Mental Health Break: A Day at Tagaytay and Nasugbu

It ain’t new that the demands of the work from home setup plus the pressure have caused many of us to experience both physical and emotional exhaustion. Everyone definitely needs time to pause, breathe and take a step back to reflect. Certainly, taking a mental health break is needed for stress relief and burnout prevention.

In support of the De La Salle Lipa Inc. employee wellness, the institution scheduled a week of Mental Health Break. Definitely, this is a great opportunity for the students and Lasallian partners to pause, reset, and come back with greater levels of energy and a fresh, less-stressed perspective indeed.

And as for me and my colleagues, we spend a day of self-care and compassion by taking a trip to Tagaytay and Nasugbu — an opportunity for us to rest our minds from the day-to-day routine of work-related tasks.

Napa Valley feels at Tagaytay Crosswinds. πŸƒ
Ma’am Donna and Ma’am Nelia here with me for today’s blog. πŸ˜‚
NAPA is a new ride destination with great food and great ambiance. Alfresco dining with a nature view. πŸŒ²

The good thing about NAPA at Crosswinds is that they have open seats to accommodate groups of visitors unless it’s peak season. You can choose to sit and chill inside or vice-versa while having to enjoy the California-feels ambiance and sceneries outside. I must say that every corner is Instagrammable and picture-worthy to flood your connections feeds and showcase your OOTD.

It takes us to a different experience with an ambiance captured from a different side of the world. πŸ„
Everyone wants to see this new hip spot, it gets crowded easily, but not in today’s case. 🌫
Bringing to life a beautiful place that will give me fond memories with my closest colleagues. πŸ’—

This cabin-themed look is inspired by rustic houses in Napa Valley, California. It took an hour-drive from Tanauan City to Talisay Sungay Road also dubbed as β€œbituka ng manok” by locals, the very steep road is full of hairpin turns, which can make driving challenging and dangerous to NAPA at Crosswinds Tagaytay.

A new protocol has been mandated to pay a parking fee which costs PHP 100.00 and a PHP 400.00 consumable to any cafΓ© of your choice. Here’s a sample ticket to be bought inside and presented stub upon exit.
This strawberry frappΓ© has been becoming my go-to quencher lately. This costs PHP 250.00 at NAPA.
It’s definitely worth the visit, you’ll lose count of the nice views outside because there are just too many to choose from.
This short trip to NAPA deserves a good groupie shot. πŸ“Έ
Surely, spending time in green spaces or bringing nature can benefit both our mental and physical wellbeing. 🌾

The views and the ambiance here are spectacular, but to tell you honestly, the foods are overpriced and quite underwhelming, tho. But the experience of chillin’ and peace of mind setting it’s the best.

Here, we decided to take our lunch, it’s 26 mins drive from NAPA at Crosswinds.
Just facing Bulalo Point, we bought the best buko pie in Tagaytay. The buko pies are freshly made and always served warm and have the freshest and most tender coconut meat. This costs PHP 325.00. 🌴

It has been quite a good visit to Tagaytay since we’ve been given very good weather to stroll with. A 30-minute drive, we headed to Caleruega Church also known as the Transfiguration Chapel located at Bgry. Caylaway, Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas.

An entrance fee of PHP 30.00 and a PHP 40.00 parking fee are being collected at the entrance.
This church and grounds have a spiritual feel. It looks like an aged edifice from Spanish influence.
Signage to know what other spots inside are to be explored.
Close to Nature, Close to God The fountain compass is the first thing you will see when you arrive at Calereuga.
Here are some plant souvenirs available. They also sell seedlings.🌼🌻
Hanging Bridge heading to the Tent Chapel.
After hundreds of steps, we reached the Tent Chapel.
Here’s a view from the top of the chapel.
Here you can attend mass, meditate, or engage in other religious activities. 

Caleruega has lush surroundings, a perfect place for relaxation and time with friends, colleagues, family, or your special someone. This place provides greenery that will let you reflect on life and refresh your thoughts.

Ma’am Donna still can strut a pose after the long walk and hike. πŸ˜‚
Jed looking tired and so is her mom. But it’s worth it after 2 years of lockdown with no long walks. πŸ˜‚

This week of Mental Health Break is a special gift to oneself to have the time to do self-care, self-improvement, and be engaged in things that will make oneself happy and relaxed.Β  And for us on this trip, it’s definitely worth it that once in a while we take breaks and travel to places we don’t visit often. God is good, all the time!

Even if you don’t have the option to step away from your job, you can still set boundaries that support your mental wellbeing.

Care to share some of your trips away from work or activities during mental health break? Let me know. If you love this blog, pin it!

Puerto Galera Adventures: Sun, Sea, Sand and Fun

Sheesh! It’s May, and it’s summer break for some, including us.

It’s definitely about chasing the sun, white sand, and water, right? So, we planned out our beach getaway. We don’t know yet, how we even choose wherewith so many beautiful summer destinations around.

