Paradigm Shift

It’s been some time since my last post. Looking back, it feels ages ago and literally 4 thousand miles away from my living room. Right now, I am on my bed writing this, in the urban desert of Dubai, on the verge of changing my life.

To put it succinctly, I am now on a journey to freedom. Freedom to pursue my passions and tick off my bucket list and the freedom to change it, as I go along. Freedom from the shackles of a 9 to 5 job and the merciless rat race in the corporate world. Freedom from the mundane worries of working to pay off monthly bills and payment dues.

 

I am putting this out to the world and will shout this to the universe – I am on a journey to freedom. And I will do it.

 

The male and female reindeer statues near the confluence of Tetri and Shavi Aragvi (White and Black Aragvi) rivers in Pasanauri, Georgia
The male and female reindeer statues near the confluence of Tetri and Shavi Aragvi (White and Black Aragvi) rivers in Pasanauri, Georgia

Disavowed

The thing that bothers me the most in all Mission Impossible movies or any spy thriller movie, is that when the spy for some reason gets captured or exposed, the government disavows any connection to him. Say, if I were Ethan Hunt and I am offered this impossible task (of course) and that I am made to understand that should I fail to complete this task it will mean the end of the world. And if for some reason I am apprehended or my actions are exposed, the government disavows any connection to me. Why would I say yes? Why would you?

In the greater scheme of things, I see that a government will never risk causing a World War. Not one head of state will probably admit to the world that his government’s actions brought about conflict with other countries. At the expense of one spy’s life. Or a group of spies. A team.

But not my life. Not me.

So, like in all other movies that I’ve seen or in the stories I have read, it is all about me. LOL.

Seriously, I feel so conflicted, as if I am Ethan Hunt. In one hand, my country is in the brink of war and I have the skills and I am given resources to stop it. Or, my job is hanging in the balance with the case I am currently under. On the other hand, if I fail, its war. My life is over and my government will not protect me. My job is gone and the company’s not taking me back. They have disavowed me.

I have not failed. Yet. But I am threatened. So like Ethan Hunt, I say this to the world, to the terrorists, to the government, to the company, I accept.

This post will not self destruct in five seconds.

First Palawan Trip: El Nido

This is the 2nd part of the First Palawan Trip series. Click here to read the first one.

So we boarded the tour van on the way to El Nido. It was a tight fit. This was a very important consideration we failed to take note of beforehand. Unlike my aunt and her friend, I am a big guy and I eat space literally. Apparently, we were part of a group that the tour company was hired for, as service van from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Some time on our trip, we even hailed passengers dropping off on towns on the way.

Suffice to say it wasn’t a very good trip for me, only made bearable by a couple of stopovers for snacks and bathroom breaks.

We arrived at El Nido late in the night and thinking that we need not pre-book our accommodation, we were one hiccup away from panicking. We were told we can ask around but knowing it was quite late in the night, we didn’t chance it. We sat and looked around in the small terminal for ads and posters but only belatedly realized not all of them have telephones. Good thing there was one guy who approached us to ask if we’re waiting to be picked up by our hotel, probably to offer us a ride instead. We told him we haven’t booked a room yet so he offered to take us to his cousin’s place which has rooms with breakfast available that night. Kuya also said they could also arrange for island hopping tours.

Ricgem's Place, El Nido
Ricgem’s Place, El Nido

So we braved the unknown and went with Kuya, who owns his own tricycle, and we’re driven to Ricgem’s Place. True enough, it was his cousin who owns the place and we arranged to have a double room with two double beds and an en suite bathroom with breakfast, as well as booked our combination island hopping tour the next day. Kuya will pick us up in the morning and will also meet us by the beach to take us back to the hotel. Complete service in thirty minutes!

We settled in but we decided to walk to the marina and sample the food, as we haven’t had dinner yet. We passed by the El Nido Skyline Grill and seeing the tables of people dining even at that hour, we decided to eat there. The food was just okay, nothing exceptional but the prices were relatively high. We were expecting lower rates considering we were in the province but clearly this establishment caters to the foreign visitors and other tourists.

