Archive for the Travel Category

My Anxiety Attacks These Days

Posted in random, Travel with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by hangingbridge

The year 2010 has been topped of by the Haiti earthquake in January with a magnitude of 7.0 that toppled infrastructures killing hundreds of people.  This month of February, the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Chile also killing hundreds of people but less than that of Haiti.  The day after Chile’s earthquake, we had one up north Luzon at a magnitude of 5 and the next day, another earthquake hit Cagayan of a magnitude of 6.

After Chile’s 8.8 earthquake, authorities warned people of incoming tsunamis that are to hit nearby countries.  Every one was asked to evacuate.  After the tsunamis hitting Phuket Thailand years ago, they were taking this warning very seriously.  I for one, asked my father if we should go to higher ground for awhile since, if you look in the map, our country is very small (in relation to other countries) and a wave could easily wipe us out or so it seems. But there was no tsunami that hit this part of the globe.  Praise God.

Every time I get ready for work and every time I enter our office building, I ask myself if this could be that day that I, myself will experience these earthquakes.  Somehow, in this country, infrastructures cannot be relied on to be built with utmost safety. We have been known for graft and corruption in the government.  And so, people with money could get a building permit even without the qualifications.  They could get occupancy permits they want without their buildings inspected and approved to have the basic standards.  So I don’t trust any buildings here in city.

I’ve been seeing images of a building situated in China that I probably saw in the news which toppled like a domino.  It didn’t crumbled down but the whole thing fell on its side.  I was wondering if the building was just glued to the ground.

I was washing dishes in the pantry a few days back and I felt a slight tremor on the ground.  My heart palpitated and I was ready to run for cover.  We are at the fourth floor and there are 28 floors above us.  I don’t think there’s anywhere to run to unless out of the window.

I’m always hoping that my parents don’t stay too long in the office.  I want them to go somewhere else or stay home.  I’ve been having thoughts that they’d be in the office when the earthquake strikes.  I don’t want that to happen. But I couldn’t push them out of the office doors because of a fear I have.  Sometimes, I forget to pray even though I call out the Lord’s name in my mind during sudden call for help.  And there are times, when I become fatalistic and don’t ask for safety from Him anymore.  But mostly, I do call Him for help in everything – especially the ones that I could not control.

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We’re off to Dos Palmas in Puerto Princesa this month.  I’ve never been to Palawan and after seeing the pictures in the internet about the resort, I encouraged my parents that we take our vacation there.  It was very provincial and seemed quiet.  I was excited a few days ago about our upcoming out-of-town get away.  But recently, I started getting anxious about the place. (I do have a mental problem, don’t I?)

This is where the terrorist group kidnapped vacationers a few years back who kept the victims for more than a year, I think.  And this is where a young actor died of allegedly drug overdose.  The place, I realized, was a source of bad memories for a lot of people already.  And I don’t want that to happen to me or my family.

As I see the pictures in the net, not on their websites but those photos taken by the guests themselves, I’m slightly having second thought.  But it’s too late now because we already paid our reservation of 4 days and 3 nights.

Maybe I could bring a Bible to read for comfort – to start the Holy Week early.

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Paintings Found in Singapore’s Art Museum

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , on January 1, 2010 by hangingbridge

Last two hours before flight PR 504 heading back to Manila, my brother and I were still roaming the streets of Singapore.  We were supposed to go to Sentosa because my brother has never been there.  But it was really warm outside and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to roam the park in that kind of weather.  I tried to look at the city map to see if we could go somewhere else where it will surely be cooler than the outdoors and found the two museums that was just a few blocks from one another.

City Map

Both allowed us to take pictures only if we don’t do flash photography.  I was very happy to save the images of the paintings and the museum itself to share with others.

It was Singapore but the Singapore Art Museum had many Filipino paintings more than others.

Clever Tunnel

Eternal Tunnel of Books.

This was located at the foyer in the 2nd floor of the museum.  A few people really paid attention to this display because it wasn’t impressive enough.  But it was a good thing we were more curious than the rest of them because this was one clever piece.

Eternal Tunnel of Books

You can just take a sit whenever you feel like it (thanks to my brother who took this shot)

My brother took this candid shot of me when I just had to sit down to rest.  There was only a few people seen inside the museum so it was pretty quiet.  My brother and I were the only one making noises and taking pictures.

