Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Chasing Dreams and Impacting My World

There's something about the 20s that I find both bitter and sweet. There are contrasts, conflicts between the real and ideal. I had to deal with days filled with disquiet, restlessness, and rage. But on some fine days, my thoughts blossom with a kaleidoscope of dreams, hopes and wishes. 

Nearly 8 years ago, I finished my college degree with honors and with this I thought I was more than ready to face the world of media. I was filled with enthusiasm to be the change that I hope to see in everything and everyone around me. I dreamt of seeing my "by-line" on a major broadsheet, to cover an important "beat", and to be able to travel around the country in search for exciting stories to publish. 

But as life rolls in this tragicomic world, my dreams started crumbling in a slow crescendo. I had duties in my family that I need to fulfill and I had big shoes to fill in. Right after graduation, I found myself applying for a post in a place I least expected to be in -- call center. I became a nocturnal employee braving the dangers of EDSA commute and working for American clients. The by-lines, beats and travels were soon locked in the recesses of my mind like a faded memory. 

But the dream kept hunting me, the restlessness kept growing. I didn't get to pursue Journalism, but I found myself chasing a dream that I feel so drawn to. I challenged myself to pursue travelling, to continue sharing my stories, and to make an impact in any way that I could. 

I am currently on the road to completing 80 before 30 in which I am challenging myself to visit all 80 provinces of the Philippines before I turn 30 years old. As of today, I've visited 61 provinces already. It's a long way to go but I'm too fired up to not push through. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Summer Series: Top 5 Reasons to Love Bohol

I was going through my files and realized that there are a lot of past travels that I haven’t really blogged about. One of which was my adventure-filled weekend in Bohol with my sister, Cha.  As I was reviewing our photos from the trip, I feel compelled to share a better feature of that amazing island in the Visayas.  

Bohol is undeniably one of the most visited and most beautiful places in the country. Every year, it enjoys a steady influx of both local and foreign tourists. And its visitors are always in for a treat – from the powdery white sand beaches, to centuries-old heritage churches, to green meandering rivers, to world-famous hills, to adrenaline-hyped adventures, to the best deep dives, and to endearing and exotic wildlife encounters.

Here’s a list of my personal favorites in Bohol:

1. Panglao Island – About an hour away from Tagbilaran City is where one of my favorite places in Bohol is located --Panglao Island. It has a lot of pretty beaches without the party and the noisy crowd. The most famous is Alona Beach which is about 800-meter stretch of pristine white sand. 

A pretty beach without the party crowd

Friday, March 22, 2013

Top Surfing Spots in the Philippines

I'm not a pro-surfer, and not even close to being one. I've tried surfing several times but my rides end up mostly in heartbreaking wipe outs and no more than five successful rides each session. I also brand myself as girl-tulak being that I hardly go out to the sea without an instructor. The instructor also acts as my taga-tulak when the waves arrive. :) And my surfing ritual starts with briefing my instructors that I don't know how to swim. They'd often assure me that I should do fine and that I just need to stay close to my surfboard. 

I feel like a beginner each time I surf, always like my first time to try it. But I'll never stop attempting to ride no matter how many times the board refuses to keep me afloat. Despite the pre-ride jitters, the wobbling legs while trying to stay up on the board and the cuts I sometimes get from falling, I will continue to surf!

I'll do so because I get an unparalleled high in surfing. It teaches me to conquer my fear, to harbor patience, to feel a certain balance, and to let myself out in the sea. Each session is about waiting for the perfect waves, paddling mighty hard once it arrive, taking time to feel the rhythm,  and standing without hesitation when the board dances with the waves.

Surfing also teaches me to never give up after every ungraceful and disheartening wipe out. A fall from the board means getting up, and doing the same routine again until the "better" ride comes in. A good ride and a hard fall are in every surfer's diary. And most of the time, the harder the fall, the more exhilarating the stoke is!


1) Don't forget to put on sunblock.

2) Wear rash guard and board shorts. It's important to be on the right surfing attire to avoid putting on a show. :)

3) It's okay if you don't own a surfboard since most of these local surfing spots offer rentals for hours of use. Prepare P200-300 rental fee. 

4) Beginners need not worry because there are instructors who could help with the basics in surfing (P200-300 hourly fee).

If you ever get the chance to be near one of these surfing spots, try to get on the board and surf! Experience the thrill and you might end up being hooked to it. Just like how I've been bitten by the surfing bug! :)

1. Cloud 9, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte

Hailed as one of the best surfing playgrounds in the world (recently ranked 9th in CNN's World's 50 Best Surf Spots), with a lot of tantalizing photos to back it up, I thought I must try surfing it myself no matter what. And I did! Well, not really the powerful barreling Cloud 9 waves, but at least the one closest to it. I was stoked during my solo surf trip to Siargao last July! Riding the waves as the sun set and the rain pounded heavily is one of my favorites while completing the 80 before 30 trip. 

Kuya Lino, one of the top surf instructors in Could 9, said that Siargao has the most consistent waves in the country, with almost no flat season. It is in this regard that it's worth its reputation as the Surfing Capital of the Philippines. 

How to get there:

By air, get on a flight from Cebu straight to Sayak Airport in Del Carmen, Siargao. Alternately, you may choose to fly from Manila to Surigao City. From Surigao City, take a ferry going to either Dapa (I would strongly suggest you take the boat straight to Dapa as it is closer to General Luna where most of the the surf actions happen), Del Carmen, or Socorro. From these points, take a trike or habal habal going to General Luna, where Cloud 9 is located. 


The Boardwalk at Cloud 9
General Luna, Siargao Island
Phone: +63 939 164 1268

The famous boardwalk in Siargao

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rugged and Rustic Charm of Catanduanes

The placid Bato River

An island facing the mighty Pacific Ocean. A destination oft heard but seldom visited. A place where the resilience of the people is mixed with warmth and smiles. A gem beautifully molded by the harsh and wailing winds fronting east of the Philippines. A place I call my home.

Welcome to our province – Catanduanes!

This island province is one of the six provinces in the Bicol Region. Its capital town, Virac, is the center of commerce and the jump-off point to the other 10 municipalities in the island. The other municipalities are: Bato, Baras, Gigmoto, San Miguel, Panganiban (Payo), Bagamanoc, Caramoran, Viga, Pandan and San Andres.

If you want an off-the-beaten track type of vacation, Catanduanes is definitely a great choice. One of the things to consider when planning a trip there is the weather. With its geographic location in the Pacific, the weather in the island can be unforgiving especially from October to early January (which may cause delays or cancellation of flights or ferry boats). February until June is the best time to visit as the season becomes dry and there is a huge chance of a clear blue sky. If you're up to surfing, the most ideal time to chase the waves of Puraran is starting the fourth quarter of the year.

Okay, so before heading to our province, here are some words/phrases that will be useful while going around or talking to the locals.

Magayon – Beautiful
Para tabi- Pull over please
Dios mabalos - Thank you
Tigpila tabi ini? –How much is this?
Dios mayad na aldaw – Good day

Cruising along Bato River

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