Back at the hotel, we had coffee and we were just lounging in the receiving area when the owner told us we may want to take advantage of the time and sleep instead. We could enjoy a few more hours of AC, since the power is regularly cut at 6AM and will only be back by 2PM. This is one thing we weren’t prepared for, so we ran to our rooms so we could charge our cameras and phones.

The way to the beach front of El Nido.
The way to the beach front of El Nido.

The next day, bright and early, we had coffees, eggs, tocino and fried rice ready for us. Kuya (the driver) was already having his coffee and waiting for us to get ready. He brought with him goggles and snorkels that we can use. We asked him to drop us off to a sari-sari store so we can buy some more essentials to take with us to the island hopping tour. He readily agreed and with no extra charge.

We were met by Ate who owns the boat for the tour and she was with her son and one other guy helper. Aside from them and the three of us, there was also one Romanian guy and a pinoy newlywed couple joining us for the tour. The tide was quite high and we waded for several meters before we climbed aboard the boat. The beach at El Nido, although obviously peppered by restaurants and pubs and hotels, was breathtaking in the morning. The sea was so clear it looked like glass, if not for the distortion of the boat lines partially submerged with our anchor. It was a very good day and a heaven-sent weather for our tour.

We saw and docked at so many islands that day I lost count. Now, you couldn’t get a combination tour anymore and you had to choose from Tours A, B, C or D in one day. Obviously we couldn’t get to all the islands but I believe we went to the best of them.

Underwater shot
Underwater shot

We went to 7 Commandos Beach and enjoyed very expensive Cokes while watching women in bikinis and men in trunks playing beach volleyball. I snorkeled and fed bread crumbs to schools of fish at Shimizu Island. I swam and floated in the space between the boat and the outrigger float, for fear of the unknown should I drift off to far. We had a full lunch on the beach with barbecued meat, grilled fish, vegetable salad and bananas. My aunt braved the waves and swam to a crevice that took her to the Secret Lagoon, while her friend and I watched awestruck. We enjoyed snorkeling and people-watching while we waded and floated and swam some distance before we got to the Big and Small Lagoons. We climbed the jagged precipice at the Matinloc Shrine so we could take breathtaking photos of the beach and the nearby islands.

It was all excitement, fun and a healthy dose of fear and thrill! It was one of the best times of my life and I remembered I thought then to take my partner to El Nido one day so he could experience it, too.

Our meal at Swiftlet's El Nido
Our meal at Swiftlet’s El Nido
Crab! Swiftlet's El Nido
Crab! Swiftlet’s El Nido

Back at El Nido, we had dinner at this small resto called Swiftlet’s which was owned by Ate the boat-owner’s sister. They served the best crab and even the beef dish that I ordered was good. The meal wasn’t expensive too.

Taken at Seaslug's Beach Bar and Resto
Taken at Seaslug’s Beach Bar and Resto

We enjoyed the sunset that day and we had drinks right by the beach at SeaSlug’s Bar and Resto. I could hardly keep my eyes open as I was too tired but it was a good-tired feeling.

Before I slept that night, I told myself I am coming back. And I did.

We had some free time the next day for pasalubong shopping before the same tour van took us back to Puerto Princesa in the afternoon. There were a lot more things to see and do, and food to try at El Nido that I thought it wasn’t nearly enough.

Here are some more pictures at El Nido.

