Lakbayan

I wish the world was flat like the old days
Then i could travel just by folding a map

I have read about this guy who put a tattoo of a world map on his back and inks the states/countries he has already travelled to. Unfortunately for me, I do not have the guts to undergo such procedure, and even if I make “magmatapang” I have skin asthma anyway, so, boo!

Luckily, I found this app/website which features the map of the Philippines and a checklist of provinces. The colored ones are the places I’ve been to. Apparently, I’ve travelled most to the north – because I love the north.

I’m a C-. Well, I haven’t listed Puerto Princesa and Surigao yet. I still have hope. Vying for C+ at the end of the year!

I think I will have to do this every year just to inspire myself to go new places.

Also a reminder that my passport is expiring in 2 years, so I better go to a foreign land again.


My Lakbayan grade is C-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

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’13: A Prerequisite Year-Ender

I didn’t post a wishlist during my last birthday. I thought it would be a little off listing down things I would have wanted to receive when people from the Visayas region are struggling with their lives. Thus, instead of “needs and wants” bullets, I am listing things that made me happy and/or things I should be thankful for this past year. So, that makes this a partial birthday and year-end blog

1. Less rampant skin asthma. As much as I wanted to skip the beach in summer, you just can’t say no to sunny sunny places. Surprisingly, my allergies didn’t shoot up, or was I just OC re-applying SPF like crazy. On the other hand, the trip to Sagada made my skin a lot better. I guess I am really meant to live in the mountains.

2. First time to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the boyfriend. I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule: night shift and very few holidays. For last year’s holiday however, he took the toilsome drive from his workplace to our home. He arrived with so much glee. He even played the guitar for everyone and brought a puppy for me to adopt.

3. Seeing Stars in concert. Last year’s birthday wishlist included Stars and Sara Bareilles concert. Guess I was a good kid then, heavens answered my prayers by bringing Stars to the Philippines in February! It was a surreal experience to see them perform live. I cried, sweat, jumped, and felt every kind of emotion to each of their songs.

4. Spending the Boyfriend’s birthday in Boracay. It has been a tradition for the boyfriend and I to take a week off from work on our birthdays to have it to ourselves. It’s usually a time for adventure, food, culture, and peace and quiet in between. This time, we chose the shores of Boracay. Midst the bipolar weather, we braved island hopping, parasailing, and helmet diving. Our nights were usually capped off with beer and good music. It was relaxing and fun.

5. Friendship level up with colleagues at Burot Beach. The office Breakfast Club hit the beach in late June. We were camping newbies, but we survived. Nothing fancy for us, but we enjoyed the bonfire, smores, drunk dips at dawn, crazy games/dares, and confessions. Friendship level went up notches higher.

6. Crying over John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars”. It’s been a while since the last time I shed tears over a book. (Last was Marley and Me, I literally bawled and tucked my face into pillows haha!) It made me cry buckets. It was cute and romantic which makes it all the more sadistic, sad, and heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the movie.

7. Sweets and treats delivery from the boyfriend. As mentioned, I used to hate my boyfriend’s work schedule, but one of its perks was he can drop by the office to hand me things I need, like for emergency: meds, supplies etc. But a sweet boyfriend is a sweet boyfriend, he randomly drops by to give me dessert, snacks, and bonus chicken rewards.

8. Well-spent birthday celebration in Sagada. I have always wanted to go to Sagada. I have always believed it has the same promise as Baguio. As part of my birthday celebration, we (friends and boyfriend) took an adventure and nature trip to Sagada. We braved the grumpy weather, trekked to Bomod-ok falls, and conquered the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I knew it will be one of my favorite places. I will be coming back.

9. Weird birthday surprise from the boyfriend. My boyfriend is abnormal. He takes delight in pissing me off first before giving me surprises, rewards, etc. For my birthday, he asked me to pick him up from his office. It’s really annoying, come to think of it, but hey, maybe he prepared a surprise with his officemates. But so happened, we just hopped and took weird routes from Eastwood to almost Marikina part of QC, from the C5 area of Pasig to Meralco Ave to Kapitolyo. And picked up an avocado cake with greetings from him and my pet rabbit (HAHA). The next week, we no longer traveled far and wide. Instead, he teased me into getting a new pet and picked me up from the office, already with a new female bunny munching grass.

10. My brother finally ending up with something he really really wanted. People consider my brother the happy-go-lucky type of guy. Little are they aware that he’s the kind who’s up for just about anything just to go after what he dreams. After graduation, he sought our parents’ approval regarding entering the PMA. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t allow him because he was still young and immature etc. Just this year, he secretly filed for application for the military. He just broke the news few days before his one-month training. Now, he’s already at the Tarlac camp for his year-long training. I am so proud and happy for my brother.

