Hiking is easy with a healthy body

Thanks to a friend’s relentless persuading plus an ongoing promo, I again enrolled myself in a gym last week. I’ve done this before, twice or thrice. And unlike in the past when I did not even get the value of what I paid for because I only went a couple of times during the first month and then never set foot again the remaining five, I want this time to be different. Actually, I need it to be different. Why, you say?

Well, it was the wake up call of all wake up calls. As is customary during sign ups, I was asked for my current and desired weight. When I stepped on the digital scale and saw the numbers, my knees weakened and it felt like someone threw cold water on my back.

As of March 12, 2018, I weigh a whopping 97.6 kilograms! That’s like two sacks of rice. Or two healthy (based on BMI) 156cm persons! The heaviest I’ve been in my 26 years. Heavier than my 2012-2013 super dark phase.

I have a long journey ahead of me. After signing up, I decided to give it a try and two minutes into the warm-up, I was literally wheezing! Half a dozen times during the duration of the routine I needed to finish, I either laid down because I was about to faint, rushed outside to breathe the semi-polluted air of Mendiola, or went to the bathroom to vomit. I really appreciate Thalia (the friend mentioned in the first paragraph) for being so patient and positive with me even when I was giving up on myself. She’d make a good coach. The exercise was doable in an an hour and 30 minutes but I caused delay. It was one of the hardest 3 hours of my life. Thalia said it gets better the more I do it but the fear of fainting for real has kept me from coming back. I’m such a loser.

So I guess the objective behind this post is motivation. I need to shed those pounds if I want to keep doing what I enjoy doing, one of which is hiking. The last mountain I climbed was Batulao in July last year. Nothing followed not because I was too busy nor too poor nor too alone. I just know, deep inside, that my body is not fit enough to do it.

I don’t actually know why Batulao has a 4/9 difficulty rating. I think it’s an easier hike compared with other 4/9 like Tarak Ridge. I’m not speaking from the point of view of the 200-pound me though because clearly, I had a hard time climbing this 800+ meter mountain.

Fae and I road a Nasugbu-bound bus in Buendia and told the driver to drop us at Evercrest Golf Course where there’s a queue of tricycle to bring you to the registration area. While waiting for our tour guide, we ate breakfast composed of Batangas Lomi and a beloved snack with a twist. The former was different from the Lomis I’m used to, the noodles are thicker and firmer and the egg was boiled instead of battered with the soup. The latter was a pleasant surprise, never thought the saltiness of the fish crackers would complement the sweetness of the brown sugar. My only complain is that the caramelized sugar keeps being stuck on my teeth.3On some parts, the weather was cool. Unfortunately, as lunchtime approached, it became very hot and humid because the trail was exposed, no trees to protect you from the sun. I’m not complaining too much though because I’d take hot and humid over raining and muddy any day. batulao (9)Unlike other mountains I’ve climbed where the view changes from time to time, Batulao is pretty much the same rolling hills. The only thing different is the height of the grass.batulao (4)Some areas are muddy because it rained the day before. As usual, I still did the sit and slide in some steep areas. Thankfully, I only fell down my butt once.410 minutes into the climb, I had to lie down because my body, used to being sedentary for the past months, was rebelling against me. My vision turned from colored into Sepia which meant I was about to faint. Thanks to our guide for bringing candies with him and to Fae for letting me drink 80% of the water we brought.batulao (21)Everything was worth it for this view.batulao (3)5Blue insect at the summit.batulao (7)While I was catching my breath most of the time, this girl right here did not even break a sweat (or if she did, it was because I kept on messing with her momentum due to my unscheduled stops). Proud of you beh!batulao (2)I think I was around 80-85 kgs here (anggulo lang bes).batulao (8)Will never get tired of the feeling once you reach the summit (and will always hate the feeling that I still need to go down after sometime). What I need is to rekindle the love for the climb itself. It’s not only a battle of the physical state but mental as well. I miss the things that go through my head while hiking. Number one of which is almost always “Mag jogging ka na kasi” hahaha.batulao (1)Since we didn’t bring anything to eat for lunch at the summit, we decided to have a decent post-climb meal. In the mindset of tired hikers, “we earned it“. So we rode a Jeepney to Tagaytay.batulao (24)Ended up in Fire Lake Grill in Cliffhouse, Tagaytay. We were the only diners aside from what I can only deduce is a food blogger. All I can say is that she did not have a concept of personals space.

