It’s true when they say that the best laid plans are no plans at all. This very spontaneous trip for us first timers and I swear, I had so much fun!
Only high tides and good vibes!
Photo Set | El Nido
Pretty sunrise outside my window.
Woke up at 4am to catch my flight to Manila, transferred to Puerto Prinsesa, endured the grueling 5-hour van ride to El Nido, arrived at 8pm feeling nauseous and sick. Planned to just stay at the guesthouse we checked into because everyone was not feeling well but damn we needed to eat.
For budget travelers, we stayed at Sophia’s Beach Guesthouse in Corong-Corong, El Nido. It’s a beachfront accommodation, can accommodate families or groups, ours was a room good for four with free breakfast, free wifi, a/c and hot and cold shower. Quiet place just a few minutes away from the town center.
Decided to go to town to have dinner and maybe a few bottles to knock ourselves out. We went to Happiness Beach Bar for light food and some drinks. They serve a delicious variety of healthy vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food.
The manager also gave us free shots! After a few beers, we asked where most people go on Saturdays and they suggested Sava Bar or Pukka Bar. Yep, this was the plan of people who were feeling sick and wanted to stay in, lol.
Ended up in Pukka Bar and Pangolin, met a few friends and wasn’t really expecting to have so much fun!
Went back to our accommodation at 3am, swam under the moonlight, and was locked out (hahaha).
Pretty much lazed in bed half of the day, only time was forced to get up was to buy Jampong from the convenience store across the street, will be our best friend every morning for the next few days, so good for that “mild”hangover.
They say Corong-Corong has the best sunsets so in the afternoon, after we decided it was time to really get up, we went to Panorama Beach Club for happy hour. Actually, being our cheap selves, we brought a bottle of scotch we bought in Puerto Princesa and just paid for corkage, lol. We did buy pica pica.
Finally woke up early for our island hopping tour. We took Tour A, the popular one. It’s P1,200 per person inclusive of lunch and features 5 islands. You also have to pay for a P200 environmental fee and entrance to the Big or Small Lagoon.
So this is how El Nido town looks like in the morning, lol.
Seven Commandos Beach
I love that the white sand here is fine and the water is not that salty, crystal clear too. Picturesque beach lined with coconut trees against the dramatic backdrop of limestone cliffs. There is a resort on the island, has quite a few stores and beach volleyball.
A little bit of history or maybe folklore, the beach got it’s name because of the 7 soldiers who got stranded on the island during WWII.
As they say, the highlight of Tour A — a wide stretch of emerald waters dotted with dark limestone cliffs. Such a beauty. We had to rent a kayak to go in. There’s also a hidden tunnel inside the lagoon.
Simizu Island (Shimizu Island)
The island was named after a Japanese diver who was trapped in an underwater tunnel while exploring the waters of El Nido. Tragic.
Anyhow, the island is a popular lunch spot. Good thing we arrived late so it was just us and another group on the beach, not that crowded. There were lots of monitor lizards and snakes too! Totally harmless, just don’t go near them.
South Miniloc Island
One of the popular dive sites in El Nido, our fourth stop for some snorkeling. But the waves were quite strong and the water was too salty.
Our final stop for the tour.
The entrance to the lagoon was quite challenging, it was really rocky, like sharp rocky that you would definitely need aqua shoes. As you approach the cove, there is a small hole on the left that you’d have to crawl into that would lead you to the secret lagoon. It’s a hidden pool of water inside a limestone cliff.
And on the opposite side is just this surreal beach paradise scaled by towering limestone walls and dusty white sand. THIS was the highlight of my tour. I swear I could not stop saying how beautiful this place was.
Thank you Kuya Nathan and Kuya Blondie (guy far left) who lost 2 environmental fee receipts resulting to us leaving town to start the tour really late and baking us under the noon sun (hahaha). Good fun!
After the tour, we were famished and ate for a bit, rested for a bit then went to this full moon party at The Gardens in Nacpan. Was not really the greatest experience. The ticket was for P1,000: entrance, 1 free drink and free round trip shuttle service. The transfers were chaotic, with everyone pushing to get into the van that supposedly leaves every hour. Take note that it takes around more than 30 minutes to go to Nacpan and they only had a limited number of vans. They had to hire random ones just to accommodate. We left around 11pm and arrived at the venue quite late, I was expecting it to be like at the beach or something, it was not, just literally by the pool, lol. The music was not that great either. Like a jumble of rave, house, rnb, pop and budots. The 35 foot slide was kinda cool though. Wasted 1 grand, should’ve just went on that date instead, might’ve been much more fun, hahaha.
