Palawan: A Place Like No Other

The summer that just passed has been to date my best so far. I know this statement has been so overused especially by me but still, forgive me for saying it once again. It is because this summer saw me literally riding the waves in Palawan, one of my dream places to be for as long as I remember and walking the sleek streets of Singapore, one of my favorite cities. This will be all about Palawan though, the Singapore thing will be in another blog. Like I said, I have always wanted to go to Palawan that is why when the opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it without thinking twice. We stayed for four glorious day there. Palawan is, what can I say, simply breathtaking.
We took the morning flight to Puerto Princesa via Cebu Pacific. That was my first time to ride Cebu Pac, I have always been a PAL rider. The flight was so smooth and “uneventful” that Cebu Pac will see more of me in my succeeding trips.


We stayed at Palawan Village Hotel, which I would say is pretty much okay to a tourist like us living on a budget.

First stop was Baker’s Hill for lunch. It is like a little theme park without the rides. It is famous for its delicious pastries such as hopia and caramel ensaymada, perfect pasalubongs for your family. It has lots of pretty pocket gardens where you can pose and take some pictures and restaurants that serve a wide variety of dishes.


After lunch, we proceeded to Aplaya Elementary School for an Outreach activity. Hey this is not solely a leisure trip, we had to put some heart into it right?:) We distributed hygiene kits, food and slippers to the kids, and computers and other essentials to the school. We also did some counseling on some of the children and gave workshops to the teachers.
After the outreach activity, we headed to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm to hear mass. Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is the world’s largest open prison. As you enter, you will notice prisoners visibly present within the community but do not be afraid for they post no harm. Iwahig provides detainees hope for a better life in prison by giving them work such as farming, fishing, carpentry etc. that is why some prisoners chose to stay in the community when their sentences commenced.

house of a living-out prisoner inside Iwahig

The following day we left at 5:30 a.m. for the Underground River adventure. It was a good 2.5 hour van ride to Brgy. Sabang, 20 minute boat ride to the foot of St. Paul Mountain and a 5 minute walk along the edge of the forest to the Underground River entrance. We had to register and present our permit first at the Aplaya before we were allowed to ride the small boat. We also have to put on our life vests and hard hats. The Underground River cruise lasted for about 45 minutes. It was like being treated to an amazing nature show. We cannot help but marveled at the beautiful sights in front of us. Our trusty bankero cum tour guide pointed out interesting stalagmite, stalactite and limestone formations such as mushroom, bacon, cabbage, umbrella etc. I particularly liked the part in the Underground River cave where it would suddenly open to reveal a somewhat majestic cathedral complete with a Virgin Mary, Holy Family, Angels and Saints like formations. It was magical in a way that those interesting formations are all nature’s artwork. Underground River is truly a living testimony of how nature’s mighty hands work.
St. Paul Mountain




The next day we headed to Honda Bay for an island hopping escapade. The banca took us to the different islets along Honda Bay. We saw Luli island (short for lulubog, lilitaw depending on the level of the tides), Pambato reef which is popular among divers with its rich marine biodiversity, and Starfish island where you can find many big and gorgeous starfish scattered around the shore. We got off at Snake Island which is a good place to snorkel since it is teeming with fish and Isla Pandan where we enjoyed some deep sea swimming. Honda Bay to me is simply paradise.

Isla Pandan


Endless sand bar at Snake Island

Luli Island

We also visited other interesting places in Palawan such as the Mitra residence, Crocodile Farm and the Balsahan Resort in Iwahig. Of course Palawan trip will not be complete if you do not pass by the palengke to shop for kasoy and some dried /fresh seafoods, we bought a lot! We also shopped for pearls at the Tiange, Tinage, a must see place for pearls enthusiast like me, authentic south sea and fresh water pearls are sold here at a bargain.
view from the Mitra residence

Balsahan Resort

Crocodile Farm

palengke

Tiange, Tiange!