Handwritten Menu outside Swiftlet's El Nido. Did you see the fish fellet?
Handwritten Menu outside Swiftlet’s El Nido. Did you see the fish fellet?
Funny signs outside a bar in El Nido
Funny signs outside a bar in El Nido
Beautiful El Nido. If only we could do something about those darn power lines
Beautiful El Nido. If only we could do something about those darn power lines
The beachfront bar at 7 Commandos Island, El Nido
The beachfront bar at 7 Commandos Island, El Nido
Our lunch on the beach with a makeshift table taken from boat parts (they were properly put back again after)
Our lunch on the beach with a makeshift table taken from boat parts (they were properly put back again after)
Random family with a kayak at El Nido
Random family with a kayak at El Nido
Beach perfect. El Nido
Beach perfect. El Nido
Taken from atop a precipice in Matinloc Shrine, El Nido
Taken from atop a precipice in Matinloc Shrine, El Nido
Matinloc Shrine, El Nido. We were told a mass is held once a year here. The island itself is heart-shaped, if seen from the top.
Matinloc Shrine, El Nido. We were told a mass is held once a year here. The island itself is heart-shaped, if seen from the top.
Kurast Docks floating inside the safe zone
Kurast Docks floating inside the safe zone
Just beautiful
Just beautiful
Our tour group
Our tour group


First Palawan Trip, Part 1

In my school days, I have been in many different trips to attend science camps and various competitions. I grew up down south of the Philippines and I went as far north as Manila in official school business.

But I could hardly count the number of times I had been out of town (with considerable travel time) purely for vacation. So you can imagine how excited I was for this exotic trip! Palawan was an exotic destination, as far as I was concerned back then.

It took us a couple of months planning, my aunt and I. She was still out of the country working while I was based here in Manila and we talked online about booking flights and rooms and making itineraries. She took care of the tours – which included our airport van transfers from Puerto Princesa to El Nido and back, including one day tour of the Underground River while I took care of our flights from Manila to PP and back. I booked us rooms on our last two nights in Puerto Princesa through airbnb but we decided to just ask around for our accommodation in El Nido and the island hopping tours there. My aunt also had a college friend flying in from Davao and would join us on our flight to Palawan but will be leaving a day earlier for Manila.

In a few short weeks, my aunt came home. My leaves were filed and approved and we were on our way!

First Palawan Trip Itinerary
First Palawan Trip Itinerary

 

BILAO AT PALAYOK Seafood and Native Restaurant

As soon as we arrived at the airport, we were met by representatives from the tour company. We hopped into the van that took us to El Nido but we were told we could have lunch first before we leave in the afternoon. They would take us where we wanted to go but all three of us not knowing anything of the place, we opted to have them take us where they thought would be a good place.

Lunch at Bilao at Palayok
Lunch at Bilao at Palayok

Bilao at Palayok was walking distance from their office so we went there for lunch. This restaurant wasn’t in the city center and I believe we were on the main road connecting the airport to the city. It was clearly catered to motorists coming in from and going to the airport. There wasn’t a lot of people, considering it was lunch time.

It was nice enough. There was a koi pond with a short wooden bridge over it that you walk by to the main restaurant. Outside, by the parking lot, there were also Nipa Huts for a little more private dining.

The main dining area is mostly done with native decor, as the restaurant name suggests. There was a raised area on the side, with banig-like floors and low bamboo-made tables with throw pillows as chairs. We obviously went for one of these tables despite them being too big for just the three of us. The staff didn’t mind.

The menu showed pictures of their food, mostly local dishes, which were served in palayok (for the soup-based dishes) and some others were served in metal pans. I thought they were really cheap but learned later that these were actually good for 1 person only and that the pans were really quite small, probably made to order. I don’t think they were ever used to cook food.

There were some art pieces displayed all over the place – wooden sculptures and clay potteries. The loo was also quite nice, made to look like outhouses but with actual working plumbing and toilets inside.

I don’t have a lot of pictures but I would say this is a good enough place to visit when you’re in Puerto Princesa. Nothing exceptional though. The food was just okay. I don’t even remember if they offered local delicacies like the tamilok, not that I’d be adventurous enough to try it.


Weekend Getaway at Subic

My partner and my dog had a chance to spend a weekend with friends in Subic, some time last year. It was a first for us, for several different reasons. First time with our Milo to come with us on an out of town trip. First time for us to do a weekend staycation outside Metro Manila, with friends and some of my colleagues. This was also when I had my first underwater kiss, preserved forever digitally using a Sony Xperia Z phone (what a wonder that phone is! Now, we have one of our own – a Z3).

