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Monday, June 27, 2011


Come here
I have something
To share

But promise me
That you won't spill
Nor breathe
A letter of it
To any soul.

Calm down
It's no big deal
Unless you make one
Out of it

And blow it
Out of proportion,
Make your own

Promise me
That you won't
Tell, please,
It's just
Between you and me.

-Katherine Lopez
26 June 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Palawan Weekend Part 5: Time to Go Home

May 30, 2011 - we were scheduled to fly back to Manila. Back to work. Back to the reality of our everyday lives. No tour or anything was scheduled on that day, except for our flight back home in the afternoon.

We had a relaxed morning. With really nothing to do except to prepare our things for the afternoon flight, we woke up feeling no rush nor pressure to do something on time. Laurice left in the morning though, and flew back home because she had classes in law school.

Our friends left to buy breakfast, and Ate Peps and I were left in the house. She wasn't on leave that day, and because she was a newspaper reporter, she had stories to file. When I woke up, she was already working on her stories, surfing the net through her laptop. When I was taking a bath, I could hear her talking to someone on her cellphone. She was interviewing someone. The story? A hostage-taking. The owner of the house heard her and was worried. "Did something happen?" she asked me. I explained that Ate Peps is a reporter and it's for her story. Well, I understood perfectly well why the owner was worried, because what she heard Ate Peps was asking about was someone being stabbed, someone being rushed to the hospital, what hospital, and other gruesome details. So.... good morning! And yes, the sun was shining. On the day when we were no longer scheduled to go to the beach. Oh well.

While I was taking a bath, one of our friends called Ate Peps and said that we should just come to Manniken Pis (just across Lolo Nonoy's) because they decided to just eat there. So after Ate Peps's phone interview, we walked to the Manniken Pis, a Belgian-run restaurant (based on the posters on the wall) serving Western food.

The food was yummy and came in generous servings. It was already close to 10 a.m. when we ate, so that was our brunch. We were full. I was full. I wasn't hungry until like 3 p.m., when the plane landed in Manila. What did I order? My favorite breakfast: fried rice+corned beef+fried egg.


Our ride to the airport picked us up at 12.30 p.m. I was not yet done brushing my teeth! Haha! Some were still fixing their things, so those who were ready got into the van first. On the way to the airport, we were (again) noisy inside the van. Hahahaha! We're really like that. Noisy. Loud. Well, we do love to have fun, and that's part of our having fun. :) And on the way to the airport, we were already making plans for our next summer trip. :D

When we got to the airport and the driver opened the door of the van, no one wanted to get out. Haha! It was like a "you first, no, you first" moment. :)) We didn't want our vacation to end, but it had to. Because that's life. Haha.

Before we boarded the plane, of course, we took a photo of ourselves. We wouldn't let that moment pass without taking a photo.

Photo by J.M. Tuazon

So that wrapped up our Coron trip. It was our first time to go on vacation together. To say that we all had fun is an understatement. The trip was indeed memorable, and if we could, we'd certainly travel back in time to relive it. Haha.

Where will our next vacation take us? Well, there are lots of tourist destinations here, so I don't think choosing a place would be a problem. All we have to do is decide, save up again, and hop in a plane. With so much zest for life, we can go anywhere.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Palawan Weekend Part 4: To the Islands

We were scheduled to leave for the island hopping at 8.30 a.m. At around 7 a.m., we started rolling out of our beds. After having light breakfast (some had coffee) and doing our morning rituals, we started to prepare for the trip.

The tide was high so the boat picked us up just outside our house. The sun didn't show up, but it wasn't raining either. So there was no reason for us or the tour guides to cancel the trip. Yey!

We were all in high spirits despite the gloomy weather. A vacation is a vacation, and good vibes should prevail. Hehe. As the boat started moving, we all looked out to the sea, while our friend Ate Peps hummed My Heart Will Go On from the movie, Titanic. To everyone's laughter, especially when we saw that night the video, which our friend JM took, of that boat ride.


It started drizzling, so I kept my camera to protect it from getting wet, but still taking it out from time to time to take photos of the islands that we see. I've never been as close to nature as I was during this trip. I would've wanted to capture as much moments, but I guess I wouldn't enjoy it as much if I would be too busy taking photos. So I settled for a few photos.


