short hair, don’t care

I’m not sure if it has always been the norm or it was only when Basha cut her hair after breaking up with Popoy in the iconic film One More Chance that people started equating going short with a heartbreak. As the adage goes, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.Change her life agad? Di be pwedeng nainitan lang?😂

Despite what I said in the first paragraph, this is still a drama-filled post and the day I cut mine more than 14 inches last August 26 is unforgettable. Not that I’m going through something, it was just the first time after birth that my hair was above shoulder length (thanks to my mother who spared me from the “Dora” hairstyle when I was younger).

I’ve wanted short hair since high school. However, whenever I ask the opinion of others, they’d discourage me with “lalong lalaki mukha mo“. Some even advise me to lose weight first so the style would suit me. Thanks to social pressure, even though my mind whats to say “hanggang leeg po“, my mouth speaks “trim lang po” whenever the hairdresser asks me what I want.

Then my mental longing started to translate into physical manifestations. Whenever I brush my hair, more than a hundred strands would fall (which, from what I remember, is unhealthy) so I stopped using a comb. Also, since I liked tying it in a bun because of the wavy effect afterwards, some strands would be so tangled I’d lose my patience untangling them and end up pulling or cutting that certain section. Lastly, I realized it was time to fulfill the desire when I found out about Cuts Against Cancer, a non-profit organization which receives hair donations and turns them into medical wigs for those who lost their crowning glory from chemotherapy. I figured they need this way more than I do. Screw the bullies.

On that Saturday, Chacha and I were on a date. We went to Morato for lunch and coffee then we roamed around looking for credible looking salons (with arbitrary criteria of course) because I wanted to make sure the hairdresser was capable. At the same time, I had limited budget.

Anyway, I was still hesitating so we just decided to go to SM Manila for dinner. I needed lakas ng loob beforehand so I loaded my system with carbs. Even if things go wrong and I end up regretting my decision big time, at least my tummy was full wahaha.3Afterwards we went to T&J by Tony and Jackey as per Chacha’s recommendation. Haircuts go for only 200 pesos with shampoo and blowdry. Not bad. I forgot the name of my hairdresser but when I told her how short I want it, her reaction was, “Seryoso ka? Sayang naman ma’am”, very encouraging ate. Anyway, I have my pride and am not about to back out so I said yes. When she proceeded to cut through my tied hair I was grimacing, then became teary-eyed (ang lala) so she told me, “Mam naumpisahan ko na, wag ka na umiyak” hahaha!

While she was cutting, a million thoughts were running through my mind. “Sige pag pangit lagi ko na lang itatali plus hairpin”, “Okay lang na tumaba mukha ko para mapilitan ako magpapayat“, “paano pag nagtampo buhok ko tapos di na tumubo?“, “magbababad na lang ako sa Castor oil para mabilis humaba” etc etc. I even prayed for the classes to be suspended that Monday so I’d have an extra day to sulk. Then, I was reminded that my identity is no longer on how people viewed me. Why am I so bothered by how I’d look? Isn’t my character more important? So I stopped internally whining. Naks nagka spiritual enlightenment pa pala nagpagupit lang.

Anyway, the first thing I realized after was how light it was. It literally felt like a baggage has been chopped off of me. Maybe this is why women undergoing breakups cut their hair! Uhm, t looks okay. Even better, actually.  Ha! I was worried over nothing.4Or not! Of course it would look okay, it was blowdried! The next few days that followed were hard. When the salon effect was gone, I was left with flyaway hair that doesn’t go where I want it to despite time-consuming efforts. In the words of a friend, “kung kailan umiksi buhok mo saka ka natuto magsuklay“.IMG_2109Sooner or later, you figure out what does and doesn’t work or just stop giving a fudge. It’s been more than a month since that day and looking back, I just want to kick myself for overthinking. I want to apologize to whoever reads this post because I overacted. This has been one of the best decisions ever I don’t think I’m going to grow my hair long in the forseeable future. I’m actually itching to cut my hair again because hindi siya nagtampo hahaha.

LESSON: Buhok lang yan Rani, malayo sa bituka.2

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Taya

Maraming sinasabi ang mundo na “worth it”.

Worth it ang pagpupuyat pag naka graduate ka na.

Worth it ang pagtitipid pag may ipon na malaki.

Worth it ang calories pag masarap ang food.

Worth it ang diet at exercise pag sumexy.

Worth it ang panliligaw pag sinagot.

Worth it ang heartbreaks pag nandyan na ang the one.

Worth it ang OT pag na promote.

Worth it ang pagiging malayo sa pamilya pag may nare remit buwan buwan.

Worth it ang pagod/puyat/sacrifice/etc pag may kapalit sa dulo.

Pero ang pinaka worth it, e yung worth it na bago pa tayo may gawin.

Dun sa binigyan tayo ng worth bago pa tayo may gawin.

Sabi nga ni Paul, “For the suffering that we are feeling is nothing compared to the joy that is coming.”

Worth it Siya, Rani.

Pananampalataya lang.

We Need A Van

I feel a little sad today (or yesterday if you want to be strict about it since it’s past midnight where I am). I’m thankful it’s no longer the kind that eats me up but still, it made me cancel plans and kept me on bed all day. I tried calling my mom an hour ago, at 1:17 AM to be exact, knowing full well it’ll go unanswered because she’s asleep. The mere act of clicking for her name on my contact list gave me comfort.

