Camiguin is a province island, north of Mindanao. It’s known for the sweet, succulent lanzones that looks like a full moon outside, quarter moons inside because of the fruit’s whiteness and translucence.
The day we arrived in the island, our host Grace invited us to help her parents harvest corn and lanzones. Mike and I agreed to work, thinking that this way we “pay” for our free food and accommodation.
During the lanzones picking, we were all just laughing. We didn’t plan how to reach the fruits so high up. Mike climbed the trees at first, then Grace’s Dad had to devise ways how to hand him the bolo to cut by the bunch instead of picking piece by piece. Later on, we decided to use the ladder.
We harvested enough to fill two baskets, which strained the boys’ muscles. Imagine how many kilos of juicy goodness are in here. The difficult part is, Tito’s Pajero was parked a kilometer away from the farm.
More grueling was the harvesting of corn. Grace and I were just watching his father, at first, pulling the corn from the plant, breaking it easily the way one breaks a twig in two. Next, he would step on the corn plant, fruitless and no longer of use in the Earth–down to the ground till it lies flat, all its magnificent height put in past tense.
When we were asked to do it, Grace and I decided that we will give the corn and corn farmers more respect from that day forward. My arms and legs were full of scratches and insect bites when I emerged from the corn field. Grace seemed to have a burning face from sheer minutes of picking and trampling on the dry plants of the island of seven volcanoes.
The next day, we were shown around the farm of their balikbayan friend from the US. The Ponciano’s farm is well-manicured, I have to say, with grafted lanzones trees and flowers planted around.Read More
One weekend, under the trees of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Grace Cutab and I were talking about the Run for Given, when she mentioned that she’s having a trip to their home in Camiguin.
Singapore is home to Chinese, Malays, Indians, and foreigners–so many foreigners such as Australians, Filipinos, British, Indonesians, Bangladeshis, and others, that the locals want their influx stopped (immigration and work, not tourism).
Such mixed and diversified population can be seen usually in tourist spots (Sentosa, Orchard, Esplanade) and business districts (Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, Harborfront). The cutest place to see this mix is the playground.
Before we flew out of Singapore, we went to the far end of the Circle Line of the MRT and visited one of the hundred parks and nature reserves of Singapore, the Labrador Park, which used to be an armed front to Japanese invaders once upon a time.
It was late in the afternoon when we reached the hilly Park by the sea, so we didn’t have much time to hike and trek. Instead, Mike and I let my nephew Marcus play at the white-sand playground, together with representatives of the united nations, junior edition.
Here I post some photos of these little cuddly people and a snap or two of the Park.Read More
If there’s a TV station for Filipinos (The Filipino Channel), Singapore’s Filipino mall is the Lucky Plaza.
You can find this old mall at Orchard, sticking out like a sore thumb among luxury malls like Ion, Ngee Ann City, Paragon, and the forever-under-construction Tang.
It stands proudly at the center of shopping action and tourist attraction, making Orchard one of the best places for Filipinos who are missing home, because come Sunday/Saturday, you can hear Tagalog being spoken everywhere. I could also understand some Ilocano (Mama’s an Ilocana) and recognize Bisaya, so I have a rough estimate of the Filipino demographics in my head.
The sad picture that Lucky Plaza paints for me is how every salary day, millions (ok, that’s hyperbole–hopefully) of Filipino laborers all come down here to send money to their families. What’s wrong in the picture? I was in a long que in the restroom and I heard women talking, one said, hawakan ko muna ‘to para maramdaman ko naman nagkapera ako (laughs); another said, ganon talaga, mahal mo sila e, malayong pag-ibig (laughs).Read More
Singapore’s leading publisher, SPH, reported that the country has the “highest density of millionaires” around the world because of the state’s small size and the number of millionaires living here: 99,000! A typical millionaire, the report says, has an average of 3 signature watches (SGD15,000 each or half a million pesos), and travels out of the country every month (for international cuisine and leisure), among others.
