Tuesday, August 19

Sagada: A Lazy Day All By Myself


Third day in Sagada.  It was a bit quiet as new friends were already leaving that morning.  We woke up early and had our first and last breakfast together. Jaja and James, the uber-sweet couple, were already at Strawberry Cafe while RJ and I followed suit later.  



We ordered tummy-filling pancakes topped with strawberry jam.  I split it with my friend as I was sure I would not be able to eat all of it.  At P 99, that pancake was one of the yummiest I have ever eaten.  


Strawberry Cafe's Pancake with Strawberry Jam, Php 99

Tuesday, August 12

Sagada: Of Dark Caves and Waterfalls

My visit to Sagada was sandwiched by two storms.  But that did not stop me from aiming to scratch this heavenly place off my bucket list.  Armed with little knowledge, I knew perfect adventure awaited me up here.



Second day in heaven was spent exploring the famous attractions namely Bomod-ok Falls and the caves.  My friend and I trekked in between lush green rice paddies.  I was so happy upon seeing nothing but mountains all around me.  I pondered a bit on how the locals lead their daily lives.  I realized then that simple things are often the best things in life.  All we need to worry about is that we have good food to eat, a sturdy house to live in and family and friends to share good memories with.  I felt a little envious of them but felt very proud at the same time.  I am a Filipino and will never exchange that for another citizenship.


Fidelisan Rice Terraces

Trekking Bomod-ok Falls, or Big Falls as referred to it by our guide Kuya Mac,  was a no-brainer as long as you have prepared yourself for it.  He said that this was the hardest to reach among all the falls in Sagada.  With that in mind, I was imagining a buwis-buhay climb.  But our trek to the falls was easy as 1-2-3.  It was a bit tiring but we were reinvigorated at once as soon as the Big Falls came into view!


Emerald everywhere!


Finally! 



On our way back, we met a couple, Jaja and James, who were free in the afternoon.  After a brief introduction, we agreed to go as group in exploring Sumaguing Caves (more savings for me, yay!).

L-R:  James, Jachelle, our guide Dani, Cristina from Spain and me :-)
Taken after our cave exploration!

Before entering Sumaguing Cave, we dropped by at a couple of burial sites.  Our guide, Dani, explained to us so many interesting facts about their culture.  Sadly, the younger generation seems to be no longer interested in continuing the tradition.  He said that present families prefer their deceased to be buried in the cemetery near the church.


Along the way, RJ met another rowdy group of men who were going to the much harder cave connection.  I was not ready to deal with that since I felt something was off the moment I looked into the mouth of the cave.  I followed my instincts for I knew what will happen once I enter the dark caverns.  I felt them everywhere.  



RJ split from us.  However, we met Cristina from Spain who was planning to go in on her own.  We gamely invited her to tag along with us.  She agreed and we had the best time ever.  We missed RJ but I was very happy that I met Cristina. 




Before heading back to town to have our dinner, I was ecstatic as I met a Sagadian cat.  Look at her intelligent eyes!  I quickly named her Saddie. 

with Saddy :-)


Other parts in this series
_______

Part 1  Sagada: Love At First Sight
Part 2  You Are On It! 
Part 3  Sagada: A Lazy Day All By Myself

Monday, August 4

Freedom is Being In Love With the World

In travel I often ponder.  I am the silent-type of girl.  Those who don’t know me too well would assume I’m the snobby type.  I pity them for they judge me so quickly.   But deep inside, I am just a shy, sensitive girl who cries sometimes when the night wakes up and when the sun falls asleep. 

I am the sweetest.  When I am happy, I share my innocent musings to everyone.  I especially like the ones I write during and right after my wanderings.  Sometimes, something just hits me in the head and I would be writing like crazy for I knew if I didn’t all the radiant emotions within me will soon lose its luster.  I need to get it out, to write it down.  To read the words in my head for real.  Sometimes, I’d grab a pen and anything I could write on.  Somehow, when I run my fingers over the things I wrote, that surreal feeling of being there comes back again.  Alive.  Breathing.  And that would be the time I would believe that a dream has already become a reality.