Palawan is truly beautiful because it is not only blessed with abundant natural resources but also with dedicated and concerned people who readily step up at any given time to safeguard their environment and community. They take part in the local government’s drive for a clean environment by taking seriously the strict fines imposed on littering. They actively support coastal clean-up. Volunteer scubaderos (short for scuba and basureros) dive into the water to collect litters and tidy up the sea beds to ensure that it teems with marine life. They also educate and involve tourists in the conservation and preservation process. They encourage them to be responsible caretakers of nature through simple acts of proper waste disposal. They religiously participate in projects spearheaded by Mayor Hagedorn that increase environmental awareness not only among locals but among tourists as well. One such project, the Love Affair with Mangroves, is held every year. Here, local and tourist volunteers plant mangrove seeds to help prevent coastal erosion and form nurseries for fish and shrimp. The Feast of the Forest, also an annual event, takes place every third or fourth week of June. In this project, volunteers of all ages plant various trees in the denuded forest zones in the city.
Palawan’s rise to fame is truly remarkable. The local government has done its job well but I guess, the biggest credit goes to the people living in the community whose deep initiative and involvement made Palawan what it is today. It is through their concerted efforts to preserve the beauty of their community and conserve the wildlife that Palawan continues to thrive in its beauty today. There is still so much to see and so much to explore in Palawan. I am looking forward to my comeback there. When you are in Palawan, its as if God is so near, because everywhere you look, you will clearly see his hand imprinted on nature.:)

GIBO for President

I am proud to share that I voted for GIBO. I like him for his unassuming brilliance and quiet ways. He clearly knows his place. That is at the forefront of change and not in the middle of a giant marketing hype/media frenzy nor at the beck and call of his political party, nor even in the shadow of his family legacy. He never once hogged the headlines of any newspapers or vied for the top post of surveys but his name still resounds in hearts of the many thousand Filipinos out there including youths who believe that he can deliver real change. He is the only candidate I know who has clear cut ideas and well thought out plans in making our country move forward. Though he might not make it to the presidency like what the “wisemen” of the surveys predicted, I am still proud of the fact that, that one chance of a vote that I casted did not go to waste because it went to (for me) the most deserving one among the candidates. Much luck to you Gibo, may you continue the good works you have started and may you make your future plans and dreams for a great Philippines happen.

Why I Love Pacsafe

I have been forever in search of that perfect travel bag that is safe, durable and functional. I was introduced to Pacsafe two years ago and I must say, I have found the perfect travel bag companion. With Pacsafe Travel handbag you don’t have to worry about your passport, money or other valuables being unknowingly stolen and picked off from your bag while you are touring the city. It has wonderful features such as tamperproof zipper, eXomesh® slashguard in lower front and bottom panels , slashproof adjustable shoulder strap, and snatchproof shoulder strap that allows the bag to anchor to a secure fixture. I also love how functionable and fashionable Pacsafe travel bags are and how they leave room for internal organization.

I also love their digicam and phone strap. They are the perfect must-haves for travellers. The DigiSafe 100 Phone and Camera Strap is a lightweight slashproof neck strap designed for carrying your mobile phone or digital camera close to you. An additional connector lets you interchange between two electronic devices quickly and conveniently. It has a slashproof adjustable neck strap and wire loop to connect to mobile phone / digital camera. You do not have to worry about your phone and digicams being snatched away from you.

Pacsafe products ensures users of a worry-free travel. It gives users a chance to explore their destinations without having to worry about loosing things or being a victim of the mischiefs of others. I truly adore all Pacsafe products. Go buy your own Pacsafe anti-theft travel gears and enjoy every minute of your travel.=)

Epiphany

I asked God for a sign, he did not give me one, but instead he gave me three wrapped in love, in different stages, the last the most resounding one…I felt them reaching the deep crevices of my heart, I felt them spreading to the depth of my soul. Now I realize, He has been preparing the path for me all along and ever so slowly, ever so gently he is leading me to His will. The decisions I’ve made, the circumstances that presented itself, the opportunities that came along, it was part of His great plan. With his skillful, masterful hand, he is slowly revealing it to me…and so like a puppet in the Mighty hands of Her master and with blind faith I accept. Thy will be done…