Our first stop was Siete Pecados, a popular snorkeling site. Our tour guides distributed snorkeling gear and showed us how to use them. It was my first time to go snorkeling, and I had difficulty putting the gear on. I asked one of the guides to help me. The gear was either too tight or too loose. When I thought it fitted right already, I joined the others in the water.

From Laurice's camera

Another problem. I don't know how to swim! Sure, we were wearing life vests, but I didn't exactly know how to move on water. When I finally did, I was so amazed with what I saw: colorful fishes. I could hear Under the Sea playing in my head. Haha.

Just then, my snorkeling gear loosened a bit, and seawater entered my mouth instead of air. Blech. I had it adjusted, and when it was fine, I went on snorkeling and marveling at the beauty underwater. When I took my head out of the water, I saw that I was already a bit far from our boat. Because I can't swim, I didn't know how to get back. I panicked, but I was laughing. I must've looked crazy. Two friends pulled me back. Hahaha!

Next, we went to Kayangan Lake. Before you can get to the lake, you have to climb quite a number of steps. It's not 724, but it's still a lot. Some of us and I were like, "I thought we're done climbing steps!", followed by laughter. Climbing the steps also meant passing through a forest, where mosquitoes abound, so we slathered our skin with insect repellent.

The steps were muddy and slippery, especially with wet slippers on. I held the wooden railings so I wouldn't fall, and took each step slowly but surely. We reached a small cave. No one knew what was inside that cave, and no one thought going in was advisable. We just saw the stop as a good photo opportunity, so there. Another group photo!

Photo: J.M. Tuazon

We were half way through. The path to the lake from the cave involved going down, instead of going up, more steps. Going down was easier, of course, but more scary if the ground you're walking on was slippery. Again, the wooden railings kept us from falling.

As we were nearing the lake, it started to rain! J.M. hurried because his camera would get wet. When we got to the lake, we carefully immersed ourselves in the water. We didn't want to jump, because there were rock formations under the water - those at the shallower part of the lake can be seen - and of course, you wouldn't want to hit them, would you? You'd get really hurt.

Swimming in the lake was sooooo refreshing. The water was clean, it was cloudy so the sun didn't burn our faces, and the lake was beautiful. It was indeed like paradise - quiet, peaceful, and far from the hustles and bustles of city life. I didn't have my watch with me, but I think we stayed there for more or less an hour. Before leaving, of course, we had another photo opportunity. J.M. took a beauty pageant-like photo of us.

Photo J.M. Tuazon

It was almost noon and we were hungry. We were to eat at a beach, and the food was courtesy of our tour guides. We went to another snorkeling site, where a sunken war ship is located. We did see the ship, but not so clearly. Maybe because it was cloudy and the ship was located deeper in the sea, unlike the beautiful fishes just near the surface.

We didn't stay long in the shipwreck site. We went to a beach (I forgot the name) for our picnic lunch. It was in one of Coron's islands. Our food consisted of grilled fresh seafood and chicken. I' allergic to crabs and shrimps so I just ate the fish and chicken plus slices of tomatoes soaked in soy sauce and chopped onions. Plus steamed white rice. It was YUMMY! I think all of us had second helpings or more. We ate and ate amidst remarks of "mmmm... sarap!" (mmmm... delicious!). It was heaven.

There were a group of guys playing frisbee on the beach and Ate Micah and I joined them for a few throws. I realized I miss the sport. If only my schedule would allow me, I would want to play again.

The beautiful beach was of course perfect place for another - guess what - photo opportunity! Yeah we're such camwhores. So off we went for crazy group shots.

Photo: J.M. Tuazon

After having lunch, we went to I think one or two more spots, before heading to the Twin Lagoon. On our way to the Twin Lagoon, it rained quite hard. The wind was cold. But we still went on. No bad weather could really stop us! Hahaha! We even sang rain-related songs while the rain poured. Ate Micah even showed us some basic pole dancing. We were crazy!

At the Twin Lagoon, we were in for another relaxing swim. The water was clean... and cold. But swimming in it was fun. We sang songs while swimming, including our alma mater's hymn. Hahaha! The other tourists were probably amused (I'd like to think they were), or they thought we were crazy. Hahaha!