In the first place, we are craving a comfortable paradise to relax with, and an off-the-beaten-path discovery, and we believe Puerto Galera fits our liking! It is a town on the Philippine island of Mindoro. It’s known for its dive sites and beaches.

Reached Batangas Port at 7:30 AM to catch our Roro going to Puerto Galera.
Tourists and residents are at their peak number since the national election will be in just two days.
From Batangas Port to Puerto Galera, the roundtrip fare for an adult costs Php 685.00 and Php 585.00 for a student.

To avoid getting tickets at the last minute and worst might cause delay, it is important to have advance bookings to avoid long lines and to proceed to the boarding gates in an instant. We were assisted by JACN Puerto Galera Tours to book our trip going to Puerto Galera.

Our Roro Reina Delas Flores waiting for us. πŸš’βš“οΈ
Actually, we’re 13 and here’s the first batch for 8AM float πŸ˜‚
Aaron, Kyle, Paul, Russell, Me, Ric, Claire, AC, Jaryl πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦
Uhm, let me have this moment to stare how blue the sea is. It’s been 2 years, since the last time I went in a ship for a trip. πŸ˜…πŸŒŠ 🌫

Normally, it will take a 2-hour ride on a roro (ship) and a fast craft takes an hour. Since it’s affordable to take the ship, so we did. It’s important to carry water and sweet treats with you when taking a ship because the motion of the wave can make you feel nauseous.

Landed at Port of Puerto Galera just in time, 10 AM. We were welcomed and accompanied by the personnel of the Travel and Tours we booked.
Rode on our service jeepney heading to our hotel. πŸš™πŸ’¨

Authorities require us to present our vaccination card, S-pass and pay the environmental fee amounting to Php 120.00 per head. S-pass was also processed by our travel agency to avoid hassle on documents.

Here’s the Villa Monica Hotel where we stayed for our comfort in Puerto Galera.
We were accommodated in this family room, which has a capacity of 10 persons. πŸ›ŒπŸΌ

Our check-in time is 1PM and the hotel accommodation includes air conditioning plus the fan πŸ˜‚, cable T.V., hot and cold shower, Wi-Fi connection, CCTV, kitchen on the rooftop, bathroom, and towel.

We arrived here, and it’s still not overcrowded since it’s 10:30 AM, besides it’s pretty early for the tourists to roam around on a Friday morning. β˜€οΈ
Fresh Buko Juice to refresh and quench the thirst I’ve been feeling since we arrived. This costs Php 100.00.
Puerto’s hair braiding is popular as it serves as a hair souvenir that you are on an island. Price varies depending on styling, Php 250-300.00.
Claire getting her hair done in pink yarns since she’s a proud kakampink??? πŸŒΈπŸŽ—
Jaryl, one of his hair goals is to get it braided and PG made it happen. πŸ†
There’s also Taho (Filipino Silken Tofu with Sago Pearls and Syrup) which costs Php 30.00 for the smallest size.
It’s almost sunset, and it’s the golden hour. πŸŒ…
This Ice Scramble is quite different from what’s available in my town, it has pearl sinkers in it. It costs Php 30.00 for the smallest size. 🍨
I also get to enjoy playing beach volleyball with random guys in PG. No warm-ups, just dive on the sand. 🏐
Our first group photo by the beach. We’re complete here, catching sunset before diving into the sea. πŸ’¦
Our first dinner in “Foodtrip sa Galera”, each order costs Php 200-250.00, and it’s unli-rice with either chicken, Pork Kebab, Tilapia, Liempo, Squid, and the fruit shake costs Php 100.00. πŸ—πŸ‘πŸ¦‘

That’s a wrap for our first day stay in Puerto Galera before we finally began to explore more of what the island offers for its tourists. We have had ample time to soak into the sea and talk about things that we don’t normally talk about on busy days. We have the time to enjoy the cold water in the sea, vibe with the music, eat dinner, and enjoy the nightlife during happy hours.

Hello Travelers! πŸ‘‹πŸ»
“Enjoy the sea, not the bed” ~ Ma’am Beth
🀍

On Day 2 at Puerto, at 9:45AM we were picked up by our driver to start our activities for the day. Our package tour is an Island tour which costs Php 1,580.00 for 10pax above including the hotel accommodation. The Island tour activities include an underwater cave, giant clams, snorkeling in a coral garden, sandbar, Muelle heritage park, Spanish galleon replica, Canon replica, and Muelle bay (one of the most beautiful bays in the world).

Muelle Bay
Muelle Heritage Park
Spanish Galleon and Canon replica
Muelle Bay
Sandbar β›±πŸ
Jaryl, Me, Aaron, Kyle, King, Maan, Clarence, Cris, Ric, Claire, Paul, AC, Russell

Before we go to water activities, we were reminded of several instructions to mind before diving into the water. There are also aqua shoes being offered, it is a type of footwear that is typically used for activities where the feet are likely to become wet, such as kayaking to prevent abrasions when walking in wet, rocky environments. It costs Php 100.00.

