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THE SOPHOMORE SLUMP RECOMMENDS:

Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – Packed with bits of  sentiments and details both in words and in visuals, this novel earns one of the best child narrators I’ve ever read.
In Rainbow by Radiohead – Music that takes you in a trance and lyrics that will rip your hearts apart. Seriously, Radiohead albums should have a forewarning: Do not listen when depressed… or driving on the road at night.
Almost Famous – Very interesting that this, well, very interesting life journey is loosely based on the director’s (Cameron Crowe) teenage years. One of the top music-related movies to date.

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I was tagged by Rommel of The Sophomore Slump  to list the 5 places I’d like to go back to. I am listing just that. Not exactly the best destinations, but 5 places that I’ve been to and wish to go back to. To wander once more. To explore more and hit the areas I wish I knew then. Places I wish I had more time to be in. Trips where I wish I used my times there better. Places I’ve been dreaming about of returning. 5 places I wouldn’t at all mind going for seconds.

SEVILLA, SPAIN

The Alcazar alone is enough reason to go back Seville. The Cathedral, La Giralda, the palace, the watchtower “Torre de Oro”, the bullring, all in walking distance are icing on the cake. I will never forget the time when I just walked in the neighborhood by myself very early in the morning. For no apparent reason other than just wandering around and soaking in the moment.

CAPRI, ITALY

Not that I didn’t have a great experience on our trip here per se. I did. It was adventurous actually. We explore a secret excursion that not many tourists know about. I just wish I knew how awesome the grotto really is. When I was here, I was with two friends who didn’t want to spend money to go on the boat that takes people to the Blue Grotto. Not only that, our time was not on our side either. I wish I was more pushy. :D I wish to go back here for the Blue Grotto. Then have more to see its pristine water, the picturesque houses, the boats, and the overlooking view once again.

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OKINAWA, JAPAN

I was excited to go to Japan for its unique culture. Although separated from the mainland, I’d still definitely go back to Okinawa, Japan to immerse once more of the culture, visit the amazing places, witness the awesome events and meet the people again and again. I wouldn’t even mind having the same experiences all over. ;) Okinawa provided me so many “first” travel experiences.

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BOHOL, PHILIPPINES

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There is just so much things to see and do in Bohol. So many of it so define the culture and beauty of the Philippines. I highly suggest the water tours which include dolphin watching, snorkelling, and the most beautiful spots ever, Virgin Island.

PARIS, FRANCE

It is loved by many for good reasons. I got lost here from wandering around too much. :) Paris is Paris. I blame it solely on Paris.

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FEATURED BLOGS

Holistic Wayfarer: A Holistic JourneyConfessions: Mismatching Socks and My Deepest Longing – Just one of the most honest, eloquent, best written blog pieces I’ve ever read.

 

Bohol, Philippines

Our city tour of Bohol was kind of like a tuck and roll act. YES, just like what robbers do – quickly get out of the car while donning their hoods (without tripping), purposely do their clockwork mission, hop back to the car and put the pedal to the metal while constantly looking back to see if they’re being followed. NO! Me and my girlfriend, Edith, didn’t performed such Bonnie & Clyde acts, but the kind of traveling we did was not the most ethical. We would pull over, wander around, take pictures and return back to the car, ready to roll again to the next.

It’s just that there’s plenty of destination stops that we, I mostly, didn’t want to miss. I would talk to our driver in trying to pursue on hitting the best that we can cover. We, I mostly, were overtly demanding especially we added the zip-lining to our tour. You can read my Edith’s side of story on how she conquered her fear of heights … here.

We zipped by a rope above Loboc River. We also ate our late lunch on a Floating Restaurant navigating through that river.

The Floating Restaurant took a stop…

…to watch a traditional folk dance called “Kuradang”. It started with a welcome greeting of a children choir. Then it continued with pairs of male and female, portraying courtship and wedding through this interpretive dance. It ended with an altogether ensemble Thank You finish.

I really like this part of the tour. They also performed the Philippine national dance called “Tinikling”, an acrobatic dance of skipping between two bamboo sticks.

The first picture above is Chocolate Hills. It makes a visit to Bohol, Philippine an automatic MUST. Together with tarsiers, both signifies Philippine tourism so much. Tarsiers are small animals with big eyes. Philippine Tarsier Foundation saves their dropping population as they can only be found in four Southern Eastern countries.