Typhoon Gorio caused classes to be suspended since Thursday and I don’t have to go to school till Tuesday afternoon. It’s a six-day weekend for me. As usual, I spent it sleeping at 6 AM and waking up at 3 PM. To compensate for my lack of school-related productivity, I saw a play (Caredivas!), tried finishing a KDrama (W), got bored and stopped at episode 8, and watched a couple of great films (Dunkirk! Chungking Express! Arrival!). Now, I’m writing a blogpost. As the saying goes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop“. Nah, I just miss my family.

Last March/April, my family went to the Bicolandia. We flew in from Manila to Legazpi and went on a road trip from there spanning hundreds of kilometers. Since my parents have always complained about my “toxic” itinerary, this time, we rented a van for four days. Grabe, I think this is our most convenient vacation to date — no rushing since we’re no longer at the mercy of public transportation, they can sleep during the travel time from one destination to the next, we didn’t have to worry about buying too many pasalubongs and bringing a lot of things because we can just dump them in the vehicle, and best of all, we can stop anytime for food! Apart from my sister’s two year old Vios and a Public Utility Jeepney which we lost in an accident years back, we do not own a vehicle. Well, this trip fueled my mother’s desire to buy a Grandia. But we don’t have the budget nor the parking space for that yet.

Anyway, back to the trip. It was also our first time to purchase our plane tickets (instead of relying on my sister’s employee perks) so we didn’t have to go to the airport early to queue and wait for free seats. In my mother’s words, “Ang sarap palang hindi tumatakbo papuntang boarding“.

First stop upon arriving is breakfast! We went to Bigg’s Diner, a restaurant chain well known in this part of the country. The food we ordered were just okay but their iced tea puts other iced teas to shame!bicolllNext stop is Kawa-Kawa hill. It’s famous for its version of the Station of the Cross. After the fifth one, my mother’s stomach started acting up. Me and my siblings had a high time making fun of her and her distorted face which angered my father. In the end, the two of them went back in search of a bathroom. That’s the kind of marriage I want, someone who’d accompany me even if it meant he’d miss the view.bicol (3)Mej out of place.bicol (4)bicol (5)It’s called Kawa-Kawa because the middle of the hill slopes downwards.bicol (6)Beat the heat!bicol (8)Next stop is Quitinday Hills. I intentionally scheduled all the physically taxing activities in the morning 🙂bicol (11)The view at the top. By this time my brothers are getting grumpy because (1) they’re not used to physical activities (2) it’s getting hot and most of all (3) they’re hungry again.bicol (13)bicol (14)The coolness inside Hoyop-Hoyopan cave is a welcome change after Quitinday Hills.bicol (16)It’s privately owned, just like the previous attractions we visited. Pictured below is the area where they held soirees and parties during Martial Law.bicol (18)During the trip, my father always joked that we were travelling with a Senior Citizen because my mother always needed assistance. I really can’t blame her because of all the lifestyle diseases she has and the side effects of all the medicines she takes. Despite being seven years older, Pangs is healthier. She’s actually a living warning for me to treat my body better but I don’t know why I’m not taking it more seriously.bicollllWe specifically told our driver and overall tour guide, Kuya Eric, to bring us to carinderias and small eateries as much as possible because they’re cheaper (with my family’s appetite, the bill can balloon on orders of extra rice alone) and the dishes are what the locals actually eat. I don’t remember the names of the ones we went to but we were satisfied every single time.bicol (90)Sumlang Lake where you get one of the best views of Mayon Volcano. You wouldn’t want to touch the water though. You can rent a kayak or a floating sala set (?!?) for a better vantage point.bicol (19)Big Brothers, literally.bicol (20)We spent our first night at one of the first and top-rated resorts in Donsol, Sorsogon which is Amor’s.bicol (32)That night we went firefly watching along Ogod river. We left the station during dusk. As it grew darker, my fears grew. Only the moon shone and it felt like the trees were alive and we were the only boat cruising. To make it worse, our boatmen turned off the engine because the creatures we seek are sensitive to sound. After sometime, we went nearer the trees and there, we saw them — dots of yellow and green comparable to Christmas lights except these ones are moving! I wouldn’t say it was a breathtaking sight but it was enough to make everyone smile. Whenever their lights became faint, we clapped our hands as if to encourage them to glow again, and they will. I caught one and let it crawl on my palm while the butt shone. Unfortunately, not even my sister’s high-end camera can take decent pictures so I’ll have to relive that scene only in my head.bicol (24)Another good thing about Amor is its restaurant, Kawnkitabicol (22)Where I had the best laing. Kuya Eric explained that laing in this part of Bicol is usually sweeter because of the cooking process. I already forgot the details but it involved something about washing the leaves twice. Also, Kawnkita’s Bicol Express is closer to the version I’m familiar with, complete with gata or coconut milk.

LAING+BICOL EXPRESS+WHITE RICE=I’ll let you imagine.bicol (93)The next morning, we were up early to experience Whale shark watching, probably the activity Donsol is most known for. I’ve experienced interacting with these gentle giants before, in Oslob (I even wrote a post about it). However, the two experiences were vastly different that I couldn’t even call the former “interacting”. I felt guilty and promised myself to be more sensitive about my choices next time.

