November 23, 2015

Quick post on Montemar Beach Club, Bataan

Went to Bataan last APEC week because our team badly needed to unwind and recharge before December kicks in and our operations go ballistic (if it isn't already.)

Trip was extremely exhausting being a day trip only (from 4am until around 12 midnight; Roundtrip Manila-Bataan-Manila,) but I enjoyed it a lot. 

On Montemar Beach Club

- Clean amenities
- Food was expensive
- Some staff were not that pleasant and were all about the rules (eg "we cannot accept walk ins, please call head office first - head office being unreachable since the day before our trip," "those who are still wet can't come inside the restaurant, please dry yourselves outside")
- Mixed shower areas
- Kayaking, boating, and cliff diving was fun!

Still can't look at the sun directly, but very much attracted to it.
Still find the sea hypnotic - reminds me of things I know (deep inside) I want and need to let go

Still bad at kayaking, but enjoys it nonetheless

Still shit scared of jumping/falling, but does it anyway.

Overall it is a nice and quiet place to relax and put some perspective back into our lives. Nature is always humbling. It's a shame we do not listen to it more often. Perhaps such practice will make us grow more as human beings than any technology can accomplish.



If  I have to fall and fail, please let me do so quickly and learn. Patience and grit, Arlet. Please.

Climbing Mountains and Corporate Ladders

When climbing, the higher you go, the thinner the air, the harsher the weather, the harder it is to sleep, the more tired you become. This is true in climbing both mountains and corporate ladders.

I've improved my spot in Maslow's hierarchy of needs from last year's, but I did not expect the jump to be this disorienting. Some nights I feel like curling into a cheeseball and wrapping myself in molo, or you know, wish for a holiday the next day, and the day after that, and so on :P  

Some nights I feel like I can take on the world, planning to dress my most bad ass suit the next day and slap punch every challenges with my mature decision making. Then the next day comes, and I drown in a sea of other people's priorities! 

The hardest part of it all is being responsible for others. I'm quite good at looking after myself, but not yet at carrying the weight of others. I have a lot to learn in this regard and I'm worried at what the costs of my learning will be - I hope the cost will not be myself.

"You suffer in silence, because you are silent." 

These tough times though, I've been very lucky to have special people around me to talk with and help me through it. Thank you. (Hi, Lui! I think you have no idea how much I appreciate your support, and I want you to know that I am very grateful of you.)

After all, I do not have to climb alone. Isn't the summit best shared with others?

Patience and grit, Arlet. Please.

The universe is still in a conspiracy to make you a better person. 

August 31, 2015


"Think about it," my boss said.

I have been in this situation before, but this time my boss was more mature and gracious in handling my resignation. He was caring, but firm. I admire him. And I sincerely wanted to stand by his side longer and learn more - after all, staying where I am seems like the path of least resistance. 

I walked out the door, put everything aside for the mean time, and flew to Coron.

It was a beautiful place indeed - lush green mountains, crystal bluegreen water, and majestic rock formations. The folks that I met during the trip were also interesting fellows.

Twin Lagoon, Coron (c) Karen Ong

But I was somehow too jaded and restless to get excited. It was almost frustrating, because Coron is very beautiful. I wanted to get mad at myself for not being ecstatic- it was so absurd of me.

The trip went on with me drifting mindlessly. Don't get me wrong I was still enjoying myself - however I was just passively and thoughtlessly going along with the trip that it probably bore me (How could one get bored in Coron, right?! It was unthinkable!)

Mt. Tapyas,Coron

Thankfully, something saved me.

I cannot dive- I get headache and my ears feel like exploding whenever I try. Still I really wanted to get close to the WWII Japanese ship wrecks. I wanted to see it up close and firsthand. If I saw it, I was almost sure that a good story would unfold before me. I tried to go deeper, but every time I did - I not only turn violet and run out of breath, but I also get sharp headaches. Our guide asked me stop after my nth attempt to go down (and fail) as he was worried I might pass out.

Baracuda Lake, Coron

I didn't want to cause any trouble for him so I heeded - but I felt alive after that! I wanted to be better so that I can see more, and feel more. I breathed heavily - inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. This is fun! Finally, I'm awake! I went ahead and join the others with their goofing around.

Banana Island, Coron

Coron was suddenly more beautiful, and the world, as always, is filled with exciting challenges and possibilities :)

In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn't fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get to it. This isn't because the universe is cruel. It's because the universe is smart. It has its own cat-string theory and knows we don't appreciate things that fall into our laps.

- Neil Strauss, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

I'm always going to want to be better.  Even when I take a step back, it is always to move forward.

The universe is in a conspiracy to make you a better person, Arlet. Just believe in yourself and the universe will have no other choice but to believe you too.