11. Boyfriend’s new work schedule. How many times have I ranted about the boyfriend’s morning being my evening and vise versa? Well this year, he switched companies and received new work schedule. Though he gets to the office at around 6am, still, that means more time together. Yey!

12. More kitchen collaborations with the boyfriend. From plain brownies to smores to cookie crumble. From lasagna and baked macaroni to lemon garlic dory and baked chicken. Here’s to more awesomeness in the kitchen!

13. Welcoming new babies in the family. Just a month after my boyfriend got me a new female bunny, it gave birth to four tiny kittens! It takes a lot of effort feeding and making sure they’re growing big and strong but seeing them hop, roam around, and open their eyes for the first time is priceless. I’m a happy grandmother.

14. Mini reunions and meet-ups with college friends. My friends and I have come to a point where I rarely see each other due to our busy schedule. It’s such a delight to see them once in a while and spend endless hours talking just about anything like our younger years. Though now, we no longer opt for crazy night outs. We’d rather spend time somewhere cozy while stuffing food on our faces, if not settling down for coffee or tea.

15. My father’s survival from the Bohol quake. Perhaps this is one of the things I am really really grateful for this year. There’s no such dread as knowing someone you love has been affected by such calamity. I am just plain thankful that he wasn’t hurt or anything. Moreover, he helped people in his community.

Sagada Eats

Spotlight on food finds from Sagada:

Yoghurt House

Cream corn soup/corn soup. It was creamy and ~corny~. I could make this at home, not! I liked it, it made me warm.

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Home-made spaghetti. It was a usual mix of sweet, sour, and spicy. And yes, all red sauce pastas in Sagada tasted almost the same.

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Beef curry. I liked this because it had a strong curry taste, unlike some versions which seems to have just used artificial, powdery, commercialized sauce. It’s hot too!

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The serving size in Sagada is really big. It could be enough for two! As apparent in this baked chicken leg (as it says in the menu), which looks like a quarter of a chicken to me.

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Of course, how could you go to Yoghurt House without trying their yoghurts? I forgot how this one is called but it had banana, strawberry preserves (that’s different from jam), honey, and oats. Their yoghurt is sooo creamy, it rolled in my tongue and melted in my mouth like ice cream.

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Sagada Homestay Diner

So this is a plate of random things we had that night: Tuna sandwich, Pork Sisig, and Lechon Broccoli. We had red sauce pasta again but it was not included in this photo. I had mine separated because I am allergic to eggplant. UGH.

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Burnt cheese from the cabin we visited. Thank you, Ironman! Who loves burnt cheese? *Raises hand*

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Looks safe, but it’s fiery hooot! They served this as hot sauce for the Pork Sisig. You could actually see pepper seeds when you look closely.

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Tuna and Ham Sandwiches. Would you believe that the Tuna sandwich just went for Php65? And the Ham sandwich only for Php 85? They’re actually one of the best sandwiches in Sagada. You can even ask the diner to stack them on top of another.

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Strawberry Cafe

We didn’t actually dine here since some guy was fixing the path towards the restaurant, but I just felt like I needed to post the strawberries which they grow on bamboo poles. They’re so beautiful! Also, they were selling strawberry plants! Too bad, they cannot live in Manila.

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Lemon Pie House

Pasalubong, check!

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Salt and Pepper Diner

Cheesy Tuna Omelette is an entry in my comfort food list. I am not picky when it comes to this but the boyfriend was praying with his whole heart that this better be better than what we make. And, it did not disappoint! I loved how it looks mediocre outside, but oozing with cheese and juicy tuna inside.

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This is the only pasta we tried which had a distinct taste. It was made of fresh tomatoes, a lot of onion and garlic, and of course, tuna. Doesn’t look too appetizing in the photo, but it was actually the best we had.

And the bread was a bonus! It was buttered and toasted, yet soft. We turned it into dessert as it came with strawberry preserves.

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Last from Sagada Homestay. Lechon Broccoli! Do I still have to say something about this?

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Here We Go and Dare We Stay*

It has always been a dream to spend my birthday in the mountains. In 2009, I spent several days before my birthday in Baguio. I did research for my thesis, some escapism, and time out for reflection. This year, the boyfriend granted me a trip to Sagada. It’s a lot like Baguio, only less commercialized.

Just few photos from the trip. Some are not yet available (friend hasn’t uploaded yet), and some I choose to keep inside my head.