With my co-two-faced Gemini buddy, Ric. β™Š
With the always feeling, Jaryl. πŸ˜‹
With the rumored top-student and fave, Claire. πŸ™„
We went boating as we head to the giant clam and snorkeling. ⛡️
We were amazed by the creatures that we were able to see underwater. It’s my first time, and it’s really admirable. πŸ’¦
In the underwater cave, it’s just the annoying life-vest that makes it very complicated to float. 🀣
At the stop-by mini-shore near the underwater cave. I’m holding here the super pricey-worthy Calamares πŸ¦‘ (breaded fried squid dish) that costs Php 60.00.

The scorching heat of the sun really burned my skin, in spite of having layers of sunscreen. It was pretty late lunch that we finished all the water activities like around 2:30 PM we went back to our hotel to freshen up and change. We were tired and rested, and got asleep till 4PM. We had the chance to explore the place and look for souvenirs and items to bring home to our loved ones.

And oh there’s a cafΓ© here on the island where we could stay that’s cozy if there’s an urgent call for work.
Also, available are souvenir items, the usual clothes, keychains, ref magnets, mugs, tote bags, slippers, and a lot more.

There are far more stores, bars, and food stalls to explore in the place and yet to be experienced once. We enjoyed our second night by watching comedic stunts by the bay, we ate dinner, had happy hours, and rested.

Morning breakfast by the beach. Each meal costs PHP 119.00 with unli-fried rice, and free coffee/iced tea.
Here’s our view while we’re on breakfast.
A legit strawberry milkshake. Super tasty at PHP 170.00 πŸ’―

It’s our last day, we need to check out at 11:30AM and catch the 12:45NN ship back to Batangas port. We only have a few hours left to enjoy the island and take pictures of and with the place.

Here’s a sandcastle photo booth that costs PHP 20.00, not free either, but you can take a shot as many as you like, you just got to beat the heat of the sun. πŸ”…πŸ“Έ
Time to go home now. Thank you, Puerto Galera!
We were casually waiting to be called, and we were just in time to catch our float. πŸ˜† We paid Php 10.00 per head for the terminal fee.

How I wish we could stay a little longer, or a day, perhaps. But we need to get back to our home now to face the responsibilities and get back to our same lives in order for us to get back to places such as this. This trip gave me so many realizations, it’s okay to spoil yourself sometimes, it’s okay to ignore pressure for once, and it’s okay to feel free and happy because we all deserve it. Practically, we are all not blessed to have the financial capability to treat ourselves to a vacation we all are craving but, we have the physical capability and the discipline to work hard for something that we really want.

I’m constantly learning the idea of travel, new friends, and food. I always feel the excitement and fear at the same time, but never the boredom, and I think it’s the most rewarding thing above all. Thank God for guiding us all throughout, and we all went back home safely with fragments of memories we once experienced on this trip. Thank you, Puerto Galera.

β€œIt doesn’t matter where you’re going, it’s who you have beside you.”

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One Fine Day at Matabungkay Beach Resort

It’s Lenten season, and it’s as special as any of the regular holiday seasons, especially for devout Catholics. Including ours, many families prefer going to the beach on Easter Sunday after a week of solemn contemplation on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, this year, we’ve anticipated a getaway, mainly for my Lola and her sisters.

Let me share with you our beach experience through this blog.

I haven’t been to a beach for a while, so as my relatives. After a long while of searching through Facebook travel groups, I chose to book our trip to Matabungkay Beach Resort, located at Brgy. Matabungkay, Lian, Batangas, Philippines.

Because of its proximity to Manila, Matabungkay is still one of the top beach destinations in Batangas among Batanguenos and tourists.

I’m checking Waze from time to time to check how long are we still going to wait before touch down.

At 3AM we headed to our trip and I can’t drive this early, so we rented a Van and a Jeepney where we could also store our goods and bags. We are 30 pax, each vehicle costs 4,500 Php.

I feel well-rested tho, I slept almost 6 hours prior to our onboarding since I’m excited, and I’m in need of much energy, so I won’t be feeling tired soon as we’re there. Most of our passengers in this van are asleep to gain energy for the activities they look forward to at the latter.

Or maybe, I’ll take a nap, a short one also.

After 2 hours of travel, we already did make it to the entrance of the resort, it’s just a bit of traffic we had experienced as we enter because we have to pay the environmental fee which costs 25 Php per head. Oh! The parking fee costs 100 Php per vehicle.

I miss this sight, the horizon that separates the sky and the sea. The calmness that the scenery is channeling caught me. I need to send this to my friends and bae. πŸŒŠπŸ˜‹

The shore was filled with floating cottages (balsa) which makes it overcrowded at first sight. We were able to sail a few distances away from the other rafts, so we have ample space to swim near our cottage. We got this type for 25 pax at 6,500 Php this season. Since we’re 30 pax we were allowed to situate here for the whole day since we’re lightweight.