I can tell my girlfriend particularly liked the Butterfly Garden and the Bee Farm.

I suggest trying the BUZZZ Ice Cream. *grin*

You see that’s a lot of activities, sights and senses to do in a day. We started early in the morning …

…and finished at night.

This is our Day 2. Our Day 1 includes a church, exotic animals, a beach and an underground cave. Our third day is a Sea Tour in Balicasag Island, Dolphin Watching and Virgin Island. Hope you can understand now how we did it the tuck and roll style. It’s not like we didn’t stop and smelled the flowers. The picture below is a man-made forest.

With me, I have no problem with the exhaustion. My girlfriend, Edith, she surprised me in dealing with me, for enduring her challenge of going through her ziplining adventure, and catching up with the speed of travel engine I’m always prepared for. I extra love her for it.

Last Calls…

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FEATURED BLOG

I’ve only been following this blog for about a month. I just can’t resist. It isn’t just because we have a lot of common, esp. Italy. A post after another, I get more and more impressed with her travel destination posts. Do check her Italy posts, her 7 Super Shots entry,  and her submission to Travel Challenge: Leading Lines. A visit to her blog is A Day in Paradise.

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I feel the need to squeeze these …our food.

By the way, I want to thank all who viewed my post on Balicasag Island, that post has never left my Top Posts.

This post is part of Flashback Friday.

VIGAN (part deux)

Authentic, it’s the perfect word to describe Vigan. It’s almost automatic to call as such for what it sets out to be. But not so fast, if or when you get there, you’ll be amazed on how Vigan stretches that perfect description.

Evidences of the colonial times still exist and modernism hasn’t spread all over the place. Calle Crisologo is the main attraction. It’s a famous cobblestone street lined with antique and souvenir shops where people can walk through history with the old and in disrepair houses. Boarding on a carriage, as one of the many stops, me and my girlfriend, Edith, toured Former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino’s old Syquia mansion.

Vigan is genuine and true to its root. One major influence from the Spanish colonization is Catholicism. Certainly committed in keeping history and traditions, Vigan lives up to that area of expectation as well.

Our last stop was St. Augustine’s Cathedral. The views here are not only incredible from the outside but also from the inside looking out. We climbed atop the belfry and got rewarded with the bird’s eye view of the town.


Pottery industry still runs as good business. You can ask the carriage driver to make a quick stop to a pottery market. Maybe you can buy one like I did. Livelihood in Vigan sure is basic. You don’t have to physical see the authenticity of Vigan, you can just feel it from the atmosphere and from people. Life is simple there, and it’s highly visible. The garden part of the tour was an off-set for anything Vigan, but a pleasant stop nonetheless.

Authenticity is written all over Vigan’s restaurant’s menus, its antique looks and their bucolic way of living. Vigan and the rest of Ilocos region has their own culinary style and tastes. They pride for their distinctive quality of food. Vigan’s one of a kind empanda is my most craved food of all my travels. See my post here. Also, don’t miss going to Baluarte where the zoo offers plenty of animal interactions unlike others. Vigan remains pure and unerring. The Baluarte Zoo is not abused and rules are highly respected by its visitors.

Plaza Burgos

Tourism certainly has not been swayed and exploited by too much commercialism. It is untouched by corporate world, not congested with big companies and no big cheese walking around. I hope that, like their ancient houses, everything stays as it is. It’d be nice to know for Vigan to remain… with valued, and appreciated well-kept authenticity.

– A fellow blogger, who I met before, recommended Grandpa’s Inn. We certainly enjoyed our accomodation. –

This post is part of Flashback Friday.

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FEATURED BLOG

Here’s to a very memorable blog post I know. Also a flashback post, Photo Flashback, this time last year, Kate presented these remarkably fine portraits of a Brazilian family she visited living simply and peacefully in a rural location. Kate Anthony Photography may not blog as much as everyone else. But when she does, rest assured that her blog posts and her impressive images are done with sheer brilliance and excellence.
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Last Calls…

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SUNDAY POST: Reflection and Peace in Nature, or Caramoan, Philippines

RELATED POSTS:

It’s more fun in the Philippines (part deux)
OF Carabao and Caramoan
Flashback Friday: Sabang Port
Weekly Photo Challenge: SUN

Reflection. It’s always good to reflect, to contemplate, or to mull things over. When your world is revolving so fast and you’re overwhelmed, when it drops a bomb on you and you have to react, or when it presents all its magnificent nature in front of you and you found yourself so blessed. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to pause and not jump immediately to the situation, and take a moment of reflection, compose yourself and sigh to what life hands to you, good or bad.

