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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Together

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.

Tourist

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.

Market

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.

Spiritual

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.

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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.

Jump

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.

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

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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!

Siblings

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.

The “uragon” trail

“Uragon” (sometimes spelled as “oragon”), is a Bikolano slang for someone who is feisty, determined, principled, fighter, unafraid of consequences, and one who stands up for his principles.  No wonder other ethno-linguistic groups like the Tagalog would look them up as brave and determined yet warm and graceful like the Mayon Volcano, their most-sought ‘Bicol Express’. and their thirst for waves and adventure as exemplified in their world-renowned CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC).

I really have proven that it’s always the journey and not the destination.  So even if I already went to the same place twice, I definitely had a brand new experience. This is my travelogue as my friends, my boyfriend, and myself traversed Naga and Legazpi in three (3) days.

In this visit in the region, we gave ourselves a little push, to have a taste of the “uragon” blade.  Kami na ang matapang!

Day 1 – Naga: Bigg’s Diner, Church Heritage tour, and Wakeboarding at CWC

A flight through PAL Express (formerly known as Airphil Express) seat sales, however delayed, did not keep us from enjoying the NAIA terminal.  Thanks to my travel buddies namely Feo, Myc, and Karl, I experienced for the first time to really shoot at the terminal.  Talking about maximizing the use of the Php 200.00 terminal fee!  And so, we are off to Naga for a jumpstart.

At the terminal

We chose CBD Plaza Hotel.  They have good facilities for a budget hotel – from economy room to suites.  For a good price of Php 2,400, we get to have airport transfers, request for early check-in and late check-out, and daily breakfast.  They have clean rooms, toiletries, slippers, and located right beside SM Naga, Naga City Terminal, and food and convenient stores.  It is also some 20 minutes away from the CWC (commuting would never be a problem as well).

Speaking of commuting, the best way to roam the City is the traysikad (known as tricycle in the metro).  for Php 8, you get to go to your destination.

Traysikad around Naga

After check-in and packing our stuff for wakeboarding later that day, we are off for lunch at the Bigg’s Diner – known as the biggest foodchain in the Region. Inspired by the 50s, you can just see vinyl records, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, the Radio Flyer, and black and white tiles, among others, adorning the place.  Enjoy it with their Extreme Cheeseburger and fries, you’ll be back for another for sure.  The Diner is located at Centro Naga.

50s at Bigg's Diner

Full for the rest of the day, we began our Church Heritage Tour.  Just across the Diner, we walked passed the Plaza Quince Martires.  May I say that their plaza is really clean (so is the rest of the City).  We then arrived at the San Francisco Church.As a practice, I would wish and pray as I enter the Church and knock on the wooden doors as I leave.

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Even walking was an option, we rode to the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral.  Also there to amaze us the Porta Mariae – a triumphant arch inaugurated in 2009 to commemorate the devotion of the people of Naga to the Lady of Peñafrancia.

The Cathedral

Porta Mariae

The arch (Porta Mariae)

Then we had the chance to witness a wedding and be amazed by the size of the Basilica Minore de Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, home of the blessed image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.  The best place to cap our Church Heritage tour.

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Naga wouldn’t be more famous, if it’s not for the CWC.  We are fortunate enough to really learn how to wakeboard.  It is definitely safe and enjoyable for beginners.  Not only you get to wear safety gears, but also to get proper guidance from local instructors.  Lucky for us, it was a Sunday and we were just few. So instead of a 2-hour wakeboard, we get to have an hour and a half more to enjoy to place.

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And we dared ourselves not only to try the CWC Restaurant classic pizza but it’s Bicolano Pizza (laing pizza) as well.  And may I say, it was really hot but definitely delicious!

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Too tired to do extra stuff after arriving at the hotel at 9:30 PM.  We were set for another adventure the next day – Legazpi, Albay.

Day 2: Legazpi City day tour

We took the better option to ride a UV Express van for Php 140 for a 2-hour trip to Legazpi.  Oh my, instead of leaving at 6:00 AM, we left at almost 10:00 AM. We fell in-love way too much with our beds.  And did I mention, us girls are already feeling our muscles ache because of the wakeboarding?

