What Would Gandalf Say?

The trouble with not doing anything is it gives you way too much time to think. Here's the thing, hindi pa nga nakakarecover yung balat ko, nagiisip nanaman ako ng ikaiitim ko. Yes, I am looking forward to another mountain to climb.

Wait, make that two mountains.

Jan and I have been scaling the country's greatest heights and just this year, we've already conquered two (Mount Apo and Mount Pulag). If the incoming climb pushes through, then we would already conquer top 4 of the Philippines' highest mountains. And that's just around 20,000 steps closer to hiking the first 5 of the Philippines' majesties.

This has been my challenge ever since I started climbing way back 2006. I am glad I am finally conquering it one peak at a time. And the best thing is, I am doing it with Jan who has also developed deep love for the mountains.
The enchanting mossy forest of Mount Dulang-dulang. Photo by Andro Molina via Pinoy Mountaineer Facebook page
For the past few months, Jan and I have been training Muay Thai and it has gotten our quads and biceps stronger than it was before which I know would prove beneficial if he messes with me to our hikes. I just learned that a K2D traverse (Kitanglad-Dulangdulang) is going to be tough. If I really want to enjoy this surreal LotR's Mirkwood Forest come to life (even Gandalf would be left speechless), then I must commit to fitness. And that would mean, not being tamad during my training. I must run extra rounds, do extra squats, and leave that extra rice. (I got less than two months to prepare)

Climbing a mountain, no matter how small, is never easy. It will always leave you sore, bruised, wounded, broke, but never broken. Some people will never understand the love I have for mountains and why I keep doing this despite the unfavorable conditions and hiking difficulties I get from it. Heeding the mountain's call has taught me a lot of things and one of them is to live life slowly.

And that's what people are missing. I just wish they would climb at least one. Just one. There's a lot to marvel at when you see the world from the top. There's peace and tranquility that's barely in civilization. There's a lot to be thankful for.  And I guess, that's what would make you a better person. You will learn to thank even the single drop of water, a gasp of thin air, or a small shade from the tree - which is something you would have never done in a city.

Climbing a mountain will make you uncomfortable, lost, and even regretful (ngano bitaw ni-enter). You will be tested to your limits physically, mentally, and emotionally, but when surpassed, will make you appreciative, respectful, practical, humbled, and environmentally responsible. In short, a better version of yourself.

So yeah, get your arse off that chair, work those muscles out, and climb that goddamn mountain.

The Sweet Bacolod Escapade

Our trip to Bacolod has long been planned when Jan and I were invited last February by our Tito Juju to his birthday climb at Kampo Hiyang-hiyang in Talisay, Negros Occidental. Prior to the trip, a Bacolodnon friend tipped us about the places to go and food to eat. He said that Bacolod's specialty are sweets because the people in Bacolod are naturally sweet. And true to his words, I can say everything in Bacolod is indeed sweet... especially the beer.

The beer brewed in Bacolod definitely tastes better than any beer brewed anywhere in the country. But I won't talk about beer here because Bacolod offers more than that.

Calea Pastries and Cake, Bacolod City
Even though I do not have a sweet tooth, I have to try Bacolod's Calea Pastries and Cake. Jan ordered Chocolate Square (upper right), while I ordered Raspberry Cream Cheese (lower right) and it did not disappoint dahil naubos ko! :)

Of Ukulele Nights and Overcoming Stage Frights

I don't have a stage fright.

Or so I thought.

I have been a performer all my life. I grew up doing various performances such as acting, singing (don't get me wrong, I am tone deaf), and dancing for our church. I've done quite a lot of dance number, declamations, extemporaneous and impromptu speeches in high school. I have been part of small-scaled and large plays, and  I was a cheerleader all throughout my college life.

See? It wasn't a big deal to perform something for a large crowd until that one fateful Ukulele Night.

When I heard about the birth of a new ukulele community in Davao, I immediately wanted to be a part of it. You see, I have only learned how to play the uke June this year when the boyfriend gave it as a birthday present after seeing that I seem to have a huge interest on it (actually, nainggit lang talaga ako sa kasama kong nagdala ng uke sa Mount Apo). So for a beginner like me, a ukulele community can help hone a budding talent or boost confidence, like a support group or something.

I have been part of some societies and groups in Davao, and I can say that each time you gather with people of the same interest who share the same passion with you, not only you will gain new friends, but you will also learn something. And I am thankful that Kwatro Kwerdas was born. At least now, playing the uke won't be limited inside the four corners of my bedroom anymore.

I have only heard about Kwatro Kwerdas when a close friend posted about the ukulele night that happened last September 18 at JavaJive.
Photo via JavaJive Philippines
I got upset. Thoughts of envy suddenly loomed over me. Where was I that night? How the hell did I miss it? I will never forgive myself if I missed the second ukulele night.

I Left My Heart in Boracay

If I didn't know better, I would say I was a mermaid, or a starfish, or perhaps a seaweed in my past life. Growing up close to the beach (approx. just ten minutes away from home), I know my heart belongs to the water that I just couldn't say no to the sea even if it almost took my life quite a number of times.

Hence, here's another beach escapade. And this time, it's the famous Boracay baby! :)
Boracay Station 1
We were so fascinated by the finest white sand we've ever set our feet on, we walked the whole stretch of  White Beach path (from Station 1 to Station 3)

Although honestly, having been told a million times that Boracay is too crowded and overdeveloped, I never bothered putting Boracay in my "Places-to-Go" list. But still, we decided to go to Boracay just for the heck of it even if it means enduring a 6-hour ride from Iloilo City.  And I am so glad we did for it did not disappoint.


Funny how I have always thought that Boracay isn't one of the places I am eager to set my foot on. I have heard a million times how overrated, expensive, and overdeveloped it is. But when Jan and I decided to go, I just couldn't contain my excitement!

Maybe Boracay is a whole lot different to the places devoid of the tourist conveniences we've mostly been to and enjoyed. But I won't skip experiencing something so beautiful just because people labeled it as "touristy" or "not worth the hype".

And does it really matter? Honestly, I don't give a shit where our feet would take us.  It's whom I am traveling with that matters the most. It's traveling with Jan that I am most excited with. And I don't care if it would take a 24-hour butt-numbing bus ride, delayed flights, and stranded nights just to chase the sunset with him. I love those moments when we sit back, have our breaths be taken away, gaze far, and talk about our hopes and dreams. Just as long as we're together, then I could not ask for anything more.
I just realized we don't have any bus or airplane selfies, kaya ito na lang. One of our first few travels. December 2013.
Although I wish we were born rich with trust funds and all so we can travel the world and never have to worry about running out of money or Vacation Leave credits. We still have a lot to scratch off our bucket bakit list. We'll go places, do things,  and answer questions like, "Mahirap naman pumunta dyan, bakit yan ang pinili nyo?", "Bakit nyo ginagawa yan?", "Bakit nyo pa sinubukan? Alam nyo nang delikado" (hashtag that #nganonienter). At marami pa kaming sasagutin sa tanong na "bakit", which could only mean marami pa kaming lugar na tutuklasin. 

Counting the days with less than a week left. Damn, this waiting game is killing me! Fast forward to Thursday na please.