It’s a universal feeling- returning back from a vacation of a lifetime and couldn’t return back to reality. It’s hard to wake up, especially with the annoying alarm clock. It’s hard to stand up, drag your feet, and face your responsibilities. To sit and ponder, to find your peace, when nature is staring back at you, is a beautiful thing to do. The world is vast and wonderful, but it is also cruel and unforgiving. It is unstable, and that you need to locate your balance to everything. That, in every greatness, every grandeur, every splendour and all things glory and holy, it can be deathly. While its best to have moments of reflections, you also need to snap out of it for it can eat you alive and then swallow you whole. Too much reflection can bring you down, and pondering too deep can lead to procrastination. I know it’s a difficult thing to do but you need to stand up and shake that feeling.

Survivor Caramoan premieres this Wednesday, on September 19. I do wish and plead for you to see it even just the very first few scenes where they usually show the beauty of the location they are in. I’m just proud of my motherland. I’m glad that I’ve been to Caramoan. And that, I would want you to see what Philippines has to offer despite many setbacks.

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Philippines?

Featured Blog

Capture the Colours and let Lance Romel be your guide to some of the most beautiful locations in the Philippines. Take a tour to Zamboanga, Bohol, Tagaytay and more. Clicking on his blog, it doesn’t take a second for you to realize how captivating, arresting and impressive his photos are.

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Last Call:

I didn’t have much more to say about our trip to Caramoan than what I already narrate to my related posts. But I knew, even way back then, that I still old some pictures that I’ve been dying to share. To stop me from thinking too much, and to just let it out, I decided to segue it to Jake Printer’s Sunday Post. Thank you Jake for the save. Here’s the link to participate to his photo challenge.

This post is also a part of Flashback Friday. *sticks tongue out*

Americans Singing in Tagalog

My sophomore blog right now contains images of my own. My old blog, circa 2008, was combined with other web finds. I just thought I’d resurrect a sample of my old blog …

A video collection of Americans singing in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.

First off is Tara Lynn, a member of Peace Corps, who took a liking to a song by Yeng Constantino.

Most of the videos here are taken from circa 2008. Since then, she has learned a lot of Tagalog words and already performed in front of a crowd in the Philippines. She has also successfully encouraged her friend to sing Tagalog songs with her.

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The next one is arguably the most famed foreign musician singing in a different language. AkosiChrisTV made his own youtube page of his recordings. Like Tara Lynn, he has been featured to a lot of TV sightings in the Philippines.

His slogan: “It’s OPM with an American twist, I call it jOePM.” His recordings has been digitally available since April this year. He also have visited the Philippines a number of times before and after Filipino recognition. Throughout the existence of his Youtube page, he has gained over 5,000 subscribers and 1.5 mil views. He now has an album and has been a favorite guest player of Filipino bands in the Philippines.

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Isiak Holiday Jr. has performed to a popular noontime show in the Philippines. Here he is and his piano playing a song from a Filipino star veteran, Gary Valenciano.

He succeeded on his goal to perfect pronunciation of Tagalog words he uses in the songs he sings. He also have recorded this song producing physical and digital copies.

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There have been many foreigners who followed suit in pursuing of singing in the native language of the Philippines. Again dates back in 2008, this last one has also been featured to small TV news segments. Not as popular, but one I really love plainly because he’s covering an all-time favorite song of mine, “Buloy”.

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Singing a song not of our own tongue is something most people won’t even dare try, even speaking it is a challenge. For us Filipinos, we can’t help but smile to the amusing attempts and accents that are squeaking by their lines. What really admires us in is their extensive appreciation to our language and their passion to Original Pinoy Music.

Flashback Friday: Sabang Port in Caramoan, Philippines

So, what is everyone’s worst transportation experience while traveling?

I had my fair share of grueling travel experiences during transport.

Sabang Port definitely came as a surprise, and is quite unusual. From starting point in Manila, we encountered a test on endurance of boarding a 9-hour bus drive to Naga. Finding a comfortable sitting (sleeping) positions was a quite a challenge. Straight after was another hour minivan drive of cramped space.

