’s successes.

When Japan attacked the Philippines, Teresa sold all her property to help finance the guerrilla forces. She migrated to Mindanao and died in 1947 in Zamboanga.

I therefore conclude that being who I am really runs in the family. How fascinating it is to know now…

pantat is what Zarraga has to offer. pantats on the street!

pantat is what Zarraga has to offer. pantat's on the street!

Moving on, Zarraga also prides itself as pantat country. I just noticed on the street what this place is also known for—mud fish! It was my first time to eat pantat inasal, and luckily I survived. Well, I was able to finish 3 and was even craving that we decided to bring home a few more. No wonder why dad likes this fish, too.

References: exploreiloilo.com, globalpinoy.com
Repost from: perkyperps.multiply.com