Friday, January 25, 2013

My Travel Pledge in 2013

     And finally Senyora Lakwatsera visited  Boracay, after choosing several foreign lands versus the paradise of her own country. It's never too late, but then I should have had visited it first before I blog and brag about Songs of the Sea, Teddy Bear Museum, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Sentosa, Nseoul Tower, Long Shan Temple, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Fort Canning Park etc. 

     When I was teaching English to my Japanese students, I was asked several times if I already visited Boracay and Puerto Prinsesa and they're kinda amazed every time I say "not yet". And I guess, many Filipinos are like me, they opted to see the tourist spots from foreign land first. 

      So as my nationalistic ego strikes me,  i am making a pledge to see what my country's tourist spots this year before I plan of visiting foreign land again. I made a list  of places I have visited  and should visit first here in my very own country: 

BATANGAS. Check! At least I explored the beautiful beaches of Batangas and its rich heritage towns already. In fact I have seen Taal volcano in different angles already.

TAGAYTAY. Check :) Been there many times, the city taking advantage of the beauty of Batangas' Taal. LOL. It has been an age old funny petty fight, that Tagaytay is gaining too much popularity because you'll see from up there the very scenic Taal volcano and Taal lake. Oh well, mother Earth has made it that way :) 

LAGUNA. Check! Laguna has so many tourist spots to offer. Its mountainous region worth to climb, the Pagsanjan falls which justifies the charges of the bangkeros per boat ride, the many Catholic churches, several undisturbed lakes and a lot more. 

LUCENA.  Check. Been there a lot of times for work but thanks to my friends there, we were able to combine work and leisure at the same time. Though there are parts of Quezon that I should still check :) Hmm. 

MINDORO. Not the whole Mindoro but at least I've been to Calapan and Puerto Galera. 

BICOL . Yeah right, been there many times for work but its charm made me visit the place on my own expense and stayed there for 3 days. The famous Camsur, the Mayon Volcano that looks exactly the same how it was drawn in the history book including the carabao on the side made it worth our 8 hours travel by land. 

CLARK. I love how the Americans build this city less the abandoned building that seems like a ghost town now. 

BAGUIO . Cool and charming. There were times that I wanted to live there. Who wouldn't love the weather after all?

PAMPANGA . Been there, but I cant recall of any tourist spots there. 
     Oh wait, I think  I need a map now. Been to many places, just cant recall all of them now. Huh, I'm seeing signs of aging, this isn't good huh. The more that I need to travel a lot this year before I reach the age that I wouldn't be able to explore places the way I do it in the last 5 years.

      So in the next few months I should be able to visit Cebu, Davao, Ilocos Region, Iloilo, Bukidnon, Bohol and Zambales. I have booked Palawan from June 16-19 already so 8 more to go.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Learning and Loving It

               I always want to try and learn new things, whether it sports, tricks and the pettiest thing possible. I make sure I learn about something I'm fascinated by. I have passion for reinventing myself and the things I can do. It's been 2 months now since I learned to create T-shirt design through Photoshop. 

                   Before, I wanna learn this to be able to edit photos but because of our couple shirt business, I pushed myself to be better in creative layout. Yes, I'm good in concept but this time around, I'm designing it myself. This year, I posted my 18 original designs of couple shirts and I'm happy about the feedback. I hope it all translate to sales. Business as usual. Nonetheless, learning new things made me feel more competent and I feel fulfilled. It can somehow justified my innate creativity.

I made this design for a family :)

Yes, there are couple shirts but how about statement shirts for the singles? There are many ways to express love, but singles shouldn't be singled out right?

I took advantage of January 2, when my creativity is in full bloom :) Wow, because not all the time, creativity will serve you right.  Similar to writing, you need inspiration and a clear mind to create good designs. 

Indeed coffee and love are best when they are HOT!
Simply black & white

How about your daily dose of love? 

One of our clients asked me to design shirt for her and son. I gave her 3 options and she liked this one.
This time around, I'm designing a packaging style for our couple shirts. we have growing number of customers and I wanna give them full satisfaction every time they receive our couple shirts.

La Virginia, Almost Paradise Except Customer Service

            It really feels good to own your time... I can easily go somewhere else at my preferred time, at my own terms. Though I am missing my office, my cubicle and my former colleagues, I truly appreciate the moments that I can be with someone who needed me. Yeah, they say " oh so you have a life now" after 6 years of devoting my entire being to my precious job...

                   When I got a call from Daisy, my niece who's into heart-trouble, I gave her my  time to accompany her to  unwind and forget her burdens  for a while. It has been years when I last attended a concern like this. Since I joined SM, I never really had time to deal such kind of concerns. Yeah probably I was really out of reach, probably I was busy with my magical world, that I forget most of the people that matters to me... 

                On a clear day, I picked her up and we went to the first resort we thought of... La Virginia in Lipa. 
             The place has a majestic view of their red castle from the stiff road going to the main resort. Can't help but stopped on a dangerous curve to have some photos. Yeah around 20 photos just on this view... Whew, just didn't expect that  La Virginia looks this good ha. Nice first impression.

