The Small Town Boy in the Big City Part I

I think I’ve already mentioned in this blog several times that I ¬†haven’t traveled outside of the Philippines. I have had quite a number of travel experiences, but only locally – visiting the beautiful beaches and sceneries of my home country.

Nothing internationally.

Well, surprise readers. Not anymore. ūüėČ

March of this year, I was given the privilege and the opportunity by the company that I work for that I be sent to the US of A for a month of training and conferences.

No less than the United States of America!¬†My first out of the country and it’s a total of 23 hours on the plane and in the land flowing with milk and honey! Who would’ve known?!

So,  for my maiden post about this trip, let me talk about flying with the best airline in the world, Emirates.

Our flight going to the US was about the same time hurricane Stella hit New York and other northeastern territories of country. We got stranded in Dubai for about 24 hours because JFK has been closed due to two feet of snow. It was an emergency situation that I wasn’t prepared for. Like I said, ¬†I don’t have any prior experiences traveling abroad and the thought of staying in Dubai International Airport for one full day ¬†is not very pleasing to me, no matter how beautiful it is. Yes, Dubai International Airport arguably, is the most beautiful airport I have ever seen (not that I’ve been to alot) . It’s huge and you can easily get lost in it.

Thankfully, ¬†Emirates took care of us in this whole ordeal. They made sure that we had the proper accommodation for the overnight stay and that we were fed appropriately. My colleague and I have been given double rooms separately, ¬†and the meals that covered our entire stay we’re all on buffet setup! ¬†I didn’t feel inconvenienced at all. It was like I was given an extra day to enjoy another country on my way to the United States. As a bonus, we have been granted a 96-hour transit Visa and so we were able to utilize that to go around the open city and enjoy some of Dubai’s world class attractions. We were able to go see Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa, along with some Muslim temples, as well as take a glimpse Atlantis The Palm Jumeirah. All in all, ¬†it was an awesome experience. Personally, ¬†I don’t think I would be spending a lot of money just to see Dubai again; but being there one time, ¬†and enjoying what it has to offer I think is enough.

Being in the desert is not so bad, afterall.

My hotel room in Copthorne Hotel Dubai.


Additionally, my sidetrip¬†to Dubai has also been an eye-opener for me. I used to have feelings of fear whenever I think about Muslim countries and being around Muslim people. These people are actually very nice! The person who drove us to see some of Dubai’s attractions is a Pakistani immigrant in Dubai who works as a driver and as a hotel staff. He was very easy to talk to, very kind, very patient and it inspired me that he’s so much like some of us Filipino OFWs – he works in a different country so he can provide for his family.

We are afterall, more alike than what we think.

So,  thank you Emirates for such a fun-filled experience flying with you!  I had the time of my life being in a Super Jumbo A380 plane, with drinks overflowing and the fantastic food that I was served. ICE was also very entertaining! I got to watch a lot of movies, catch up on some shows and the in-flight view was absolutely amazing! If given the chance that I would be able to go back to the US or maybe even just travel anywhere outside of the Philippines and I have the necessary funds to choose whichever airline I would want to fly with, I would choose Emirates in a heartbeat.

Oh and I would also like to note that I have extreme paranoia everytime I fly, but with Emirates I didn’t feel anything at all. I simply enjoyed the 9-hour flight to Dubai from Manila and I absolutely was thrilled on my long-haul, 13-hour flight to JFK.

Southern Living

I love the south. I love that its not too hustle and bustle but highly urbanized too. I like that I don’t have to get my brain dizzy with a lot of people crossing the streets but it’s¬†active enough to have a bit of a social life too.