Arrived in Legazpi and our first stop for our itinerary is lunch.  So expected!  The moment we mentioned sili icecream to our trusted tour guide (Legazpi City can be toured through commute, but it’ll definitely be more comfortable if you hire a van.  Fortunately, Mr. Diego Montessor, Jr. of Easy Travel, proved it easy for us.), immediately dropped us at 1st Colonial Grill.  It offers all types of Bikolano dishes.  Featured here of-course is the most-sought sili icecream, pili icecream, tinutungang ice cream (roasted rice grains that added much flavor and aroma), and malunggay icecream.  I left the main the dishes for your imagination.  These desserts were definitely the best sellers.

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For our tour, we went to Daraga Church.  And by the time that we went there, we also did not miss the opportunity to mesmerize ourselves with Mt. Mayon as well.  This centuries old church was built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1773 in honor of the patron saint of Nuestra Senora dela Porteria.

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Next stop is the Cagsaua (commonly spelled as Cagsawa) ruins,  which was also built by the Franciscan missionaries in 1700s.  It displays the famous bell tower which completes the view of Mayon in history books.  A tour guide (who also acts as the photographer of the group) would tell us the story of the place and show us different creative shots.  Tourists also have the option to try the ATV lava bed adventure tour with Php 599 (per hour, I think) as minimum cost.  There are a lot of souvenir shops stationed there as well.  We bought bell tower carvings made of granite at Php 150 – certified hand-made at a good price.

The Church of Cagsaua (commonly referred to as the Cagsawa Ruins)

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Mini bell towers (and knife sharpeners hehe)

Legazpi would not be complete without the Lignon Hill.  This place is a famous viewing deck for Mt. Mayon and the rest of the city.  Further, it is a home of various adventure activities like zipline, rappelling, and hanging bridge cross.  For our group we tried the zipline (a beginner feat) and hanging bridge and was aiming for the Japanese Tunnel afterwards (though, we didn’t have the chance to go inside the Japanese Tunnel as it was already closed by the time that we got there).  When done in groups, you’ll definitely feel adrenaline rush from your toes to your temple. You can request the staffs to take your pictures by the way.  They can print copies and save it on a CD as souvenirs.

The viewing deck and the zip lines

Hanging on at the hanging bridge

Japanese tunnel

Lignon Hill

Capping our tour is a cool evening walk at Legazpi Boulevard and Embarcadero.  I remember very well those cool and clean sea breeze blowing towards us as we stroll and take pictures of the boulevard.  We even had the chance to stand at the breakwater. This is also a place for joggers and triathletes alike.

Posing at the Boulevard

After the tour, we were dropped off at the Legazpi Central Terminal to catch the last trip back to Naga City.  We only had a quick dinner at Savemore before we hopped on the van.

Back at our hotel again at 9:30 PM, but this time craving for an evening snack, we feasted on some chicken and I-can’t-remember-what-else.

Feasting at CBD Plaza Hotel


Day 3
– Church Heritage tour continues, photowalks, Geewan, and souvenir shopping

We initially planned to Malabsay Falls that day.  But since I cannot really tell how far it is from our hotel and we were definitely tired with all our adventure during the past two (2) days, we resorted to continuing our Church Heritage tour, do souvenir shopping, and have lunch at Geewan.

Visiting the Penafrancia Church

I didn’t miss lighting a candle and saying a prayer for INA (as the people of Naga also called Our Lady of Peñafrancia).  I also noticed the statue of Fr. Miguel Robles de Covarrubias who promoted the devotion to INA.

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We also had the chance to check the Museum of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.  We have witnessed how the devotion began and continued up to this day.  Much can be learned from this Museum.  Every diorama, aureola (twelve stars), crown, and “manto” (cloak), tells a story.  It is definitely a must-see for tourists and lay persons alike.  We are even blessed enough to step on the actual float being used for the annual fluvial parade (held during September).

The Museum

For Bikolano goods, we went back to Centro Naga.  For pili nuts and other goods, RPM must be the choice.  We discovered Tribu Bikolano shirts for quality souvenirs as well.

RPM and Bikolano shirts

Also, we did not miss shooting at the Plaza Rizal before heading for lunch.

Plaza Rizal

Then to cap it all, we had our hearty lunch at Geewan.  Bikolano dish, known or not to others, will be seen here.  From left, we had pinangat (porked wrapped in gabi leaves and cooked in coconut milk), kandingan (Bikolano bopis), and tinutungan (fish cooked in vinegar, malunggay, and coconut milk).  After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, in time for our travel to the airport for our flight to Manila.

Geewan

This travel was definitely a memorable one especially to our muscles, taste buds, and hearts (but, of course). All credits to my friends and my Dear.