A grazing carabao in Sagada

When you fall in love with life, everything negative seems to be a blur.  A faded memory.  Hazy around the edges.  For some reason, when you're in love with the world, you wake up smiling without any particular reason at all.  You grin when you look at the mirror.  You smile silly when you notice passersby look at you as if you've grown an extra head.  You would literally shine.  And I guess a smile from me would be more than enough to help lighten up this already crazy world.  

I travel solo now.  Why?  I wanted to come out of my comfort zone.  I wanted to grow up and be the woman I have always wanted myself to be. Independent. Smart but still sweet and loving at the same time.  Pondering Paodaolei will not be Pondering Paodaolei if she isn't loving at all.  I always see the need to be there, to be felt, to love and to be loved. 

Freedom is my mantra now. Freedom to choose to stay happy. Freedom to wander, to wonder, to ponder. And finally, believing in the freedom to love and be loved in return.


I am here.  Just waiting for the right moment.  I  know that there will always be the perfect timing for everything.  But loving is completely another world.  In my ponderings, it's best to just love. And always stay in love. With the world.



Tuesday, July 29

Sagada: Love At First Sight

For miles and miles I could only see sloping mountain peaks and lush, rolling valleys.  Though it would have been better if I have visited Sagada during summer, when the greens are in full bloom, I did not regret taking in her fresh air in the cold, rainy days of a rather uneventful July.  But my four-day stay in Sagada changed that notion, and my perspective on life in general.




It was an unplanned trip.  But a very much needed trip nonetheless.  I was anxious a few days before my departure for I was unsure if my filed leaves will be approved.  But lo and behold, the stars and moon agreed with me and I found myself pondering how the hours seemed to pass by quickly.

With my red backpack in tow, I hurriedly went straight to the Victory Liner Cubao terminal and was able to board the 10 PM bus for Baguio.  Front seat (no.1).  It was surreal.  I was on my way to Sagada and nothing will hinder me.  Even the rains did not stop me from chasing her.


Waiting for dawn

I guess the bus I rode in had wings like that of an angel's since we promptly arrived in the City of Pines at around past three in the morning.  I paid a still-sleepy Journeying Pinay a visit at the Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay before heading on to Dangwa terminal to catch the first bus bound for Sagada.  For 60 pesos, I had my simple, filling breakfast in a nearby restaurant causing me to be energized.  I was ready to face the long zig-zagging roads ahead.

220 pesos and at seat no. 10 later, I was sad for I have not been assigned a window seat.  But it did not really matter as it was raining during the first half of my journey.  I truly admired the driver as his expertise was showing.  I was actually tempted to ask him if he could drive on those sleek roads with his eyes closed.  




After three bus stopovers and six hours on my watch, we arrived at half past noon but it could have passed as 8 in the morning.  The gentle cool wind from the Sagadian mountains was the first to greet me hello.  I answered back with a soft smile as I wound my way to Residential Lodge down South Street. 




Tita Mary Daoas, owner of Residential Lodge, welcomed me as if I have been already been a come-backing visitor.  She showed me to my room and voluntarily advised me what I can do in Sagada. I rest a bit after arranging my things.   Ten minutes later, she came back knocking and introduced me to another solo traveler. RJ's arrival was in good timing as I had someone to split the bills in my guided trips. 




I stole a quick shower and met my new friend at the common area.  We ate lunch at the famous Yoghurt House and ordered what our tummies wanted.  I ordered Java Chicken with Rice (P 190) and Mango Lassie (P 99).  The latter I got so addicted to that I ordered one everyday I was there.  :-)


Java Chicken with Rice @ Yoghurt House

RJ and I exchanged the normal things new friends share to each other.  What we do in life, what we were doing in Sagada alone and the like.  After feeling completely filled, he and I decided to be adventurers that afternoon as we trekked to the mission compound and admired the charming church.