I had fettuccine pasta in black truffle cream sauce with smoked garlic sausage and Shiitake mushrooms while Fae had grilled spring chicken marinated in lemongrass and light curry and basted in Annatto seed oil. Both dishes were delicious albeit pricey and not really suitable post-climb meals. In hindsight, we should’ve gone to Mahogany Market and shared in an order of Bulalo and Crispy Tawilis. I think Fire Lake Grill is perfect for those who  want a romantic date. For two friends who just overcame a mountain and only changed clothes without taking showers, not really.  We felt out-of-place in our shirts and jogging pants and backpacks hehe.batulao (25)The view at Cliffhouse was nice. If you want some peace and quiet in Tagaytay during the weekends, this is the place to be.batulao (27)I wonder when I can climb mountains again. Kailangan ko muna pakiramdaman katawan ko. Hopefully after the boards in May before the rainy season starts.

Gah, I really miss the 70 kg Rani. Hope she makes a comeback this year and stays for good.


no erase period comma

I hate broken promises. I know most of us do but I think mine is way beyond normal. Maybe because I try my best to keep my word, no matter how inconvenient, don’t want my palabra de honor to be questioned. Maybe as a child I was tricked into believing things that aren’t true. Maybe I don’t have an excuse except the fact that I’m “impossible to deal with”. Bottom line is, it irks me when people don’t do the things they tell me they’d do no matter how small and insignificant, no matter how valid the excuse.

One time, my mother promised that we’d go to Lotsa Pizza for dinner. Being the rotten human that I am, I did not remind her because she SHOULD have known what time we’re supposed to leave. To cut the story short, the store was already closed when we got there and I was so mad “di na maipinta yung mukha ko“. Heck, it wasn’t even about the pizza because let’s face it, Lotsa pizza tastes meh. Just the thought that I was told we’d go but didn’t. There are a hundred more stories like this.

And don’t get me started with friends. You know the story where the main character realizes all his other friends are too busy to hang out with him? The one where everyone else but him has work and worse, significant others? Where the lead basically feels like a spare tire? Fed up, he promises never to cross oceans for people who won’t even jump a puddle for him again.

Honestly, I thought that was the answer. Stop crossing oceans. Wallow in self pity. Look for people who deserve you and will reciprocate the things you give to them. Dispose relationships. Or at least, don’t be too invested in them.

But I thank my God for humbling me, big time.

First off, He made me realize I was overestimating myself. I am neither His gift to humanity nor am the sun around which the world revolves. I was too busy remembering the instances when friends and family bailed out on me that I forgot about the times I let them down. Have I taught my father how to download songs just like I promised? Nope. Have I tutored the classmate who I told could ask me for help in the subject she is having difficulty in? Nah. So yeah, how dare I!

Second, I was reminded that I am looking for love in the wrong places. When promises are fulfilled, we feel important. But no human being can do all the things he says all the time. Heck, how many of us have repeatedly promised to go on a diet? or break a bad habit? Hence, I was placing an impossible burden and unattainable expectations on people who were as broken and as flawed as I am.

There are things only God can give. Most of the holes we have aren’t human-shaped. But it also doesn’t mean we become lone wolves and rely only on our relationship with the Lord. Yes, He is a personal God but He also commanded us to love others. The best analogy for this is one I heard from the Unashamed conference last year. God is the grand prize, everything and everyone else is a bonus.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t figured everything out, just the important bits. This is actually something God is still dealing with me. Last year, three dear friends decided to stop communicating with me. It hurt, a lot. The past few months have been a cycle of denial, guilt, and anger. Just yesterday I cried for one of them. A part of me wanted to slap what they were missing on their faces. I did not do anything wrong (or so I think)! It’s so unfair! Another part wanted me to cling desperately. I bombarded them with messages ranging from I miss yous and let’s try to work this out to outright let’s hangout as if nothing happened.