We’ve already settled and I already dived in. πŸ’¦
Here’s Garcia Brothers with Dad. Insert mom. πŸ§β€β™€οΈ
Garcia cult. We weren’t able to have a whole group picture as others were busy doing water activities. πŸŠπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

WTF! I mean, Where’s The Food? I forgot to snap a shot of our food, maybe because I’m too hungry to take a photo first. We served and ate pancit, spaghetti, puto, sandwich for breakfast, fried chicken, caldereta, fried bangus, and salted egg for lunch, mango, watermelon, singkamas, macaroni and vegetable salad, and chips for snack.

We went boating and snorkeling as a new experience for my dad, ninang, lola and bestie. They seem happy — evident on their faces.
It’s really a struggle for me to find a sunblock. I manage to apply Belo’s tinted sunscreen, retrieved from my old box back in 2020. I think I saved my face so. 😎
The sea is really inviting, but not this one that’s too deep for me. Although I have a life vest, I’m scared of the creatures down there. πŸ€ͺ

Aside from boating and snorkeling which costs 150 Php per head for an hour, there are other activities available like jet skiing, riding on a wagon, banana and dragon boat, and island hopping, the price varies.

Look who’s burnt. Sorry for my happy feet. Since I’m wearing sandals, I’ve had tan lines on my feet.

I’m so worried about the burnt skin that I’ve got, but I realized that it will get back to its color thru time, but the time spent will forever be cherished and the memories of the experience that my family and I had here despite our schedules and whereabouts will be kept. I thank God for the time given and the strength of everyone to be able to be with us here. Also, for the financial capacity. It’s really not a bad idea to treat yourself and the people around you when you are saving. I don’t want to deprive myself of vacation just because I have bills to pay ahead of me. This hard-earned money spent for this getaway is a much deserve one, I must say. I’m just happy that I am able to take my whole family on a trip once in a while, and seeing the smile on their faces is a big win.

We stayed from 6AM-4PM there and at exactly 6PM we were home safe and rested because Monday is already waving. I’m looking forward to our next family getaway. On my 25th Birthday maybe? We’ll see.

Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.

Lovelle Drachman

Care to share your Lenten season stories and escapade? Let me know. ღ

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Begin Again

It was raining hard as you walked into the cafΓ©, you ordered a mocha-flavored drink, the usual chocolate for him. As you wait for it, you hardly stare at him. He waited for you to spit the initial words before the story finally began.

Your eyes were seemingly nervous, but you got through it. It’s the comfort of silence he gave you to sprung words and stitch phrases to share. It wasn’t easy, compared to how you were on the line.

You were like that. He smirked as a signal of happiness that can’t be contained. The atmosphere came alive, like a place in the world that’s beautiful. It’s inside that four walls, it’s in the cafΓ© where you and him, built the connection and hope. From your heart to his, from your look to him, it all begin again.

Memories by Lang Leav

Ta-dah! Here’s to my first ever book review as I have found myself full-book mode in the midst of uncertainties, with all of these happenings in the world, and being entrapped with lots of things in mind.

I never knew who Lang Leav was until my friend introduced me to the words of this novelist & poet. So, I searched all of her masterpiece online, read it and like I swear, her words were so inflicting. It feels like I was the one whose in it. There were too many moments in her collections which I found echoes to and yet to transpire for me.

Memories is a collection of poetry and prose, hand selected from Lang Leav’s two previous books, Love & Misadventure and Lullabies.

What I love about the book is that it has words that are indeed simple, yet so striking, that it could enthrall everyone’s heart. I feel so connected with each of every line.

This book embodied nostalgic lines and stories that strike a chord of twain realizations, happy and sad about my experiences for the past years.

Here are some of my favorite lines:

It was words that I fell for. In the end, it was words that broke my heart.

I do know there are all kinds of barriers to love. I do believe the world needs less of them.

When love finds you, it doesn’t come with crashing waves or thunderbolts. It appears as a song on the radio or a particular blue in the sky. It dawns on you slowly, like a warm winter sunrise- where the promise of summer shines out from with.

You were the storm that changed the skyline. After the damage and the deluge, I could see things so much clearer. There hasn’t been another like you since.

Because losing someone isn’t an occasion or an event. It doesn’t just happen once. It happens over and over again.

When I got to finally have this book, next thing I knew in mind, I wanted to complete the set of her books. Feels like I want to make a deal with a Lang Leav book’s spree.

Memories ticked all the boxes for me.

Title: Memories
Author: Lang Leav
Publication: October 6th 2015, Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Poetry, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 1449472397 / 9781449472399

A Tiny Tale of Us

I miss you.

I may not be your priority but, I know I always run through your mind.

We hardly share about everything we’ve been through, 24/365+.

You know I can’t look you in the eyes, I could melt if I do.

You think the printed pair of socks you gave looks cute on me, so I keep it.

Like a kid, I always put the blame game on you whenever my character dies at the games we play.

You’re particular that I’m not vocal when I feel something bad that makes me mad for a long time, until I cool down and spill the beans.

I was like that.

You loved me even on my tattered points, and I love you so.

I could not even imagine myself with anyone but you.

And now, I always imagine how our lives could be at the present if we’re still together.

Lot of what ifs and regrets I have in mind could either make us or still break us.