See you around!

Whole day tour for 750php (Reef Garden, Skeleton Wreck, Smith Island, Twin Lagoon, Baracuda Lake)
Whole day tour for 1200php (Malcapuya Island, Banana Island, Bulogdos Island)
150-250 php per meal
150 php van from Busuanga airport to Coron and vice versa
300 per night accommodation
100 terminal fee in Coron

July 12, 2015

Looking For Bernardo Carpio (Mt Binacayan)

Upon arriving at Brgy. Wawa, I was fascinated by the wide horizon which was further distinguished by the mountains. This is it - the setting of the Filipino folklore, Bernardo Carpio!

Bernardo Carpio is the bravest, strongest man that lived in San Mateo, Rizal. He left his parents, and lived in the mountains so he wouldn't be a burden to anyone. One day, an enchanted man Bernardo defeated sometime ago came to him to make amends. The enchanted man invited Bernardo to his place, and then trapped him inside. Legend  has it that whenever there were earthquakes, it was Bernardo trying to break free (Incidentally, Montalban Rizal is part of the West Valley Fault.)

This is one version of the tale, others say that he is preventing the 2 mountains from colliding with each other, or it was the Spanish troops that trapped him with the help of a shaman, etc. No matter the back story, three things are similar. (1) The hero was trapped. (2) Someone trapped him there. (3) He struggled to free himself causing earthquakes in the making.

The Two Mountains

I like the version wherein Bernardo was a Katipunero, and he led the fight against the Spaniards. I imagined our ancestors telling this tale to their children, giving them hope that someday Bernardo will break free and save them from the oppressors. Such helpless people waiting to be saved by someone who needs saving himself.

I always wondered why (in the continuing stories) no one helped him out. I would have made a story like that, it would be Bonifacio. 

Summit of Mt. Binacayan - one of the mountains in the area | (c) Jirah

Bonifacio and his soldiers retreated to Montalban after failing to seize San Juan Del Monte. While searching for a good hideout, he chanced upon a dead Bernardo. Bonifacio's spirits were initially crushed, yet he still manage to lead the first significant victory of our Revolutionary army versus the colonial forces - no superpower required, just the same genetic make up each of us are already made of.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

I finished the story in my head while passing by the slippery and muddy soil, and then climbing rock formations after rock formations. Since the mountain was newly opened to the public, the trail wasn't that established yet.

Jirah and friends

This is definitely one of my favorite trails so far, because of the mix of rock climbing, trekking, and  folklore. And because it was only a quick hike too. Too bad we weren't able to explore the Pamitinan cave (where Bernardo was trapped) since the weather wasn't that good, and we were worried of getting trapped inside if the water suddenly rises. After all, I don't want to be reduced as the next character in some urban legend. My story is yet to be told.

Summit - Mt Binacayan | (c) Jirah

See you around!

Expenses & Getting There

1. FX from Farmer's Cubao to Montalban (50php)
2. Tricycle to Brgy, Wawa (20php each)
3. Registration (5php)
4. Donation (50php/group)
5. Guide (400php/group)

Some Notes

1. There are no water source in the mountain so bring lots of fluids.
2. There are parts with lots of mosquitoes so put on anti mosquito lotion. 
3. Wear thick shorts/pants and gloves as the rocks are sharp and jagged. Also, use rubber shoes too instead of sandals.
4. There aren't suitable campsites near the summit

June 20, 2015

Memories From My Freshman Year

I was looking for my algebra notes back in 2008, my freshman year, and saw this at the back of my workbook instead. No wonder I failed algebra, I was contemplating on much more abstract values than abstract numbers.

Written at the back of my workbook is below:

Mangarap ka at abutin mo. Wag mong sisihin ang sira mong pamilya, ang palpak mong syota, pilay mong tuta, o mga lumilipad na ipis. Kung may pagkukulang sa'yo ang mga magulang mo, pwede kang manisi at maging rebelde. Tumigil ka sa pagaaral, magasawa ka, magdrugs ka, magpakulay ka ng buhok sa kilikili. Sa bandang huli ikaw din ang biktima - rebeldeng walang napatunayan at walang bait sa sarili. (Bob Ong)

Naniniwala ako sa Diyos, hindi dahil sa kaya ko syang ipagtanggol at ipaliwanag. Naniniwala ako hindi dahil sa ako'y banal o hipokrito. Naniniwala ako dahil wala akong ibang magawa. Napakahirap maniwala na walang Diyos na gumawa ng mga napakagandang bagay sa mundo. Napakahirap isipin na walang dahilan ang paru-paro, bulaklak, pagibig, kaligayahan, katapangan, kagitingan, at siopao. Lahat ba ng ito ay walang halaga? Hindi ako nagsisimba o sumusunod sa bibliya ngunit nabubuhay ako ayon sa aking konsensya. Kung sakaling ito ay sira na, siguradong may pupulot sa akin at ito ay kukumpunihin. Maraming bagay ang di ko kayang ipaliwanag. Kung tatanungin mo ako tungkol sa Diyos ay maaring walang kwenta at walang laman ang sasabihin ko, dahil sa huli "basta naniniwala ako" lang ang sagot ko.