Singapore Art Museum (SAM)

SAM

The colonial facade of the museum.

I personally thought that they should have Filipiniana facade instead of the colonial white one they had.  There were so many Filipino pieces (along with a few Mexican and Chinese pieces) that I thought it was a Filipino museum.  It’s a good thing Singapore has taken good care of some of our heritage.

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Maid In Bataan by Amorsolo

Maid in Bataan by Fernando Amorsolo.

Enchanted Family Tree

Enchanted Family Tree (??)

One of the dioramas

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One of the disturbing pieces encountered

One of the disturbing pieces I’ve encountered in that museum.

We just had to take a picture of this quote on the wall

We just had to take a picture of this quote on the wall

Self Portrait painted by a Zobel

Listening to Some Age-Old Music

The Linen Room

More Old Music

The Old Cinema Room

This room was covered with red velvet.  It made you feel like you’re in a theater rather than a cinema.  There were three projector screen which was playing one movie in three different angles.  By the way, they were showing a horror flick.  It wouldn’t be very comfortable if you were alone in this room.  Besides the horror flick, the room was relatively dark except for the red orange glow.

Going down a wheelchair-friendly slope

Your own personal tour guide

Before entering the Singapore’s Living History (portion of the) Museum, they give this big iPod-like gadget with a set of headphones to hang around your neck.  Each room of the museum has a certain number on the floor in which visitors will punch in this gadget and voila, you hear your own tour guide.

It wasn't the Smithsonian but it wasn't bad at all.

It was no Smithsonian but it wasn’t bad at all.

Pacquiao KOs Cotto

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by hangingbridge

The Top Rank boxing game happened today November 15, 2009 (and November 14, 2009 in the States).  This is the first time I was going to watch a Pacquiao fight after all these years he was building his reputation.  But now that he was making history, I’m not going to let it pass.  Besides, we’d like to make most of my grandfather’s visit here in Manila to be the best quality time he could get out of us.  Every weekend, there should be an activity for Tatay (grampa).

Araneta Coliseum at 9am

The time indicated in our tickets was 8am and a few minutes after 8am.  We were wrong to think that we are just a few minutes late because we were almost 4 hours early for the Pacquiao game.  We knew we were too early when the MGM Garden Stadium was almost empty while Filipino boxer Evan S. won an undercard fight.

After an hour finishing of our Taco Bell nachos per Tatay’s request to have something to munch on, the three supporting fights were about to start.  I was computing the minutes or hours left for us to wait before the actual fight.  Since there were 3 minutes in every round x 12/10 rounds x 3 fights, we have to endure another 2 hours before the main event.

First fight was between Gomez and Korass.  There was an accidental bump on the head between the two which produced a gushing open wound on the lateral aspect of the right eyelid of Gomez, hence, he was looking like he just came from a murder spree with his face bloody and all.  The wound was just a one cm longitudinal laceration (from Korass spiky hair, probably) but it was producing a lot of blood.  Too bad, he was already doing very well in the first 2 or 3 rounds.  And in the next three rounds, his vision was slightly hindered by the bloody wound.  And the fight was getting messier literally.  Gloves of Korass was probably bloody as well every time he hits Gomez on the right side of the face.

Orange-Black Korass hit below Gomez’s yellow-black belt twice, I think, during the 6-round fight.  Gomez won the fight by technical occasion.

Foreman KOs Santos

And now, there’s Yuri Foreman from Israel and Daniel Santos from Puerto Rico.  I was rooting for Santos since I preferred his skin color.  Excuse my reason.  It’s just because I have this thinking about bronze-skinned people that they are the tougher ones.  But I proved that theory wrong after the 12 rounds of Foreman running around the ring away from Santos to maintain his stats.  Ulk!  He was no fighter.  He was all footwork and no punches.

Oh, I forgot that Foreman threw a punch at Santos to throw him off balance.  But it was behind his head (or ear) and came unexpectedly because I gather it wasn’t allowed to hit the back of your opponent.

To my dismay, Foreman lays a knockout punch on Santos’ face twice on the 4th and once on the 5th round.  And he gets more from Foreman.  On the 6th round, he gets 3 knockout punches from the Israelite.

On the 11th round, Yuri was running around like a headless chicken and Santos was getting frustrated wanting to throw his own KO punch at Yuri.  But since Yuri wanted to maintain his stats as best as he could, he wouldn’t go near Santos until the end of 12th round.  Lucky bastard!  Heheh!