Let’s try even the 1% chance left on us.

Trust the process, you always say, and we always do.

Pinky swear?

About Having Our Dog

I admit that I’m a non-dog lover. Maybe because I’ve got bitten when I was young. I have lived to be scared of dogs, like every time I walk by in our narrow street, I will always bite my tongue, so I won’t get noticed by the pack of dogs as I pass by. I don’t know but, I believe in its magic.

Until my brother had one, it took him a long time to have a dog, since I’m really not into it, we always argue. The barking, the shredding fur, the pooping and peeing, the smell, and stuffs — some minor issues I’m concerned with. I’m glad he considered my shallow plead. So, we adopted a native dog that has no breed, an Aspin. Having one require less maintenance than purebred dogs.

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our boy, kobe 🐢

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His name is Kobe, a great addition to our family just right before Coronavirus pandemic rebellion. He is 2 months old when we adopted him on 30th January. I can’t touch him, really scared of him, even though he’s that small.

There were consecutive mid nights and dawn he barked which put me into a really awful sleep. Agh, I don’t know why I’m the only one who complains about it in our family. I always come closer to his shed to talk to him that he’s really noisy. I always scold him because of his behavior. Funny how he stares at me and listen intently as if he can understand what I am preaching. I heard that he’s compulsive barking is normal since he’s into a whole new environment.

As the day passes, I’m getting used to his barks, and he as well got used to our place. There was a time that he really wanted to come out his shed, and he kept on barking. So, my dad let him out of his house, he hastily ran away beside a distant tree and peed, later he also pooped. I just learned something from that day. Those barks may be a sign of a comfort break, aside from attention seeking, or he wants to play, he’s hungry, and there’s a stranger.

On weekends, I used to feed him since my brother is out of town during those days. I got annoyed that sometimes he will make noise even though it’s only 10 AM, not his feeding time. He will stretch his body just to allow me see him because I always do my work in the kitchen near his shed. Poor boy, we have no food to feed him that early and wait for us to finish our meals first before he could finally eat. But I can’t take his appeal, I will then open canned goods for him to eat and stop the noise already. And I will start my preaching again as I feed him.

He became part of our daily routine. We let him out of his shed in the morning and sunset to play in the field, feed and wash him too. For the passing months I haven’t touched him yet. I just really can’t but, I love how I used to feed him and play without touching him. It has been 8 months since he’s home. I can’t believe the fact that we already incorporated Kobe in our everyday lives. He became quiet and adaptive as he age, he became comfortable to our place as well. The only time he will make noise is when he’s going to have a comfort break, when he wants to play, when he’s hungry, and he saw someone peculiar. Not to the point that we can’t get a comfortable sleep at night.

We really can’t avoid unfortunate events to happen in our lives. One morning, where the sky’s gloomy and the rain’s about to drop, my dad noticed that Kobe went missing in his shed. We all started to look for him all over the place. Asked the neighbors by any chance that they’ve seen Kobe. One of them said that he saw a dog walking outside our compound, he wasn’t sure if it’s Kobe. Until the rain came, we failed to find him, we really had no idea where he was. Whilst, my brother had no idea that his dog went missing because he’s out of town.

We ate lunch, I’m the one tasked to do the chores and stuff, I already had everything cleaned. I stopped and sat for a while, I’m suddenly reminded of how I prepare Kobe’s food after our lunch. As the rain came heavier, thoughts of where Kobe could have been situated hit my senses, tears in face came streaming. Maybe he’s shivering, wet and lonely and had no place to shed off. I just really can’t take to be reminded of those unfortunate instances and of course our bittersweet memory together.

Two days passed, we had no idea where he was. I missed the morning walks and plays, the sound of his noise. I used to look around our place if Kobe’s just hiding or nearby. I just can’t control my feelings and let my tears drip on my face, it hurt me so much. I can’t let go of thoughts that maybe he’s into another family, he got by the authorities, hit by raging car, and even worst, dead. But I’m still hoping that he’ll make his way home. And I won’t get tired of waiting for him.

Six o’clock in the morning, one of our neighbor came knocking on our door together with Kobe telling us that our dog was seen heading inside our compound. He looked so sad, starving, and chilling. We didn’t know where he had been, he just walked by inside the house, he knew the place, but he seemed to be aloof. Maybe he’s dealing with emotional trauma after being lost. We fed him, gave him water and pet him. We really missed him.

You’re really a grown up dog, our Kobe! You once got lost but you found your way home.

I felt relieved the moment I saw him eating the foods we gave him. It felt like he didn’t eat for ages. You are safe, you are home now.

I can’t deny that I really got inflicted by this happening. I still can’t consider myself as a dog lover, a frustrated dog parent in such different way, perhaps.

The moment he came back gave me deep realizations and affection towards him. He made me realized that in every fall, do not lose the hope for there might be a great come back. Thank you, God, we’re together again.