That concluded our island hopping. Our boat dropped us off at the port located at the market. The tide was low, so we couldn't be dropped off near our house. From the port, we walked to the house, stopping by a bakery to buy cheese bread and Spanish bread for our snack. I really like bread from local bakeries. They're so yummy, and tastes homemade.

We took turns bathing. We then decided to eat dinner at a nice place, so we headed to Mt. Tapyas Hotel and ate at the resto there. Let me clarify that it's not a hotel as in a five-star hotel. It was a simple but nice place with yummy food. We sat down for a hearty dinner. Perfect to end our day full of fun and adventures.

Food is not yet served. Hence, the empty plates.

We were bound for Manila the next day. I think none of us wanted to go home yet.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Palawan Weekend Part 3: 'Round the Town

It was I think an hour or two past lunchtime when we reached the Patrik & Tess vacation house. It was a quaint, hut-inspired house that has four bedrooms and a living area. Ate Micah booked the entire house for ourselves. So yay! No sharing of bathrooms with strangers hahaha!

After dropping our things at the house, we headed out to look for someplace to eat. Ms. Tess suggested that we try Lolo Nonoy's, since it's been receiving good reviews from guests. So off we went to Lolo Nonoy's to have our late lunch. The food was great. It's the lutong bahay (home cooked) type. Jen and I had menudo, my favorite. We exchanged stories while eating and simply relaxed.

We finished our lunch past 3 p.m.. Our town tour was scheduled at 4.30 p.m., so we headed back to the house. It drizzled a bit when we were eating, so we decided to head back while it's not yet raining. Every time I visit a province and look around, the simplicity of life in the country never fails to dawn on me. This trip was no exception. Walking along the streets of Coron, I felt how slowly time passes by in the country, unlike in the city when everyone seems to be in a hurry so as not to be late for his or her meeting or whatever appointment.

When we reached the house, we rested a bit and prepared for the tour. At 4.30 p.m., two tricycles were already outside the gate, waiting for us. Our first stop was the St. Augustine Church. There was an activity for kids inside the church when we got there. Someone was leading the rosary. Some people say that if it's your first time inside a church, make a wish and it will come true. I do that every time I'm in a church for the first time. Did my wishes come true? Well, I couldn't remember my wishes anymore, so I don't know if they came true. Haha! At St. Augustine Church, I made a wish, which I will keep a secret. Will it come true? In due time, yes it will. I believe. :)

Our next stop was the Coron Municipal Hall. Another great photo opportunity! So we took out our cameras and clicked away.

We passed by the souvenir shop, but we didn't stay too long because we'll still go there on our last day to buy pasalubong (treats from a trip that you give to your family or anyone close back home). After that, we went to Mt. Tapyas.

The road leading to Mt. Tapyas was inclined. We could tell that the driver was having a hard time driving the tricycle up the incline, what with five of us there. Three of us went down for a while because we thought we needed to rearrange ourselves so that the weight would be evenly distributed in the parts of the tricycle. But to our surprise (and HUGE laughter), when the three stepped out of the tricycle, the tricycle sped off, leaving them behind. Ate Micah and I (we were left inside) couldn't stop laughing. Good thing Mt. Tapyas was already close when that happened.

PhotobucketAt the foot of the mountain awaited the 724 steps that we had to climb to reach the peak. 724 steps!!!! Are you crazy? That's... a lot. None of us climbs mountains on a regular basis. In short, we're not really hikers. But are we up for the challenge? Of course!

So there. We climbed the MANY, MANY, MANY steps of Mt. Tapyas. Going up the first hundred steps was fine. A hundred didn't seem a lot. On the 100th step, we posed and took a picture of ourselves. And we did that on every succeeding hundredth steps.

The ascent to Mt. Tapyas was exhausting. But we were consoled by the panoramic view of the islands that greeted us as we went higher. It could've been fantastic if not for the bad weather, but beautiful nonetheless.

At last, we reached the 600th step. Just a "few" more, and hooray for us. I was behind my friends. With tired legs and severely depleted energy, I managed to climb up the remaining 124 steps. When we were about to reach the top, we goofed around and pretended that we were reaching the summit in slow motion. Our friend JM waited at the last step and took a video of us climbing in staged slow motion, with facial expressions to boot. Wahahahahaha! It was crazy!