In hindsight, both of them were wrong responses mainly because they were driven by my pride. So my prayer for this season is acceptance. I am not obligated to all the people who come my way and not all of my relationships will start and end when I want them to. And if when, in the future, God tells me to reconcile, I am sincerely praying for a humble and obedient heart devoid of bitterness and unforgiveness.

I think people letting us down (and vice versa) is also a form of God’s grace, to remind us that it is only Him who won’t let us down and Him to whom we must put all our faith and hope and trust. After all, just like what is written on His word, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19, NLT).

The line about oceans and puddles above actually became popular during my days in Tumblr. Last year, I came across this:


I think a better version would be to cross oceans and climb mountains for people because Someone not only crossed oceans and mountains for us but heaven and earth, death and life. You see, sometimes even our act of giving is riddled with pride and wrong intentions especially if we think we are the ones extending it first. So we always have to be reminded that our giving and loving is but a response (not a payment because it’s like paying off a debt in gold with mud) to what was already done for us on the cross.

Everyday, we contribute to millions of broken promises all around the world.

Every single day, thankfully, we can also hold on to Jesus, the promise fulfilled.

transitions, uncertainties and excuses


Review for the board examinations started during the ASEAN Summit. The following week, classes at school resumed. Since I wasn’t officially a graduate yet, I decided to prioritize the remaining subjects I had. I can catch up on the review after I secure that diploma.

Thankfully, I graduated on November 29. Wow, the past four years culminated to that moment. Two degrees in 10 years. But not all things are sweeter the second time around.

Anong feeling ng graduate na?

Wala lang.

Up to now it still hasn’t sunk in that I am, again, out of school. Maybe because the ceremony isn’t until May. Maybe this is what it really feels like to graduate mid-school year. Maybe I’m just too jaded. The only thing I’m happy about is bidding adieu to the school uniform.


I chose the morning schedule from the review center because I figured it would force me to fix my body clock. And I can use the afternoons and evenings doing productive things — studying like I’ve never studied before, helping out in campus ministry, getting back to reading, catching up on series I wanted to watch, maintaining my social life, exercising, etc etc. I even made a daily schedule which I haven’t followed up to this day.

Nah, it was the review classes that suffered.

Okay lang, December naman. Start ako sa January.

And so I prioritized my social life. My month was filled with dates and places and food and fun.

When I went home to the province, I brought a bag full of books and notes with me. They were unopened until I left again for Manila. I already knew I won’t even read a single page but I brought them anyway, as a form of penance.

I saw a post supposed to be published on my 25th in the drafts folder.

25 years! Quarter of a century. Ang monumental lang!

I remember I really wanted to write when I was a kid. But writing isn’t something someone from the lower-middle class is supposed to take seriously. I am expected to be a nurse or an engineer or an accountant. Pursuing writing is for those who have resources to spare. Those who are not expected to take care of the family in the future. So I kept to myself. Got scared of showing my work to others. Told people I hated grammar and composition until they reciprocated the feeling. Stopped reading books.

Anyway, I did not become a lot of the things I wanted myself to be. But there are also good things I’m thankful that I currently am. For one, I stopped feeling vengeful. I learned how to take compliments. I started caring for my skin and stopped being apologetic for liking the things I like. I am more forgiving of myself for falling short. I’m better to the people who love me most. I cut myself some slack, a little to much if I’m really honest about it.

On the 24th I turned 26. For the first time in years, I did not celebrate with my high school friends except for two. There was no overflowing mami. No birthday cake. I remember feeling sad, then relieved. It’s only fitting that this is how I spend the last birthday in my extended adolescence. When I turn 27, things will be different. Hopefully for the better.