Here’s to more bittersweet memories with you, Kobe. πŸ•πŸΆ

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

There are too many memories of you (and still counting) which I can still hark back to as a grown-up. I can still picture on how it went and I recollect some of those thoughts and have to write it in my blog so I can look and read back on it whenever I want to.


I was five, the time when I had to run for a mile to catch you and give you your pocket-size brown comb that you used to fix your hair when you go to work.

Can still remember that you’ll always buy my favorite sour cream & onion piattos and yakult when I’m ill so I can calm on those times.

7AM on the second grade, you brought me to school and then you left off to work. I slid on the seesaw, my white kentucky shirt got fully covered with mud when I fell. I hastily ran to your auto mechanic shop just in front of the school, I cried because of dirt. As quickly you bought a shirt at the nearby market, so I won’t be late for class.

It was my 7th birthday when I saw a picture on the table at the back of the house. I got curious to see what’s printed on it. So, I approached and came close to have a look on it. The moment I stood beside the table, a delirious dog attacked and bit me. I was too little to run away and escape from it. You saw me there, briskly you pulled me to get off the mad dog — (I was so lucky that a fully equipped quack doctor was there haha).

I fell asleep as I waited for the news on the TV, I was 8 the night that I cried because we were tasked to write one from the news statements that we will watch, to be presented the next day which I failed to do so. Glad you were there, you wrote a piece for me, even though you didn’t watch the news haha. I was amazed and I memorized it then, so I can report it to class.

There are other memories untold that I treasure. These are just some of those remarkable, cutest, and sweetest gesture you’ve ever done as my father. Even there are times I know I was wrong but you’re still on my side. I love you for keeping your eyes on me and watch me grow. I didn’t know if you knew, so I’m taking this chance to say, I love you Dad!

Know that when you and Mom get older, I’ll take care both of you.

A Weekend in Mindoro

I still have a few backlogs to write and one of those is this one.

The semester has finally ended, so I thought about finding a good way to spend it. Thus, I took advantage of having a getaway at my mom’s hometown, plus it was my Lola and Kuya’s birthday. And we wanted to celebrate tho.

The night before, I was thinking if I will be taking the shower already, so I won’t have any struggle in the cold and knee-curling temp of the water as we have planned a super early morning parting because we wanted to get there in Mindoro as early as we could as it is way too far. But that night, I was really feeling drowsy and worn-out so, I decided to just generally have a morning shower. Well, it did help me freshen and wake up in that early move.

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Mom: “Saan na kayo anak?”
Me: “We’re on our way na po, na-traffic lang sa laot haha

Unfortunate events normally happen in life. We missed the 8AM ship, I’m gagged. So my mom, auntie and uncle waited for about 4-5 hours in Mamburao (Occidental Mindoro capital) to pick us up. We boarded at exactly 10AM.  The usual travel time to offboard in Port of Abra de Ilog consumes 3-4 hours including the latencies. Plus, an additional 1-hour drive from the port to Mamburao.

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It’s past 5PM when we got there. Painted on my Lola’s face was jubilee for the reason that we only pay her a visit when we’re free. And since my mom works overseas, we only have a seldom time to go to Mindoro. We briskly gave her a hug and mano — an honoring gesture as a sign of respect. Since there is no cellular signal in our place there, I then swift to the shore where there’s an available. I told my dad that we already made it to Lola’s place. That’s our day, we have had some fun-filled talks, we ate and rested afterwhile to recharge. And I thank God for it was indeed a safe trip.

#DayOne

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Everyone’s recharged and so did I. We were about to go swimming in the sea, but we were caught by the blazing heat of the sun. So my brother and I went lurking, we’ve decided to go to our cousins to check how they were. They live near the mountain, so we considered hiking. For I was curious to see the picture of everything at the bottom when you’re on the top of the mountain.  It’s not arduous to climb it and the views were undoubtedly a good distraction. It’s getting late in the afternoon, so we took the moment and gave thanks that we were allowed to get there and prayed to return us safely to the trailhead.

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This weekend trip wouldn’t be completed without fresh foods. Foods that we don’t eat on a usual day. Yes, we were blessed with an abundance of bounty — seafood, tropical fruits and creative cooking style. Evident in the picture, I wasn’t able to get away with cleaning the dishes, just as how I do in Batangas. To drench, I used water from the poso — an old-style water pump commonly used in the provinces of the Philippines.

#TheNextDay

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To kick start the day, I walked by the bay, listened to the rhythmic swell of waves, and of course inhaled the fresh, briny smell of the sea. Just as the heat of the sun has an ability to damage our skin, it also has plenty of health benefits associated with it. As per research, a 5-minute stand under the sun will save us from skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and fungal skin infections. Just avoid too much exposure that may lead to suntan which means the skin has already been damaged. Since it’s low tide, I found a starfish by the shore. Sea stars can be found in the rocky areas just below sea level. They’re easy to find, and seeing them is indeed an exciting part of being in the beach.

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This was one of the highlights of our escapade, my Kuya turned 23 and my Lola celebrated her 60th year of existence, glad we were there. For her, age is just a number, and she is young as she feels. I thank God for the added year in their lives. He really is the redeemer, the anchor, and healer of all life seizures.