My Husband's Version of Our Love Story

This entry became a finalist in Fitflop Philippines Share Your Love Story Contest.:)
I always see her every morning in the office doing what she does best—order us around.:) She loves to play boss when the real boss wasn’t around, so I always thought, astig tong babaeng to, minsan sarap sapakin. She was either demanding towards me especially when she wanted a much higher end of the month sale or pasweet kasi me papadeliver na machine. So allergic ako sa kanya. I stayed away from her until that one “fateful night” (hehehe) when we found ourselves in the (unhappy? hehehe) company of each other sa party. It was a night full of wonders. After that we fell into a simple routine of me giving her three mentos candy in the morning before I leave the office and us going home together.
I believe that the whole universe conspired to bring us together. We were opposites. I was a happy bachelor, living it out to the fullest. My life at that time revolved around work and endless gimmicks while she is a snooty brat who just kept to her small circle of friends. I guess tama sila love knows no rules and breaks all boundaries. When we finally admitted to ourselves that we love each other, the earth did not shake, the skies did not open and lightning did not struck, love simply happened to us.Yung kaibigan ko sabi nya I wouldl recognize love right away when I see it. I didn’t recognize it right away but instead I felt it.
After just three months in the relationship, we got married. I never once doubted that she is “the one” because she is the only person who can make me wait “happily” for hours for her, the only person who can wrap me in her own little finger, the only person who can shut me up with just a look (hehehe), the only person who can be brutally honest with me and get away with it, and the only person who can make me do things that a guy in his right frame of my mind wouldn’t normally do like blow dry her hair at 5 o’clock in the morning everyday. She is the only person in the world who can always bring out the best in me and who can make me believe that I can always be the person that I choose to be (split personality?hehe). She is my cheerleader, my fan, my worst critique and my worst enemy (hehehe). She is my life

My Love Story in a Nutshell.:)

Our love story started with mentos candy,
Something that didn’t really catch my fancy
Everyday he would give me three,
Hoping that these would impress me.
He wasn’t handsome and far from being nice
But then I would always notice his happy, sparkling eyes
I decided at the start that he was not the man of my dreams
He’s more like a character straight out of the movie Scream
We are as opposite as north and south poles
When we’re together we are more like Calvin and Hobbes
I was grumpy, grouchy and always whiny
But despite all these he always made me feeel that he loves me dearly.
Love is really weird or just being true, because after 3 months,
I surprised myself by telling him I am in love with you too.
It must be (I kept telling my friends) that he spooked my drink with a love potion
For me to have that (sigh!) kind of reaction.
Was looking for fireworks? drama? music? or even magic?
But then he made me realize that true love doesn’t have to be so melodramatic
Right after that we tied the knot,
And oh boy! we did go through a lot.
Married life I realized is not a walk in the park
It was more like making that trip to heaven, hell and back
But then again, I would gladly walk those same paths over and over again
As long as I am with my husband and am wearing my Fitflop.:)

FitFlop: Fashion and Health for Scoliotics

Let me start of by saying that the christmas that just passed had been one the most exciting christmas of my life. For one thing, I never expected to get the gift that I so wanted for christmas this year, that is the fitflop footwear. My family did not even have to shell out money just to give me this expensive footwear because I got the pair for free. Yup, Fitflop Philippines has been kind enough to give me a pair for christmas. I guess because they liked what I wrote in their fan page.:)
Why am I going gaga over this footwear? Well because I have read enough about its health benefits and have even met quite a number of people who swear by it that I vowed to get one for myself. I wear mine as often as I can eversince I got my pair. I must admit that all the health benefits that it claims to give are definitely true and are not just marketing hype.
I have been struggling with scoliosis for a number of years now. I’ve also been in search for that perfect pair of footwear that will give strength to my lower limbs and utmost support to my lower back and hips for quite sometime. I am happy to say that Fitflop definitely gives all of these things with the least effort what with its innovative engineering design. Aside from scoliosis, it has also been reported to give relief from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, chronic back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis, restless leg syndrome and degenerative disc disease. It is not often that we find a perfect shoes that would take care of all our needs. So I encourage everyone who have scoliosis like me or even those who don’t have scoliosis but give utmost importance to their health to get one. It is truly a one of a kind product and the many colors and styles that you can choose from is definitely an added bonus.:)
For more info about fitflop you may log on to http://fitflop.multiply.com or search for Fitflop Philippines in facebook and become a fan.:)

Countless Chances

Everyday we are given countless chances to…
love for the right reasons
fight for the right reasons
let go for the right reasons
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
be eXtRaordinary
be the best that we can be
go the extra mile
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
forgive others
forgive ourselves
forgive our past
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
make others laugh
make others smile
make others grateful for our presence
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
rise above the situation
break free from what’s keeping us
begin again
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
grab each opportunities
follow the path that leads to our star
shape our destiny
Everyday we are given countless chances to…
make a difference
leave our mark
touch lives
Everyday we are given countless chances to mAke tHings RiGhT…