I will not let anything distract me this 2018! I have to fix my eyes on the goal! I will not give out any favors and will decline any invitations that aren’t scheduled beforehand!

But God has other plans.

My mother asked for a favor that disrupted the momentum I gained the first few days of the year. I was so frustrated I had to put my phone on airplane mode because I know nothing good will come out of my mouth if I answer anyone’s call. Then I remembered the article What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?.

Do I justify my selfishness with greatness?

Nah, being great is not an excuse to be trash.

My schedule getting disrupted isn’t an excuse to not give my parents the respect and honor they deserve. Being mentally and physically drained from review classes doesn’t mean I will not be there to comfort a friend in need. I refuse to be a monster (or, more aptly, a worse monster) I am called to be Christlike not great in the eyes of the world.

The first two weeks of January was a breeze. The corporate prayer and fasting was affirming. I got surprised for my birthday over Chinese food and was honored in a funny and heartfelt way. I was hopeful for 2018. Then it went downhill from there.

I haven’t really processed everything because I keep putting it off. All I know is that for the first time, I broke down twice in a single day. Also, I’ve been absent from the review classes for two weeks. I didn’t think I could get any worse in my already unhealthy eating habits but I keep surprising myself. Scrolling through social media feeds till 6AM and watching more TV series than I have the luxury of enjoying. I’m back to numbing myself with distractions.

That hopefully ends today, with this post. By His grace.

I realized one of the triggers was fear. Fear of giving it my all yet failing. Fear of changes. Fear of missing out. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of even trying.

But in darkness, a single ray of light shines all the more brightly. It’s as if God was reminding me of a line that struck a chord when I read it on Christmas day.

“Let the freedom to fail give you the hope to fight.”

That’s actually the point of this post. I’m putting up a fight.

Food photodump 12

It’s the last day of October where I’m at which only means one thing, HALLOWEEN!!! Or not. In other cultures, this celebration is a big deal. Truth be told, I only learned of it from Mean Girls. In Cady’s words, “In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Instead of costume parties, these dates for me meant tuning in the Halloween special of Magandang Gabi Bayan. Five or six of us cousins cling to each other under the covers in their air conditioned room as Noli De Castro narrates tales of multi-colored lady ghosts, floating coffins, and other whatnot. I feel irreparably traumatized by that show but it was tons of fun horsing around back then. Undas (what it’s called in the Philippines) also meant visiting the tomb of a paternal grandfather I never met — the source of the 25% Chinese blood that runs through my veins. I remember burning papers which I was told would be my late ancestor’s money in the afterlife.

When I started studying in Manila, it meant going home to my maternal side of the family in Batangas. Instead of heaven moolah we’d buy flowers on the 31st, preferably close to midnight when the prices have begun to drop. This is followed by roaming around the cemetery the next day from morning till late night. Whoever can afford to would sponsor the food for the whole clan of more or less a hundred people (from grandmothers to great grandchildren). My second cousins would bring me along as they meet with friends and more than friends. Sometimes the day ends up in drinking, other times in the 24 hour McDonald’s along the highway.

Maybe once or twice I stayed in Manila and the best thing about it is the nonexistent traffic.

The point of my lengthy introduction is that I’m currently on a mini-semester break thanks to our Rector-President declaring the 30th of October as a school holiday. Classes are supposed to resume on November 3rd but I’m extending my break till the 6th. That’s more or less a 10 day vacation for me. Unfortunately, I’ve already spent 3 days holed up at home wasting my time away on the internet. As usual, to make myself feel like I’ve been productive, I’m trying to publish a blog. This morning (or yesterday morning since it’s already 5AM), I was sold on writing about my rekindled love for Carly Rae Jepsen and her underrated album Emotion but then I ended up finishing the whole 3rd season of Buzzfeed’s Worth It and now here we are.