Suddenly all those stupidities I did in the past are flowing through my mind. And I'm thankful that I can now look back at those and happily say that it did work out in the end. I am in a much better place now (without saying that I was in such a bad place before.)

Andami nang nangyari, hindi na'ko leader ng mga batang hamog. Mas mabuti na akong tao, at kapwa. HAHAHAHA jk.


Joke lang, wala po akong kinalaman sa mga ilegal na gawain ng mga batang hamog sa EDSA man o sa ibang panig ng Maynila :D

May 26, 2015

Mountain Diaries: Zooming Out in Life (Mt Talamitam)

Work has been more exciting and stressful this past weeks that I temporarily forgot the need to go on trips. Well because I was sincerely focused on learning the ropes in my new post. And it worked! I quickly learned the language, arrangements, and challenges of our team - especially the challenges really.

I wanted to help so I focused on getting to the bottom of things, and dissecting the problems very carefully. That burned me out, and gave me unnecessary worries so much that I just had to go away from it all. I had to go. Never mind that it was already Friday, and I had no idea where to go or what to do yet. All that matters is that I will go somewhere.

Mt. Talamitam.

It was my sweet escape. The climb was successfully organized by someone from LUCP. Woohoo! Shoutout to Kenneth (and all the responsible hikers out there) for being well prepared, well researched, on-time, and encouraging throughout the whole day! You guys make the trek so much easier and less hassle for everyone.

The trail was easy, but the heat was unbearable. We had to take long rests and desperately look for a shade to avoid passing out. It did not help that there were no blowing wind at the time too. We were still on the ground, but I felt like the air was already so thin.

Peer Pressured Team

While waiting for a cloud to save us from the sun :D

Once we saw a big chunk of cloud approaching, we decided to move on to the assault part - quickly before the sun becomes high and almighty once again! This part is steeper and has big rocks, but it was still manageable.

The summit gives you a 360 view of the nearby provinces and mountains such as Batulao, Pico de Loro, and Makiling.

The Lead aka Hugot King in Prideland

At Mt Talamitam Summit

It was already an enjoyable hike for me, but it got better once we got to Layong Bilog River near the foot of the mountain. There was a cliff diving spot! HAHAHA I am sooo scared of such activities, but it amazes me endless when  people do it - when I do it!

Just for that fleeting moment, there were no more inhibitions. I was free to let go, to not be on top of things, to let things slip into my hands, to not control, to just be, and to just fall. 

For a while there, I didn't mind everything - my quota, difficult clients, family problems, etc. They all looked so small and distant, like the long forgotten past that couldn't hurt you anymore. The week before today suddenly seemed like a blown out of proportion picture. And my mind just zoomed it out to its proper size.

Such is common in life, don't get stuck zooming in your problems, works, etc. Make it a habit to wiggle your way out of it, and ask yourself how big of an issue is this in my life? A year from  now, five years, ten  years from now, will it make sense that I'm draining myself for this issue?

I realized that even if we run to the ends of the world, climb the tallest mountains, or swim the deepest oceans - it is ultimately our minds that we cannot escape from. Hence we have to make peace with it before we can expect to find gratitude in where we are and where we will go.

 See you around!

Getting There

Just hop on a Nasugbu or Calatagan bound bus at Coastal Mall Terminal, and drop off at Sitio Bayabasan (120php)

May 17, 2015

Bigger Than Anger

In movies, people have alter egos that think and act in different ways than the main characters would have. Remember The Mask? Incredible Hulk? And who would forget Tyler Durden? I think in our own little ways, we have these alter egos too - alter egos that behave in a manner that isn't aligned with how we see ourselves.

And really, how often have we lost our true selves in front of an intense emotion?

Imagine your friend Kat. She is a very amiable and unassuming person, but becomes overbearing when depressed. Or your friend Mark, a jolly guy that turns tactless when angry.

When we're talking, you're talking with me, Arlet. But when I'm angry, you're not talking with me anymore. You're talking with 'Angry', or 'Ecstatic', or 'Drunk.' This is not to say that I'm no longer responsible, because the words or thoughts come from me primarily. But I hope you can try and forgive me until such time that I am bigger than my anger, hatred, sadness, or confusion.

And for sure I'll try and forgive you as long as you're trying- whoever you are.