Yuri wins by a unanimous decision as the new featherweight champion of the world.

When the 3rd supporting fight between Chavez and someone (forgot the name), I opted to go out and have my bathroom break.  It has been almost two hours and my buttocks was aching from all the seating we were doing.  We were supposed to buy Choco Banana Energy drink from a nearby fruit stand but they had no stocks left for the banana drink.  We decided to go down to Starbucks to get our first Christmas drink of the year.

We were back just in time to see Chavez win.  I cannot give details of the fight since I was busy waiting for our coffee.

It was the ladies who sang the national anthems.  The LaDivas (first time I’ve seen and heard them) sang the Philippine National Anthem.  A lady gloriously sang the Puero Rican’s national anthem as well.  And former American Idol contestant, Ramielle, sang the US anthem.  Ramielle is also Filipino by blood.

La Divas Behind Buffer Just Before Singing The Philippine National Anthem

Personally, I thought the VTR for Pacquiao was perfect.  It made him look the tough fighter that he was.  It was ruined though, by the big smile on his face as he was entering the arena.  Cotto was not smiling in contrast to the playful face and aura (if I could actually see an aura) that Pacman was exuding to everyone.  (I only saw Cotto trying to smile through the awful pain of his facial wounds and traumas when he was congratulating Pacquiao after the fight.)

I’m not sure if I could do justice on how well Pacman played in his 7th winning fight.  But I sure could try.

I tried to remember this set of numbers: 2, 4, 9 and 12.  These were the rounds Pacquiao threw those KO punches of his and these were the rounds when he got Cotto cornered or against the rope.

I tried not to get nervous when Pacquiao gets hit or somehow trapped against the rope.  Excuse my ignorance on Pacman’s abilities but this is the first fight that I watched so I don’t really have any idea on how good he is inside the ring.

During the first two rounds, Pacman was welcoming any punch coming from Cotto in order to know how powerful and how damaging the punches would be.  He took punches in the face, jaw, abs and more.

I cringed when Pacquiao received a horrible punch from below when Cotto was able to go through his forearm wall or whatever the professionals call it.  Also, Cotto gave a number of KO punches of his own towards Pacman’s way. Cotto was a suitable match.  If he wasn’t then he wouldn’t have lasted until the 12th round when his team was ready to throw the towel into Pacquiao’s 7th victory.

I do have to be fair to the Puerto Rican though.  He has given Pacquiao a good fight.  He wasn’t like that of Hatton who didn’t bother to train hard for his fight against Pacuiao.  I think Cotto didn’t underestimate Pacman’s ability unlike what Hatton did.  I could have probably loved this game better than his previous fight.  Cotto brought out the punches in Pacquiao so that everyone is reminded how powerful those fists are.

While watching Pacman’s fight today, I kind of derived a couple of principles that he applies to win.

1. Never throw the first punch.

2. Take each opening as an opportunity to throw your own punches.

3.  Don’t get caught on the edge of the ring (or a dead end for that matter) where you cannot create a distance from your opponents’ punches.

4.  Act fast.

5. Before you engage in a fight, have a plan and at best, a good strategy.

6. A good training can get you through any battle.

Well, I’m just turning something I saw from the fight to something philosophical and some truths in our lives.  Pacquiao has been looked up to in terms of success, courage and discipline.  There is so much to learn from him in how he harnessed his skill.  And despite all of the seriousness of his devotion to his work, he never forgets to smile.

It doesn’t matter if he’s still fighting for his country or solely for himself.  As long as he gives Filipinos a good name, that’s what I only care about.  It doesn’t even matter to me if he loses his fights.  As long as he remains as a good citizen of this country, he lessens the numerous problems of this country.

Today was just all in a day’s work in the life of Pacquiao.

Weekend Getaway

Posted in family, Travel with tags , , on November 2, 2009 by hangingbridge

We packed our bags to go to Tagaytay last October 25, 2009.  There was nothing in the itinerary when we got there so there was really nothing to do but breathe in the fresh air.  Not so much smog that weekend because only few were going up to Tagaytay since it was not the usual (Philippine) “long weekend”.

