Three in one plus one

26 04 2009

Yesterday, we explored the northeast corner of Laguna. After wading in ankle-deep streams and crossing muddy fields in a Siniloan barangay (for a research project and yes we are serious), we lunched at the Beatles Place in Pakil, photographed the town’s picturesque church, and visited the HQ of a geography field class (where I devoured two luscious mangoes).

Then we hurried to the quaint town of Paete as the dark sky started threatening. We walked around the narrow streets, saw artisans with their trade, bought fried cassava drowned in delicious spicy-garlicky vinegar, and sipped beer from a plastic container with straw. The beautiful church facade, like that of Pakil, still did not prepare us for the wonderfully ornate (and golden) interior. The drive home across scenic landscapes was rainy, and we stopped more than once to buy mangoes and furniture from roadside stores.

Today was graduation day and seeing so many former students finishing college reminded me again of aging. There were 18 summa cum laude, 190 magna cum laude and 800ish cum laude graduates. During our time it was 4, 80 and 400, respectively. If I were born 6 years later, things would’ve probably been so much different. But then again, nothing beats the experience of growing up during the That’s Entertainment days and I would never give that up for anything. In other news, I was seated very close to someone from 2005 and I was expecting it to be Jan 2007 again but thankfully there was nothing. By this analogy, Jan 2009 will be completely nothing by around April 2011 (maybe much earlier). And that’s like next week when you’re in your mid-20s, so it’s not too bad.

Tomorrow, I’m getting immunization shots for measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria and polio. I guess my two upper arms will have to hurt.


Bag of snips

20 04 2009

On travel:

Anawangin has lost most of its charms. The place has become dirty and crowded. On our last visit on April last year, there were less than 15 tents (and that was on the most crowded week of the summer). That number has multiplied by at least three times.  It is now  just a notch better than the stretch of beach in Pundaquit and is approximating the feel of a campers’ version of Galera (minus the loud nightlife). The best thing about our trip were the scrabble games. Scrabble on the beach by the candlelight under the stars while dipping corn chips in hot salsa is geeky paradise. Despite all this, Anawangin remains quite photogenic.

April 2008 (very few people)


April 2009 (flags, trash, campers under every available tree on the beach)


On health:

Drinking more than every other day for the past two weeks now for no reason. Bad for the liver and the abs.

On work:

Writing continues to escape me. It’s been more than three months!

On drama:

Love is gross. I want nothing to do with it and yet it follows me everywhere. Please be rid of me!

Apo Reef

13 04 2009

Jellyfish sting marks and sandfly bites all over the skin of my limbs are a small price to pay for the loveliness that is Sablayan. Getting there is half the fun: a short bus trip to Batangas Port followed by a three-hour ferry across the Verde Island Passage before disembarking in Abra de Ilog for a scenic (and often rough) 3-hour drive across the northern half of Occidental Mindoro. Sablayan is a pleasant, quiet town and is the jump off point to Pandan Island and Apo Reef. A bridge over the Sablayan River:

Apo Reef, Asia’s largest atoll-like reef, is three hours southeast of Sablayan town. It is breathtaking above and below water,. Wildlife spotted: diving sea turtles, crawling baby sea turtles, escaping mantas, soaring raptors and various other sea creatures. No sharks and dolphins however. At night, sandflies swarm and they bite on any exposed skin and they are probably one of the most horrible creatures to have ever existed in the universe. A shadow of a lighthouse falls on the island’s white beach and clear waters:

Pandan Island, 20 minutes from Sablayan, has nice, white sand beaches, good snorkeling and plenty of foreigners. Nice place to relax. Spotted wildlife: lionfish or parrotfish (couldn’t tell!), sting ray, clam and many many colorful fishes. Pandan Island beach:

Damage: less than 4k for 4 days. Super worth it.

Next stops for me: Polilio/Jomalig, Caramoan (again!) and Calaguas. Crossed fingers.


31 03 2009

This is Cagbalete Island in Lamon Bay, Mauban, Quezon:

Along with Anawangin/Capones, it is the best weekend destination: really really low low tides, interesting birds and marine creatures, unexpected geologic features, deserted beaches, accommodating people. It’s hard to imagine that this place is very inexpensive (if you commute and camp) and so accessible from Manila. Just make sure you bring a good cook with you.