As soon as we pull a stop in Guijalo Port, BAM! the commotion began. A group of men were running and hustling each other in pursuit to offer service of carrying the bags of passengers. We chose to carry our luggage ourselves. It was a short and easy drag. It was puzzling why these men were so eager to offer assistance.

And so we hit the sands of Guijalo Port, which is nothing like a port but a shore with a small beach hut for all the transactions. I took the first picture …

The view was massaging my aching back, neck and shoulders from the trip.

We had to wait long for the motorboats to get to our side of the shore. Actually, quite very long given our limited time in Caramoan. We had to board on the second arrival.

Nothing left to do but take pictures.


And so, our boat arrived. This is the point where the servicing men came into play. They went on again into dealing with the passengers to carry our luggage. The idea is, in order to ensure seating, the bags are used as a way to save the seats. A seat with a bag means that seat is marked seat-checked. Also, carrying the bags overhead is part of the offer…

We finally gave in, handing a tip to one of them.

They also have these men with their hands on this platform that is used to transport passenger from the shore to the boat. They use it in order for the passengers not to get their feet wet. Portion of the transportation fee goes to them.

If you plan to go to Caramoan, or any similar islands in the Philippines, be sure to be ready to cough off some extra, questionable and out-of-nowhere bills.

We finally boarded …

Following to the other side, we gingerly went up the port as it was slippery. There was actually a tripping accident. After that, we met our guide and boarded a tricycle. Again paying a fee before entering the island.

Was this trip worth the visit to Caramoan?

I’ll let the Last Calls answer that…

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My sisters, Analyn and Maricar.

Caramoan is the next destination of the realty show Survivor.
More on my post about Caramoan: It’s more fun in the Philippines (part deux)

Sabang Port is not my worst nor the most grueling. It’s so different, so something else, that I find it to be exciting, interesting and a kind of transportation to remember.

My two worsts are the slippery roads due to snow in our way to Jose Rizal’s statue in Germany, and the one in Rocarasso in Italy where we had frequent stops to fix our tire chains and refilling anti-freeze.

Actually, journey of bumpy rides, winding roads, gruelling drives, long bus drives, uncommon forms of transportation, small mishaps, and problems on the road contribute to the travel making it more memorable, adding something to take about, and turns misadventures into adventures. Just please, no traffic.

BLUE & Hands: Snorkelling in Balicasag Island

BLUE:

I can’t seem to figure out the highlight of our tours in Bohol, Philippines. Is it my brave instinct of wrapping myself with a python? Ziplining? The Floating Restaurant? We get to see the famous Chocolate Hills and the highly-protected tarsiers. Is it dolphin watching on our way to Balicasag Island? 

Or, is it snorkelling there? The incredibly beautiful beach view of Virgin Island can easily be the highlight. Balicasag is more or less 20-min boat ride away from it.

We hopped out of our boat full of great excitement, but with empty stomachs. It’s was so cool that we can select from the morning catch of fresh seafood and have it grilled while we snorkel. We rented the gears and camera cover for underwater picture-taking, wore our life vests, hopped back in to another boat and off we go with even higher expectation.

Sure, it is fascinating to watch marine life from aquarium tanks. However, having the aquatic animals right at the tip of fingers is even more wonderful, and an absolute fun. Darn great time being my first snorkelling experience.

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Hands:

There was no specific highlight. The highlight of the trips is for the personal reason that I shared all these amazing adventures and beautiful travel destinations with the woman I very much love. I know romanticism comes out every time I post about my visit back to my motherland, and granted the kind of relationship that we are in, I can’t help but go back to that fact that I enjoyed it most because of the people close to me.

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We then had another diving experience. This time into a deliciously food. When we headed back to shore, our hot and ready fresh meal was already grilled and served.

   

Overlooking the beautiful water, we let our savage nature show and had the plate a fishbone finish.

Please check out my It’s More Fun in the Philippines blog post for pictures of me underwater, the fishbone finish and dolphin watching.

Last call …

I asked if it’s okay for me to sit in front of the boat going back to our lodging. I was tippy-toeing getting to it, but it’s fun to play navigator for a little bit.

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Going to Cebu?

FEATURED BLOG

Here is Arvee. He posts everything and anything about Cebu including travel spots, events (look for Sinulog Festival), hotels, to-do’s and how-to-go-to’s. A great ambassador of his birthplace, make him your virtual tourist guide of Cebu.

My favorite is his escapade to Santa FE, Bantayan Island.

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Here’s more of the fishes, the snorkel and the island…

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