Waiting for our room in the lobby

Waiting for our room in the lobby

Oh but wait.  There was something to do.  My sister and her hubby, my brother and I had something to do that night.  We scheduled our usual Warm Herbal Oil Massage at the Ylang Ylang spa.  It is my ultimate favorite massage.  I slept through the massage and only woke up for the turning and repositioning.  It was an absolute treat!

Checking In

Checking In Our Room

We were displaced to another room with a bigger bed.  A blessing in disguise.  One of the rooms assigned to us had a terrible view.   And so we requested for another room.  And they gave us a room with a bigger bed… just what we need.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Waiting for our orders in the lobby restaurant.

There was a 3-man band playing old and new songs.  They had violin, cello (my favorite) and guitar as instruments.  Enjoyed the dinner especially my curry meal.

My Nephew and Yaya Lucy

Gabino and Yaya Lucy

Sooo Kulit

Sooo Kulit

Gabino and Yaya Lucy

Gabino And Yaya Lucy

Lost to the Care of Strangers

Posted in family, Travel with tags , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by hangingbridge

Last night, I resolved not to join my parents’ trip to Montalban with their friends.  I wanted the whole day to myself.  It was the last day of a long weekend and I haven’t had “me” time yet.  I even canceled my dermatologist appointment (taray!).

But then I woke up early even before the intercom rang.  It was mommy asking me to hurry up and get ready.  And so I did.

Before getting on the van, I was asked to get a couple of clothes to give away – ones that I don’t need and wear anymore.  And so I got more than a couple of them.

We drove off to Montalban to meet the rest of their friends along with their own families.  There were five families all in all.  We drove further along the tree-lined, rocky-muddy road of Montalban Rizal (passing through Payatas) until we reached the gated compound of Cottolengo.

As we entered the Refectory a.k.a dining hall, I noted to my dismay that they were all boys.  I thought of the clothes I brought for them.  I should have given it to our maid’s daughter instead.

I also noted that they were all mentally challenged.  Most of them had mongoloid facial features.  There was this one kid named Ken who was running around and trying to get the attention of the visitors.  He even climbed on me and another visitor.  The kid took me by surprise since I was there for a couple of minutes trying to locate myself in the room and looking where everyone was.  Well, the kid wasn’t that heavy anyway even if he was about eight years old.  After that, he decided he wanted to climb another one of us.

It was time for their lunch.  Their head therapist told them to go to the corner where there were two sinks in which they could wash their hands.  The children fell in line and walked towards it.  They didn’t have effective washing technique but still very impressive.  How many children wash their hands before eating?  And how many actually follow what the elders tell them to do?

We served them their meal – chicken and spaghetti.  The occupational therapists, mostly volunteers, started to cut the chicken into smaller pieces.  And so I followed suit.  They told me that this must be done because most of the kids haven’t learned to chew their food yet.  And so I tried to cut the white chicken meat as small as I could.  Also, I tried to smash the hotdog bits so that it would be easier to swallow.  I was then told that I don’t need to overdo it.

Lunch Time for the Kids

Lunch Time for the Kids

Another difficulty for most of them is hand control.  They have difficulty holding a spoon or fork.  Some have upper limb spasticity including to the distal parts of it.  One kid even had underdeveloped digits and he is completely dependent with feeding.

Hand-mouth coordination poses another problem for some.  And so they were making a mess on their faces.  The tomato sauce around their mouths makes them resemble babies.

Even though they weren’t the usual cute and cuddly children, some may even say they look a bit scary for some people, they truly are the innocent souls on earth.  They want nothing from other people.  They have no evil intentions even if they accidentally hurt you in some way or another.

We were chatting with the priest who was also our host.  He was not a Filipino citizen yet he was there caring more than most of us would for the abandoned Filipino children.

He was telling us that most of the children came to the center with no name at all so they made up their names according to their history.  One kid had a surname of Plaza since he was found abandoned in Plaza Miranda.

After their lunch, they headed to their dorm rooms to have their siesta.  We were then left with our priest host to show us around the compound.  There were learning centers, activity or play area and rehabilitation centers for physical therapy sessions.  It was a well-equipped place if you ask me.  They have everything a special child needs.