I love the Steven-Andrew-Adam trio so much. Watching their videos make me so happy AND HUNGRY at the same time. I guess one of my dream jobs is to eat my way around the world and get paid for it. It’s right up there with being a librarian with the paycheck of a CEO. Anyway, while watching, I realized life is too short to ingest calories that aren’t worth it. I mean, how many times in the past have I eaten food that taste like cardboard? Jessica Zafra observed that the more delicious the food is, the lesser of it we need to satisfy ourselves. Maybe that’s the secret to weight loss I’ve been looking for! Yes, not everyone can afford to eat out at restaurants every single time but I’m not even talking about price but quality. Tasty can come in the form of a 40-peso Carinderia meal! So yeah, I may or may not be more conscious of what I eat taste-wise in the future. In the meantime, here’s a photodump that’s been sitting on my drafts for months 🙂

Earlier this year, I tried to cook my own food again in an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle. I failed miserably and am currently in my heaviest weight. Whoa, let that sink in. I weigh even more than I did while reviewing for my Nursing Licensure Exam!!! I’m tempted to stop this and sulk right now but I won’t. Instead, I want to affirm that yes, almost everything gets better with cheese. Including Chicken Curry.IMG_9640During this phase (which lasted only a week from what I remember), I was trying to get back into my 2013 groove. Damn, I miss that year. I was busy with nursing training but I still had time to exercise multiple times a day, cook my own meal and commute for  a minimum of two hours. Good habits are hard to make but easy to break. Sigh.

