1 year and 4 months

It’s been that long since I last posted here.  I pretty much think that maybe I have commitment issues when it comes to doing things by myself and for myself.

I’ve traveled quite a few places since then.  But I failed to write about it.  I wonder why.

I’ve felt a bit of brokenness a few times but much were mended and seemingly welcome in my life.  I think I needed it in the first place.

Maybe I’ll start posting my travels and some of my photos again. Probably those that I failed to finish or commit. Or maybe those that I’m thankful for.

I have questions but I’m not sure if I’m ready for the answers.

One them is if I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to keep a blog. Really.

What’s your 1 year and 4 months like?

Remembering Davao as the summer began

It may be a tough start for us but it surely was the most memorable adventure we had to date. And what made it more exciting was the fact that even if my friends went to Davao for the first time, still we chose to begin our first day with a ‘risk-on-risk’ activity – the ‘white-water rafting’ at the Davao River. From the Davao International Airport, we went straight to the Davao Crocodile Park where the Davao Wildwater Adventure is stationed. After gathering our gears, collecting our lunch on the road, and undergoing orientation of the safety measures, we then just allowed Davao River change the rest of our lives.


After having the chance of finally seeing the albino python, the tamaraw, and the Philippine Eagle, we filled ourselves with the most ‘exotic’ food we could find that day. We ate crocodile and ostrich burgers. And it didn’t end there! We also tried the ostrich vanilla icecream and the crocodile pandan icecream. And it does taste and feel unique on the palate (you really have to taste it yourself!).



And we capped our first day in Davao City with a jaw-dropping fire dance by the Tribu K’Mindanawan, also at the Davao Crocodile Park. They perfected each stunt with their choice of element, solution, and material. Both the locals and foreigners alike were just amazed of this wonderful spectacle.



With a short ferry ride to Samal Island, we basked ourselves with lots of photo shoots and poses. We went to see the Montfort Bat Sanctuary, the Hagimit Falls, and finally, experienced the nerve-racking 40 meter water slide and do ‘cliff-diving’ at Maxima Aqua Fun. With it, make it hundred times the photo shoots and poses as well.

IMG_0351  IMG_0355  IMG_5431

IMG_5267  IMG_5398




An evening dinner in Davao wouldn’t be called as such without visiting Jack’s Ridge. And true to what my friends would say, the place haven’t lost its charm. It’s already my second time visiting the place, but the experience is as breathtaking and memorable as my first time. We didn’t miss listening to the classics of the 80s during dinner and concluding it with durian cheesecake and durian coffee for dessert.






It was rather hard for us to leave Davao as we traversed through breakfast of chicken ‘inasal’ and grilled tuna ‘panga’ at Luz Kinilaw Place, specimens of D’Bone Collector Museum, historical and cultural artifacts of Museo Dabawenyo, Shrine of the Infant Jesus, Aldevinco’s souvenir shops, and sweets of Lola Abon and Apo ni Lola (and I love the latter), and the discipline and pride displayed by the People’s Park. Truly, Davao City is an icon in itself – a place you wouldn’t mind going back to over and over again.





That Quarter Life Crisis

I have been meaning to write about what’s been happening to me in the past weeks.  I have been gathering the courage to face, let alone, resolve my issues as I’m getting into a more serious stage of my adult life. I’ve started to ask questions – questions after questions. I think I’m already experiencing it. And it really is quite a while already.  Western literature would usually term it as a quarter life crisis. It is usually characterized by asking to one’s self where life is heading and if one can do something about it. I realized that I had started experiencing it when I was staring at my savings account; seeing myself in the mirror, eyes a bit hallow, tired from a 12-hour work from the office; aware that I was 25 then; realized that I’m still living with my parents; closing to concluding an important chapter of my life; weighing if I just wasted my money on travels, gadgets and running; and wondering what my relationship would be in the coming years.  Questions that if I’m still making the right decisions. Questions that if I’m really happy.

To be honest, no matter how many times I told myself that I’ve overcome it, I’m very much positive that I haven’t.  And in those days that I had the chance to be myself confirmed that I’m really having a hard time in this stage of my life.