We visited some of their dorm rooms where the children were getting ready for their siestas.  There was this two-year old kid who was suffering from hydrocephalus and a slight sunset eye look who caught my attention.  I thought he was really adorable.  I thought the nurse placed a little too much of the baby powder because he was somewhat “powdery” all over.  He was lying there in his little bed unmoving.  I thought it was best to stroke him so that he would elicit a little movement hoping that he would stretch a bit.  But he didn’t.  Both his upper and lower limbs were bent.  I tried to play high five with him and trying to wiggle my hand in front of him hoping that he would reach for it.  But he didn’t.  The priest approached his bed and so did everyone else and told everyone that he was also blind.  Goodness me.  I was a bit affected and started to choke back the pity tears.  I couldn’t join the tour for a bit longer and was trying now to go back to the dining room where the tissue papers were.

Even though I pity these children with all the incapacity they have to handle and overcome, I have to remind myself that they are very fortunate that they were found by those who were caring enough to bring them into that haven.  They had more than what other people have outside that compound.  They have people taking care of them.  They have each other to watch out for.  They can form their purpose in life within the gates of Cottolengo.

Another Awakening Day

Another Awakening Day

Getting Ready for Trip to The South

Posted in Travel with tags , , on July 31, 2009 by hangingbridge

I’m leaving for Bicol tomorrow at 3am for a one day, one night stay in my grandparents home.  It’s 11pm and I’m not planning to sleep.  Not yet ready to relinquish my internet connection for the next four hours before I leave for the province.

I’m going to make a list here of things to pack (for reference just in case, I forget something):

  • 2 shirts
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 traveling pants
  • face powder
  • hair brush
  • 4 undies
  • pads
  • hand soap
  • toothbrush
  • Oracare (mouthwash)
  • Ahava (toner)
  • conditioner (1 packet)
  • deodorant
  • cologne
  • camera
  • cellphone
  • iPod (shoot! I forgot to get it from the office.  Big Darn it! It’s going to be a long ride)
  • Book: The Secret Life of Bees
Travelling Pants, Blouse And "Pambahay"

Travelling Pants, Blouse And "Pambahay"

Here’s what I grabbed from my closet.  Loose pants, old plaid blouse which was bought in the surplus shop, house shirt, house shorts.

Abubot: Necessities when I travel

Abubot: Necessities when I travel

Let’s see.  The cellphone is being charged.  Camera is already being used (obviously).  I got the toner, metal kit (tweezer, nailcutter), brush, toner, mouthwash, handsoap, toothbrush, face powder, nivea, lotion, leave-on hair moisturizer, cologne.  Hmm… what else?

Wait, the deodorant is still missing.  Oh, there it is.

The (Battered book of the) Secret Life of Bees

The (Battered book of the) Secret Life of Bees

Hopefully, even without an iPod, the trip won’t be as bad with this book.

Reckless Driving at 10Kph

Posted in Politics, Travel with tags , on July 28, 2009 by hangingbridge

We were driving along Libis hours ago to go to ISCAHM (Culinary school) in Katipunan Ave.  We had to make a U-turn.  Upon seeing the heavy traffic on the other side of the street, we changed our minds and decided to go straight and take another route.

Then one MMDA (traffic officers here in Manila) gestured us to stop.  And so, we did.  We parked our car beside them and rolled down the window.  We asked what was wrong and he told us that we were driving recklessly.

I was the passenger that time but I was the one talking to the traffic officer because I can’t stop myself.  Reckless driving?!   Bf was driving really slow at that time at less than 10Kph.  And we didn’t even change lanes or anything.  We didn’t even cut anyone off in the street.  And so, it puzzled me why we were being charged of reckless driving?

I asked the officer that we were supposed to make a U-turn when we noticed the heavy traffic on the other side.  I asked sarcastically if we didn’t have the RIGHT to change our minds when we are on the road at a time and place when we are not being an inconvenience to other vehicles.

I saw the MMDA that he was holding around 5 or more driver’s license at hand.  And he was telling us that there was a sign that it was a U-Turn lane.  But there was no barricade or sign anywhere to disallow any vehicle to go straight instead of making a turn.  What my bf and I did was turn around in our seats to look for the sign he was talking about.  And it took us around half a minute before we realize there was really no sign at all.

As he realized that I’m constantly challenging his charges on the driver, he said that he would let us go as not to inconvenience us anymore.  I said thank you.  My bf was still going on and on about the inappropriate charges (rolling my eyes then).  I told him let’s go (before the MMDA changes his mind).

Of all the road violations you could do under 10Kph, we were charged reckless driving.