#LastDay

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It has been a tradition of our family to go to Calawagan Mountain Resort on the last day of our visit in Mindoro, about an hour trip from Paluan.  It’s a nature-based resort good for leisure outings, evident lush vegetation, has a cool mountain breeze, there are available cottages, forest, and hiking trails. There’s a lap pool upon entry and a connecting bridge to the other side of the resort where natural pool with boulders and rock formations can be found.  The large trees which abound throughout the resort provides an excellent shade even on the midday sun. As they say, birdwatchers wouldn’t have to go too far to locate some of Mindoro’s endemic birds such as hawk-owls, flower peckers, fruit-doves, flycatchers and sun birds as it can be seen and heard throughout this resort. It is an ideal locale for anyone who wishes a unique outdoor adventure in Mindoro. Picture taking is really a must.

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It’s our last day in Mindoro, the time when unwelcome thoughts bubbled up, as our so-mini-vacation ending was imminent in just a wink. I love this type of vacation when we used to travel back and forth where I used to get a sunk feeling. The feeling of I-still-didn’t-want-to-go-back to my daily routine. It’s like I’m having anxiety because I’ve been used to what I’ve had experienced for the past few days. Then all of a sudden, I’m dreading the end to a glorious trip. The post-vacation feels hit me like a wrecking ball. I closed my eyes, I’m  having the time of my life, I opened my eyes, I’m back facing the reality and what happened fades in an instant.

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. The life in Mindoro was just so simple. The way of living merely has a big difference from our life at home. There’s no signal for some area, means for FM radio, mobile phones and television, unless you have cable TV. I was able to experience this which others cannot. The simplicity of the life of the residents, harvesting onion crops, riding in a boat and balsa- a small raft or boat, roaming around by the shore to pick up seashells, viewing sea stars, sightseeing around, and mountain adventures.

It was a weekend away from the civilization and overcrowded places. I was able to feel the sea breeze and it’s brine, and the sounds of the blow of the waves. I was also able to meditate, away from the pressure and social media.

God is good all the time. He provided us not just the financial needs but also the strength and the precious time to look back and visit the place and the people whom are part of who we are and how’s our life now. And I know He is with us, wherever we go.

Till our next.

An Open Letter To The One That Got Away

What if we were really meant to part ways,
So that, in time, we could find each other again?
I believe there’s a silver lining for us to meet at the shore,
Where our lines will be intertwined to resume our half-sealed pinky swears. 

I was 17 when I got to know you. The night I can’t seem to forget where the glaring moon and stars witnessed the first time we’ve met. I really had no idea from that moment on, we’ll create the profound story of us.

Adrenaline rushes through every opening of my veins whenever we talk, and see each other. I don’t know why, maybe because the feeling felt like it’s always new. I’m always on cloud nine, a fairy tale bliss kind of feeling. Why do you have to carry that aura of an angel with you? It’s enticing, you got me. You’re like the blue sea, still and calm that I could stare the whole day for me to think of things I’d like to. The blue sea that turns red whenever I kiss you. Not a chance on a day that we won’t exchange goodmornings, and have you eaten your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On busy days, we still’ve time to share how our day went before we bid our goodnights. We went out on dates, ate our favorites, and shared our stories to tell. I learned things from you, and you learned things from me. We even coerced our ship with every prodigious waves that hit us. Cherished good, bad, exciting and thrilling happenings and special days that came our way. We were young that time, but we both knew that our tryst relationship could go deeper, soon as we sail. We’re like that — we’re normal.

Thank you. You’re the one who brought out the best in me, and made me want to be a better person. You’re very ideal, your patience and empathy is indeed admirable, you’ve made me feel I’m validated. You ought to let me realize how to embrace my imperfections and perhaps it made us perfect for one another. Who wouldn’t love you?. Expressionless you might be but if I could be able to look through your heart, I know every beat of it can show the depth of your love for me. Your words might not be able to describe how you really feel towards me, but I thank you enough for telling me that you love me. And I so love you more always in all ways.

My Apologies. I know I’m perfect being imperfect, I’m no superhuman and I made mistakes. Sorry for acting silent like it’s nothing whenever I’m mad and for ignoring you at times. Sorry for my inability to compromise, the immaturity and toxicity I brought, for being too jealous of your time or even to someone. For my non-sense jokes, my whines and I sought your attention while you were too busy on your things. Sorry for being my greatest fear. Sorry for a bucket full of never-ending misunderstandings we have had. And a lot of things to apologize for. But above all these, sorry for loving you this much that made it hurt you. I trust fate and I believe you’ll accept my apology. I’m sorry.

I forgive you. I know you only have few words to say and you seldom spill what’s on your mind, I understand. You might be forgetful at times — on our special days, it’s fine. You might be too confined and you seem not to involve me on some of your whereabouts, it’s okay. You have taken the leap of faith, and tried to make everything right for us. I’ve had forgiven you.