I’ve disclosed this concern to the most trusted people in my life. Others were even half older than me.  One said that she has already experienced it and knows exactly how I feel. Though they were still gathering a more constructive thought on my situation.  Point after point I said that I’ve realized I deserve better in what I think, feel, earn, acknowledge, judge right now.

I made a promise to myself that I should stop worrying on things – that I should let things go and refraining on surrounding myself with negative people.  I’m a planner, a development worker, a woman, and being one really made it difficult for me.

As a planner, I love envisioning what would I be like in the coming days, weeks, months, years.  I dream both the possible and maybe the impossible.  I am not yet close to a visionary, but in dreaming, it helps me see the light against some shades of gray at the present.  It takes away my fears, my worries, and my woes.  The truth is, no matter I focus on “the now”, sometimes, the horizon was just limited and I had to shape that dream into faith that things would be better.  Years back, I was a couch potato; I didn’t mind with my looks; I make my parents’ litigating tendencies as an excuse not to participate on other activities outside the home; I didn’t even know how to properly take a picture or manipulate an SLR.  But I dreamed of those athletes in the Runners’ Magazine; I talk to myself in the mirror that I can change how I look and feel about myself; I experienced sleeping outside our gate and wait until my mother open them because I chose to enjoy the night with my friends rather than go straight home at 6:00PM; I took classes in photography and managed to cover 3 weddings because they like how I did – the reason I began doing travel and events photography.

It’s hard though when people you trust and love the most tell you otherwise no matter how beautiful they packaged it into kind words. It’s like claiming something that is not meant to be.

And it hurts. It really hurts.

As a development worker, I’m into thinking into multiple layers at the same time.  I can relate different components and construct it into a single perspective.  I also have high tolerance to very stressful situations.  Since I’m dealing with other people’s problems (and that’s poverty, hunger, discrimination, deprivation, abuse, resettlement, and the like), I need to be more resilient in responding to them.  I need to make a way to translate the response into my reports, analysis, and recommendations.  Though at the same time, to be needs and context-based on such responses, I was groomed to be emphatic on the past, present, and future situations undergoing such hardship.  Yes, in return, I tend to being more affected that people should be sometimes.  As this position is prescribed to different problems however, it sometimes misses the point of making it bearable to development workers ourselves.  Sometimes, I too, become a victim of other people’s problems.

And don’t just turn a blind eye to what is wrong.  I can’t just watch TV series or movies without being concerned to what is being reported at the news channel.  As such, it no longer interests me to ‘enjoy’ what is fictional but to face the pragmatical, structural, and systematical.

As a woman, I myself know the problem how being a woman contributes to my crisis.  My situation puts me into a double-bladed standard that I should be prudent, calculative, practical, and familial in my choices and actions, and yet I should not exactly affirm what I wanted else to do in my life.  Expectations to women sometimes include fulfilling the parents’ wishes and aspirations and getting a man better than you.  Really, is this a competition?  And yes, I am being judged because I can’t invest first because I am a woman.  Let alone, if I am to be married anyway, it is not me to determine what my life would be or my house would be like or where.

To add to that, being a woman also deters you to hope for a long lasting love.  It also undermines even the possibility to dream what love would be like.  It’s like, let’s love while it lasts.  So is it “best before: dd-mm-yyyy”. Don’t get me wrong. I’m working my ass off to make it last, but if I’m not on the same page with that person, I really better put that on my life crisis checklist to resolve. I’m taking yoga, belly-dancing, boxing, cooking, and personality development classes to boost my personality.  Just to subtract my seemingly boring self.

Relationships don’t last long but dreams do.  But if dreams were the ones trampled, now that’s a huge trouble.

Yep, it does hurt, again.

As I was waiting for the results of my comprehensive exams and went on remembering what I wrote, I realized that I was really passionate on my chosen field.  I never felt more fortunate of choosing to study Masters in Community Development.  I did not just want to pass the exams.  I was hoping that my perspective, my drive, my attention, would somehow help other people.  I saw myself finally nailing that project proposal or managing a humanitarian team to rehabilitate a community.  I dreamed of working in a coastal area and talking about what the upcoming community agenda be.  I saw myself playing with the kids who just came from school and seeing them smiling while carrying their slip-ons as they run across the shore on the way home.  I was cooking lunch with the mothers of the community and just didn’t mind the fumes, traffic, and calculations back in the city.  I saw myself – way apart from who and where I am today.