Unlike in Oslob where the sharks are baited with food so they’d go near the shore for hoards of tourists to ogle over them, in Donsol it’s the other way around. You ride a relatively big boat and travel for hours in search of whale sharks. Aside from the boat crew, you have with you a BIO or Butanding Interaction Officer who will assist and make sure you adhere to the strict guidelines. The Butandings aren’t lured with food. Instead, one crew is on the lookout. When he sees even a shadow, the boat is steered to the location where they expect the creature to pass through.bicol (29)As the Butanding approaches, your BIO jumps into the water with you and your eyes are blessed with the sight of an enormous thing swimming below. If you’re capable, you can try to follow it but I was content with the few seconds of awe.bicol (30) As early as the briefing, our expectations are managed. We were told that we might see a couple or none. Thankfully, we saw three but only after failing once or twice. Sometimes it’s just a miss. You jump in only for the Butanding to go the other way around hehe.

The running joke that time was: “Kahit wala na tayong makita kasi may Butanding na tayong nahuli.” pertaining to Shoti 🙂bicol (31)My sister, who also experienced Oslob, agreed with me. We had less documentation (due to our amazement we forgot to take a video of the huge whale shark) but brighter smiles this time around.bicol (26)Another carinderia, another satisfying meal. My favorite in this bunch is the crab meat, perfect with vinegar!bicol (94)Paguriran Island! Unfortunately, it was low tide during our visit.bicol (33)But it didn’t stop schwes from taking pictures sobicol (35)St. Joseph’s Church in Barcelona, Sorsogon. The residents say that this is the first church built by the Spaniards in Luzon. It’s plausible since the priests might have landed in this part of Luzon first after coming from Visayas. However, the claim is not verified and officially recognized.bicol (36)bicol (95)Sorsogon muna fam, next time na yung Spain.bicol (37)We’re especially fond of street foods.bicol (97)Bulusan Lake which lies at the heart of Mount Bulusan, an active volcano (our visit was sandwiched between two minor eruptions dating March 2 and June 5)! The winding road and abundance of green leading up to this Natural Park is already a treat in itself. Then you are welcomed by the serenity of the place. It helped that we visited near closing time on a weekday so we were one of only two groups present.bicol (38)Schwes and I were the only ones brave enough to go kayaking around the perimeter of the lake. Again, I was uneasy as we moved father away from the station. Halfway through, my arms could no longer paddle so Rons basically did it for the both of us. Love you!bicol (39)That night we stayed in Bulusan Crystal Spring Resort, literally just outside the Natural Park along the highway. Usually, people go to the numerous hot springs in Irosin but none of them were answering my queries and I didn’t want to risk not having prior reservations (wow is dat me) so I settled with this one. It doesn’t have a hot spring but a pool with really cold water and the place is undergoing renovation but our room was spacious and had a working kitchen. The air conditioning was also strong, nothing more we can ask for.bicol (40)Since we were practically deep within the forest (no phone signal for an entire day, what a relief!), we had to cook our own food. Aside from the boiled okra which I didn’t touch, this was one of my favorite meals during our trip. Iba pa rin lutong bahay kahit pa de lata rin naman niluto mo hahaha. And I’ve never tasted fresher galunggong!bicol (99)The next morning on our way to Matnog, Sorsogon for the island hopping leg of our trip, I saw this view and just had to ask Kuya Eric to stop so I could take a picture. All those HEKASI lectures on anyong lupa came back to me ❤bicol (42)Luzon’s southernmost point!bicol (43)Since Matnog is a relatively new tourist destination, the procedures still need improvements though the boat rates are already standardized. First you have to register at the municipal hall where tourism officers are very willing to assist. According to Kuya Eric, there are issues lately about cleanliness, land ownership, and taxes.

I forgot how much we paid but it was cheaper than your usual whole day boat package. We first bought food to be cooked from the nearby market then off we hopped (ang lame, sorry).