           The second entrance where we were pointed offers a guaranteed amazing view of what's inside. From the other side, we had the glimpse of Taal Lake. Oh, I've seen Taal from different sides and angles already. As we approached the entrance gate, we were stopped by the guard and required us to pay first before we can go inside. I asked him to open the gate first and we'll pay as soon as we parked the car inside but he refused because it's their policy. Wow, seems like he's not yet familiar with customer service, I'm pissed off but i followed him.  So i parked outside the gate, left my car at the side of the road and do what they call "policy", the most unfriendly policy I've heard of so far. What dismayed me most is when we reached the reception area and I complained about the guard. I was surprised that 3 people at the front desk irritated that it was a policy that I need to follow. Hearing the irate voice and seeing sour-faced front desk personnel, giggling me just to explain their dammed fool policy almost made me walked out and leave this place, had I not though of accompanying a sad friend, I can easily drive away and go to the next resort who knows how to value customers. Grrr, one thing is sure, I'll check the place but will never come back to La Virginia. Had it been my usual day, I will never give a second thought of giving them lectures about  Customer Service 101. I never heard anyone apologized for the inconvenience I felt from their policy, no one even gave a warm smile to welcome us. They could have had me switched my mood had I heard "sorry ma'am if our policy caused you inconvenience, we'll try to improve it the next time, or we'll suggest to management to review this so we can offer a better service next time".... NOTHING. If i will grade La Virginia's customer service it will be negative 5 out of 10. 
                 Finally after getting the receipt and showing it to the guard, he opened the gate and no more. We figured out where to park, where's the bathroom, where's the restaurant, blah blah; It was self-service. Every time I remember this experience, I feel so sorry for La Virginia. The place is almost paradise with great location, magnificent view of Taal volcano and Taal lake, the climate, the structure of building, the pool was clean during our visit, bathroom was clean, photo spots are unique, great adventures within the resort including zip line and rock climbing, it's just the customer service that dragged them down.  Tsk. Tsk.

                      Infinity pool overlooking Taal lake and volcano. 
The rooms were named after common flowers. They have Orchid, Sunflower, Gumamela, Rose etc.
This is the view from the pool side..
There was a Bali-inspired side of the rooms going down to another pool. 
And there you are King Kong!
The second pool closer to Taal Lake. Amazing view; nature plus man made pool in one picturesque site.
Safety reminder : Check your brakes before you decide to drive down.

Halo Halo is served. And I saw Daisy flashed a smile.
And the mermaid enjoy swimming as always :)
Good bye La Virginia. This was my first and last visit. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sail + Swim in Lake Pandin

          The moment I opened my eyes from camping, I prepared myself to descend to Lake Pandin...I was the early bird then, and why not? I had a complete rest vs. the other mountaineers. I brushed my teeth with limited water, yes it's possible :) I am more excited to see the Lake and swim, being a mermaid in my entire life, swimming really excites me and it will always will.

More than 10,000 steps, 10 stop overs, 1,000 milliliters of  combined mineral water and coconut juice intake, 10ml of sweat, 100% of my energy were utilized from Mt. Mabilog to Lake Pandin. It was scenic view from top but even better when you get close, especially if you came from an overnight camping with no real  dinner and breakfast. I swear my eyes twinkled like a meteor shower when finally I saw that Lake. 

I didn't waste my time, though my stomach was empty, the fact that I saw body of water relieved me. But we had to go to the deeper part of the lake to swim, after all food were loaded to the balsa, we sail through. This is also the first time that I'm gonna swim in a lake, hmmmm. The balsa ride with 4 female sailing to reach the destination is an adventure already. Pinay power to the extreme! 

The water is crystal green, hot and cold combination. There were portions like you're in a hot spring, and the cold part like you're in a refrigerator. I dunno how science would explain that, for me it was just an awesome experience. 
The water coming from the bukal freezes me, it's really cold! It feels like im taking a bath in Baguio City with no heater at all. This is where the locals get their drinking water, so we refilled our bottles too. Taste better than the distilled and purified water, imagine the nature's magic...

I keep on swimming the whole 5 hours that we were there. I don't need goggles here, though I brought  one. We tried to check the depth of water but it's impossible with life vest. I tried to remove my vest but our guide got mad. 

She said I shouldn't do that even though I'm a swimmer, so I better listen. These are some of my funny pics. Looks like they're watching me!  What would be the best caption here?

What amazed me more was the structure of Balete tree beside the river. I though it was planted in the lake, so we checked closer. What we saw was just roots of Balete tree find it's way to the lake. Looks like getting supply of water through its roots. According to our guide, it took hundred years before these roots grew like this.
Never contented, we climbed the Balete roots, oh ghost forgive us! Were just having fun, trying to detoxify through bonding with nature.I believe that nature has healing power, because every time I feel sick and tired, I didn't take medicine, just few moments with nature and I'll be ok.