Should I get the job offers I’ve been seeing for days now?  It’s high-paying, definitely farther from home, yet I can be maximized. However it is contract and project-based and not termed as a regular job.

My work has been like this for almost 6 years already. Can I move on now?

I was even thinking of taking a job so far from home that I am forced to live away from my parents and just mind on continuously finding myself.  Maybe work as a foreign contingent or take a diploma scholarship in Japan, Australia, or Singapore.

Food feature: Apple, lettuce, and peanut butter and cheese sandwich

It is one of those I-should-get-myself-something-to-eat-when-I-review moments of my life. I prefer sandwiches when I get home from work and had to go straight to reading a pile of materials for school. I’m sure will feel full but not bloated that would usually result to me sleeping instead on reviewing.
Sandwiches, termed by the Wall Street Journal, as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy”, can be considered as a complete meal. Anything you put between those slices of bread can just claim any level of hunger or craving. Sandwiches are served either as hot or cold. And it definitely can reach both heights and lengths.
For this beautiful creation, the key is to play with flavor and texture. This is really special as every ingredient are very flavorful. All reach in natural oils, fiber, vitamins and minerals.


– 2 slices of wholewheat raisin bread (or wholewheat bread)
– a slice of cheese (cheddar or cream cheese)
– lettuce leaves
– thinly sliced apple wedges
– creamy peanut butter spread

What to do:
– Arrange on both slices. Serve sliced or whole.

– Place spreads on the bread first before the rest of the loose ingredients to easily manage a stack. Press it on a pan (or sandwich maker), or pop it on your oven/toaster as this is best eaten hot (imagine the cheese melted inside – covering the apples and lettuce and blending with the peanut butter).


23 Photo Picks of 2013

Photos that I’ve taken that left a memorable moment of my 2013.  Some marked ‘first-times’, adventure, love, and even social relevance.

Photo pick #1: Good morning, sun, road, and dear! (March 2013) – on my way to work, I decided to take a photo of one of the blossoms that I managed to preserve from my first Valentine’s day bouquet from my dear.

3rd monthsary greeting

Photo pick #2: Summer is for everyone! (March 2013) – lying by the beach of Bantayan Island, Cebu wishing time would just stop even for a little while. Everything so clear, blue, warm, and summer!

Basking under the sky

Photo pick #3:  Highschool is a lifetime (April 2013) – even as the host, me and my highschool friends ‘crashed’ a party with cakes, chips, pasta, and lots of drinks and singing!


Photo pick #4: Ready, set, hit! (April 2013) – covered my grandson’s birthday at the time. There is so much joy when you watch kids play.  No doubts, no setbacks, just YOLO (you only live once) moments. Here they are about to play “Basagang Palayok”. Funny how I realized that the kid in front still smiled even with a blindfold on.

Basagang Palayok

Photo pick  #5: Tourist (May 2015) – While walking around the shores of Boracay Island, I noticed the lady tourist with a local helping her to take her photos. She got the apparel, the looks, and the background. Solo traveling for her seemed ideal.


Photo pick #6:  Fire dance (May 2015) Now a typical evening tourist attraction in Boracay island. Just imagine how fast these youngsters turn the fireball chains. It’s risky but that’s what made it a hit.

Fire dance

Photo pick #7:  The local (May 2015) – Behind the night lights, buffets, souvenir shops, white sand, and fire dances in Boracay, there are the locals who have the meager means to make a living. The man has amputated legs, while the child appears to have inherited the same impoverished state as his parents.They both ask alms especially in the evenings, garnering sympathy and apathy among tourists and locals at the same time.

The actual attraction

Photo pick #8: Goods (March 2013) – My Tabo-an Market experience in Cebu City.  It was not as crowded as it used to be that time. Almost all types of driend seafood products can be found here.  Smelling something fishy means something sumptuous.  And yes, the danggit is my favorite! But take note, if you are looking for affordable souvenirs, this is the best (and really bargain-best) place to be. I was able to find quality and affordable chicharon Carcar and dried mangoes IN BULK.