I love that I get to live near SM Southmall – where the good and yummy Food Street is located. The place is just about 10 minutes from where our rented place is. Just ride one tricycle and you’re there in a jiffy. It’s filled with the best local food joints around. Yabu where they serve the best katsu in the metropolis and Sambokojin – where you’ll get your fill of Japanese cuisines – all you can! They also cater to the steak-monsters of us via Racks and you get to savor the mouth-watering ensayamadas and cheese rolls of Cafe Mary Grace.

foodstreet

Town is also one of those malls you go to and want to be in for like days. It’s very homey and its got pretty much everything that you would want for a good day of eats, books, apparels and more. As a family, we most often spend our weekends in Fully Booked. We would go there after filling our stomachs with the healthiest fruits shakes around – Jamba Juice! If you’re someone who’s after high end clothing stores and the likes, you’d never get disappointed too. In terms of food, Krazy Garlic, Chili’s, PF Chang’s are the usual favorites. Even its humble foodcourt is something you don’t want to miss – especially the offerings from Binalot, President’s Express, Razon’s, etc.

atc

And of course, there’s BF Homes. We used to go there for the bargain place called Ruins, but lately we haven’t visited as much as before. Even so, I think the place is a must-go-to. They have a number of good restaurants around and specialty stores. Hopefully, we’ll be there in a month’s time because the resident mall in there, The Pergola Mall, holds a yearly halloween costume party and I can’t wait for our Isabelle to join the fun! ūüôā

pergola

These are only some of the reasons why as a family, we enjoy living in southern Metro Manila. Add to that I think is the fact that the environment is a little less polluted than the rest. In here, we get to see greens. And as a result during monsoon periods, the place is not as flooded as everywhere. I pray eventually we get to own a piece of land here. Because I plan on seeing my kids thrive in the south – where it’s greener, funner¬†and safer.

Daily Prompt: Edge of the Frame

We often capture strangers in photos we take in public. Open your photo library, and stop at the first picture that features a person you¬†don’t¬†know. Now tell the story of that person.

I took this photo three years ago, when my wife and I decided to go on an out-of-town trip to Quezon, a province south of Metro Manila, in the Philippines.

Puting Buhangin (means "white sand" in Filipino language) Beach in Pagbilao, Quezon
Puting Buhangin (means “white sand” in Filipino language) Beach in Pagbilao, Quezon

 

The beach we went to is not very developed yet. It doesn’t have a decent bathroom – which was mainly the cause of my wife’s dissatisfaction during our entire stay. Also, you can spot some stray dogs in the island – oftetimes waiting for visitor leftovers for them to feast on. There were not a lot of establishments, only a few sari-sari stores¬†to cater to tourists’¬†basic needs.¬†Nonetheless, the beach is a sight to behold. Sand is white – though not as white as Boracay’s, it is considerably prettier than the ones in the local beaches you see in Batangas. The coconut trees make a good backdrop and the blue-green, virgin ocean in front of it is just something you don’t see everyday when you lived 80-90 % of your life¬†in a highly urbanized city like Manila.

Now on the far right¬†side of the photo, you’ll see a boy – perhaps eleven, maybe twelve? I don’t know him personally, but judging on the way he looks, he probably is a local of the island. Someone who lived all his life in this quite simple set up. Presumably¬†someone who has to cross seas to go to school, has to keep himself dry in the process to not be a laughingstock in class. Someone who maybe has a fisherman for a father, or someone whose family relies on the tourism of the island to earn ¬†a few bucks. Someone who might be unfortunate financially, but enjoys every time he spends with his only treasure – his family.

This is only one of the many stories of Filipinos who live in remote, rudimentary, economically-forsaken, remote areas in the country. I mean some of us are lucky to be living comfortably in our rented homes in the city, enjoying the fruits of our labor as part of the national workforce but not all of us can be that lucky. Sometimes you can’t help but think of the inequality of the lives lived by all of us. I mean this doesn’t just occur here. I’m pretty sure other countries, other nationalities have their own versions of this. Sometimes, you just can’t help but think how you can be of help. Sometimes, you just can’t help but think of yourself and your capabilities as a solution. But sometimes, it just is not enough.

Daily Prompt: Odd Trio Redux

Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.

I miss going out on vacations. I have been out of work since June and though we’ve been planning on going out of town for a couple of days – making my unemployed status an opportunity to chill and relax, plans don’t seem to push through. I think somehow, we’ve managed to be the adults that we’re supposed to be – think of our responsibilities as parents and put our daughter’s interests above our own personal wants.

That doesn’t mean I don’t daydream to be right beside the beach, sipping a glass of mango shake and procrastinating my days away. So as entry to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m posting some photos of the best-kept treasures of the Philippines – especially the Visayas region. Who knows, maybe through this, some of you, dear readers, may be convinced to try and visit the Pearl of the Orient.