Swimming is my multi-vitamins from A-Z, my stress-buster, my cough relief and my good friend.  I swear. And its proven, been stressed out several times and I just went swimming, drove away from the toxic city. 

After that, I know I'm okay again to face everything. So I guess, more swimming adventure awaits me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mt. Mabilog, The Story of My First Climb

          Immediately after I quit my job, I've been thinking of new places to go, beaches I've never been yet, adventures worth trying and learning that I still need to improve myself.

         Been doing a lot of new things, until I saw several friends posted their photos at the summit of Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu,Batangas. The view on top is breathtaking, nothing but nature's bountiful gift to human; and that's made me curios how does it feel to reach a mountain's summit. 

          So there, through my brother in-law, Alex and I joined a group of mountaineers to climb Mt. Mabilog in San Pablo/ Nagcarlan Laguna. 

             I though it's gonna be easy! And I was wrong. At first I was excited, had my adventure documented by photos even our tricycle ride going to Sta. Catalina where the climb will start. 

From the base, it looks easy to climb right? Looks could be  deceiving, that's true! 

From the start of the hike, I was ahead of the group. I was always next to our guide :)
             I sweat like I didn't sweat for a year, 10x as that of my zumba sweat. I don't wanna share photos, I looked like a wet dog on the street, i dunno how i smell anymore, all i knew was i kept on climbing and pushed myself hard to finish the climb. My hair turned like a witch broom and GOD, the hot pink sole of my shoes turned dark brown because of the mud. 

          What keeps me climbing was the fact that I am definitely loosing weight, and I can eat chocolate bar without guilt. 
           And of course, I brought my favorite Nissin Wafer which I munched all throughout the climb. And look, I unloaded 1 bag to my brother-in-law. He helped me anyways.

Few meters before we reach the summit, I used all my energy to keep ahead of the group. This maybe is a natural will for the first timers. You feel like it was a race but it's not. 

And I will be forever proud that Andin and I were the first 2, to reach the summit of Mt. Mabilog. Amazing view at the top, I can see all the other mountains, even higher than Mabilog, looks like twice of the height of Mabilog. And look at the two lakes ( Lake Yambo and Lake Pandin)! 

According to folklore, these lakes are couple ( Ambo and Andin) as what the elderly believed. The scenic view from top took away my stress but it was temporary. Couldn't help but sleep the entire night because my back hurts and my shoulder aches so bad.. Need to regain my energy for the next trip to Lake Pandin. 

And then all I heard was the wind, laughter of mountaineers which I failed to mingle with... I'm sorry guys, felt really sick then. I really wanted to join, but my body didn't cooperate.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Loving instagram

It's been a month since I hooked up to #9pmhabit of #igersmanila! It's an organization of photo lovers wherein instagrammers are ask to tag photos according to theme of the day. There are lots of igers contest actually, but it's igersmanila where I got new friends, unite with my fellow hobbyist, where photos + filters bind us every 9pm to 11 pm. It's amazing how instagram transformed me and my perspective on things. I now appreciate mess and turn it to masterpiece. Through photos and likes from my followers, I keep on improving my photography skills and it keeps me fascinated to bring things to a new dimension. I had lots of good and not so good photos uploaded in instagram but this one made it to be "the chosen one".

I was shouting for joy when I found out that my photo was chosen. I was in hotel 950 in Clark back then.

What's more addictive to instagram are the experiences, cultural differences, and individuality of instagrammers defined through their photos. Through instagram I've reached Paris, New York and Chicago. I've roamed around Disneyland, experienced cherry blossoms and a lot more.

Going places has been easy and digital. Oh I love instagram!

One morning in PPA batangas, we spotted two mushrooms on the field. Good thing I had the slr with me. This was edited in pixlromatic app for iPad and I applied vignette as finishing touch.,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Finding Everland

I first heard of Everland in Korina Sanchez's Balitang K, as she features one of the world's biggest theme parks in the world. From then on, my heart lingers to experience the majestic fun and festivities in Everland Korea

In our second day in the land of morning calm, we finally get the chance to see and experience fantasies, adventures and awesome attractions plus the freezing weather at -2 degrees. Despite the cold, chilling atmosphere, we fearlessly explored Everland.  

First ride was a simple ups and downs at the human sky :) 

Next ride was at Double Rock Spin; the powerful spinning and rhythm of this ride gave us an almost-vomit experience, plus the thrill that we don't know what's gonna happen next! 

Finally we're out! We made it :)

Next ride is common in most theme parks but the size and speed of Everland's   Rolling X-Train is super exciting with two 360-degree revolutions! 

And how could I forget Pororo? We didn't understand the language but I'm sure he's a superhero for the bubbles; thanks to 3D technology.

There are lots of photo spots everywhere! 

Day or night, Everland is a picture of fantasies, magnificent architecture and happy faces. Thanks to Alex and Paul for the photos.. 

A wonderful vacation indeed!