Mindanao Hits

It’s definitely taken me so much time before I got to write again.

The first half of 2014 is over. I spent most of it traveling Mindanao with a few layovers in Cebu. The series of trips to the country’s southernmost major island has come to conclusion but more trips down south are definitely upcoming. Mindanao has been my most visited over the last 18 months. This is because of work. I love that work allows me to travel albeit having to wake up during the wee hours of the morning to catch the earliest flights out of Manila.

I have been to probably eleven different provinces in Mindanao since March, places I never have imagined going to. Our stays in those places were quite short but they were spectacular.


Here in the beautiful island of Siargao

Here in the beautiful island of Siargao

Only Cebu Pacific operates a Cebu-Siargao-Cebu flight so the plane ticket is quite costly as you would need to travel to Cebu if you’re coming from Manila. I heard though that Cebu Pac will operate direct flights from Manila to Siargao soon.


Low tide in Siargao

Low tide in Siargao

We stayed in Isla Cabana Resort which has very nice accommodations and food. Yes I know you go to Siargao for surfing but there was not much time to do just that. I will definitely go back and surf!


Chillin' in Camiguin

Chillin’ in Camiguin

This is work and leisure at the same time. I went there via the ferry from Balingoan Port in Misamis Oriental (landed in Cagayan de Oro) and flew out to Cebu. Camiguin is a very small island that you can tour the whole province in probably just 4 hours. Although I wasn’t able to do that and go to the famous spots such as the White Island and the Sunken Cemetery, Ardent Hot Spring was good enough. There’s not that much good restaurants in the island, though.


Early morning walk amidst the pine trees of Forest Park

Early morning walk amidst the pine trees of Forest Park

This is in Forest Park in Dahilayan, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. I love the cold weather and the Baguio feel of the place. This picture was taken at 6:00 in the morning when it was 19 degrees outside. Manolo Fortich is much closer to Cagayan de Oro than Davao but for this trip I had to take a Davao flight and went on a 4-hour ride to Maramag, Bukidnon then another 2.5-hour land trip to Dahilayan via a long stretch of dirt road. it was worth it!


Sunrise above the pine trees

Sunrise above the pine trees

The sunrise is lovely. This was before 6:00AM. The room had no airconditioning and the air just goes in and out of the screen window. You can only hear the crickets and the rustling of trees on a quiet night. Below this window is a ravine full of colorful blooms and overlooks the adventure park.


Longest dual zip line in Asia

Longest dual zip line in Asia

Of course I had to try it! and the other two shorter zip lines. It’s much cheaper when you get the all zip pass. It is kinda scary at first because of a deep ravine right where the line crosses but the kind of rush you get from riding is just thrilling.


Some other places I’ve been to during the past four months were Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Butuan. These places have their own tourist spots that I have yet to discover but I’m pretty sure the experience will be different and as magical.










Being an Adult, Becoming an Adult

Where has time gone? The first half of November is almost done and Christmas is just around the corner. So much is going on around my circle. Weddings, engagements, pregnancies, promotions. It’s a very adult kind of thing. Kids really grow up fast these days. I can’t even believe I am 24! It is slowly sinking in that we are in this transition from being a kid to becoming a full-fledged adult. We start thinking about things that we never really cared about when we were eighteen. Life just got more complicated but we’re slowly having more control. We start making more mature decisions and begin to become a lot like the person we never wanted our selves to be when we were much younger. We like staying in on weekends, having a quiet evening with a friend over a cup of coffee and cozying up in the couch enjoying movie marathons rather than going clubbing or doing something that our sixteen year old selves enjoyed doing.


No, this is not a quarter life crisis. This is merely a realization from someone who is in this awkward stage trying to manage personal affairs, family and career. Being an adult is a whole lot different from becoming an adult. I sure hope I’m more than just being one. 🙂





So I found time to write. It’s a holiday in the Philippines today. I was extremely busy the past months that I have not gotten the chance to post anything. So perhaps a highlight of the last three months would suffice.


Ven’s Wedding. I was maid-of-honor at my best friend’s intimate wedding ceremony held in the garden of the University Hotel of our beloved alma mater. It was attended by family and a few close friends. Venus is first to tie the knot in the gang.



Dad’s Birthday. We just had a simple Thai dinner in Basil, a restaurant along White Plains in Quezon City. The food is great but the service is painfully slow. The serving too is a wee bit small for the price.



Food Trips Everywhere. When one is stressed out, the best way to deal with it is to eat. And I did just that.