I put too much cinnamon and vanilla extract in the Popsicle on the left. And regulating what goes into my food (no additives, no extra oil etc) is of no use if the serving size is huge.8This was probably my favorite during that week. Wheat mini pizza breads, cheddar cheese, and canned tomatoes. Okay, not so healthy on second thought. At least I tried. And they’re really good.IMG_9298I’ve been to this place before with Pangs and I think I even wrote a post about it. This time I went with my Schwester during one of her layovers because she was craving for pares. It’s open 24/7. I believe the establishment peaks at night because no one wants to eat in this set up under the harsh Manila sun. A favorite is their Pares with laman/utak. I want to hoard Gina Mango Nectar!6Went to a Roti Mum branch in Tomas Morato (or somewhere near. Sorry, my QC knowledge is very limited) and the fun company and conversation that night couldn’t save this sad little bun. I was looking forward to having it after so long only to be disappointed. It was dry and lacked the coffee flavor I fell in love with before. So long, coffee bun.IMG_9245So sad that the Shawarma Snack Center stall at Robinson Manila’s supermarket closed down. There’s still SSC but it’s now under the management of the mall and they only sell Shawarmas. Now I have to walk through Salas street to get my Shawarma and Yogurt shake fix. It’s one of my favorite combos and the best part is that it costs less than 150 pesos!IMG_9226Another Binondo restaurant that’s part of a “must-try” list. K lang. I think my father and I have gone through majority of the establishments on this part of Manila and I shouldstop believing these articles and just stick to those that are proven and tested already by experience.IMG_8262IMG_8264Forgot what he was pointing at. All I remember is him giving me that look because I, again, was showing off my phone in an unsafe place which, in my father’s opinion, is everywhere.IMG_9392This is what I’m talking about when I say tried and tested.IMG_9414All for under 200 pesos. I was full and happy. I don’t know how my father does it but he slurps the Makchang rice like it’s noodles. The place is not exceptional when it comes to cleanliness and the design feels like it was stuck in the 90s but I’d take good food over good interiors at any given day.IMG_9409If The Frazzled Cook was in Manila and the place more budget-friendly for a student, I’d frequent it. I’d eat their Chicken Salad more often and proclaim to the world that, finally, I am consuming my greens on a regular basis. It’d make me feel less guilty as I munch on their truffle fries and truffle pasta. You know, I ate a handful of veggies so I deserve carbs for a balanced diet. But the only branch of the beloved restaurant is in QC and some days I don’t even have the will to go outside our barangay. Still, I love you, TFC!XICT9106Cheap eats. Busog na tiyan, busog pa wallet. 30 peso pasta from the snack bar at school and the cheapest milk tea I’ve encountered so far. Only half the price of Gong Cha but not half the yumminess.9Bugis Singapore Street Food in Banawe. Look at all that oil! And if you order this Laksa, the soup can be refilled once. You can feel the fats clogging your arteries with every sip. Still, you come back for more. I don’t know if I should thank Tristan or hate him for bringing me here.IMG_8689Bacolod Chicken Inasal brings back college memories of my parents visiting me in Manila. I’d meet with them at Robinsons and we’d eat lunch here. Then I’d rush back for my 1PM class. HA HA I’m feeling nostalgic over Chicken Inasal and Bangus. Enough, rani.IMG_9561I’ve been eating at Mashitta for ever since I started studying again but I’ve only discovered earlier this year that the best item in their menu (aside from the Bulgogi which I almost always order) is the tuna kimbap (pictured on the right). Hindi lasang 100 pesos!IMG_8132I think I said it in the previous Photodump but Tong Keun So is my current favorite KBBQ restaurant. I’ve been back and forth a dozen times this year (twice in the last week huhu) and aside from the price increase — the cheapest set meal for three went from 990 to 1190 pesos — the quality of the service and the food remains the same.DSCF4172I know KBBQs here in Manila does not compare to the ones in South Korea. While I still don’t have a budget for a trip to the land of KPop to taste the real thing, I’ll settle happily with Tong Keun So.DSCF4179Their Tteokbokki costs 550 pesos if I remember correctly, it comes in a huge pan that not even the seven of us during one visit were able to finish.DSCF4182I’ve been to three KBBQs in the past week and I vowed not to eat in one again for the remainder of the year (I hope no one invites me because I can’t say no lels) but I’m having second thoughts after seeing this picture.IMG_8444My brother’s favorite, I forgot what they’re called. The translation I think, is Korean pancakes.IMG_5484The best part about eating at TKS is the dessert. Nas already told me what it’s called but I forgot (starts with “S”). It’s so refreshing I end up finishing everyone else’s if they can no longer fit the liquid in their tummies full of meat and banchans.DSCF4188Tried Jollibee’s Choco Mallow pie. One word: overpriced. Peach Mango pa rin mgaIMG_8647Surprisingly good pasta at 7/11.  I no longer want to eat microwaved food but I have no choice when it’s 2 in the morning and my savory tooth attacks.IMG_8181Pancit Batil Patung from Weng’s, a stall in The One Torre De Sto Tomas along Espana. Pwede na ‘to to satisfy a northener’s pancit craving.IMG_00268cuts burger. So good! Sometimes all you need is juicy pattie, bun, TLC, and cheese. Let the meat stand on its own. IMG_0203Especially when paired with buy 1 get 1 milkshakes and skinny fries. Thanks Booky! 🙂IMG_0205~Whew, I didn’t know this post was quite long so I stopped at around 7am and am continuing it at 3AM on November 1st~