A slice of cake: 

Calea¬†in Bacolod City’s offers the best cakes in the entire city. I’ve learned that alot of the visitors in the province, locals and foreigners alike, make it a point to actually go to their Balay Quince branch along Lacson Street to savor their delectable desserts. This is a must try so if you’ve got sweeth tooth, this won’t disappoint.

 

calea

 

A pair of flip-flops

I may have posted a photo of my wife and daughter having the time of their lives in Boracay before but that doesn’t give justice to how beautiful, how serene, how pristine the island is. Its white sand is just so soft to the feet, spotless and is just a sight to behold. We’re planning on visiting again before the year ends and I can’t wait for it!

2013-05-01 09.02.16

Someone old and wise

Now I might break the usual expectation for this third feature, but this sure is old and wise. Behold:

2014-03-28 18.37.43

This is the Ruins of the city of Talisay in the province of Negros Occidental. This is supposed to be a pre-World War II¬†ruin¬†of an old mansion owned by a Spanish-Filipino family, developed to invite visitors from all over the world. What’s sweeping about is its grand architecture, accompanied by its rich history. Try to visit this famous tourist spot in the late afternoon and ready your cameras by sunset and you’ll capture the most picturesque souvenir from the Visayan gem. ūüôā

There you go, I have more to share from the places I’ve been to in my dear Philippines but I guess there’ll be more Daily Prompts in the future to aid me in doing so. I’m happy that I get to do two things that I love – write and promote my dear country. So, till then!

Quaint and Happy Negros Occidental!

This is late, but I realized I haven’t been able to blog about our one-week vacation in my dear hometown in Negros Occidental. So now that this blog is already kind of of done with its hiatus, I’m going to post some of the best things we enjoyed while we were in the city of smiles. ūüôā

The last time we were there,¬†about 3 years ago,¬†Tin was pregnant. We didn’t get to enjoy so much, even though it was Masskara season, because she was a month shy from delivering Saab. So pretty much what we did was stay at home, visit the kamag-anaks¬†and smell the fresh¬†bukid air.

This time, we had no other reasons not to enjoy the quaint province. I made sure I was able to bring Tin to the places I didn’t get to bring her the last time. I hope she enjoyed every bit of second we were there, because I sure did.

Aboard Philippine Airlines. I've never felt safer than when I'm with PAL.
Aboard Philippine Airlines. I’ve never felt safer than when I’m with PAL.
We got to attend my cousin's college graduation from Bago City College. Hats off to you Mariz and welcome to the world of employment!
We got to attend my cousin’s college graduation from Bago City College. Hats off to you Mariz and welcome to the world of employment!
Being the art enthusiast that she is, she would never let this moment pass her by. An art exhibit! by a local Negrense artist was being done in SM Bacolod
Being the art enthusiast that she is, she would never let this moment pass her by. An art exhibit! by a local Negrense artist was being done in SM Bacolod
I guess, one of the highlights of our vacation -  a visit to the Ruins of Talisay! Beautiful by day!
I guess, one of the highlights of our vacation – a visit to the Ruins of Talisay! Beautiful by day!
and even more majestic at night, the view never disappoints!
and even more majestic at night, the view never disappoints!
She said she would never let this vacation finish without a trip to the Manukan Country! - definitely one of the province's must try!
She said she would never let this vacation finish without a trip to the Manukan Country! – definitely one of the province’s must try!
and that blue, rustic door tells you you've been to the one of the most visited spots in the province - Calea at Balay Quince. Cakes are to die for!
and that blue, rustic door tells you you’ve been to one of the most visited spots in the province – Calea at Balay Quince. Cakes are to die for!
The Bacolod Capitol Lagoon just gives you that calm, relaxed feeling you'll miss when you're in a busy city like Manila
The Bacolod Capitol Lagoon just gives you that calm, relaxed feeling you’ll miss when you’re in a busy city like Manila
Definitely worth the visit to one of the more iconic churches in the city - Lupit Church!
Definitely worth the visit to one of the more iconic churches in the city – Lupit Church!
and oh dear Alma Mater - though I didn't have my alumni ID with me, it still was worth the glimpse to reminisce all 6 years of my life with you!
and oh dear Alma Mater – though I didn’t have my alumni ID with me, it still was worth the glimpse to reminisce all 6 years of my life with you!
and oh seafood, seafood galore at Pala Pala. Ampay ko guid ni ya!
and oh seafood, seafood galore at Pala Pala. Ampay ko guid ni ya!
and how can I complete this vacation without paying a visit to my brother from another mother, Jeff!
and how can I complete this vacation without paying a visit to my brother from another mother, Jeff!