We visited Subic beach, Tikling island, Juag fish sanctuary, and went near Calintaan cave (weren’t able to go inside because the waves were too strong). These beaches are unspoiled!bicol (47)bicol (48)bicol (49)bicol (50)My favorite was the fish sanctuary. Just make sure you do not put on sunblock before swimming with the fishes. The place is privately owned and Kuya Eric is friends with the owner so we were given priority hehe. At first, I thought it was a fishery where Tilapia and Bangus are the only species I can see. To my delight, it’s like a really huge aquarium. The owner built this from scratch and is so passionate about this project of his that he even rejected a lucrative offer from a congressman to buy the place!bicol (51)It doesn’t have an entrance fee. The least you can do to support is purchase feeds, buy turon and other food from the store ran by the owner’s wife, and donate.bicol (55)bicol (52)Someone’s annoyed with her ate.bicol (54)We rented a cottage (forgot whether it was in Subic or Tikling) and bummed around while our boatmen prepared lunch.bicol (58)bicol (59)Halo-halo is perfect to counter the heat of the sun. Of course my mother says 3 Sisters’ is better. I just roll my eyes at her haha.bicol (60)Payback time for the Donsol joke. I want Kuya Eric’s duyan/hammock! He set it up in less than a minute, just tied the two ends on a tree using simple knots. My limited Physics knowledge told me it wouldn’t be able to withstand my weight but it actually held all 90kg of me! Unfortunately, it did not end well. I tried changing my position and forgot to support my back. Before I know it, I rolled backwards and fell, butt first, in front of dozens of spectators who did not even try to suppress their laughters. You know what’s worse? Out of shock and shame, I yelled, “Ma, nahulog ako“. Obvious ba girl?bicol (62)LUNCH. ANG MURA NG SEAFOOD DOON. And make sure you treat the people who prepared your food with respect! Eat with them, if possible.bicol (64)The entrance to Calintaan cave. Contrary to the calmness pictured below, the waves were too strong that day. Heck, why are waves never calm whenever I island hop? Di na nga ako marunong lumangoy e.bicol (68)The bad side. I hope the local government plans long term and actually implements a sustainable waste management system.bicol (102)Back to the city! I had a better view of Mayon during my previous visit so I told my family one of them might be too sinful the volcano refuses to show itself. Joke! I know we’re all rotten that’s why we need a savior hehe.bicol (69)bicol (70)bicol (71)We even went on an ATV ride up to the green lava wall, still to no avail. Kaya nag dab na lang kami. Speaking of ATV, it’s fun but hell on your left thumb and butt.bicol (77)bicol (78)The carbonara at DJC is surprisingly good. The palabok, sadly disappointing.bicol (103)On our last night we stayed at the same place where I stayed before and ate at Bob Marlin. I was excited to let them try the Crispy Pata but it was unavailable haixst!

We let Kuya Eric drop us off at the airport early the next day so he can rest because he’s been driving and answering questions and assisting us for four days. It started raining and automatically, our flight was delayed for hours ha ha ha.bicol (105)We were so bored we finished a bottle of peanut that’s supposed to be for pasalubong. Note to self (and family): must never confuse hunger with boredom.bicollAdding this for the sole reason that I like it. Told you we were bored. And our phone batteries were dying on us.bicol (83)Andddd back to reality! No family trips are planned for the coming months since Shoti is starting Senior High and there are a lot of unexpected expenses this year. Le sigh.

Lastly, Aside from my parents who are the principal sponsors, I really would like to thank Kuya Eric of Mugen Transport for being extremely helpful. I highly recommend him and his company if you’re planning on visiting Bicol (he can even prepare everything — from boat rides to accommodations — for you) or just looking for a van to rent anywhere (he’s been to as far north as Sagada and as far south as Davao). He drives smoothly, is knowledgeable, and a boy scout. You can contact him at +639196061706/+639950169919 or visit their Facebook page 🙂bicol (84)

San ka na Dio?

This trip was inspired by I’m Drunk, I Love You starring Maja Salvador and Paulo Avelino. Unrequited love is my favorite trope (Hello Labs kita, okey ka lang?) so of course the film made me emotional. I know how Carson feels towards Dio. Is it safe to say that we’ve all been there? There’s just something romantic (or masochistic haha) about one-sided love especially if you’re not emotionally blackmailing the person into reciprocating your feelings. What I appreciate most about the film (aside from the soundtrack) is its fresh take on an old trope –more than Carson trying to win Dio over and the two of them ending up together, it focused on Carson processing her emotions and getting them out of the way.

IDILY is an ode to alcohol and friendships and silly emotions you thought you’d never grow out of. I’ve curbed down on my drinking but I wanted to go to the nearest 7eleven and buy myself a Red Horse and Butterball after watching. Personally, I don’t think being bestfriends with the opposite sex while remaining platonic works (in the words of Mr. Chow, feelings can creep up just like that. How much more if there’s regular encounter diba?) but Maja was so charming and natural in the movie that I did not even bat an eyelash. Still, boundaries are helpful. If you’re doing something for someone that you wouldn’t normally do for your other friends, it’s time to assess the situation. It’s tempting to let our emotions drown us (I’M GUILTY!) but the head is placed higher than the heart.

My favorite scene is the ending — Dio and Carson drinking beer on the balcony, Carson looking at Dio, Carson realizing something and bursting out laughing leaving Dio clueless.DDI4H_yVoAAAQgvYikes haba ng intro lels. Anyway, back to the trip! This happened in March. We rented a van and it turned out to be a UV Express. Aside from standing out and hearing strangers joke about it (“Ayan pwede na tayo umuwi ng fairview“), the air conditioning was bad and the seats uncomfortable.la union (35)In addition, our driver was not informed that we were going to La Union (labo diba?) so he just drove and drove. We woke up in a town just 30 minutes away from Vigan. Good thing my companions were already used to mishaps happening during trips. After contemplating heading straight to Ilocos, we just laughed about it and went back.

