December 27, 2015

Why I'm the Lucky One (CDO and Camiguin)

Day 0. I'm a terrible friend.

Sometimes I shake my head in disbelief as to how I still manage to have great friends.

For letting me bother you even at the ungodliest hour, for returning my silly calls, for taking my side when I'm down, and for being kind and understanding, thank you so much, Maine. Told you I'm the lucky one to have you for a friend.

Kahit na yung paminsan minsan lang na may problema ka, problema ko pa din mostly pinaguusapan natin. HAHAHA labyu, Maine! 


And as if those weren't more than enough, you and your family welcome me to your hometown, HELLO CDO AND CAMIGUIN!!!

Day 1. CDO City Tour and White Water Rafting

Straight from our duty as corporate slaves, we took the first flight from Manila to CDO hoping to squeeze in as much as we can for the day. Unfortunately we didn't arrive in time for the morning schedule of rafting and zipline so we settled into doing DIY city tour first. Strolled around Divisoria and CDO museum - was supposed to visit Xavier museum too, but there was a dress code. Got really sleepy before noon and ended up happily dozing off in some bench inside Ket Kai mall - HAHAHA we looked real shabby - but you can't argue with someone who looks so happy!

Had lunch, then met up with the group we'll be with for rafting. Small world - they're workmates of our college friends! Smaller world - we have the same IT for the rest of the trip! 


It was my first time to try rafting so I was initially feeling nervous, but turned out to be quite easy with the guides around, and also real fun - especially when there's a rapid! Too bad, the group didn't agree to do intentional capsize - must have been more exciting! 

For the calmer parts of the river, the view was relaxing. Just what I needed to temporarily kick off work from my head. 



Day 2. Welcome to Camiguin!

It was past lunch time when we arrived in Camiguin. We visited Katibawasan Falls, Old Church Ruins, and Walkway to the Old Volcano and Stations of the Cross. Our visit in these places were short because of the rain - and mostly because these locations are mostly for sight seeing only.

We also went to Sunken Cemetery, and Ardent Hot Springs wherein we stayed longer. I expected to see submerged tombstones in Sunken Cemetery, but instead I saw corals, schools of fish, giant clams, etc, etc. It was colors and life bursting at the same time!

Isn't it ironic to be talking about witnessing life in a cemetery that slipped into the sea due to a big earthquake? But that's the way it is. Even nature is telling us to have some sense of humor, and accept things that are in conflict with our woldview lest life will be a torture for us :)

Under the Sea, you'll see red, and blue, and green, and neon, all the colors you know and more.

Day 3. Mantigue Island, Camiguin

Wanted to pass time on the shoreline of Mantigue beach, but there were lots of seaweeds because of a storm the day before our visit so we proceeded to do snorkeling in the sanctuary instead.

Water was colder in the sanctuary. Look underneath and it's all water and fishes. Look up and it's all sky and clouds and mountains in the far horizon. It makes you feel very tiny in this vast universe, and at the same time grateful to be (so tiny yet) capable of feeling greatness. Life is good.

The thing with traveling is it lets you experience gratitude, and you have no choice but to bask in it. You feel small but not insignificant. You lose your delusions of grandeur, but you keep your self compassion. You become humble enough to ask and accept help from others. You are suddenly changed.


Day 4. All Good Things Must Come to an End

I enjoyed every bits of my stay in CDO and Camiguin - from the new friends I met to the places I've been. Shoutout to Maine's family for being such great great great great people! Thank you so much for adopting me.

CDO and Camiguin are adventure-filled destinations! I will definitely go back to visit the mountains, dive spots, and the other places next time!

Padayon,
Arlet

PS.

Bisaya man na ko! Been trying hard to communicate with the locals using Bisaya, but all I've managed to do is embarrass myself. HAHAHA

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.


Arlet

PS

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

CORONspiracy.


"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!
Arlet


Expenses
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

Summit - Mt Binacayan | (c) Jirah

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.

Edit as of Jan 9, 2016

Went back here to do Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi dayhike. There's a junction between each other which is also a resting area for the hikers. Served as my first climb for "Oplan Balik Loob sa Kabundukan 2016" since Binacayan has been my last climb -more than half a year already! My lifestyle has been sedentary and I've managed to neglect my general well being on the last months of 2015. Anywaaaayy.... back to Pami-Banoi

Lots of hikers now in this area. Rock formations still as mesmerizing (and sharp) as ever. Scenic views all around. Pami cave still closed. Wawa river now clear (yay no rain!)

Mt Pamitinan Summit

Mt Hapunang Banoi

Mt Pamitinan

See you around!
Arlet

Expenses & Getting There 

Update as of Jan 9, 2016 - There will be fixed fees starting Feb 2016 and guide fee will be min of P500 for one mountain. If doing twin hikes, trilogy, penta - discuss the rate with the guide first to manage expectations :)

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.
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.

Arlet

P.S.
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!
Arlet

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.


Arlet
 

May 16, 2015

When The Truth Didn't Matter


Deep regret and guilt.