Church of St. Mary the Virgin

After exploring the deserted church, my new friend needed to go back to do some personal business.  I was left alone for a while but it gave me the much needed me time as I took in the raw beauty of Sagada.  I took the liberty of doing selfies and savor the beauty of nature around me.  


Sagada Cemetery

RJ came back a little later.  We continued on our own adventure as we tried to figure out how to go down Echo Valley.  We did not want to hire a guide as we felt we were adventurers lost in the woods.  However, dusk was beginning to eat up our time so we asked a local passing by how we can go down there.  The kid was very nice to repeat the instructions and soon we were able to find the path leading down to the hanging coffins.




We were happy to have accomplished quite a bit in our first day in Sagada.  Time seemed to stop as I breathed in the fresh air. This little town up in the mountains is a truly remarkable place. The people are nice.  The ambience is so light.  The weather is cool - perfect for those seeking times of reflection. The food is just great.  I think I would grow fat if I stay a month up in my beloved Sagada.  

There are a few places that I can truly say I am in love with.  And Sagada is one of those places.  I fell in love at first sight and I would not mind falling in love with her all over again.  

Ah!  If I could just do this forever. :-)

I love you,  Oh My Sagada!




Other Parts in this series
_______

Part 1  You Are On It!
Part 2  SagadaOf Dark Caves and Waterfalls 
Part 3  Sagada: A Lazy Day All By Myself




Tuesday, July 22

Wander Photo: At a Glance

Yearning to live in the past at present?  Then head on to Sulyap Bed & Breakfast located at San Pablo City, Laguna.  One of the charming bed & breakfast's lodges is an old house from Obando, Bulacan converted to a hotel.  It also houses a restaurant, an antiques museum and is near other attractions of San Pablo.  





Tuesday, July 15

The Heritage Towns I Have Visited

In lieu to the National Heritage Month we celebrated last May, I have made this list which will make all old house-lovers like me jump for joy.

For some unknown reason, old houses have that nostalgic, old world charm which contemporary houses don't seem to have.  It isn't so obvious that I truly admire places with remarkably preserved ancestral homes. Look back with me as I walk through time by visiting these amazing heritage towns.


VIGAN


Ilocos Sur
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Vigan tops my list as the ancestral homes of Vigan are gargantuan, supreme, magnificent and everything else in between.  I still remember the first moment when I stepped foot on the famous Calle Crisologo - wide-eyed and all.

Wednesday, July 9

I Can't Wait to Make a Connection With You

My curiosity is beckoning me.  Making me imagine stepping on your doorstep on one cold foggy morning.  The mist is so thick that I could hardly see a few steps ahead of me.  But not so far I could already feel the sun's rays slowly peaking behind the lazy clouds. Its numerous hands are slowly stretching out to welcome me with wide open arms.

I wonder how you look up close.  How will I kill time just roaming around in your quiet streets.  Will someone be asking for my name? Or will I be asking somebody else's name instead?

I want to see how you greet each sunrise.  And how you welcome those who call you their home for the first time. I'd like to think that they would be thinking of going back again and again to you, happy in the thought that they can find a solemn place amidst their busy lives.


Taken from gmanetwork.com

I am not much of a foodie, but of course my tummy would also love to have its own adventure after spending a day trekking with you.  I have tasted apple pies and gobbled down numerous mango pies.  But I hear that lemon pie calling my name!  Now, my mouth is beginning to water.

I ponder on how you let tired souls rest and lead them back to the heavens.  Do you let them sleep under the world or they are literally staring up in the heavens?

I couldn't wait to dip my tired muscles in the rushing water falls of yours!  Just thinking about it makes me want to pack my bag now and just go.

Will that valley reverberate back my words?  When I shout I love you, will you echo back the sweet words...I love you too?


I can't wait to be with you.
I can't wait to see you.
I can't wait to feel you.

I can't wait to make a connection with you.

Monday, July 7

Calaguas Islands, I Love You Three

It was the end of a long summer.  For eight weekends, I have found myself traveling to different places starting off with a relaxing stay in Zambawood.  April was a witness to my discovering of my eternal love for Vigan, paid a surprise visit to Bangued in Abra and had a short four-day affair with Camiguin.  May has dawned. Though I have not gone to far-off places, my calendar was packed with me practicing my mermaiding and had endless meet-ups with friends who literally make my world go around.