First stop was Bahay na Bato. We arrived earlier than the operating hours. Thank God the staff let us in. Also, no other visitors yet, yay!la union (30)la union (34)We stayed at The Circle Hostel. This is not advisable for families and picky travelers but since we were only spending one night, it was a good deal. The place is literally just for sleeping and taking showers and you’re really just paying for a bed that you even had to change the mattresses of. When you’re young, luxury is a foreign thing. Sans the long lines in the shower with earth hour looming in the background, it’s fun.la union (57)Really wanted to sleep on these hammocks but they were fully booked.la union (36)The common area of the hostel where you can charge your phones, take a nap, and befriend strangers. The number of your buddies on a trip is inversely related to your excitement to meet people. At that time there were eight of us, I think, so no new friends were made during that weekend hahaha!la union (37)I am amazed that their bunk beds go as high as 3rd floor!elyuula union (9)Hindi ako ang nagsulat niyan.la union (10)It was so hot during midday that ice cream melts faster than I can eat it. Walking through sands was out of the question because I’m not interested in firewalking. We just found a shade and sat there, looking at the waves and wishing for the sun to disappear.la union (38)la union (39)la union (41)After lunch we went to Tangadan falls. The habal habal ride en route is the most thrilling one of my life so far.la union (47)la union (48)I tried Nga Nga and partly regretted it. Betel Nut chewing is popular in the Cordilleras and other parts of Southeast Asia. la union (53)Lime was covered in Betel leaf. It was only after I put it in my mouth that the guy realized he forgot to include the Areca Palm Nut (people forgot a lot on this trip). Anyway, I also popped that in my mouth, was instructed to chew until I feel something and spit out my excess saliva lest I want to be poisoned. After a minute though, I could no longer contain it so I spit everything out. It burned and tasted gross. I was told the effects would be similar to that of drinking 5 bottles of Red Horse or even better (or worse). Guess I’d have to try again next time, hopefully with a better stomach.la union (51)No trip is complete without food and there were a lot of restaurants in La Union I wanted to try. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time. I did the math and realized I’d only be able to eat at 4 or 5 (out of a dozen on my list hahaha).

Surf Shack. Really appreciate the spiciness of their wings!la union1El Union Coffee. The dirty horchata was refreshing! The Smores can be easily recreated at home. And I really don’t have a sweet tooth so I prefer a sweet drink with salty food. Or a sweet dessert with sour drink.la union (8)Had breakfast at Flotsam Jetsam. While my friends had -silogs, I decided to be pretentious and ordered from Makai bowls. It looked appetizing but my taste buds aren’t wired to appreciate these kinds of things yet. I ended up only eating the bananas and oats. Next time I’m ordering Bangsilog which looked and tasted good with all its fats and calories!la union (7)I love watching sunsets at the beach. It doesn’t matter if there are a lot of people or none, whether it’s noisy or silent. As long as I hear the waves crashing, it is not raining, the sun is going down, and the sands are cooler, I’m good. la union (59)Who goes to the beach without swimming? Me! The only time I got went was in Tangadan Falls and the only part of my body saltwater got into contact with are my feet. I was supposed to try surfing but Emman did not wake me up. He reasoned that if I really wanted to, I should have jumped out of bed the moment I heard the alarm. Pero fam, di ko narining yung alarm and I thought we’ve been friends long enough for you to know na tulog mantika ako 😦 Ayway, I’ve berated him for that transgression many times and he’s forgiven.la union (27)I don’t mind looking after possessions while friends swim.la union (1)Swimming is prohibited past 6pm in Urbiztondo beach.la union (3)La Union at night! It’s somewhere between Boracay and El Nido. Establishments are popping up and a dozen decent drinking places are open till the wee hours but it’s still not too crowded. la union (4)la union (5)ADVANCED HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEH! Thank you for the dinner ❤la union (6)Shared a bucket with my high school friends afterwards over conversations about life, love, and anything in between. We’ve known each other since puberty and it’s comforting to know that the friendship is still alive and kicking.

Ma-Cho temple in San Fernando on our way back to Manila.la union (13)la union (15)la union (16)Ronald chillin’ at the temple.la union (17)We stopped by a grape farm! The only pasalubong I bought was a bottle of wine for myself. It’s still sitting in the refrigerator, hopefully it tastes better the older it gets.la union (20)The entrance fee (200, if I remember correctly) was a bit steep especially when you’re only gonna take pictures of vines but since it’s a first for all of us and there aren’t Napa Valley-level vineyards in the country, we still went.la union (24)See what I’m talking about when I said it was uncomfortable? Anyways, what’s done is done. Next time I’m taking the bus!la union (18)P.S. No bagnet was eaten during this trip. That’s one thing I don’t like about the film, it made us crave for bagnet and gave us false hope that it was abundant in elyu. We already knew bagnets were from Ilocos, not La Union. But since Carson said so, we still went around looking for one. To no avail *insert heartbreak emoji*.

‘di na babalik

Just a friendly reminder that not everything is as good in real life as it is in social media.

Travel is such a hip thing nowadays it’s impossible to scroll through my newsfeed without coming across someone on a holiday. And since one of the ways we are tempted is through our eyes, I’ve been a victim of these too-good-in-pictures-just-meh-in-real-life posts. This experience, however, is one of the worst.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival. With thousands of carefully curated and filtered pictures online, it has crossed your mind to go and visit. I’m warning you, unless you’re going to ride the balloon or go skydiving, spare yourself the disappointment.

Looking back, maybe the circumstances surrounding our visit — no sleep, had to stand in the bus during the 2-hour trip to Pampanga, etc — aggravated the situation but still, it’s not worth anyone’s effort unless you like being trapped in an open field with thousands of people under the heat of the sun.

Good thing I was with Fae, who doesn’t let minor (and sometimes major) things get in the way of our quality time together. So thankful that we were in the company of each other because we’ve been through worse. Imagine if I went with people I’m still building relationships with, I’m sure there’s nothing left to build afterwards hahaha.