***

Good morning, Banaue!

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Weather wasn’t too kind. Guy passengers had to go out and clear the road on the way to Bontoc.

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We freshened up, had lunch at Yoghurt House (This deserves a separate food post!), and made way for our 2 hour trek to Bomod-ok Falls. This 180 feet tall waterfalls is a beauty. The water was freezing. I wasn’t able to take photos since my ipod is not waterproof.

After the trek, we cleaned up, took a quick rest and headed for the Homestay’s Diner. We waited for our dinner to be prepared. We had hot chocolate and coffee while the boys played a 5-stringed guitar.

It’s already Christmas in Sagada, by the way.

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We hopped on to Ironman’s beautiful cabin-like abode. We had a hearty dinner while having some sort of experiment with a Teflon pan. Guinea pigs were cheese and sausage. We had wine and some good old Bugnay (rice wine).

He had a fireplace in his house. It made our stay more legit!

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We spent the rest of the evening singing random songs. It was more like an acoustic Rockeoke actually. Here’s the boyfriend doing one of the things he does best.

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The next day was scheduled for the Lumiang-Sumaguing cave connection. I was a bit hesitant to go since I had cramps the night before, but with the help of Salonpas (I smelled like an old lady) and painkillers, I managed to finish the spelunking course. It was tough. As I have mentioned in my Twitter, yes, I have never feared for my life until that moment. Imagine going through the caves’ cracks, crevices, holes, cold water (again!), assaults, there was even a rappelling portion! Not to mention, the rocks and stones were just either sharp and slippery. I was too preoccupied with my survival, I didn’t take any photo.

And here we are, fresh and clean after spelunking.

Time to look around Sagada!

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We walked wherever our feet took us, other inns, courts, cooperatives, hospitals, restaurants, schools, souvenir shops, and churches. I actually make it a point to visit nearby churches whenever going places so I did the same here. However, the Anglican church at that time was closed so we just roamed around the garden.

This view of the sun midst the pine trees is breathtaking. It gives that kind of warmth, joy, and a promise of peace, still, and calm.

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That night, we just stayed at the Homestay and had dinner at the Diner. (How redundant that sounds!) We spent the chilly evening stargazing at the Dap-ay with a dog, Pipay, and foreign visitors.

It has been a mushy dream for me to spend an evening with my lover to do stargazing in a Dap-ay. The timing was perfect. There were plenty of stars in the sky. They were bright (you know stars shine the brightest in the province), I could almost point out every constellation there is! I was secretly cringing (in a nice way) that time. HAHAHA

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We woke up early the next morning. The sun was up, giving the apt amount of warmth midst the cold winds.We headed for souvenir shops and some restaurants we have previously missed. We even walked down until the Sagada Weaving shop looking for pine cones which my mother requested.

We took a quick lunch thereafter and headed for the terminal to Bontoc.

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It’s almost goodbye!

We took the topload on the way to Bontoc. And again, I feared for my dear life. There were still rocks, stones, and dirt on the road. It was dry yet bumpy. I was scared I might fall down the cliff, but the view was awesome. Think: lush pine trees, mountain ranges, scenic terrain, ravishing river. The Sagada-Bontoc trip on topload might have scared me off, but the view was too beautiful to consider the trip bad at all.

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Farewell, Sagada! You have indeed made me fall further in love with the North.

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*Words from Rachael Cantu’s, Far and Wide.

I’d Like To Go To Sagada. I Want You To Come With Me.

We’d take the midnight bus. We’d listen to the songs in my ipod, the songs we sing together at the karaoke. We’d put our socks on and wiggle our toes. We’d share the same blanket and hold each other’s hand all throughout the travel.

In the morning we’d walk together in our neat cardigans and our favorite beanies. We’d have pinikpikan, fresh greens and mushroom pasta for lunch and cookies for dessert. I’d take a warm well of coffee while you’d opt for a mix of hot chocolate and coffee (to keep your ~annoyingly happy~ disposition). Then we’d hop and skip to caves, mountains, and fields.

We’d go out at night to view the stars. At the top of a cliff, where we could view the night sky, where eternity is within our reach, we fall in love again. Everything would feel the same – like the moment we realized each was special, like the moment we first wrote our love letters, like the evenings we’ve shared walking and smiling to nothingness, like the moment we had our first kiss.

Your fingers would interlace with mine – in between, is where warmth seeps in. We’d dream in our hearts. We’d converse in unspoken words. We’d smile through our happy tears. We’d lay there, still, until we decide to elope into infinity.