Treasure Island Subic

We stayed at Treasure Island. It was a small-ish resort with a pool and it’s rooms had a boutique hotel-feel to it. Ours were painted blue and the bed frame was in cement!

We visited the PX Goods outlets and had some shopping at Puregold Duty Free (SPAM was really cheap there). I would like to commend the security staff of Puregold, by the way. Because we had Milo and it was scorching hot outside so we couldn’t leave him in the car, the guard and the manager allowed us to leave Milo (inside his carriage) in a shopping cart by the entrance, inside the store! Thank you sirs! We went to this chinese restaurant, Kung Fu Kitchen in Harbor Point for dinner which served a very good Xiao Long Bao.

It was sad that we didn’t get to go to Zoobic Safari which I really wanted to visit but we woke up really late the next day as we had a lot of chismis the night before with a lot of games and some drinking.

Here are some more pics of our weekend getaway. It was a very memorable experience for us. Even our drive home was fun!

Kurast Docks and Milo
Kurast Docks and Milo at the Subic Bay Yacht Club marina
Subic Bay Sea shore
the beach at Treasure Island
Food at Kung Fu Kitchen, Harbor Point. Very good xiao long bao
Food at Kung Fu Kitchen, Harbor Point. Very good xiao long bao
Treasure Island in the morning. They were setting up a pool party with some of the local girls and some expats in the area
Treasure Island in the morning. They were setting up a pool party with some of the local girls and some expats in the area
the Harbor Point mall
the Harbor Point mall
Treasure Island at night. Not a lot of folks drop by but there were some older folks having drinks at the bar
Treasure Island at night. Not a lot of folks drop by but there were some older folks having drinks at the bar
Treasure Island pool party! Free registration for local girls, I believe. ;-)
Treasure Island pool party! Free registration for local girls, I believe. 😉
underwater kiss :*
underwater kiss :*


FREE 2-Nights at Richmonde!

Due to familial connections, I had two nights free at Richmonde Hotel in Ortigas! Fun!

This was back in October 2013, (I know, two years ago!) but I am backing up travels and places right now and I’m starting here.

So an aunt based in Dubai came home for a quick vacay and because she had an investment with the Megaworld condos, she had this gift card for 2-nights at a Deluxe Room in Richmonde Ortigas. Oh well, what am I to do but chaperone?

Snaps from my phone - Richmonde Hotel Ortigas
Snaps from my phone – Richmonde Hotel Ortigas

The room was nice and very comfy beds and sheets and pillows, as expected. The pool was exceptional and I loved it so much because not a lot of people were checked in, I guess owing to the big brother Richmonde Eastwood. The hotel was decked with Halloween decor. I can’t remember much of the buffet breakfast but I loved the small smoking area right at the corner of the mezzanine hotel restaurant, overlooking Lourdes School and very much in view of Megamall. The hotel is literally walking distance to the mall.

I would say I like the hotel a lot. In fact last year, I was calling up for a hotel reservation on New Years and I pencil booked for Richmonde. I wanted to try the one in Eastwood but I was like number 40+ in the waiting list. I could have booked the one here but last minute I got a confirmation for the new Marco Polo so I opted to stay there instead.

All in all, not a bad place to stay the night. I would say this is best for overnight stay on business, as it’s so close to EDSA and everything and everywhere’s accessible from there. Although if you want all the bangs and whistles for a weekend staycation, I suggest to look elsewhere.

_______

PS – This is not a paid advertisment of the hotel. In fact, it was free! But should you need to contact the hotel for booking, you know the drill.

Have a weekend staycation yourself and let Agoda help you choose the best hotel for you!


Proof of life

I had such high hopes for this blog. I read a book or watch another movie and then write about it. I’d do it each day, no fail. I had tons of movies and a lot of books so I wouldn’t really run out of material.