Being fond of DIY trips, we decided to walk-in and not avail of those travel deals abundant online. As with everything, there’s a downside. We overlooked the fact that the festival is attended by hordes of people and all trips would be fully booked. Hence, we took our chance and went to the Victory Bus Liner terminal in Pasay at 2AM. The lines were already long and you can actually tell that majority were headed to Clark for the same purpose. Anyway, that was one hell of a bus ride. I was sleepy AND standing. At some point I didn’t care anymore and just lay down the floor.

When we arrived it was still dark and cool. Pero ang dami ng tao kaloka! We had siomai and noodles for breakfast because it was one of the very few stalls already open.IMG_3335IMG_3336IMG_3481Nakangiti pa kami rito, kung alam lang namin…IMG_3489Based on the schedule of events we were given, the hot air balloon flights will only be held twice. One in the early morning and another before dusk since temperature plays a vital role. If you want to know how these thingamajigs work, just remember something you learned in 4th or 5th grade: warm air rises, cold air sinks 🙂

And I rarely get to see sunrise so every single one is appreciated ❤IMG_3568Before the hot air balloons, there were sky exhibitions of some sort which I really couldn’t appreciate save for this one with the Philippine flag. The others were a mixture of “ano na ginagawa nila?” and “nasaan sila hindi ko makita” hehe.IMG_3585Our excitement grew while the balloons were filled with hot air. And Jollibee stopped by to make things better. Gets ko yung ngiti ni kuyang naka shades.IMG_3379One by one they started rising in the air. It was still cool at this time and for 10 minutes or so, I appreciated the view and clicked away at my phone.

Was it a pretty sight? Of course.

Will I travel for 4 hours round trip and pay 350 pesos for it? Hell, no.

Okay, once. But not again unless it’s free and I get to ride the balloon. The #goal is Cappadocia in Turkey!IMG_3388IMG_3437Everyone was asking everyone else to take their pictures, pang IG.IMG_3634“Fly or fly not, there is no try.”IMG_3637And before I knew it, it was over. The balloons didn’t even rose at the same time. Some were already far while others were still flat on the ground. If there’s one thing I liked most about that festival, it’s the sight of everyone looking up to the skies.

After the short-lived spectacle, the crowds were at a loss on what to do next. By this time, it was starting to get warmer despite it being February. Cza and I roamed around and had our picture taken in an overpriced photobooth with bad editing skills. Anuna bes?IMG_3550There were a lot of food stalls, mostly the same things we see in shopping malls so we really didn’t feel like eating there. Yup, I was wearing pajamas dahil wala lang, fresh off the bed ang peg ko that day. This picture was taken before the balloon flight. Now, look at the ground and imagine a thousand pair of feet walking through it. I thought the smog in Manila has toughened me up pero iba ‘to. Literal na “Dust in the Wind”. I may be over reacting but everything was brown I was reminded of the sandstorm scene in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol!IMG_3531It became too crowded especially towards the exit. You know it’s bad when people are itching to leave even though it’s not even 9AM. This ice cone got me through that ordeal.IMG_3467After walking for close to an hour because vehicles were in a standstill and paying 50 pesos for a tricycle ride that didn’t even last 5 minutes and 2 kilometers, we arrived at SM Clark only to be told that we had to wait till 10 AM before the mall opens. HAHAHA could this day get any worse?

Fae and I sat at the parking lot, agreed this trip was a fail, laughed at ourselves, and thought of things to be thankful for. We came up with three. First, that it’s a good thing we didn’t join tour groups because there’s no way we’re staying there till afternoon. Second, that we were a little closer to home and our beds. And third — what I’ve been telling since the third paragraph — that we’re thankful we experienced it once but we aren’t coming back.IMG_3475After eating Chinese food from a mediocre restaurant inside the mall and catching the earliest bus leaving Dau Terminal for Manila, we went home and put this all behind. Another story to tell. We’re giving it some time, hoping it’d be funny in the future. But right now, four months on, it’s not quite there yet.

Food photodump 11

It’s 1:15 AM. I have to be in Mendiola at 5:45. I haven’t done my AccRev2 assignment. I slept at seven pm hoping to wake up at 1 am so I can survive the day that is to come. Alas, I woke up past 9PM to my father loudly speaking on the phone and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I spent the past hours playing Everwing, my new addiction. I’ve only been playing for a week but I’m already past level 40 and my 3-star dragons are on the way. Eto na naman tayo, wasting time on things that are of no eternal value. It was a long weekend thanks to the 119th Philippine Independence celebration but my father arrived from the province which means all my plans of studying in advance (or catching up, really) went down the drain. Also, I said goodbye to my 1 week old diet and just today, went on a Binondo foodtrip. Last week I averaged 4-5 hours of sleep per day thanks to my practicum in the morning and classes in the afternoon — well into the night during MW. I may have to get by on less this week. With everything that’s been said, you’d think I’d be more wise in prioritizing things (like sleep, or my assignment), yet here I am posting my eleventh food photodump just because I wrote it in my BuJo (will talk about this discovery some other time) and I would really really love to highlight it as done.

Game?