That was how I felt after seeing Emil and the other teams at the door. I just finished talking to management about the problems with Emil's team. The things I said were true, but I spoke bluntly and heartlessly- thinking that we were alone, only to find Emil and the others within hearing distance outside.

"Tell the truth, but be kind about it - especially when it's hard to hear." 

I've humiliated Emil by speaking ill of him "in front of" the other teams, and without giving him a chance to explain himself. I was such an asshole that night. And to be honest, I really don't know what to do about it...

Remember this, Arlet. And don't be such a jerk next time. Always speak as if the world is listening.

May 3, 2015

In Case of Fire

For less than a month, we've experienced 2 occasions of fire in the neighborhood. And on both occasions our family got very stressed - especially my mom. Firetrucks couldn't enter our streets because (1) firetrucks were too big, and (2) there were parked cars with no owners around. Some of our neighbors' home were also built with light materials that can easily carry fire. That said, I'm putting this out to (1) organize my thoughts on what just happened, and (2) serve as a reminder for everyone that accidents can happen - and planning beforehand can keep us in check and more prepared for such occurrence.

Assignments:

1. Plan two escape routes from each room
2. Plan where to meet outside
3. Save fire department's number
4. Confirm with insurer what will happen if the insurance policy gets burned?
5. Have a fire kit ready (backpack and list of things you need to get and can get in a minute or less ie money, car keys, important documents, computer back up, cash, etc) Include a whistle and flashlight to serve as signal in case you get trapped.
5. Have a fire extinguisher and water hose ready at home and everyone should know  how to use it.

Fire Prevention

1. Keep pets off cooking surfaces to avoid spilling/bumping anything
2. Unplug electrical appliances to avoid overheating and sudden explosion
3. Check for faulty wiring and cheap cords that does not follow safety standards.
4. Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
5.  Call the local fire department and request for fire inspection
6. Put smoke alarms in all areas of your home

In Case of Actual Fire

1. Practice low crawling - smoke is dangerous.
2. Stop, drop, and roll in case your clothes get on fire.
3. Never open doors that have warm handle
4. Make sure to know where your pet is and/or have a way of calling him/her

Keep safe.

Arlet

April 12, 2015

The Weekend Warrior (Mt Gulugod Baboy)

I. Predicaments

A few days ago, I attended a meet up among travelers. The idea of leaving the corporate world to pursue a life of travel and backpacking was always brought up. While everyone was excitedly exchanging thoughts, I just heard my brain whisper, "Yeah, that was exactly how I felt before"

WAS.
BEFORE.

I couldn't believe myself. What have I become? I guess it could best be summarized by my post last March:

 

For the past weeks, I've been observing myself turn down all sorts of invites - mural painting, clean up hike, volunteering, camping, tour guiding, coffee, roadtrips, etc. (activities that usually delight me.) I felt no need to go out as much anymore, until I met a certain person in the backpackers meet up - someone I don't exactly know but have once bumped into. And without knowing it, made an impact to her life. She asked, in her most decisive way, if she could travel alone and see the world. 

I say, you go girl! You don't need any permission from anyone to see the world with your own eyes and feet."

Just a few minutes after, I saw another friend whom I met in a black market among artists. She was undergoing some kind of predicament herself. We all got to talk with each other and it was then decided that we'll hike together and prove whatever we have to prove. My declining streak was broken just like that. I remembered The Fraternity of Strangers, and the reason I enjoy traveling so much.

II. The Mountain Effect


We got to the peak after a little over an hour. It was supposed to be an easy climb, but I felt like passing out just before the peak so I asked for a break. It turned out that I was very low on sugar and carbohydrates - I was starving. I forgot that I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. I was so embarrassed of my poor judgment and carelessness. 

Boa constrictor digesting an elephant aka Sombrero island :)

The trail from Philpan was straightforward and easy to follow even without a guide. It's a combination of a steep uphill concrete pavement and rolling hills. It was challenging for my calves at first, but got used to the trail after a while. 

Kinto! Goku's flying cloud

Since we were the first to make it to summit, we had a lot of time to goof around and be candid about our circumstances - work, hobbies, and interests. We have different personalities, background, and view on things, but we share the same love for outdoors. That common preference made it easy for us to listen and try to understand each other. I couldn't believe at the depth of our conversations considering that we haven't known each other for a long time. The mountain is really good in stripping people off of their pretenses! It's the mountain effect!

After the trek, we went to Philpan Dive Resort for lunch and snorkeling. 

I figured that I'm giving my current lifestyle a chance. For now I'm contented with being just a weekend warrior. Heck I think I can even last a quarter without travel now. Nonetheless, the universe will always pull me back in, and when the universe calls, I'll gladly listen. 

The Weekend Warrior

See you around!
Arlet

Expenses as of April, 2015

1. Bus from Manila to Grand Terminal, Batangas and vv- 300php
2. Jeep to Anilao and vv - 70php
3. Tryk to Philpan and vv - 60php
4. Philpan Dive Resort Entrance fee - 60php
5. Philpan Dive Resort Cottage - 150php from 300php  - we asked for a 50% discount because there was no one around anyway