When I shared this statistical fact of inequality, I mean, demographics, to Mike, we started being curious about people we see–is that one of the 99,000? Ah that luxury car driver is one of them son of a… millionaire, actually aside from the Queen Bees (old women millionaires) and Old Gold (men), there are also the young corporate bankers and traders who are part of this 2% (hmmm that rings an Occupy bell).
I’m using here our photos in Clarke Quay (accessible thru the MRT purple line) because it’s one of the beautiful and sleek places in Singapore. One memorable experience I hold here is when I had a lunch meeting with my Singaporean boss and his Aussi friend who’s a magazine publisher and who’s been living in Singapore for six years.
It was cool watching them talk about their international trips (which eventually, and sadly for me, turned to sports talk). Lots of them businessmen and women in suit (many of which are Caucasians) could be spotted in Clarke Quay because of nearby offices. These guys may not necessarily be the millionaires I’m talking about, but they’re part of the workforce and industries that form the capillaries and veins of Singapore’s well-pumped economic system.Read More
It’s sweet that my brother Maeng asks how I’m doing in Singapore (I haven’t posted any photos/status of my whereabouts for weeks now, so to prove I’m not yet dead or rotting in a cabinet, I’ll start a series of Singapore posts).
Aside from Kinokuniya Bookstore, another place I frequent in Takashimaya (at Orchard) is… Sephora!
Sephora is a French brand and chain of cosmetics stores founded in Paris in 1970, and acquired by Frenchconglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy) in 1997. The Sephora chain includes more than 750 stores in 17 countries. Carrying over 250 brands, along with their own private label, Sephora offers beauty products including makeup, skincare, fragrance, haircare, bath and body products, and hair and make-up tools. (wiki)
Mike, like other men, has no patience in waiting for their ladies while shopping or “malling,” but like other men, he can be bribed with tweetums, hugs, kisses, and smiles. (If this doesn’t work, a straight face eye-to-eye contact will do.)Read More
You know that book Choose your own adventure, which gives you some command in telling what will happen next, by letting you jump to page xx if you want to, say, hide in a closet as men with tanker arms approach to assault you, or to page x to somersault out of the window, and you end up trying all options anyway just because you want to know the consequences of each of your decisions?
One can take this choosing one’s adventure to heart, like during life-changing decision-making moments. Of course, I can draw a metaphor to link it to Life, but this post is literally about a road trip.
Last month, friends and I, who are cursed/blessed with itchy feet, thought of driving out of our comfort zones to go either north or south of Manila. Jay has driven us once to the south–to a beach in Quezon and old houses in Laguna–and we almost fell on a cliff in Liliw and the van’s engine gave up on us halfway through an uphill on our way to Caliraya.
So this time, Mike was captain, and I (or iPhone GPS) the navigator. My suggestion was Bataan because–up north, I’ve done lakwatcha in Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Ilocos, Baler, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, and never had I seen the beaches of Bataan (but I’ve seen World War 2′s remnants in Corregidor on a field trip).
It was meant to be a one-day road trip, but it extended to two, then three, then almost four days (Friday to Monday morning).
Friday, Connet and I were in a Japanese surplus shop and bookstore while waiting for Jay and his van (Mike was fiddling with his iPhone because he’s not tough enough to walk and shop for hours). When Jay arrived, Mike took the wheels and off we went to Rizal, where we would pick up Kate, who shared with us her P2,000-GC for groceries. As Jay’s father recommended, we took the C6 (which nobody believed existed at first, because all we knew is C5), then went straight to Robinson’s to buy food for dinner and snacks for the early morning trip–we all decided to stay at Kate’s place for the night so not to exhaust our official driver and for Connet and I to experience Kate’s fantastic nail art talent.
Connet cooked a creamy chicken pastel that pleases the tongue and warms the heart. Especially when partnered with her mango yogurt mix. Kate prepared two dishes but I like her Korean-style-noodle-name-of-which-ungrateful-me-forgot.
Before the nail art session, Kate mixed us some spirits of Kahlua and flavors.