This one was from Buffet 101 last January. During Christmas season, buffet restaurants are filled with families, usually with a couple of balikbayans who are, most of the time, the ones who foot the bill. We were no exception (thanks tita maro!). The selection was decent though based on experience, you never really feel good after a buffet, you feel so full your stomach might burst. Or maybe that’s just me. What I’d really love to see in spreads is a yogurt station ala llao llao. I’d pay for a place like that.IMG_0846Desserts. Sometimes you get more than what you can eat. Or bite more than what you can chew. Or whatever.IMG_0854What stood out for me was their shake. I forgot if this was green mango or guava or star apple or what. All I remember was that it was sour, the perfect pampatanggal umay!IMG_0870Another eat-all-you can is Tajimaya, still at SM Mall of Asia. I ate here with my father and sister. Since the latter isn’t a heavy eater, she opted for the ala carte menu. We were warned that she couuldn’t have even a bite of the food from the buffet or else, she’ll pay the 600+ pesos. We were so annoyed and offended because more than two waiters were obviously lurking around waiting to catch her. Schwes even told me she overheard the manager berating the staff to be on the lookout for guests violating the rules. K fine.IMG_1671The meat was tender though I don’t think I’ll be back because I don’t like eating at buffets with time limits (in Tajimaya’s case it was an hour). The one hour isn’t even for ordering, eating is included. Ang hina po kaya ng apoy niyo. They expect us to wolf down the food without even taking the time to enjoy it.IMG_1058Roast Chicken and Mushroom Fusilli from Coffee Bean. Ekkkk, I’d take their Spicy Tuna Linguine or Spinach and Cheese Ravioli over this anytime. Good thing it was bought with my reward points or else I would have sulked over money wasted.IMG_0950Some days I just crave for Angel’s Burger’s hotdog. Cheap and satisfying. It doesn’t get better than this.IMG_3159In unloving memory of all the salt, fat and MSG in these. Anunarani?!?!IMG_1261So I delude myself into thinking I can eat healthy once in a while and it will set off all the junk I feed my body haha. Gardenia wheat bread, some ham, lettuce, and cream cheese. Ooops, still not healthy after all.IMG_3249THIS IS A DISGRACE TO SALT AND VINEGAR CHIPS. IT’S JUST SO MILD.IMG_3246One of the junks I eat. I read somewhere that pop corns are actually healthy. I bet they are but not if they’re packaged, microwaved and flavored with butter.IMG_3251For days after my El Nido trip, I was craving for crepe so I frequented CrePes and Cream. I tried to recreate the Nutella banana we always ordered and this one even had vanilla ice cream but it’s just not the same. Baka nag iinarte lang tastebuds ko because I was in a mall hahaha. Still delicious though.IMG_3222Even though I try hard not to because it’s hella expensive for my budget, I still went back to CoCo Ichibanya. This time I had their Mushroom Omelette curry and it was so good T.T The tomato soup I can live without. I now have a thing for mushrooms even though I didn’t touch the fungi for most of my life!IMG_3239Thank God I am no longer frequenting RobMan as much as I used to (primarily because my bebe is gone lels). A lot of new restaurants and stalls are opening and most of them, though delicious, aren’t exactly budget friendly. Paper Moon is an example. Dear Japan, y u make good food perfect?IMG_3294Every bite was a delight! My first taste of crepe cake was from a food market in Makati years ago (thanks Pagsy!). I thought it couldn’t get any better than that. I was, of course, wrong. Another thing that feels wrong is the fact that a slice (which was just right bordering on small) of this heaven costs 225 pesos 😦IMG_3295Pag wala na talaga, softdrink plus overpriced manga and bagoong na lang sa foodcourt. Then I’ll slightly regret the decision when it’s time to go to the bathroom.IMG_3297Valentines was spent taking my finals and then spontaneously going to Tagaytay with classmates. I remember the February weather with fondness because I love it so much! It was cold enough to wear a hoodie. It was even colder in Tagaytay! First stop was this famous ice cream, Buffy’s. It was pricey but you can taste the freshness, I’m not kidding. We had my two favorites: Ube and Vanilla.IMG_3921Tapos medyo napasubo sa dinner hahaha. I forgot where we ate but the bulalo in Mahogany Market is better and cheaper. I think people visit this place because of the view of Taal but we went at night so no view for us, only the chilling air ❤IMG_4001While we were in Binondo a while ago, Pangs mentioned that this restaurant we visited already closed its doors. I remember the food was decent but I wasn’t surprised because the place was too big and I remember it was void of customers.IMG_2996I think Wong Kee was the name and we only went there because their dimsums are 50% off during lean hours hehehe.IMG_3002Saks lang.”IMG_2998All the food we ate and it wasn’t even the first restaurant we went to!IMG_3001Dong Bei stuffed pancake! I still like Dong Bei even though I believe it’s overpriced haha. I think first timers are sometimes surprised with the hospitality (or lack thereof) of waiters in Binondo. Some are even rude but I’m used to it and even totally understand them at times. Try working in the service industry at minimum (or less than minimum) wage and let’s see what you’ve got.IMG_4566I’ve been frequenting Binondo for a long time I no longer need to read the lists sprouting here and there of foods to try in the area. I already have my favorites. Once in a while though, out of