Photo pick #9: Bride and Bloom (June 2013) – A momentous wedding event of a friend I managed to cover. Of course, shooting moments with the bride is my favorite.

Bride and Bloom

Photo pick #10: Jogyesa Temple (February 2013) – This is my first time to enter a Buddhist temple and what more, it was during my tour in Seoul, South Korea with my family.


Photo pick #11: Seoul eats (February 2013) My family and I fought the winter cold with tteokbokki and soondae and good old fish stock.

The real food

Photo pick #12:  Korean food hangover (March 2013) Just weeks after our Korean trip, my brother and I headed to Don-Day Korean Restaurant in Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village in Quezon City (the other one is in Timog) for a samgyupsal (grilled pork) fix.


Photo pick #13: Dinners and conversations (March 2013)  It really feels great when you manage to catch-up with your friends you haven’t seen for quite a while.  My friend here treated me for a Japanese food dinner.

dinner with friends

Photo pick #14: Best buds (December 2013) I like to share how my best buds (featured here is Bambi, an Aspin) make me come home everyday, smiling. Unlike you, for them, you are their world.

Loyal friends

Photo pick #15: First finisher’s medal (February 2013) This will forever remind me that to do the impossible is also starting small. And from then on, running changed my life forever.  I began running for 10K’s and vied for a 15K where thankfully, I managed to get my first medal.  Whenever I look at this, I just can remember the struggles I had with my legs and feet and how God guided and protected me in every step of the way. Just thankful!

1st finisher's medal

Photo pick #16: 27 years (December 2013). Our family celebrated my parent’s 27th wedding anniversary.

27 years

Photo pick #17: Best tourist attraction (July 2013) That moment when your tour guide just told you jump and you just followed. That moment, however felt crazy, just felt great.  Me, my friends, and my dear, made goofy expressions as we stole Mt. Mayon’s moment in the background.


Photo pic #18: Kaedee smiling (December 2013) This sweet child just made everyone smile when she joined our office Christmas party.

Kaedee smiling

Photo pick #19: In the moment, in style (December 2013).  This is just me and my office friends tag along the Winter Sonata Christmas theme. It’s just a beautiful sight when we see each other pouring those efforts in and making the most out of it.

Winter Sonata Christmas party

Photo pick #20: The arrival of the Nifty Fifty (November 2013). And my dream of capturing those moments full of color, expression, and story came to life when I was able to buy my dainty 50mm prime lens.  Just loved playing with it.


Photo pick #21: Romance captured (December 2013). Think of my lens still open, and my eyes roaming around the crowd. There, captured!


Photo pick #22: Siblings (November 2013). Left alone with our parents on official travel, my brother and I celebrated his birthday over his favorite pizza, fried chicken, and cookies and cream icecream. And thank you, tripod!


Photo picks #23: Maayo (July 2013) My favorite shot as it was my first travel with Dear and my first time to see the beauty of the famous Mt. Mayon. Truly, maayo!

The couple

Just like a debut of memories, the 23 photo picks marked new beginnings and realizations in life.  With that, I am more eager to experience 2014 as it continues to unravel another set of memories.

Food feature: Lemon cucumber shake with ginger foam

With the benefits of lemon turning drinks into alkaline concoctions which is very beneficial to the body becoming quite a buzz among health enthusiasts, I turned my health drink up a notch with a hint of ginger. For another, my family  have strongly considered stocking up on lemons or its more economical counterpart, on calamansi, as well.  It was explained by many dieticians that increasing alkaline consumption aids metabolism; boosts the immune system; helps fight hunger cravings (definitely a plus right now); and flushes out toxins.   So, I thought of combining this with the healing benefits of ginger which is a key to colon cancer prevention and inhibits fatty deposits from the arteries.  No wonder, too, that ginger is being processed into various forms for ease of use and being used in appetizers, to main dishes, to drinks, and even to desserts.