My travel buddies and my Dear

Cebu at a pace for two

It has been a while since I got to travel on a vacation and get some good shots.  And it is my first time to travel in a very small group.  By means of small, we are only two.  It started in one of those “seat-sale” moments that sold at Php 0.99 per way in all domestic destinations.   It was actually quite a long shot because the promo was about to close when my friend saw it.  And since we were the only ones that can be contacted easily that time, the plan of a random vacation was left to us. I was in-charge of the booking and my friend was for hotel reservations and itinerary.  With 6 months to prepare, we did not worry that much.

Then 2 weeks to our travel, we almost did worry, but since we set our minds that this will be in a budget and at a slow pace, we did not mind preparing too much.  It’s just like planning a sleep-over in one of my barkada‘s place (I haven’t done this yet, I think).  What we had was a 3-day-2-night vacation in Cebu.  The general plan is to get tanned on a beach and do a Cebu City tour plus hoard for pasalubong and  give thanks to Sto. Nino de Cebu.  So we need to fit all these on a budget (I gave myself a Php 4,000 allowance less the roundtrip ticket cost of Php 900) and in not more than 72 hours. So here’s our version of Cebu at a pace for two.

Day 1

Fortunately, our travel began smoothly: the plane leaving on-time at 9:10 AM for Mactan International Airport.  Keep in mind that traveling to Bantayan Island will be long. So from the Airport, we immediately headed to Cebu North Bus Terminal.  For a backpacker’s tip, take taxis at the departure area and not those parked at the arrival area.  They have different price range similar to white taxis and airport taxis back in Metro Manila. We took the one with a flag-down rate of Php 40.00 compared to the one that has a Php 75.00 flag-down rate. We spent a good Php 120.00 for the taxi.  Buses (aircon and non-aircon) to Hagnaya port leaves at 30min to 1 hr interval.  We chose to take the aircon bus for Php 270.00 for a 3.5 hour travel.  Luckily, by the time that we get there, the bus still has a good amount of space while we still had the time to eat our packed lunch. By the time that our bus is about to leave, we have eaten our lunch and are ready for a site-seeing and eventually, a good long afternoon nap. And I must say, travelling with a full stomach is the best decision we had which jumpstarted a great adventure for both of us and helped us overlook some difficulties. It was roughly a 4-hour travel to Hagnaya. Then from Hagnaya port, we took the 3:00 PM ferry to Sta. Fe port in Bantayan Island. The ferry costs Php 150.00. That was another hour travel.

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We have reached the Beach Placid Hotel which my friend reserved for us roughly three (3) weeks before we set for Cebu. For Php 1,800.00 (which requires 20% reservation through bank deposit or credit card), we get to stay at a beach front room for two (2); land transfers to-and-fro the port; and basic amenities.

For our night at the Island, we rented a bicycle (Php 30.00 per hour) which we used in roaming around the market and food center and buy our dinner. Inihaw (barbeque) and much of the Filipino cuisine as well as Italian and Persian cuisine can be found.  But since both of us are girls and obviously not from the area, we just contented ourselves to be mindful of our whereabouts as the time moves further into the night. We then only had to take-out home-cooked meals and just eat them back in our hotel (actually, as we listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze that evening).

Day 2
We spent our morning in cycling around the island especially near the market and spent shooting photos at almost anything.  It’s great to roam around and just beam on the locals’ ‘hellos’ after enjoying sauteed shrimp in chilli sauce for breakfast.  And I remember that my friend just loved the breakfast we had.  We also had the chance to visit the Church of Santa Fe.  After which, we just had ourselves tanned until noon by altering taking a nap by the beach, swimming, and doing jump shots.  We had the long beautiful shores of the Island almost all to ourselves.  We then had our lunch just in time for check-out.

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And since we were planning to leave by 3:00 PM, we chose to go to the central market where  Cebu’s most sought dried seafood delicacies are its freshest and cheapest.  We traveled by tricycle at Ph 25.00 per way. To be honest our travel took longer than our shopping time.  But it offered what it promised.  We got danggit at least Php 200.00 cheaper compared to what you can buy in Cebu City. For those who plan to stay longer in the Island, they can do island hopping and have lunch at Virgin Island with freshly-cooked seafood and just finish the tour in the afternoon at Php 2,000.00 for 6 to 10 pax.