As soon as the sun peaked through Metro Manila’s spiderweb wires and crisscross overpasses, we were already squeezing our way out of Aurora Boulevard’s traffic, then Cubao, then North Luzon expressway.
While C, J, and K were having fun talks behind us, Mike and I had our eyes on the road because it’s all our first time driving to Bataan. After the San Fernando exit, the national road to SCTEX was longer than we expected; Mike was starting to doubt my navigation skills and I was punching him nonstop, telling him to trust me.
Turned out, we were on the right track. As usual, SCTEX is other world.
After the long relaxing drive through SCTEX, we stopped at Subic’s airport for photoshoot.
As soon as we reached Bataan, after strips of breath-taking scenery (sorry for the over-used travelogue adjective, but the cliffs and the winding roads of the forests really took our breaths away), we drove back to Subic because we forgot to withdraw some cash and there’s no ATM in Bataan.Read More
Pleasure is early morning sunshine and good food and friends and hugs and kisses and booze and sea breeze and ocean waves on your feet (that is why eating breakfast with friends and sweetheart by the beach would make you go… “ah this is Life”). An article on neuroscience of optimism says that seeking pleasure in thought and actions every now and then may lead to a longer life, and this must be especially done in times of stress when the brain releases that thing they call cortisol, which actually damages the brain.
Our trip to Cagbalete was one of those stress-terminator trips, which boosted happy hormones, however fleeting the pleasure was.
The first time I heard of Cagbalete Island was three years ago. A blogger posted videos and photos of amazing sand bars in low tide somewhere in Quezon (a province four hours away south of Manila). I scribbled a mental note that I’ll explore it with friends someday, when I have the guts to camp in a faraway island that has no electricity and the comforts of modern living.
Last week, college friends and I went here to give ourselves a break. Gish who’s in law school has taken a job at the Department of Agrarian Reform; Kitchie just finished her masters (whew!); Kei and I have been busy with ten thousand things.
Going there was surprisingly a breeze–take an early morning bus in Cubao going to Mauban, Quezon (passing through Lucena); to reach the banca port, ride a tricycle, which you’ll find in front of you on your last stop in Mauban; boats going to Cagbalete leave twice a day only, and we took the 10am trip. The bus (Jacliner, to be specific) left Cubao before 5am. By 9am we’re already strolling downtown buying food and water supplies.
The 45-minute boat ride to the island pales in comparison to the 15-min boat trip revealing an underwater treasure of corals–from the Cagbalete “port” to the beach where we reserved the cabana that served as our home for our entire stay.
Later on, in this cottage, we would lose two wallets (mine and Giselle’s) and get stinging insect bites. Oh, and there’s the case of the missing bread (24 pieces of monay).
The three-day cottage camping was my first time to be set out in the wild with my friends, and the fast-approaching typhoon made the experience more special because of the fear of What Could Happen If We Get Stranded There.
Actually, the series of unfortunate events started when my bag fell into the water. My laptop and iPhone were in that bag, so when I saw it take a plunge from the arms of the boat man who offered to carry it for me, I immediately opened my bag to check the gadgets. Mike told me to remove the laptop’s battery, and it turned out to be a good first aid because despite the slightly moist surface (thanks to water proof cases), the gadgets still worked fine.
Kei, unfortunately, was not able to revive her wet cellphone, which she pocketed as we waded in the knee-deep water for about 10 minutes (the tide was so low that the boat could not go any nearer than what seemed to be a hundred meters).
Perhaps what was striking about our misadventures is that we took it with optimism–like, maybe the money we lost will return in double someday, or, it’s time to get a new wallet and a new phone, or, things in the wallet can be replaced anyway, and the adventures in the island can easily topple the bad memories.
But that doesn’t mean we shall forget to carry around our wallets (even when swimming!) and insect repellants next time. That doesn’t also mean that we will forgive the resort Villa Cleofas or the local tourism team who didn’t warn us that cases of theft in that very beach resort have already been reported.Read More