A known ginger product is the salabat or ginger tea.  It is one of the widely used herb tea in the Philippines.  Known for healing sore throat or stomach ache, salabat has been more accessible to Filipinos especially that ready-to-mix powder have been introduced in the market as well.  Hence, no need to crush and boil ginger or look for other herbs to blend with it.  For most people however, ginger is usually used in warm dishes or drinks (well, a gingerbread is quite an exception).

Matching my desire to manage my cravings and putting-up better food options, I was able to come-up with this drink which was a hit especially to my parents (and surprisingly, even to my office mates) .  None of us actually thought that ginger can blend well with citrus fruits, let alone with milk, and can end up as a refreshing cool drink.  From a dinner brew, the shake was extended to a next-day afternoon refreshment.



  • 1 piece lemon (squeezed)
  • 1 piece cucumber (sliced for the food processor)
  • 1 cup of fresh milk or 3 tbsp of milk powder for the shake; 2 tsp of milk powder for the ginger foam
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 800 ml of water for the shake; 1 cup of water for the ginger foam
  • 3 tsp of salabat or ginger tea powder for the shake; 1/2 tsp for the ginger foam

What to do:


  1. Slice the cucumber; blend all ingredients in a blender/food processor; and
  2. Pour into glass/cup.

(ginger foam)

  1. Using the food processor, whip in the milk, water, and salabat until the mixture becomes a foam;
  2. Scoop it to the drink; and
  3. Sprinkle with salabat powder and brown sugar.


If you want to choose an actual ginger, try using a small amount at first.  Grate the ginger into the food processor before blending all of the ingredients.

See how ginger can be blended in cold drinks as well.  Let me know what you think.

Food feature: Ensalada in ‘Bagoong Padas’ and Calamansi

I’ve been in love with vegetables especially the ones found in the Philippines ever since I could hardly remember.  Probably because of my Ilocano roots.  To think of it, I’m a quarter Ilocano (from Naguilian, La Union), a quarter Tagalog (hailing from the alleys of Tondo, Manila), an eighth of being Pangasinense (because my grandmother is from Urbiztondo, Pangasinan), and the rest of being matakaw (“gluttonous” in Filipino – this explains it).

And I just have to give-in with homemade and guilt-free dishes.  Besides, cooking with vegetables are very economical while there are various ways to cook it (for vegetarians and for those undergoing naturopathy, they would even prefer eating vegetables raw).

What is appetizing about this dish, especially for Ilocanos, is the use of ‘bagoong padas’ – fish sauce made by fermenting fish with salt.  The ‘padas’ fish (comparable to anchovies) found in the sauce provides texture and stronger saltiness in the whole blend – a twist most of us look forward to in every dip.  This fish sauce is frequently paired with tomatoes, calamansi, as well as grilled fish.  The sauce is the ultimate counterpart of soy sauce in Chinese cooking.  The Ilocano pantry cannot go empty of ‘bagoong’ or ‘bagoong padas’.


(for blanching)

  • eggplant
  • okra
  • stringbeans
  • kangkong (any variety)

(for ensalada sauce)

  • tomatoes
  • shallots
  • calamansi
  • ‘bagoong padas’

Note: Any locally found vegetables would do. Options like ar-arosep (or fresh seaweeds), malunggay, or even sweet potatoes can be used for this dish.

What to do:

  1. Clean and slice vegetables.
  2. Blanch the vegetables separately or according to density such as kangkong cooks faster than okra and eggplants.
  3. On the side, slice tomatoes and dice the shallots.
  4. While the vegetables cook, prepare the ensalada sauce. Mix in the tomatoes and shallots in a large bowl. Add a tbsp of ‘bagoong padas’ (more or less according to the amount of vegetables to flavor). Squeeze at least 2 calamansi with this amount of ‘bagoong padas’.
  5. Toss in the blanched vegetables into the sauce.


  • Only toss in the vegetables if you are ready to eat them.  Dishes with tomatoes and shallots need to be consumed immediately, else the rest will spoil instantly.
  • Try sprinkling it with unsalted peanuts for a more filling and earthy taste.  Best enjoyed with grilled fish or just with warm rice.

See how mouthwatering yet inexpensive dishes can be? Try this now and let me know what you think.