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By the time that we took the 4:00 PM ferry to Hagnaya Port, our travel took long enough to catch the last bus to Cebu City.  It was a long 3-hour trip back, enough for us to sleep. After dropping off at the Cebu North Terminal, we immediately headed for SM Cebu which is also a public transportation hub to various places in the City.  Also, it is a good place to look for dinner for hungry backpackers at almost dead of night.  We satisfied ourselves with La Paz Batchoy then took a jeep to our hotel. We were able to check-in at the hotel at almost 10:00 PM.  Check for Sugbutel which is perfect for budget travelers. They have male and female dorm-type rooms as well as offers single executive, double, and family rooms. For only Php 1,200.00, we were able to stay to a standard twin room, complete with clean linens, toiletries, 2 single beds, and cable T.V, plus free use of the baggage deposit area.  Though it does not include free breakfast, there is a canteen located inside the building where we brought our meals.  If  you have packed food, you can eat it there as well.

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Day 3

Such a long day it would be for us so we chose to check out first before we roam the City.  Good thing, we can still deposit our luggage and the sites are very accessible through jeepney.  We did not worry much of time since we are just an hour away from the airport and we will be taking the evening flight. Remember, no need to spend so much in transportation by taking a taxi or renting a van.  Not only are Cebuanos are very accommodating in your query (including the drivers) on the street but the jeepney transportation system are very easy to understand.  Not only destination sites are placed on their windshields but alpha-numeric codes were written on the top of jeepneys so from afar, one will immediately know where it will go.  Take note that different points in Cebu have different codes.  I promise that these are easy to learn.

Since it was  a Sunday, we prioritized hearing mass and taking the tour at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño which houses Señor Sto. Niño where millions of devotees would celebrate and give thanks especially during January.  Devotees and spectators alike would assemble on the streets and watch the streetdance competition at the amphitheater. However, since we were in awe with the devotion of the Cebuanos (we even queued to personally touch the image) and the size of the the Basilica that we forgot to drop by the Magellan’s Cross and Lapu-Lapu shrine which was also in the same area.

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We headed then to the famous Tabuan market. My friend just received requests to buy additional danggit while both of us hunted for dried mangoes, otap, and chicharong carcar.  Shamrock otap are easy to find as they are retailed in all souvenir stores even outside the market (though nothing beats the Php 10-50.00 difference when you buy directly to the Shamrock shop so we really did).  We then had our lunch to another ihawan stop (and drinks and pulutan at night) which was the Larsian.  Almost every type of meat can be found for barbecue.  Combine it with bulalo, papaitan, or sinigang (all famous Filipino soup dishes) and puso (rice cooked in weaved banana leaves), you’ll surely bloat full.

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We only missed the Skywalk at the Crowne Plaza by half because my friend is not exactly fond of heights.  Instead we took a break at Starbucks and checked the featured rides and tourist centers at the 32nd floor.  Their activities do seem thrilling.  For a price of Php 700-800 per pax, you get to do the Skywalk among other activities.

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For our final rounds in Cebu, we bought a couple of kilos of “cholesteroliffic” Cebu lechon at CnT lechon.  This is only one of the many known lechon stores that made the City even more culinary famous.  And I do remember how it was consumed so quickly by the time I came home.

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And looking back to what happened, given this much detail, I really say I did enjoy Cebu at a pace and I’m sure, my tired feet and my full tummy will definitely agree as well.

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Order in Melange

Would you be able to see order in disorder; peace in chaos; in silence among the noise?  Maybe a probability of one in a million that beauty can be seen against the rubble and confusion when it is right there in front of you – bare but blank (thinking that it is just pointless).

In my young life, it has been my mission to struggle – to labor for concord despite the chances being slim.  Difficult, it truly is.  At times very painful.  In that struggle, I usually hurt myself.  When things did not go as planned, I can feel the disappointment burning my arteries and discernment.

But maybe I just need to be pointless, chaotic, and noisy and not just worry about the struggling.  Just allow things to swoosh past me at times.  Believe that there can be order in melange.