Support

We were perfect for each other,
For years we’ve built a foundation of our love.
But there’s a thick line which indicates a limit,
And I guess, the time wasn’t right.

There are things which are simply inevitable. You’re dealing with existential crisis and I couldn’t help but to cause incessant arguments which disturbed your mental peace.  It wasn’t healthy anymore and I admit it’s because of me.  I have realized how frozen you were, you needed space and I sensed it. So I need to keep myself ready for the possibilities. Until you started to melt your ice. That night, I have all ears, eager to listen to your sentiments.

You needed a break from every commitment you have, including ours. You wanted to commit your time to yourself. Thus, you wanted to feel free and do everything without worrying that I would feel anything bad about what you do. You wanted to be happy without feeling any form of guilt for choosing your own happiness because you’ve always felt that you’re denying yourself. That you’re always making decisions on what other people are expecting from you. And whenever you choose to follow what your heart says, deep inside there’s always a feeling of guilt. Being with me for years, you thought that you weren’t giving me enough. You felt that you weren’t treating me the way you should. You perceived everything’s a mess that moment, and you want to fix yourself again because you needed to. You really wanted to make me happy but you can’t bear to give your all for me, for us. You were really thankful for the time we spent together and you wouldn’t forget me, you added. I was your first serious relationship, the one being really committed and lasted for years. But everything seemed to be blurry in the end. You needed a break and you’re lost. You felt that you weren’t improving and you didn’t knew when can you fulfill the role you have to play for me. And you felt like you weren’t the best for me. You needed a break and you swore that you needed to focus on yourself first. You said you don’t know if that’s the last heartbreak you will give me. You love me so much and you wanted me to be happy without you. You uttered that maybe you needed time to think about everything and you can’t assure me anything from that moment I begged on you. But you left me with the words that I would cling to “I believe if we really are destined, we’ll definitely find our way back”. “Promise me you still give your best in everything you do, even without me,  Pinky swear — I still love you.”

What If I never brought it up? Maybe you stayed, just the way you find me every time I’m lost. So we can figure it out until we learned to fix everything. But this context depicts me being selfish. Upon hearing your sentiments, tears streamed down my face. I had no idea for how long have you been keeping those burdens with you. I was dull not to notice those things until the silence echoed. And I failed to see my shortcomings to make you happy, so you’ll stay.  I believe everything happened for a reason, maybe to teach us a lesson. Even pain has its own intentions. I guess, that time was solely not for romance or compatibility, ’twas our future, families, hard work and career which were at stake. Never have I ever thought that I’ll lose you. I was caught off guard. It feels like I can’t run back to a burning house just to save the things I value — us.

It was the point of my life that I badly needed to escape and hide in the midst of nowhere so no one can see my dreadful being. Knowing that I can no longer touch the unwrapped of memoir of ours. For  the passing days without you I’ve had anxiety and I cried helplessly. Pillow cases witnessed my awful state until tears came out no more. Cobwebs were in my head like maybe I didn’t mean as much to you as I thought I did. My soul whispered sounds of yesterday’s memories as I kept reminiscing your presence. I knew how it felt to cry at night and struggle to cover my mouth so no one can hear my weeping. I knew how it felt like crying in the rain so no once can notice the tears sobbing in my eyes. I’d tried to stop the waves that cleared all our memories printed in the sand. But the splashes of these waves have already washed out my entirety. And then, I realized that even if I can’t stop the waves, I know I can learn how to surf and bring out the valor I’ve had. Some memories may never leave me, like I once dived into the sea, I already carried the salt and it became part of me. I can’t change anything more unless I learned how to accept it.

A line indicates a limit,
A limit which means boundary
If we were never to cross that line,
We would never experience the world, life, and relationships outside the boundary.

Well, we’re 22 and it’s been a year since we parted ways. Just because we were no longer together, doesn’t mean I won’t love you. There’s always a hint of sadness and a piece of my heart that smiles whenever I think about you. You’re my what ifs, my could’ve beens and should’ve beens. You are worthy, you are enough and you are blessed. I hope you have already found out what you’re looking out there. I hope you have already the audacity to believe that you are capable of everything, and be sure of all your decisions, and you deserve all the things that you have. I hope you’ve figured out what your heart truly speaks for, and your mind truly thinks of.  Be proud of yourself wherever you are or what you do. I hope you’ve already cleared out all the mess and wiped out the blur confusions you’ve had. Above all of these hopes, I hope you’ve found the answers to the questions that we once never figured out. It doesn’t have to be completely whole, but the leap of faith matters the most. A leap of faith where you believe and accept everything outside the boundary.

Despite everything that has happened, I want you to know that I have no bad feelings towards you. Yes you broke my heart, but you didn’t break me.  Instead, I’ve learned how to forget what hurt me, but not the lessons it taught me. I believe that there’s always a light at the end of every tunnel.

I wrote for the one-percent chance that you could read this piece. And though it’s only a one-percent chance, if you feel you’re ready to like me still, then couldn’t we start over? You don’t have to like me very much. Just keep your heart open for me. β™‘