So there you have it! If you want to see more pics, I have quite a number of them on my Facebook page but this pretty much sums up all the adventure we had in quaint and happy Negros. I’ll be sure to visit you again, my dear hometown. Fo sho, I’ll keep coming back to you!

This is Love!

Boracay is love.

Many complain that the loud music, the nonstop partying, the growing number of commercial establishments in the island are swiftly defacing Boracay’s charm, but I disagree. I think Boracay wouldn’t be as popular and as familiar that it is right now without these, for they form part and parcel of the island’s attractive pull amongst visitors.

I first visited Boracay in the mid 90s. It was an incentive for being a contender in the Regional DOST Science Investigatory contest. I was in 5th grade at the time. Though I knew Boracay, I wasn’t that enthusiastic when we were told we are to be brought to Club Panoly resort for a few minutes of sun, sea and sand. But it’s Boracay! And the organizers are bringing us there for free! I remember tita and I even brought home a pail of its infamous white sand as some sort of a remembrance that we indeed, visited what everyone was just hoping to visit.

Fast forward, it’s now 2013! My wife and I had planning to go there since becoming a couple in 2009. Four years?! Imagine that. And oh boy, it was all worth the wait and patience!

20130531-050026.jpg

20130531-050044.jpg 20130531-045949.jpg 20130531-050130.jpg 20130531-050110.jpg

May ’12 Outings

So I realize, I only have one entry for the month of May.
One. Just one. Wow, was my May that busy?!? I don’t remember it being more busy than the other previous months, but why just one post? Why?
The good news though, is that my blog layout had been this for quite some time na. Yay! At last, I’ve stopped my addiction in searching for the best layout that suits my taste. Haha! Pretty choosy of me, but hey, aesthetics mean something too, you know.
So let’s start June right, ayt?
image image
I’ve had quite a number of escapades last month. For a change, those escapades weren’t my wife and I’s escapades. They’re more like work escapades. Yup, I’m talking about work team buildings.
First, my team -the Grey Warlocks – went to Club Manila East for a day of fun under the sun, the artificial sea and the artificial sand (add artificial waves as well ). ;p It was refreshing because even though there were alot from my team who were not able to make it, some of us brought our partners, wives and husbands and kids to CME too. More than a team building, it also was some sort of a family day for all of us.
Also, it’s been awhile since our program’s management team went out and think not only of quotas and of project targets. I think the last time we had our team building activity was about two years ago. We had an overnight stay at Astoria Ortigas Center. I don’t want to elaborate a whole lotta deal on that because I would have to tell you guys I locked myself on one of our unit’s bathroom and spent half of the night away with my back lying on the bathroom floor.
Oh wait, I didn’t just say that. No, it was a just night of alcohol (just a little), dancing and Pinoy Henyo. Let’s just put it that way.
Anywho, this time, we explored the lovely city of Baguio. I was a ‘lil hesistant to join at first because I don’t want to have a whole new perspective of it after my wife and I started our love story there about 2 and a half years ago. But due to her insistence that I join (ironically), I packed my bags and prepared to (again) sleep on a bathroom floor (no, that would be creepy – Baguio’s filled with ghosts, they say, so NO).
It was fun to be with colleagues and not think of someone as your boss or your boss’ boss. It was just us, enjoying every bit of our short vacation, away from all the numbers and all the pressures of our respective PMs haha. I hope this happens more frequently as these kinds of activities not only give us time to relax and unwind, but also are opportunities on fostering friendship, camaraderie and strong working relations between us, leaders.
So there. Though I don’t have a lot of blog posts last month, I enjoyed the time I spent with my team and my management colleagues. Will make sure to update you more over the next few days. ūüėČ