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And this what this shot reminded me.  This was taken while aboard an AUV driving around Camiguin Island as part of a trip.  Before I landed on this shot, I remember being so desperate to just have a steady landscape shot as I was fascinated with the sunset and the trees, and the sea.  I told myself, it’ll eventually affect the rest of my shoot if I get stuck with this feeling.  So I just fired the rest of my shots while the drive continues.  There I saw this one shot – vivid, strong contrast, yet no balance, and even jagged.  I immediately noticed this one shot among those that are equally beautiful.  So I extracted it from my files and grazed it with my editing software. I only adjusted the exposure, white balance, and contrast.  Never I imagined that I was like gazing upon an Impressionist painting on Acrylic on canvass (or something like that).  It was different, it was beautiful.  Truly there is order in melange.  I just have to learn to let go.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

It was such a rush of ideas (or maybe just my huge appetite at the time)  – thinking of what a dish would taste like when replacing certain kinds of ingredients.  There was a time that I was just staring at a bag of pistachios, thinking that its distinct earthy taste and green color would be an excellent partner to pasta and cheese.

Then the pistachio pesto pasta came into mind.

A way to perk up a pesto mixture is the use of processed cheese and pistachios. I found out that it is an excellent replacement to pine nuts.  It is also a bit cheaper and blends well with sweet basil and garlic. While the basil mellows the saltiness of the cheese, the olive oil brings the sweetness on the newly crushed herb and nuts.  Preparing the mixture is not exactly difficult.  Just ready your trusty Osterizer or food processor to help you do the trick.  Below are the ‘rough’ proportions of the ingredients:

– 1/3 block of regular size cheese (sliced or cubed)

– A handful or 10 grams of sweet basil leaves

– 5 cloves of garlic

– Pinch of salt

– 1/4 tsp of pepper

– 3-5 tbsp of olive oil (varies depending on preference).

– 250 grams of ready-to-cook pasta (usually lenguine and spaghetti)

The way to do it:

1. Cook pasta until al dente in boiling water (8-10 minutes).  Keep in mind that the water will boil quickly and you can refrain the pasta from sticking together by sprinkling a pinch of salt and pouring at least a tablespoon of cooking oil into the water before placing the pasta.  Stir the pasta every so often until cooked.

2. Preparing the mixture: Peel garlic and shoot it into the food processor together with the nuts, olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh basil leaves. After a few presses, put in slices/cubes of cheese.

3. Toss cooked pasta on a hot pan greased with olive oil and pour in the mixture (you may want to pour in just small amount at first then continue adding some more if you are ready for a stronger pesto taste).  Remaining mixture may be used as bread spreads

If you prefer to use this besides your choice of pasta, this is a perfect spread over toasted or even cold bread (with soup or a cup of coffee to go with). It is strongly suggested to make your own pesto because it is healthier since it is much freshly made and better yet, much cheaper. This amount used on the pasta (approximately 300 grams, measured in uncooked terms), only costs less than Php 50.00 (about US $ 1.20). Such amount may already cost 2 to 3 times more if purchased as a mixture already.

I already shot the food while it was still on the pan. Now guess how hungry I was.Pistachio Pesto Pasta

Doing the Shooting-with-your-Phone Photo Challenge

With my growing enthusiasm to framing almost anything while giving myself opportunities to play with color and lighting, I challenged my skills through a camera phone.  They say that in order to be a good photographer, one must not depend on the capabilities of a high-model camera nor the use of expensive lenses matched with diffusers, filters, and speedlights.  The device (including the photo editing software) will only do 1% of the job.  The remaining 99% is all the one taking the picture.  It takes a great deal of imagination and even playfulness to produce pictures that hopes to deliver a feeling, sanctity, poignancy, or even the movement of the subject during that very moment.  Taking pictures, especially in my recent experience provides opportunities to portray different perspectives while allowing spaces for its latter audience to fill-in their stories.

Featured below are different perspectives on walkways, garden wooden benches, petals, and morning skies during my stay in Hacienda Gracia Resort and Hotel in Lubao, Pampanga.  I like the contrasts of red, white, and green – reminds me of the colors of my Alma Mater, the University of the Philippines.  I am still making my own little steps to give-back on what my University has fostered me.  Also featured were my brief fascination on pink.  My apologies if I cannot recall the exact name of the flower I took pictures of.  Its boldness contrasts beautifully on the bareness of the leaves surrounding the garden.  I also cannot disregard the drift-wood-like (Is this correct?) texture of the wooden bench from the top and its adjacent perspective underneath.  I took this as a perspective of a lone pebble beside it.  Seemingly, I like the effect of the light, slowly piercing through corners under the bench and the shadows it created through the creases.  Lastly, I don’t want to miss the light of dawn making its way a thick sea of clouds as well as silhouettes of trees.  It reminds me that no matter how many obstacles that we may encounter, we will always find a way through.

Please enjoy this latest feature.   Share your experience in camera phones or similar point-and-shoot devices.