Trips to the South. June was a busy month for me. I had trips to southern Philippines for work. We usually land and stay in Cagayan de Oro. There’s a new hotel in CDO called Seda Centrio that offers excellent service and a great breakfast buffet.



New Haircut. My last haircut was in January when I had a perm. My locks have become unruly and I figured maybe a haircut would solve the problem. So one Friday, Venus and I had a lunch and spontaneously decided on getting a haircut in a David’s Salon. The shampoo part took much longer than the actual haircut. Crazy!




Kanto Freestyle Breakfast. The Springbreakers have gone to the unfamiliar streets of Mandaluyong in search of the gourmet breakfast resto that’s ironically situated on a side street. They serve great food here at a price that does not burn a hole in the pocket. If you’re looking for good food and do not mind the ambiance, this is the place to be. Serving time though can be very long. Some have experienced getting their food after two hours. Insane!



Gayuma ni Maria. This is my first post about Gayuma ni Maria although it’s my third time in the place. It’s a witchcraft-themed restaurant along the Maginhawa strip in Quezon City. At first (or even on your third time), the place still gives you the creeps. It has an eerie feel to it especially the place being dimly lit and a presence of several antique pieces. I chose not to take photos of these and instead focused on the food. Well, need I say more? Going to that place for three times in the past year could only mean one thing. They serve great food.


And that’s my fill for the past three months. I really hope I could write more next time.



Burgers, fries and everything nice

Perhaps the lack of rice in my system lately and the feeling that something is missing prompted me to post about food. This is my second consecutive post about my dining experience in some of Manila’s go-to, fail-safe diners.

My Saturdays are mostly spent in Eastwood, a place so close to my heart not only because it’s close to where I live but also because I used to work in the area for a year and a half. I know the place like the back of my hand. I have not outgrown my fascination of the place because it is so familiar and convenient. Some shops and establishments had closed and new ones replaced them. Army Navy is one of them although I have already been to the other branches. It was only last Saturday that I was able to try out the Eastwood branch. It is a fastfood/diner that serves Mexican food.

20130508-212105.jpg This is their freedom fries that’s so good and so tasty. This costs Php75.00. This used to cost around Pho60-65.00 last year.

20130508-212651.jpg These are onion rings. Priced the same as the fries. The downside is they have no dip for these.

And then we had twin burgers for the main event. Lol. Usually I get their cheese quesadilla but that time I was craving for a burger.



20130508-215418.jpg We ordered just the classic with a quarter pound patty and the basics, tomato, onions and lettuce. The sauce tasted Mexican (obviously since Army Navy is a Mexican fastfood) but I decided to liven it up a little bit by adding ketchup, mustard and their chili verde for the extra zing. The classic burger costs about Php165.00.

20130508-215924.jpg See the green sauce right smack in the middle? Hard to see, eh?

20130508-220445.jpg These are the chili sauces. You have the verde (green) and the rojo (red). The rojo is too much for me so I made do with the verde. Subtle yet the zing is there.

Our drinks were the house blend iced tea that they call Libertea. It smells and tastes fresh, I love every drop of it.


Our bellies are happy…



…that we never even thought of having something for dessert.

If you are in the Philippines, go visit them in their Ortigas, Katipunan and Eastwood branches and try for yourself the Mexican goodness Army Navy offers.



Flaming love for Flaming Wings

Along the busy street of Katipunan in Quezon City, there’s a little diner that serves and specializes in buffalo style chicken. It’s called Flaming Wings. Having passed this route daily for four straight years, never have I tried visiting this place. I knew it existed but seldom did I spend lunches in the Atenean-flocked spot. Yes, as most Manila residents know, Katipunan is much closer to the Ateneo de Manila University than it is to the University of the Philippines. Therefore, more students from the Ateneo spend break time and lunch there.

It was only after college that I was able try out the food and their ever so popular dessert, the wicked oreos! It has become a favorite ever since and countless times I’ve gone to this place for comfort food that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. It is a default go-to diner when fastfood or an expensive resto is not an option. Very much like before, Mark (who I have not introduced properly in this blog lol maybe in my next post) and I opted to have dinner in Flaming Wings this Friday evening. We’ve been meaning to since last week.

20130504-001638.jpg This was my order. Caesar Salad in regular size. It costs Php120.00 and already serves two.

The salad has crunchy tofu squares that’s so good, bacon bits and a generous amount of parmesan cheese. All go well together. It’s my first time to order their salad since I’m used to having wings and pasta every visit.