But it’s been three days of non-stop movie surfing and reading through Chapter 1’s and I have yet to stumble into something good. I’m in a rut. I’m having word-constipation. I am blocked.

Babe heckled me earlier today, “what happened to your blog now? Nothing!” That definitely cramped my style.

So it brought me to thinking why I endeavor to write. This happened while I was watching Midnight in Paris. And in the movie Gertrude Stein said: “We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.”

That’s it then. I do not fancy myself an artist but I can’t put it to words better myself. While I am literally suffering from being out of a job right now, I can’t hep but morosely think that the office I left would not be suffering alongside me. It would go on. Everyone goes on. I was a visitor and it was time that I leave. But what of me? What of the sweat and hard work, the sleepless nights, the fostered friendships among colleagues? They go on, too. Nothing stays. Nothing lingers.

While I don’t fancy seeing my name or God-forbid my face all over the internet, this is still a record of me somewhere. And one time, in the world of fleeting memories and constant changes, there is a tangible proof of my life. I watch my movies, I read my books, and then I write down my thoughts and sometimes my feelings, the best way I can. I capture a time of my life, a life that I fear is as insignificant in this endlessly moving world.

This is my material. This is why I write.

Leaving trains

Hand me the tissues, please.

I have been bawling uncontrollably, and I’m just drying my eyes now so I can see what I’m writing down.  You see, I just finished season 3 of Glee and that last episode of Finn telling Rachel there’s no wedding and she’s on the 4:30(?) train to New York while he’s staying to join the army, because (sob), that’s the right thing to do. I just can’t…

I’m sorry. There are parallels to my life right now and all I have done so far is hiding and wishing so hard that all these, all these things happening to me would just go away and evaporate. I’m so scared! I stay on my couch this whole time not bothering to answer calls or texts or even Viber.

But I digress. Glee has been one of my favorite TV Shows since it started. Watching it brings me back to my high school choir days memorizing my parts and trying desperately to read the sheet music. I loved it and I miss it terribly. In college, I auditioned and became part of one of the choir groups but I couldn’t deal with the dancing. I was just into straight singing and to be honest, not even very good.

Glee Season 3
Glee Season 3

Back to Glee, it’s not so much the dialogues although I really enjoy the comedic treatment on most of the scenes but it’s more the context that I really identify with. Just this last episode, I was crying so much because I don’t know if I ever could have the courage that Finn had shown. I think the right thing to do for me right now is not something I can do. And it scares me so much.

I must be confusing you right now. Well, I confuse myself sometimes. Let me leave you with this, and this is just before Rachel hopped on the train.

Finn: “I wanna marry you so badly I can’t go through with it.”

Finn: “Look, you’re gonna get on that train. And you’re gonna go to New York and you’re gonna be a star. Without me. That’s how much I love you.”

6926368-bench-train-station

 

Come in and have a seat

Hi! How have you been? Come, sit down.

My first website! Can you imagine?! This isn’t my first blog but for the first time, I had thought of one coherent theme, with a start and end, and this is it. So come in and have a seat. Welcome to my living room.

For the past five months, I have been staying home since I lost my job. Couch potato would not even begin to describe what I have been. I can still feel my butt impressions on my sofa.

cropped-IMG_20151107_1715041.jpgSo with this blog, I am inviting you to come in and share what I am doing these days – from the adventures Under the Sea to spending nights in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, riding astride Saphira in beautiful Alagaesia, shopping at Barney’s with Becky Brandon, singing with the New Directions at McKinley High, and everything in between. We’ll talk about my favorites and the parts I love the most. And I will try not to mention what I hate about it. Promise (crossing fingers).

I hope to be able to get a full-time job again soon and that would probably mean the end of In My Living Room. But whilst I am in my sofa, worrying about where I’m going to get grocery money from next, I welcome you to join me in the living room adventures mostly from my 1 TB hard drive Apollo.

So, stay awhile. Come in and have a seat.