3 03 2009

And I know I have been driven like the snow
But this is cooling faster than I can
This is cooling faster than I…

-Tori Amos, Cooling

Ilocos is nothing short of breathtaking. Clear skies, blue seas, crashing waves, lush fields, clean towns, good food, grand churches, rich history – a photographer’s wet dream. Attempts at giving justice to this beautiful part of Luzon.

Bangui wind farm

Paoay church

Five thoughts:

1. Saud Beach is lovely. I want to stay in Pagudpud for the rest of the summer and be gloriously unproductive.

2. Bumabata. I may probably possess some possible potential at being maybe good at billiards. Finally, a ‘sport’ other than scrabble that loves me.

3. Sausage fest. I ate pork for the first time in three months (yes, this is important, breaking news that everyone needs to know). But not even Vigan longganisa dipped in Ilocos vinegar can convince me to eat pig or cow again.

4. Watermelons. Recently saw Tsai’s 2005 film The Wayward Cloud where, among other things, characters suddenly burst into campy musical numbers, and where watermelons are used in ingenous ways to make a porn shoot more interesting. Pinkish, watery fruit will never be the same.

5. Cooling. Although this has been cooling faster than I can, I am in no hurry to let go of this absurdity and move forward. This type of silliness doesn’t come too often. The last time that approximates this magnitude happened about a decade ago (and even then it was too complicated to be any fun). I’m set to face the most taxing four years of my life in a few months, so why waste time stressing now? I need to parteh! Governor Vi, come on tell me please, where’s the parteh?

Here comes the sun

23 02 2009

Since ‘summer’ is almost here, some beach recommendations! Seven best destinations within 4 hours of Manila.

7. Botolan, Zambales. Deserted, quiet beaches if you know where to look. (3.5-hour drive)


6. Nasugbu, Batangas. Nothing but fond memories here, although it’s been 5 years since my last trip. (3-hour drive)

5. Subic Bay, Zambales. Accessible, if a bit crowded, white sand beaches. (2.5-hour drive)


4. Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. Peace and quiet is still present here if you stay away from White Beach. (2-hour drive and 1-hour boat ride)


3. Anilao, Batangas. Best diving in Luzon. (3-hour drive)


2. Laiya, Batangas. Laid-back beaches and some good snorkeling. (4-hour drive)


1. Anawangin Cove and Capones Island, Zambales. Stunning describes Anawangin, a place where the mountains meet the sea and where pine trees grow on white-sand beaches. Capones, meanwhile, is a rocky island with serene white sands, grassy hills, and a picturesque lighthouse. (3-hour drive and 30-minute boat ride)



In less relevant matters, summer haiku!

Let’s (#51)

sunsets melt on sand
where simian eyes stare back.
brown hills are pretty


Laiya (#53)

silent westward drift
I watch deep blueness pass by.
a boy dreams awake

Cardiac Arrest

15 12 2008

Went to Manila again on Sunday and so I have to blog. Photos here!

Quiapo was our first destination and we went under the bridge, which turned out to be a bustling piece of tourist souvenir heaven. Intramuros was next and something must be wrong with it since it was getting lovelier by the minute. Chanced upon interesting corners that were previously unexplored. The Manila skyline was dramatic, the street art was colorful, and the old (or restored) buildings were glowing in the late afternoon light. Even derelict walls were suddenly exciting.

From the southern end of the walled city, we walked along UN Avenue to an Indian grocery where chickpeas, rotis and samosas were bought. Aborting an initial plan to head over to Paco Cemetery, we decided to try the samosas in a bakeshop instead. They were deep-fried, crispy vegetable loveliness.

In other news, I promise not to cause heart attacks on friends anymore! I’ve learned my lesson. But I’m deeply grateful to the two of you for understanding. Muchas gracias, grazie, merci, shukran, spasibo, khop khun khrap, cam on, kamsamhamnida, xie xie, arigato and whatever it is they use in Mars.