20130504-002045.jpg This was Mark’s order. It’s called Flamingwich. He loves spicy food so he chose this. He was just a bit disappointed that it was not spicy for his liking.

And then there’s the chicken tenders…

20130504-002325.jpg Chicken tenders with mild and sweet sauce and bleu cheese dip.

For the tenders and the wings, the customer may pick their sauce and dip of choice and the options vary from sweet to wild. They also have oriental sauce for those who fancy Asian flavors. And there are also several dips to choose from. I think 7 or 8. The tenders cost Php95.00 without the rice and the Flamingwich is sold for just Php110.00 for a size that surely gets you through until the next meal.

Their price range is well within the budget since the customer base is mostly students. So we don’t have to worry about prices going up significantly for the owners of course want to keep its patrons. The good news is, in their White Plains branch where the rich and the working class thrive, I think they have no price difference from that in Katipunan. So hooray!!

As for the wicked oreos, it surely is a must-try. I have not photographed the dessert but my imagination of it is so vivid until now. Lol. I might get it again one of these days and I hope to share it already with you.



40 days

I’m not sure if it is a Roman Catholic thing or a tradition of sort in the province. People believe that a deceased person’s soul remains on Earth for forty days from the time of his death. After which, he goes to where he’s supposed to go. Today is our Mimi’s 40th day from the time of her passing. It still feels sad and I still find myself longing to see or talk to her. I’d like to believe that this day marks the time when she finally goes up to heaven to see the face of God and find peace in His Kingdom. I feel that I should share my message for her during the funeral. This tells the kind of relationship we had for as long as I can remember. This is quite long and here it goes:


Nothing is easy. No one can ever be prepared for something like this to happen. I never thought it would happen so soon. Now, everywhere I look, I see you doing either of these things: washing the water bottles to make sure they’re clean, sticking the price tag to Ninang’s store items, checking Facebook and Twitter for the latest showbiz gossip, watching your teleseryes and The Buzz, hanging at the dirty kitchen enjoying a meal of fried banana or crackers, and reading your prayer book. No matter how weak or fragile your physical body was, your spirit and attitude remained positive. You’ve fought the good fight and for sixteen years, you’ve proven just how strong you were. You went through so many surgeries, radiation and chemo therapy sessions yet you managed to put on a strong disposition. You never complained unless it was really bad and you felt the need to see a doctor.

You taught me how to get a person’s blood pressure. I’ve done it so many times to you. You trusted me with that although I ask for your confirmation if I’m getting it right. Countless times you ended up being the one listening to your own BP to make sure, until such time I finally got it right and there was no more take two. I’ve always enjoyed our conversations and I was so keen on listening to your kwentos and I remember asking you about your experience with cancer. Even your love life, we talked about all that. We’ve been buddies on your trips to the doctor. I recall those times when we would painstakingly take the train and the pedicab to Dr. Tan’s clinic in Binondo. We went to church together and we loved the Saturday mass because there were less people and we can sit inside the chapel. We went to the salon together to have our hair done and our nails cleaned. But most of the time, you asked me to clean your nails because your hands and feet are sensitive with nippers. You also trusted me with that. When I’m in your room, you would ask me to massage your feet and legs because you think I know just how much pressure you can tolerate.

Now, there’s no more 12’s or 24’s tissue paper that I would lug around while I’m on my way home. There’ll be less or no more trips to Mercury Drug or Robinsons for you to buy your medicines or just because you wanted new shoes or shirts. You loved flats! I will no longer receive text messages from you when you want me to take your BP, call the helper, tell me about the latest chismis or let me come to your room so that we can both laugh at the bad acting of some local actors. You will no longer finish your soap operas and not be able to see where Coco Martin’s career will go or when Piolo finally admits his sexual preference. I have no more buddy hating on Kris Aquino and Mariel Rodriguez. I will never forget how much you hate them. I can imagine your eyes rolling from the other side. Mimi, more than I realize, we have done so many things together. You, Mama andI were a trio when it came to visits to the doctor and short trips to the mall because you can’t take staying there and walking for a long time.

I have long since accepted that you will go ahead of us who are the younger generation but not this soon. I always shut you off when you say that you want this over and you’re tired. I just don’t want you saying those things because I believed you can outlive older people. In fact, many went ahead of you so there was hope that you wouldn’t go sooner. You said turning forty was a bonus from God. In fact, it is. Everyday of our lives is a bonus. However, you might have gotten too excited at being forty that you thought it was now okay to go. You still have not been a Lola Mimi to your grandchildren from us your nieces and nephews. You haven’t even seen your baby boy introduce a girlfriend to you.

