A Photo Walk in Zamboanga City

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I went to Paseo del Mar the other day to take some pictures. I’ve been holed up in my room ever since I got back and I needed to just get a whiff of fresh Zamboanga City air for once. I took my Fujifilm XF-1 with me and took a few pictures. It was a rather short walk because it was nearing night-time. I just went to Fort Pilar and took a couple of shots along the way. I went back to Paseo del Mar after a few minutes to have dinner with my parents.

I’m thinking of doing more photo walks in the future. I get to travel often but I barely take pictures. Yeah, I’m just lazy like that.

Road Trip to Zamboanga del Norte

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We’ve wanted to go to Zamboanga del Norte for the longest time but we always, always chicken out because of fear. We weren’t familiar with the roads, we had never been there, except for my dad who went there when he was younger, almost 40 years ago. We absolutely had no idea what it was going to be like, save from a few horror stories we read and heard from the news.

When my sister vacationed here a month ago and we were looking for a place to go swim and have fun, we all decided to finally just do it. So, on Eidl Fitr, we packed our bags and headed to Dipolog – no hotel reservations, no idea where to go and what to expect. All we had were ourselves, a bucket of Jollibee Chickenjoy, chichirya, the car, and the long road trip ahead of us.

While we still had our fears, no one really talked about it. We happily listened to one of the CDs I had burnt from months ago with all my favorite Frozen tracks and a bunch of other songs I liked. The CD was on loop the entire time. The whole trip took about 7 hours including a short stopover for a restroom break and to stretch our legs. We were surprised to see how the roads were a whole lot better than we initially thought. There were very few instances of isolation as the roads were always dotted with houses and farms which eased us a little bit and took our minds off our fears. After a few hours on the road, we began to feel comfortable and we started enjoying the ride and just took in the beautiful scenery of lush greens, the sea, and tall mountains. Zamboanga is such a beautiful place.

The initial plan was to share the driving task between dad and myself. But knowing my father, he would not let me drive on unfamiliar roads so he took on the responsibility and drove us all the way to Dipolog — he didn’t even eat, except for a couple of ginger sweets! The least I could do was turn on my phone’s GPS so we could follow Google Maps.

I searched for a hotel in Dipolog and found D’Hotel. We got there by following the GPS voice prompts (I love technology!). We checked-in, settled ourselves, ate, and then slept until the next day.

The next day was our trip to Dapitan City and our destination was Dakak Beach Resort. We ate breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and then went on the short drive to Dapitan City. If you guys don’t know yet, Dakak was like the Boracay in the late 80’s and early 90’s. No, it wasn’t the party scene that is Boracay today, but it was a popular destination of the rich and the famous, as it was the first 5-star resort in Mindanao. (You can read more about their history here – http://dakakresort.com/about-us/.

We went home the next day, and this time we made a much longer stopover to eat at Jollibee in Ipil. It was cloudy and the weather was great, not too warm.

All in all, I think I’ve enjoyed this trip even though it was a rather short one. At least now I can say I’ve been to Dakak, one Philippine beach scratched off my list. – RA

 

So, yeah. I got kinda distracted…

It has been three weeks since I arrived in Manila and a lot of things have happened. This blog post is an attempt to give you an update.

First. I didn’t complete VEDA! Argh. It was certainly a challenge especially since uploading was slow due to internet problems. And I very rarely had the time, nor the energy to actually film and upload one. But still, I think I did great for a first-timer. I will certainly do better in August.

Second. My boss went to Manila, we got together, and even celebrated his birthday in Tagaytay. We ate at a restaurant called Pamana, tried the ferris wheel at Sky Ranch, and had coffee in Bag of Beans.

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Teammates

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The Fujifilm XF-1 is LOVE.

I’m always finding myself in a battle between being a photographer or just a traveler when I’m out and about and the latter seems to be winning most of the time. My laziness and sense of entitlement tell me to just kick back and enjoy a well-deserved vacay. I always tell myself I’d remember everything anyways, but unfortunately, in most cases, I don’t. So I’m always left with that feeling of regret, wishing I had taken more pictures.

One of the things I hate when traveling is having to lug around my big camera and lenses. I carry them in an additional, heavy, hand-carried bag and it takes away most of the comfort when I’m in transit. I mean, I love them to bits, but I just want to be comfortable in airports, and having to carry a heavy bag kind of just kills it for me. So, I figured, I really need to do something about it.