Ate at Nanbatei in Greenbelt with Abi. Their yakitoris are tasty but in my opinion, a bit overpriced. Even though it looked like the things we ordered wouldn’t be able to satisfy my hunger, I was surprisingly full afterwards. Must be the thought of how much each stick costs hahaha.IMG_8598There’s this restaurant in Village Square along Mabini street that serves authentic middle eastern cuisine. Save for the rice which was plain, everything else especially the sauces were bursting with flavor. It was also my first time to try Turkish coffee, too watery and sandy for my taste. But it’s strong, alright.IMG_8183Finally tried Gringo! I enjoyed the grilled squid with mango salsa the most, it was chewy and the contrasting sweet and savory flavors were on point. The ribs, just okay. The chicken was better. What elevates Gringo from its competitors are the sauces especially the spicy one!IMG_0921I’ve heard great things about Lugang Cafe. It was good but I’m not itching to try it again.IMG_0807Same goes for Din Tai Fung, a restaurant allegedly serving the best Xiao Long Bao in the world. I don’t know if it’s due to sentimentality but I think Dong Bei’s version is better AND cheaper. The game changers for me are their peanut spicy noodle and porkchop with fried rice! And I really appreciate the service — from the way orders are taken up to checkout. I’m a fan of efficiency.IMG_0947This is a dessert I had with Jinks along maginhawa. It’s cheese shaved ice and though already satisfying, I’d very much appreciate a stronger cheese flavor.IMG_6573Fried chicken is one dish that’s so simple yet the variations are more than I can count. This one from Coco Hut in U.P. Technohub is so good it reminds me of Pancake House’s version. Made better by pepper gravy and chili sauce.IMG_8017I forgot what this restaurant is called but it’s literally right outsude a friend’s door. The tawilis were small in size but crunchy nontheless. Their crispy dinuguan and molo soup were also decent.IMG_8039I like the interiors. We were the only customers during our visit, the location is not very ideal. Anyway, pictures of the owners (who are my friend’s landlords btw) are hung on a wall complete with a short piece explaining their [love] story. It must be nice to run a lovely restaurant as you and your significant other’s passion project, eh?IMG_8043The famous Aling Lucing’s in Pampanga, supposedly the pioneer of Sisig!IMG_8968The sisig was good though I’m not a fan of the high onion-to-meat ratio. What stood out for me was their Chicharong Bulaklak. I feel guilty with every bite but I kept eating anyway. Pair with ice cold Royal for the complete experience.IMG_8969Long overdue date with my high school loves. We tried the Texas Trio from Chili’s consisting of salmon, ribs, and chicken plus another potato appetizer with shredded chicken on top. We paired them with the margarita sampler. Again, I wasn’t sure if I got full from the food or the fact that our bill put a dent on my weekly allowance hahaha.IMG_9766Rustic Mornings in Marikina. I was looking forward to trying this place because it is not everyday (or week or month or even year) that I find myself in this part of the metro.DSCF3915Maybe we ordered the wrong dishes. Maybe we were grumpy from the long drive. Maybe it was the heat because we were seated outside. But aside from the rustic aesthetic of the place, the food was ordinary, too oily even (I’m looking at you hashbrown).DSCF3920DSCF3921I should have learned by now to not take all Facebook posts at face vlue. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.

I had high hopes for Mount Purro Nature Reserve. I’d been wanting to visit since last year and their website is even bookmarked on my phone. It might look promising even from the pictures below but I don’t think it’s worth the long drive up a mountain. Sure, the place is still being seveloped and I do hope it gets better in the future but we deeply regret our visit and laugh at our gullibility from time to time.DSCF3946We paid 350 pesos each for use of the huts and pool. The latter was the biggest disappointment of all. It was too small I think 15 people would make it crowded. Plus, the water was green and murky. One look at it and nope, we aren’t even dipping our feet.DSCF3949Another amenity included in the entrance fee was free use of cottages which was nothing more than a sa, open-faced nipa hut. In photos online, the cottages had pillows and curtains. In reality, only two or three resembled the pictures. The rest looked like this.DSCF3944We found a possible source of enjoyment in their game room with billiards and dart boards. Unfortunately, we were told that it was not included in the day tour package. K. We were so frustrated we did not even spend two hours in the premises. Of course I felt guilty over the amount my sister paid but the longer we stayed, the worse our moods grew. I’m not saying Mount Purro has no merit whatsoever. I just want you to set your expectations low and take everything you see online with a grain of salt.

To drown the frustrations of the previous day, we went to Club Manila East in Taytay. It was summer and half of Manila had the same plan as ours but that didn’t stop us from having a good time, especially in the wave pool. Imagine going here during the lean seaso, how fun!DSCF4033And the best food after swimming (or dipping) is anything grilled. Solb! I just wish they served everything in more environment-friendly containers 😦DSCF4046

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


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)