Four of us - Jen, Ate Peps, Ate Micah, and Ate Ivy - bought Gatorade energy drink from the kids who were with us during the ascent. And because we were so hyper and crazy, and because all of us have a background in media, we decided to shoot a Gatorade commercial! Wahahahaha! I'll post the video when the person who has it uploads it in Facebook.

Then, we saw dark clouds hovering on one of the islands. Rain. Any moment, those rain clouds would visit where we were. So we decided to go down after taking a bunch of photos and shooting the crazy commercial. Then, it started to drizzle. And rain poured. We hurriedly went down, careful not to slip. We scrambled for shelter. We found one midway down, thankfully. But we were drenched.

We waited for the rain to stop before continuing our descent from Mt. Tapyas. Our next stop was the Maquinit Hot Spring. It was far, and the road going there was dark. We got there at around 7 p.m. We were about to change into our bathing suits and rain poured again. We might get sick if we push through with it, so we just decided to go back to the house, foregoing our hot spring experience. The payment could no longer be refunded, but we didn't care anymore. We just wanted to go back. And anyway, we would go island-hopping the next day. We would have enough encounters with the water. Haha!

Exhausted and drenched and hungry, all we wanted at the end of our first day in Coron was to have dinner and to bathe. We stopped to buy food at a local eatery, brought it to the house, and took turns bathing. We also viewed the photos taken using our cameras and basically chilled out. We all looked forward to the next day, hoping it wouldn't rain so hard.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Palawan Weekend Part 2: A Cloudy Arrival

The flight wasn't exactly smooth. There was air turbulence, and the plane would go down probably several feet, then up, then down again. I couldn't tell if I was dizzy or about to throw up, so I kept my eyes closed and held a plastic bag just in case I throw up. Luckily, I didn't. The scary thought of the plane crashing crossed my mind. What if the plane went down a few feet, and then all the way down? But I had faith that it wouldn't happen. And besides, I was in the plane with eight of my equally perky, crazy friends. A plane crash didn't fit in the picture. Hehe.

At last, we saw the sword-like island of Palawan. We were about to land in a few minutes. Woohoo! I felt the plane leaning forward, angling for a landing. Then, a loud baaaag! No. The plane didn't crash. The pilot just violently landed the plane. The loud, frightening sound came from the wheels hitting the tarmac. Despite the violent landing, I didn't feel dizzy and I didn't throw up. But the baby seated across us did. Poor child. We felt sorry for him. His parents wiped the gunk from his clothes, and a flight attendant gave them more tissue paper.

Photobucket We alighted the plane and set foot in Coron. Woohoo! The moment we saved up and filed leaves for. Haha! We headed to the sheltered area and watched as the airport guys carried all checked in baggage to where the passengers should get them. Carried as in carried by hand, then dropped on the floor for the passengers to get what's theirs. Our friend Jen's suitcase was soooooo easy to identify, for it was the perkiest: pink and brown POLKA DOTS! We could spot it from afar!

When we exited, we found a man holding a sign with our friend Micah's name on it.The van she booked to take us to the rented home. After taking a few photos here and there, we hopped in. We were all in high spirits. We were bursting with energy. As the van moved to take us to the rented house, we saw lots of trees, grasslands, cows, and sadly, denuded forests. What would you feel if you see "bald" mountains? I hope the forests will be renewed. We can't let this happen.

Inside the van, we exchanged stories, laughed at funny lines, and basically had a good time, even as it drizzled outside and dark clouds loomed, threatening to ruin our vacation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Palawan Weekend Part 1: Through the Rain

Last weekend, my college friends and I had THE vacation we've been waiting for: our trip to Coron, Palawan. Our friend, Ate Micah, celebrated her birthday last Friday, and the trip was her plan. She booked our tickets late last year so the fare would be cheaper and no one would back out at the last minute. Haha!

It was really a welcome break, with almost all of us working in the media. Stressful jobs. Stressful lives. We saved up for this trip. We filed vacation leaves. So not even the storm last week and the southwest monsoon last weekend could stop us! Haha! Our flight was last Saturday, the weather was bad, and the flights in other airlines going to Palawan were cancelled. But not ours. So lucky! Our flight was on hold for two hours, and we were hoping and praying and exploring our other options. When it was announced that we could already board the plane, we were all like "woooohooooo!!!!!"

But the weather didn't change.