This is the effin highlight of my trip. Kept going back to that store behind Pukka bar.
It’s been a very busy year but we managed to squeeze in some time to get together despite the chaotic schedules.
Annual getaway with my forever dates!
Photo set | Manggapuri DSB
Whole place to ourselves! Manggapuri is located at Prk. Mangga, Brgy. Igmayaan, Don Salvador Benedicto, a little over an hour’s drive from Bacolod City. Arrived late afternoon, settled in and munched on a lot of junk while waiting for the sunset.
There are 7 cabanas I think, good for four or two people. Very spacious and comfortable. The rooms have floor-length windows with spectacular views of the mountain, the shy Mt. Kanlaon, and of course the flood of sunlight in the morning.
The place also boasts of this more than a thousand LED tulips, perfect for that romantic night stroll.
Beautiful place indeed, perfect for that long overdue staycation.
And while waiting for our sumptuous dinner, prepared by their in-house Chef, happy hour by the Jacuzzi.
S’mores by the bonfire and late night gossip with crickets as background music.
Woke up the next morning to sounds of chirping birds and buzzing bees. So in love with quiet nature, I seriously wanted to extend my leave.
And these babies! Say hello to Daisy and Donald, these huge, Pyrenean mountain dogs.
Day trip to Danjugan on our 2nd day and since it’s habagat season, the waves were seriously crazy. I was just waiting for our boat to be wiped out.
But we made it!
Ramram, our guide briefed us about the island. It’s a 43 hectare island and marine sanctuary that is made up of 90% limestone forests. It was once a threatened and over-fished area but with the efforts of The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc., the island has been restored to maybe it’s purest form, providing asylum to many wildlife species.
Me and Jobelle trekked while Miel and Pam took the boat to Moray Lagoon.
And we went snorkeling! Saw some sea snakes, moray eels, giant clams and lots of different fish and corals.
We had a slight scare when it was time to go back when our guide told us that the winds were really strong and just to wait for advise from the boat operator if we could actually dock at the resort or divert to somewhere else. I thought we’ll be stranded. Thank God the waters calmed.
I’ve been best friends with these crackheads for almost 3 decades now. They’ve seen the best and the ugly and the great and the nasty parts of me. They have suppressed strangling me countless of times because of my stubbornness and my twisted way of thinking because we are all weird somehow, but I know despite, they will always have my back. They hear my silence, they see my shadows, and they never judge.
We may not always see each other or talk to each other, but we’ll always have August. (CHAROT!) Virtual hugs!
As I’ve said, I stopped celebrating my birthdays when I turned 20. And ever since family and friends would throw me surprise parties where, for the most of it, I would come under-dressed or unprepared, obviously. I am not really big on surprises but I’ve always appreciated their efforts, even when it’s also finding a good enough excuse to see each other and get drunk.
Every year, on my birthday, for the past couple of years, I leave and go on an adventure. This year, I was gone for 12 days so when I came back, friends were planning to get together as we haven’t seen each other for months. Honestly I was still so tired from all the hiking and chasing missed flights that I did not respond to text messages or calls. I seriously just wanted to lie in bed. They kept planning and I kept ditching, I had so many excuses.
But then, they know me too well. They asked me to have dinner at this new ramen place, Nezu, and I caved.
Went to get some drinks at Urit after dinner and the waiter blew their surprise (hahaha). He was like, “Ipagwa ko na maam ang cake or karon lang na i-surprise?” (Maam, do I take out the cake now or later as a surprise?), while I was sitting there and Elaine was like, just take it out.
Thank you friends for letting me blow my cake! Group hug!
I stopped celebrating my birthdays when I turned 20 for silly reasons most people wouldn’t really understand. Not that interesting so don’t be curious.
Every year, on my birthday, I leave and go on an adventure and for the last leg of this quarter life crisis, I went to Middle Earth. 12 days full of missed flights, stairs, bottles of wine, herds of cow, flocks of sheep, steak, steep trails, fish and chips, broken luggage, sorting baggage, magnificent views and loads of fun!
