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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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

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

Celebrated Best Friend’s Birthday in Bohol

This is an overdue post. =_=

Last August, I was lucky enough to tag along with my friend in a family-slash-birthday trip to Bohol. We stayed in Dumaluan Beach Resort and went on a tour.

One of our stops was this place. I forgot what the place was called. But the reason we went there was for a ride that’s called The Plunge. Reena and her brother went for it while I and Tita Offie took pictures.

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The Adventure Menu. We didn’t try any of the other stuff because they weren’t available at the time (and we didn’t have the money anyways!). LOL
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You’re not paying for the ride. You’re paying for the experience.
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Reena after the drop.
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Riz after the drop.
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Drop point
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A view of what’s below.

And then of course we went to the famous Chocolate Hills:

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Pretty
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Reena’s a ninja

And then we went to the Tarsier Conservation Area in Loboc, Bohol.

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Obligatory tourist post.
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Hello there big-eyed creature you. So cute. (Reminds me of Gollum — My precious!)
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A beetle.
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Sleepyhead

One of the highlights of the tour was a buffet lunch afloat a boat while cruising through the river. It was an awesome experience. I saw a group of dogs fishing:

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Dogs!!!
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Hello fella.
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Goodness. This was stressful.
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Cold-blooded.
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Underwater shot of Reena. I used my DSLR camera here with underwater protection. It didn’t have the best quality. Thankfully the water was crystal clear.

Too bad this was a rather short trip. I would’ve wanted to explore Cebu right after, but time didn’t permit. Maybe Cebu deserves a whole different trip/tour altogether. Hmm, maybe in 2013. –RA

Sta. Cruz Island, Zamboanga City

I mentioned a couple of posts back that my friends were coming over to Zamboanga for a visit. So they did and one of the places we went to was The Great Santa Cruz Island.

A view Sta Cruz Island from Paseo del Mar

It was my first time to go there despite the fact that I lived in Zamboanga city for 4 years when I was in college, and that we owned a house here. It’s just that years ago, going there was just never an option, what with the rampant kidnappings during those times.

But it was always a dream for me to go there. I remember that one of our text books back in grade school featured Sta Cruz Island, describing it as a heart-shaped island that is known for its pink sand. As a child, hearing of a place with pink sand (PINK! As in my favorite color. WTF o_O) was pretty awesome and dreamy. And the fact that it was in my parents’ hometown made it way awesome-r. LOL. Oh, and did I mention it was heart-shaped too? ASJGAKDFDDJAA&; *flails* Continue reading

Zamboanga and Mom’s Garden

I’ve been so busy the past few weeks. Had a trip to Bohol, had a 3-day meeting with the boss, finished a layout, and I am yet to upload all my travel pictures and portraits that I took of my brother’s family.

Anywho, last Saturday, I flew back to Zamboanga City, my hometown (well, it’s my parents’ hometown, I was born and raised in Manila, does that make me a Zamboangueña? WTF). I will be staying here for a month (ah, the joys of working from home!!!) and in a week’s time, 2 of my closest friends will be coming over to visit. So yes, I will be playing the part of a tour guide, when I barely know this place. WTF. I’ve managed to read a few articles over the internet and I’ve decided on an itinerary. I’ll be sure to post our adventure pictures. I am excited because I don’t get to show Zamboanga to many of my friends who live in Manila.

One of the things I look forward to whenever I come home for a visit, aside from my mom’s delicious cooking, is taking pictures of my her flowers/plants. She has a fair number of plants in her garden. Here are a couple of shots from today:


I love this shot so much! This flower (don’t ask me what it’s called) was partly hidden by leaves from other plants but some part of it was lighted by the sun, thus the dark background. It’s almost as if it’s illuminating light! Or maybe it’s just me and my imagination? o_O?


And here is a picture of a Gumamela (Hibiscus Flower) or just the middle part of it. Meh. :

I will be taking more pictures in the next few days so you will be getting more plants for sure. Bear with me?

Rock on! – RA

Fun at the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

My family and I had the chance to visit Jurong Bird Park yesterday. The bird park is the largest in the world in terms of number of birds. It boasts of a lot of attractions, among them are the tallest man-made falls and the Lory Loft. We didn’t get to explore the whole place because we got there at 4pm and the park closes at 6pm. So we only had less than a couple of hours to tour whatever we could.

The best fun we had was when we fed the Lory birds! Oh how awesome it was when they flock on the cup of food. Haha.. here are some of the pictures I took. I used my brother’s Sigma 28-300 f3.5-6.3 Macro lens for all the shots.

You can check out my Facebook Page for other pictures. 🙂