curiosity, I still drag Pangs to look for new places to eat at. This was an example. I forgot the name because the buttered chicken was also forgettable. Charet.IMG_4577David’s Tea House — the place we go to when we don’t know where else to go.IMG_1222Of course a stopover at Salazar’s only for the Tikoy with monggo filling!IMG_1213Another visit to Binondo, not with Pangs this time! Happy to see AC after close to 5 years! Happy to meet Camille! Most of all, happy to celebrate with Trishia on her special day 🙂IMG_4331Since it’s only Pangs and I most of the time, we don’t usually order viands meant for more than two people. This is one perk reserved for dining with friends. Can’t believe I’m saying this but I. LOVE. THE. BROCCOLI. Whoa my mother will be proud. IMG_4370Quick Snack afterwards. The place was renovated!IMG_4300Yet another eat-all-you can. This time it’s at Urameshiya in Little Tokyo and the specialty is Wagyu beef cubes!IMG_3104Trust me, I was so excited to try this because I’ve heard so much about Wagyu. Then, during our meal, I realized something. No matter how much people rave about melt-in-your-mouth beef, I still like my protein to require me to put effort in chewing it. I really enjoyed the first few bites but on my sixth piece, maybe, I started craving for good old liempo!IMG_3129For some reason this fish reminds me of characters cooking their own food and eating in Murakami’s novels.IMG_3861Ichiba at Newport Mall! The place is very IG friendly. This makes me want to go back to Japan. Everything makes me want to go to Japan, actually.IMG_4101I still have to learn how to like cold soba noodles. Also, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be (something I wish I could say about more restaurants!). Or I am just inclined to order the cheap items out of habit hehehe.IMG_4093The takoyaki was what stood out for me 🙂IMG_4089And the dessert! Side note: I tried the matcha soft serve from Tsuijiri in S Maison a few days ago and I’ll never look at matcha soft serves the same way again.IMG_4094Arla recommended a KBBQ place in Malate for Tan’s birthday and it has easily become my favorite. The name is Tong Keun So and it is located along Remedios circle, on the second floor of a building with “Big Bang” lights!IMG_4968They have set meals for meat and I always order the cheapest at 990 pesos good for three persons. Sulit na bes!IMG_4974The side dishes are on point. I actually only look for four things: the spicy soup, kimchi, egg, and lettuce. It was one of the best korean bbq meals I’ve had, definitely better than Chosun and Maru and MakChang and KPub! The merit of the restaurant is evident in the abundance of customers. I’ve visited at different times, sometimes as late as 2 AM (because they’re open 24 hours) but the place is never deserted!IMG_5006Red Table at SM Manila. Obviously, the ramyun was instant.IMG_4840Forgot the name of the one on the left but it was a new offering and everyone’s favorite.IMG_4842Uncle Moe’s Shawarma! Hindi lang shawarma ang masarap, pati shawarma rice. Malamang!IMG_4454Uso pero di namin maubos. Masyadong matamis at wala kasing gatas.IMG_1192Back at Tap Station with denden! Broccoli is slowly rising in my “veggies I like” list.IMG_3310Hizon’s! This is more like my kind of meat. Also, I remember the conversation I had that day with Chabs and Tordy which made the already pleasant meal better. Definitely one for the books 🙂IMG_3879Except for the way the egg was cooked (I’m a scrambled egg person), Sisig Hooray is perfect. It reminds me of the sisig place near St. Paul when I was in college where I used to buy my lunch during weekends, only better! If only it wasn’t unhealthy.IMG_4085Munchkins X Ice Scramble ❤page3I paid less than 50 pesos for everything on the left! It was a lugawan near where I live. Meanwhile, the Flaming Wings in Katipunan sucks. Sa Taft pa rin ako!page2What I usually eat during lunch break at school. Unhealthy, but fast and cheap. Is it obvious that I love Liempo? I really do.page5The picture on the left costs 99 pesos! It was a promo in the food court of Harrison Plaza. Pictured on the right are the superior foods from Coffee Bean.page22Can’t remember the last time I ate at Yellow Cab! Buti na lang andyan ang nanay ko to pay for it wahaha.IMG_6874My 3 little pigs charot. Labyu!IMG_6876I salute whoever came up with the idea of MY STUFF in respect to solo diners!IMG_4611Thanks to a Facebook post about Pancit Batil Patung, I saw my beloved high school friends one Sunday. We missed home and since Pancit Cabagan isn’t as popular as its neighboring pancit, we settled for this Tuguegarao pride to mitigate our homesickness.IMG_4654IMG_4735It was subpar but familiar.IMG_4736Pwede na pero ‘di na babalikan. Parang pag nagising ka sa katotohanan. LUH!IMG_4738Lastly, this, my friends, is Mang Inasal’s version of a Super Meal. You know the ways to my heart, JFC!IMG_1308The clock says 2:43 AM. I’ll contemplate if I can still do my assignment (with Everwing in between) then hopefully dose off for an hour or two so I can function later. I’m not getting any younger so I’m sorry body, I’ll try harder next time.

This Bird Has Flown

I just finished the book I bought on our first date. It was June. I was nervous. You were running late.

From shelf to shelf I looked for something I hope you’d enjoy, something I can lend to you after I’m done. I guess I liked you enough to think about afters. That was quite new and scary for me.

I put off reading it figuring there’s plenty of time. A second date followed. There wasn’t a third. We stopped.

Now it’s May and you’re nothing more than the guy I was waiting for the day I bought Norwegian Wood.