Flew Qantas. Flight from Manila was delayed so I missed my connecting flight and was stranded in Sydney airport for a few hours. Booked the next available flight to Auckland. Fortunately, my Wellington flight got moved to a later schedule so I did not miss it. Good thing there was also free booze on board, good enough compensation to the exhausting sprint I had to make to my connection only to arrive to a closed gate.
After 13 hours of flying…
Northern Island winter road trip
The places we went to on our 10-day road trip from Wellington to Auckland.
My cousin and her husband cooking me up a feast at their new home and what a coincidence that a friend of mine from way back also lives in the same suburb as them! She saw my Instagram stories arriving in Wellington and messaged me. Chance meet up of course and she also brought me 3 bottles of wine haha!
Road to Cape Palliser, such picturesque views outside my window!
We passed by some wild seals too! Stopped by the side of the road and took some pictures of these cuties. Careful enough not to get too close as some curious pups were growling at me haha.
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Mount Victoria lookout
360-degree scenic views of Wellington. Always chasing sunsets.
Te Papa Museum
Did not finish exploring and will need to go back!
When you love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you just have to visit this place. Home of the talented people behind these amazing conceptual designs and visual effects.
Passed through this town going to Castlepoint. The town features over 20 wineries, most within cycling and walking distance of the village square.
We stopped here for late lunch and some wine tasting. I am not a wine person but this place is definitely a must go to. Wine and food, superb.
This small beach-side town on the Wairarapa coast is just beautiful.
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Road crossing to Ruapehu district. Landscape of the Northern Island is so diverse. Majority of the road trip, all I see is lush green forests and cattle and sheep ranches. Then we come to this. Both sides covered with low scrublands and snow capped Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe as backgrounds.
It was snowing when we arrived and first snow fall experience for these kids in the 7 years they’ve been living in New Zealand haha! Pretty winter wonderland.
Parked our car by the hotel. We took a bus up to Mount Ruapehu as the road was very slippery and we did not bring chains.
The Huka falls—largest falls in the Waikato river. The flow rate from the water drop of the falls could fill up 8 olympic size pools in roughly a minute. Amazeballs.
Relaxed in the silica enriched thermal pools as we were dead tired from all the walking and hiking. There is also a walk where you get to experience a recreated Maori settlement, said to have settled some 1,000 years ago, drawn by the thermal activity and the abundance of food. They believed that the hot pools contained healing powers and therapeutic benefits. Amazingly, the houses are so small and considering that most Moari are largely built people.
Wai-O-Tapu (Māori for sacred waters) is an active geothermal area by the Taupo volcanic zone, some 27 kilometers south of Rotorua.
Whakarewarewa Forest – The Redwoods
Magnificent stands of towering native and exotic trees in this beautiful forest.
Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)
Lake Tikitapu is also known as “Blue Lake” because of its gorgeous sapphire waters.
This magnificent structure used to be an elegant spa retreat called the Bath House in 1908 and was later on converted into a museum and art gallery. Sadly, this beauty closed in 2016 for seismic strengthening and remains closed til now.
Where else to celebrate the last leg of my quarter life crisis but at the lush pastures of the Shire in Middle Earth?
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
I swear we went. They just did not allow us to take photos. According to our Maori guide, the glowworms are sensitive to light and sound which is why they prohibited use of cellphones and cameras and also, said gadgets are expensive and they do not want to be spelunking the caves just to retrieve these.
Grabbed some pictures from Google Images (maybe back when it was still allowed to take photos, I dunno).
The only photos we were able to take — exit of the cave and the entrance to the souvenir shop.
What an awesome day! Ate truffle burgers and truffle fries for dinner, lazed at our Airbnb by the lake and downed 2 bottles of wine. Happy birthday to me!
It was really nice that the guy by the escalator going up the tower told us to check the skies first before deciding to pay more than $20 and just be disappointed. It was raining nonstop and was really cloudy. We did not go up. We went shopping instead lol.
Went shopping at Dress Smart and had dinner at Ramen Takara because it’s my last night and everybody knows how much I love ramen hahaha.
Arrived around 10pm in Manila, stayed at my best friend’s place, was so exhausted fell asleep the moment I went to bed and was snoring. Went to church the next day (thank you LORD for my awesome vacation), had lunch at Soru (always) and flew home to Bacolod in the afternoon.
And I feel like I’m still hungover.