A Tent Story

When one of our loved ones passes away, we go through different stages of grief. First there’s that heart wrenching, too painful kind of grief that you usually feel right after the funeral, where even the sight of his things and the mere thought of him makes you cry. Then after a few months or so, you go through that second stage of grief where he just seems to be there, you feel his presence and you imagine hearing his voice but the thought of him doesn’t evoke buckets of tears anymore. After a year or two, whether you have realized it or not, you step on to that stage of grief called moving on where that person just becomes part of your memory and not your everyday life anymore. You think of him in a nostalgic kind of way and remember him more with fondness and not sadness anymore. At this point it is very easy to share his being to other people.
I would like to think that I am at that last stage of grieving. I would like to say that now, I can easily take my daddy in and out of that corner in my heart that holds all my fondest memories of him anytime I want to without feeling even that small twinge of pain. There are still times though when I get all panicky when I would realize that days or weeks had passed without me visiting his grave and thinking about him. But then again, I would also realize that I haven’t really forgotten him at all, I have simply accepted that he is now gone.
My daddy passed away but I know he will forever remain in my life. Sometimes I ‘d like to think that he is just there smiling down on us. I see him in the most unlikely circumstances and situations. Like this morning when my husband and I woke up at 3 am because of the strong winds battering our house because of the typhoon. The first thing that we thought about was the tent that my husband put up in his grave for our visit today and tomorrow. I was depressed the whole time because I know with a tent like ours, there’s no way it could’ve survive the storm. You see my dad was a perfectionist, he was during his lifetime too vain and too proud. He always wanted nothing but the best. I felt that we failed him because the typhoon would surely have wrecked the whole tent, candles and flowers. As soon as the strong wind stopped, my husband went to the cemetery all prepared to pick up the broken pieces of our tent but then much to his surprise, in the midst of all the broken tents in the cemetery, there stood one solitary blue tent, our tent. The candle holders were not broken and the flowers were still blooming safely in the basket. I don’t know how it happened, but I would like to think that my dad held on to that tent in his desire to have the best one because he sure wouldn’t want a wrecked one standing on his grave. He would rather “die” than be caught in an ugly one.hahaha. That is so like daddy. Of course it could’ve been because my husband and his friend made a good job mounting it up, but there’s really no way, no way at all for an ordinary tent to survive that kind of typhoon unless some strange thing happened. It still amazes me right at this moment just thinking about it, like the many times my daddy amazed me with the many different ways he showed his love when he was still alive. I miss him a lot and I am thankful that He still continue to make his presence known even in the most unlikely circumstances.:)

This Too Shall Pass

Most of you must have been in shock like me when news of the flashfloods in some parts of Metro Manila were being aired in the different TV channels last Saturday. It was something I never would have imagined happening to the people living in these places, yet at the back of my mind I know that this has long been coming. It was like a bad dream unfolding right before our very eyes. Although my family and I were not directly affected, I felt an urgent need at that time to do some head count just to make sure my relatives and friends are okay. Like everyone, I fervently prayed for the storm to pass, for the rain not to start again and for the victims’ ordeal to be over. We are up to now tuned in to the news, eager to know the progress of the rescue efforts and the well being of the people still trapped or waiting to be rescued.
To the victims of this tragedy: you must have been at some point during your ordeal cursing heaven for this tragedy that has befallen you or your family. You must have been at some point questioning the universe why it has to happen to you. I can just imagine how difficult it must be but I guess when things like this happen, when tragedy like this struck, we need not understand, we need not comprehend. We just need to embrace everything, how difficult it may be, and allow people, help–God’s presence– to come to our life. We just have to have that blind trust and faith in God that he will make everything alright. We just have to believe that eventually things will get better. This too shall pass.
To those spared by this tragedy: we must have done something good or we must have made the universe happy at some point to be spared of this tragedy. Or maybe we are for now just on the other side of the fence waiting in line for our turn to receive our crash course on life 101. Let us thank our lucky stars, our guardian angels, our God for giving us another chance to realize just how lucky we are. Our help, in whatever way we can, will serve as the balm that would heal the broken spirits of the victims of this tragedy. Let us make them feel that they are not alone in this fight, let us make things alright for them. The worst is over, with our help, things will get better for them. This too shall pass.
Omnea en bonum (everything for the good)