People say that life begins at forty but your human life ended at forty. Your true and eternal life had begun instead. Nonetheless, I am thankful that your suffering is now over and you are reunited with your Creator. You may not be here to witness how our lives are going but you have become an angel that will guide us. We will never have another Mimi in this lifetime. Not now not ever. I will miss peeking through your room’s half-open door to see if you are already awake so I can stay beside you. I will miss you nagging me to organize my closet. I will miss you being in my car’s front passenger seat and complaining how hot it is. I will miss those soft and callous-free hands and feet of yours. I haven’t even cooked something special for you yet but it’s one of the good things about you. You never liked fancy food and only preferred the simplest ones like native vegetable stew or your most requested sweet and sour dilis and pancakes. Pancakes were the last food I cooked for you, the last Sunday you were with us. My list goes on, Mimi but there never seems enough time and venue for me to express this deep sense of longing to talk to you once more, to ask what it’s like on the other side or what God really looks like. I have a lot of questions for you, maybe you can tell me in my dreams. Just don’t scare me. I know you won’t. You are that lovable.

I promise I will take care of Mama and Papa for you. I will continue caring for them the way you did and the way you want them to be treated. It still feels surreal for everything went without a clue. But I guess that’s the way you wanted it. I’m sure you are now running carefree without catching your breath and feeling “hingal”. Go now in peace, Mimi. Thank you for the life you shared with all of us. Enjoy the other side and keep looking out for us. We will love you and miss you forever. Goodbye, Mimi and until we see each other again.


Mimi, I pray for your safe journey towards God’s Kingdom and may you forever live in peace with Him.

The springbreakers

April 9 is a regular holiday in the Philippines. Just like any other Philippine holiday, everybody looks forward to it especially that it is summertime in the country. It is a holiday between two work days but that fact did not stop us from doing our plans.

Last Saturday, we stayed at our friend Lyan’s house to do a mini-painting project for another friend Venus’ wedding. The friend I mentioned in my last post. It was a showbiz gossip-filled Saturday afternoon with lunch, milk tea and dinner in between. Although we finished more than half of the project, we planned to continue during the holiday and at the same time go for a swim at the village clubhouse and have a little barbecue party. That’s all because our friend Owel wants an Erwan Heusaff-ish pic.

The holiday started with brunch at Nicky’s tapsihan business (what is tapsi in English? Lol) It’s marinated beef strips with fried rice and egg. Then off we went to do some grocery shopping. We were on a budget because salary is not due until Friday. So much for an outing without decent food. Lol lol! And we can’t get Owel to treat us even when he already got his last paycheck from his last job (which by the way is also our last jobs before our current). But we managed just fine amidst the crazy in-between drama of having to change plans at the last minute because the clubhouse pool was packed. We decided to go up Forest Hills/Sun Valley for the swimming part of our day. Unfortunately the pool was available only until 5:00pm and we got there a little shy of 4:00pm!

Nonetheless, we were greeted by this:

20130410-211144.jpg Photo courtesy of Nicky.

The place is so quiet. The pool was exclusive to us until a family of five came about 15 minutes later.

20130410-211437.jpg L-R: Claro, Owel, Nicky, Lyan and me. But where is Ven? Probably still busy putting on her swimming cap. Lol. But yes, seriously she wears a swimming cap like an athlete. 😉

And because we changed plans, the barbecue party by the pool was moved to barbecue party by the lanai. It was already getting dark when we went back to the lower east side of Antipolo. 😀

20130410-211838.jpg And then there’s Venus in green! And Mark in the middle 🙂

20130410-212038.jpg Owel’s Erwan dreams came true last night. Only he has no apron!

20130410-212206.jpg Thanks to my Ninang Jinky for the additional pork liempo marinated in barbecue sauce. And the shrimps and pork ribs for dinner (not in the pic)

More pictures of how the day went from sun up ’til sun down…








I wasn’t able to take pictures of the dinner itself. The other photos are in Owel’s camera. Probably also because we were extremely exhausted after all the rush the day brought to all of us. It was a success! And the sun cooperated well by not showing himself a lot yesterday. We had just the right amount of sunlight.

And the title by the way… I know, I know. It’s summer in the Philippines but we like to call it spring break. So much for being posh. No. We’re posers. Lol.