The best possible solution I’ve come up with was to buy a good compact camera. One that is great enough for travel blogging, vlogging, and one that is not so heavy. I’ve been looking at several Canon choices, but I stumbled upon the Fujifilm XF-1, fell in love at first sight, and the rest was history. Continue reading

That time I went to Singapore and fell in love with Kopi C

I visited Singapore in January to spend New Year’s with my family, and to attend my sister’s wedding. Singapore is my most visited foreign country. I’ve worked there before and my brother and my younger sister are permanent residents there. So it was naturally one of the more obvious options whenever my parents and I are looking to go on a holiday.

Singapore and I, we have a love-hate relationship. When I was working there, i hated it half the time (okay, maybe more than half). The MRT was always crowded, the malls were always crowded, everything was expensive, etc. And yet, this time when I visited, all I could remember were the good things (mostly food, teehee).  Continue reading

Doing an airport tour of some sorts…

Not really.

Tomorrow, I’m flying over to CDO to attend Rey and KC’s wedding. (I took their engagement pictures in Singapore last year.) I booked a direct flight from Zamboanga City but CebuPacific changed my flight from direct to connecting. So, my trip will be like ZAM – CEB – CDO, and then CDO – MNL – ZAM. I’m kinda scared and intimidated by the number of check-in counters I have to go through. Or is that even how it works? And how about my prepaid baggage allowance? Does it apply to all flights? TT_TT I’ve never had a local connecting flight, ever. Daig ko pa ang maga-abroad! Continue reading

Nostalgia Manila

Yesterday, I went to NBI to file a clearance application for my sister who is abroad. I initially was going to take the car, but changed my mind the last minute as I figured it was better taking public transportation from Bulacan as I wasn’t too familiar with the roads.

The travel included a bus ride from Baliuag to 5th Avenue, an LRT ride from 5th Avenue to UN. It had been a long time since I last took the LRT and it brought about a feeling of nostalgia that took me to my early childhood days. It was quite fitting as I am soon leaving Manila to reside in Zamboanga (yes, my trip to Baguio didn’t push through for reasons I will tell you about in another post, maybe).

A great part of my childhood was spent in Manila. I was schooled in Malate Catholic School and my family owned a Money Changer / Gift Shop business situated in Ermita, Manila. I remember taking the jeepney from school to go to our shop so that we could all go home together – by we, I mean my siblings and Mom and Dad. It was kind of like my favorite part of the day.

My LRT ride yesterday brought me back there and to my early years of college (I graduated from Ateneo de Zamboanga, but had two years of AB Mass Comm credit from UE Recto). It was sad as it seemed not too long ago when I roamed the streets of Recto as a college student. I was awkward, bright, and full of life. God, I feel old. TT_TT

Looking from out the window of the train car, I could see the shabbiness of Manila – old houses and dilapidated buildings. It was as if I was watching scenes from an indie film. Maynila may look dirty, its buildings and streets old, but somehow, I wasn’t turned off. It was my home for a few years and no matter how much the place grew older every time I visited, it still felt like the same place I saw with bright-eyed wonder from years before.

Maybe when I go to pick up my sister’s clearance, I can take pictures. Or maybe not. Either way, I will always remember Maynila.

Benguet Dream, Realized

Baguio City - City of Pines
Image created using Paper for iPad and my artsy self. Teehee…

It’s funny how in a span of my last post and this post, I’ve realized one of my dreams. Okay, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself as I am clearly nowhere near Benguet, but the whole moving to Benguet thing is no longer a dream out of reach.

A turn of events has led me to make a decision of moving out. And having a job that is home-based, I can pretty much go wherever I want, and I choose Baguio / Benguet. It was originally a one-year stay, but I’ve decided to shorten it to just about 3-6 months, and then I will move back to Zamboanga with my parents and start my own business.

There’s so much to do in so little time. If I want to move to Baguio soon, I need to sell most of my things now because it’s just way too costly and impractical to haul all my stuff to Baguio, especially since I won’t be staying there for long. There are so many stuff to sell!!! Furniture, kitchen appliances, other appliances. Ugh. If only I could just sell them in bundles, like a Kitchen Showcase or a Bedroom Showcase, it would really be helpful.

iPad Mini

In other news, I got me a shiny new, iPad Mini. Okay, I didn’t get it myself but I was given one, by my awesome brother who flew in from the US for a visit. He also got me a Jot Mini, which I’ve always wanted, but hasn’t really lived up to my expectations that much, yet. But I still love it anyways so I am willing to give it more chances than it deserves and  because I can draw awesome stuff (really now?) on my iPad just like the image above. Hahaha..

I’m pretty stoked about all this because just months before I was really wanting to get an iPad and this stylus. And now, I have them both. Like how awesome is that? -RA

Why I’d Love to Move to Benguet

So, Part 3.

The reason I made this the last part because it is the longest and I have not had enough time the past few days to compose a decent post. This also is closest to my heart, so I wanted to dedicate a longer time in writing it.