Thank you to Krissy and Alvin for my room (haha) and for going on this trip with me, Micmic for seeing me in Wellington and bringing vino, Aubrey for meeting me in Auckland, Ching and Patrick for letting us stay at your ginormous place and Ilaine and Bambi for coming out for ramen and dessert. 12 days is tooooo short! I wish I was on vacation 24/7.
Somewhere in La Castellana, this just a little over an hour road trip from Bacolod City will lead you to the Garden of Luisa, a farmhouse turned resort, surrounded by lush greenery and a scenic view of the very active Mt. Kanlaon, for your perfect staycation.
Since cousins are home from abroad, we decided to spend one weekend out of town and we ended up here. The perfect excuse to laze, have coffee with a view, and even celebrate a birthday.
The garden is home to a wide variety of flora and you could even find propagated ones, truly a haven for plant lovers (like me). They also have a pool with a diving board, the kids loved it! Swam the whole day and were totally baked. Juancho still sporting his toddler’s life vest, the one he used when he was just 2 years old (hahaha!), poor kid.
We also celebrated Lily’s birthday in advance. Happy 5th little girl! Perfect excuse for cake and spaghetti.
And even if it rained… Rain is rare in UAE (lol). Nothing is gonna dull this experience.
It was fun that we were able to relax and enjoy each other’s company, bonding over good food, excellent coffee, a magnificent view and of course, bottles of soju (lol). Definitely indulged everyone with my Korean obsessions.
Family time is always the best time!
Kids knocked out on the way home. Too much fun.
Garden of Luisa is located at Bagonawa-Isabela Rd., La Castellana, Negros Occidental, Philippines, a getaway home destination located just an hour away from Bacolod City. Day rate is P5,000 for 10 pax and 300/pax in excess. Overnight rate is P8,000 for 8 pax. Rates are for exclusive use of the facility. Perfect for your next staycation!
I’ve always been good at forgetting, I’ve mustered the skill, but lately, to be honest, I’ve been dealing with so much anger, I’m so triggered to be vengeful even if I know it would not do me right and so much hate is surfacing from places I never even knew existed.
Someone I met for the first time, while attending church last Sunday also for the first time this year as I’m not really a church goer, felt like she needed to share this with me.
How wonderful, how awesome, that God sees, God knows. And when you truly listen, God speaks, sometimes through angels guised as strangers.
Maybe it’s time to stop running, to stop forgetting and instead start to remember, to surrender, to let heart. After all, I do not walk this life alone.
Following a daily devotional to appease a lot of chaotic thoughts.
This one is for me and I’m just going to leave it here as a reminder that there is so much more to life than living with all this nonsense.
Andy Stanley: Enemies of the Heart
Devotional Day 3
“Letting Go of Hurt and Anger”
Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-32
The second enemy of the heart is anger. We get angry when we don’t get what we want.
Show me an angry person and I’ll show you a hurt person. And I guarantee you that person is hurt because something has been taken. Somebody owes them something.
We all know people whose anger could be verbalized in one of the following ways: “You took my reputation.” “You stole my family.” “You took the best years of my life.” “You stole my first marriage.” “You robbed me of my teenage years.” “You robbed me of my purity.” “You owe me a raise.” “You owe me an opportunity to try.” “You owe me a second chance.” “You owe me affection.”
The root of anger is the perception that something has been taken. Something is owed you. And now a debt-to-debtor relationship has been established.
How about you? What debt is causing the anger you feel?
How long are you going to allow the people who have hurt you to control your life? Another month? Another year? Another season of your life? How long?
I’d like to propose thattoday should be the day when you quit holding on to the hurt!
While it’s true that you can’t undo what’s been done, it’s equally true that you don’t have to let the past control your future. In Ephesians 4, we’re commanded to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.” We do that by “forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The remedy for anger is forgiveness. If we hold out waiting to be paid back for the wrongs done to us, we will be the ones who pay. If, on the other hand, we cancel the debts owed to us, we will be set free.
Of the four monstrous forces we’re discussing in these devotionals, I believe this one—unresolved anger from intentional and unintentional hurt—is the most devastating. Yet in some ways it’s the easiest to overcome. You simply make up your mind to cancel the debt. You decide and declare, “You don’t owe me anymore.”
Follow this four-step process today:
(1) Identify who you’re angry with.
(2) Determine what they owe you.
(3) Cancel the debt by forgiving them.
(4) Don’t let the anger build up again.
“So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”