Calaguas shore
 by Escape Manila

I signed up a couple months before to join another Calaguas trip.  It would be my third time.  The first one was in 2012 and the second just last year. Yes, you can say that I couldn't get enough of the breath-snatching Calaguas islands.


Before we depart for Calaguas!
 by Escape Manila

What should be a group of about five people ballooned to a rowdy group of nine.  We were supposed to be ten but one backed out the last minute.  But I guess nine was just our lucky number.  

We did a little shopping at the local market in Paracale for the things that we will need. We waited for our guide and after sometime, our little boat was racing against the bigger ones to reach the islands in record time.  

It was scorching hot as what can be expected at this time of the year.  My new friends, Beng, Raul, Kaiye, Glen and Jazz were Calagusas first-timers.  I was no longer surprised that some of them literally marveled at the beauty they saw.  

The lead male band member, Jherson, tasked himself in finding us a good camping spot. However, most of the ideal ones were already taken.  We ended up setting up camp just a few meters where we landed.  It turned out to be the perfect spot as trees provided us the needed shade on this hot summer day.  

After having our lunch and a short nap, we wasted no time and frolicked in the clear waters of Mahabang Buhangin beach.  I slipped on my red tail and joined my friends as they cheered on for me.  It was exhilirating to finally swim in the seas and realize my dreams for the first time. I had become a real mermaid.



We stared at the skies.  How lovely it was as we witnessed the sea pull the sun below before giving birth to the warm luminous night.  
Photo by Budget Biyahera
Our endless night was filled with laughter.  Cherished memories were created and lasting friendships were formed.  Some of them I only met at that time but I felt like I have known them for a long while.  


The following day, we had our own activities.  I found myself spending time with new-found twin sister Kaiye as we spent hours talking about Sweet Valley, Sociology and the never-ending exchange of the famous lines which goes something like this:  'Sir, sabi nila give love on Christmas Day.  So give me love sir. Pero kung wala talaga, just tell me. How do I unlove you?'

Time was so slow that we already packed our things even if the others were still yet to arrive (sorry guys!).  I can already see Jollibee and was imagining kissing his mascot all throughout.



All in all, it was one of the funniest weekends I had this year.  Truly, it's who you travel with that makes the roller coaster ride more worthwhile. I miss you guys!

Till the next #TeamRedTail's adventure!

#LabLablab #MoonMoonMoon #TeamRedTail #TeamBff
I ken ze the statoo o'liberty. Beri smawl op korz!




Wednesday, July 2

Realizations of a Pondering Mermaid

The past three years have been successful for me.  I am privileged to have traveled with different kinds of people who are all cool and fun to be with.  I feel good every time I go home from each of these travels.  

But then, it seems that there is still something missing. As hard as I try to remember a solitary memory, the picture would always come up as blurred or faded in the edges.  

In three decades of existence, I still have the time and strength to take on the road less traveled. To go out of my comfort zone and to fully spread my wings. 


I am contemplating on dropping my planned getaways and just go with the flow.  You see, just thinking about it causes me to grin foolishly.  #hahaha.

Looking back, I terribly miss my Camiguin adventure as I went to Mindanao for the first time there and it was all on my own.  I yearn for that feeling once more.  This time the longing is so strong it's as if I am waiting for the sun to rise at twelve midnight.

I have become a mermaid. But nobody can say that a mermaid can't have wings. I will fly above the seas. And I will soar up high.


Tuesday, July 1

Camiguin's Ancestral Houses

I grew up in tiny houses, though livable, doing so made me dream to have my own someday.  Grand, spacious and airy - similar to a Disney castle, quite like in the article I read (click here). Or at least close to those types.  

However, my love of old houses only deepened when I visited the Island Born of Fire last summer.  I found myself once again mesmerized as I stared open-mouthed at each old home I passed by.