MY JUICING JOURNEY

About a year or so ago, I’ve gotten into the juicing bandwagon. I started juicing vegetables and fruits (my sister and I even created a website about it, which is being neglected at the moment), and basically just started living a healthy life of no fastfood, alcohol, softdrinks, overly-processed foods etc. It had a positive effect on me and my body. I lost so much weight in very little time and was glowing. I’ve derailed from it a lot of times, in fact I’m not as active in juicing as I initially was, but it’s something that I know I would want to do for the rest of my life. And I am working at getting back on track (and reviving the website too!).

I haven’t been active mainly because of two reasons:

  1. I’ve traveled so much the past year and lugging around my juicer was kind of not an option. I tried buying juices from shops, but sometimes it’s just not enough and it can become really expensive – which is my reason number 2. 
  2. It can become really expensive. LoL. I buy my organic produce from Tagaytay, which is just about a 30-minute drive from where I live. My friend and I discovered organic farms that sold organic fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price. It just becomes unreasonable when you have to think about the gas for your car and the number of times you have to go there to get produce for your everyday needs. I used to go every week and I would shell out 1-1.5k per outing. Not too bad, actually, but it’s still pricey compared to just buying stuff from the wet market nearest you which can cost you at about 500 pesos, buying the same amount of food – just the inorganic version, that is. Bah.

So I guess you know where this post is headed. The main reason why I want to move to Benguet, La Trinidad specifically, is this:

Fresh Vegetablessssssssss!!!
Fresh Vegetablessssssssss!!!

and this:

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Strawberrieeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!

Of course, the cool weather is also up there on my list. But these two take first and second place. Just imagine all the vegetables that I can get my hands on on a daily basis – without driving too far. The thought is just insanely delicious. And with my impending move to Zamboanga (my parents’ hometown) not looking really great what with all the power problems that the city is encountering at the moment (which I can’t afford because my job is online, therefore I need to have power all the time), I AM JUST SO TEMPTED TO PACK ALL MY BAGS AND DRIVE ALL THE WAY TO LA TRINIDAD, GET AN APARTMENT, AND LIVE A LIFE MUNCHING AWAY ON CRUNCHY, FRESH VEGETABLES. LoL. And yes, that needed capslock typing. Thank you very much.

The idea is really just becoming more and more prominent. What used to be just a fantasy is becoming what could possibly be the most important decision of my life right now. And I am seriously considering saying yes to it.

AFTER A FEW MINUTES…

So I just went and checked a few properties in Baguio and the Benguet area. Haha – SO EXPENSIVE! Especially the ones that are in the city. Lucky for me because I want to stay in the provinces where the farms are. 🙂 The search has gotten me more excited about this. I should be able to get my own home maybe in 3 years. *crosses fingers* In the meantime, I’m just toying with the idea of renting a small studio unit, if not, I’ll stay in Zamboanga, buy a generator, and stay there until I’ve saved up enough to buy my own house in yummy La Trinidad.

BAGUIO SIGHT-SEEING

With that out of the way, let me tell you about the rest of the trip.

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Jessie’s Wedding in Benguet

This is Part 1 of my trip to Benguet / Baguio. Yes, there are more parts to this because it deserves a 3-part blog post, because that place (or places) is just awesome.

So, part 1.

One of my colleagues invited us to attend her wedding in La Trinidad. We stayed at Benguet State University dormitories, thanks to the bride and her uncle for accommodating us there. 🙂

It was a short visit, we hopped on a bus going to Baguio on Friday night and went back to Manila on Monday. Sitting on the bus for several hours was tiring but I’d do it all over again if it was a bus going to Baguio! (The heat in Manila now is just insane!)

The wedding took place in San Jose Parish Church in Poblacion, La Trinidad and the reception followed at the San Jose Gym which was a few steps away.

Here are a few snapshots:

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The bride and the maid of honor.
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Acy, Kat, Kareen, and Reena
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Acy, Kat, Me, and Reena
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Jessie’s gown, Jessie’s daughter, and Jessie getting ready.
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The lunch before the ceremony. Vegetables!!! One of the reasons why I want to move to Baguio / Benguet.
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More pictures from the wedding and the reception.
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The bride, Jessie.

And I’m really sorry that some of these pictures are blurry. Sigh I’m really becoming a lousy, lazy photographer. Especially since I find taking pictures on the phone much more convenient and easier (and lighter!). In my defense, I was allowed to be lazy because I was a guest and not the hired photographer. Teehee.

And I think this concludes the first part of this blog post. I will be posting the second part over the weekend. ‘Til then! -RA