Category Archives: Adventure

Outbreak Manila: Birthday Run

I haven’t really celebrated my birthday in a long time. Aside from treating my friends to dinner, it was mostly spent at home with the family — or keeping quiet at work so people won’t realize that it’s not an ordinary day for me.

This year was a little different. I did something for the first time: Run a marathon. And it’s not just any marathon. I had to chose Outbreak Manila for my debut run. I figured it would be fun to go be chased after zombies. What was I thinking, right?


On my birthday, I woke up early and headed to my cousin’s house so we could head out to Nuvali together. The closer we got to Sta. Rosa, the more apprehensive I got. Confession: I wasn’t prepared. In the month leeway I had between registration and the actual run I didn’t even try to train myself. Running? Did it only once and I got breathless in less than five minutes. I’ve got an athletic build, but my stamina isn’t the best.

We were in Wave 7 but we arrived an hour early on race day. The air was cold and I was shivering. Maybe it was from excitement, maybe it was from fear. I looked around to check for other unprepared newbies like myself. I felt like I was the only idiot there. Thankfully, I finished the race (even though I was towards the last because I was running with the first few folks of the next wave) with one life. Much thanks to my cousin Miel who gamely stayed by my side even though I knew she could’ve easily ran the entire thing and left me in the dust.

Zombie in the fields
A quick search on the Internet will give you an idea what kind of run Outbreak Manila is. Although it’s the first one held in the country, similar events have been held in other countries. Basically, you run through a 5k course and you come across zombies along the way. The zombies will try to get the three tags around your waist (which signals your life). Lose them, you’re dead (but not a zombie). You can get extra lives along the way by doing certain tasks, but there are a lot of zombies around in that area which puts you at the risk of losing a life as you gain one.


At the start of the race, everyone was huddled in one big mass. The logic there is the middle part is the safest, as the zombies will most likely attack from the sidelines. However, the first zombies will run right down in the middle of the crowd, breaking it up. Then just as you think you’re safe, they come running after you. At this point, no one has made any strategy yet. We all ran around like chickens avoiding the zombies and keeping our flags intact.

Fellow runners

It was hard to remember that you weren’t supposed to touch/hurt/maim the zombies, who were mostly kids in costume. Many of them were really in character, and coming across them in random places would make you stop and think. Screams of terror — along with loud laughter — would break the Nuvali’s silence.

Some of the zombies were nice. One let us pass just because we asked. Another group bartered our lives for some water (hey, they get thirsty too). Some of the zombies just stood there, and only a handful actually would run after you. It was like playing a patingtero, with a freaky factor.

One strategy that my fellow runners and did was to run through the zombies together. Sort of our version of the hoarde. Mind you, we didn’t know each other but it was fun to work together to outwit the zombies and come out with at least one flag. This strategy worked against a group of zombies on a wide space, but at the small, tight paths, good luck.

I thought that I lost all my lives, including the bonus one I got, so I sailed past the zombies declaring “I’m dead! I have no life!” (yes, I know it sounds pathetic haha). Some of the other runners used me as a shield so they could get past and keep their lives. Towards the end, I realized that I still had one life and it was tucked in my shirt. Yay for luck.

I’m happy that I survived with no injuries. No medal either, but hey, I got the shirt. Next year, maybe I’ll join but I’m definitely going to build up my stamina first.

My cousins

Shout It Out: Hanson in Manila

I apologize in advance if this would be an incoherent post. I spent the whole morning trying to find a witty opening line for this post, and I can’t. I still have a “Hanson hangover” from last night’s concert. “Witty” and “creative” opening paragraphs are far from me right now.

Big confession here. Obviously, I am a Hanson fan. Not so huge that I am not a member of their fan club, I skipped their concert back in 2004 in favor of Jars of Clay and didn’t go to the signing activity last Thursday — but a fan enough to not miss this opportunity. My friend and former co-worker Day convinced me to get the most expensive seats in the concert, and while I was still rolling in dough, I did.

My love for the music of Hanson started in 1997. Mmmbop was always playing on the radio, and it was impossible miss this young band that was different from the other boy bands around. They were younger (Isaac is the oldest and he is the same age as Nick Carter and Justin Timberlake), they played their own instruments and wrote their own songs. Not to mention that their songs were pretty mature for their age.

Like the boy bands, they sing about romantic love and heartbreak, but they also sing about life and death. Their song With You In Your Dreams is a tribute to their late grandmother, while Yearbook had a more dramatic theme of a schoolmate who suddenly gone missing. My favorite songs were Minute Without You and Madeline, but I can (still) sing along to every song in that album.

For me, the best thing about Hanson is that they are not just flash and bang. It is not all about the show (but they do deliver a heck of a good one). They lasted twenty years in the business, which is a major feat, and show no signs of stopping. The fact that they are brothers can be a contributing factor, but then again, we’ve seen bands with a similar set-up come and go *coughthemoffatscough* With the Hanson brothers, music really comes first. It’s who they are, it’s what they love.

Back in Manila
Nearly eight years after their first visit to the Philippines, Hanson is back. When you think about it, it’s a big deal for them to travel all the way from the U.S. and be the only concert they perform in the general area of Asia and the Pacific. I mean, the next gig I see is in Australia for September. So yeah, thanks guys.

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Why I went to Hong Kong: L’Arc~en~Ciel 20th Anniversary World Tour

A week after and I still think of the L’Arc~en~Ciel concert as some sort of a dream. It was a trip that was made of so many firsts: first time to go out of the country on my own, first time to organize a trip by myself, first time to travel abroad for the sole reason of watching a favorite band perform. To think that I don’t even understand what they’re singing about.

Warning: Long, rambling post ahead.
I thought I was going alone to the concert, but my online friend Ren said she wanted to go too. We thought it was funny that we’ve been online contacts for a while now, but our first meeting would be in Hong Kong. We agreed to book one room in order to save money, and we were happy with the hostel that we got.

We didn’t really plan anything for the trip. I guess we both had the mindset of “concert first, bahala na whatever after.” In fact, we spent the afternoon before the concert just going around Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui. Around 3 PM we headed towards the Asia World Expo Arena. It was actually quite a distance away from where we were, but because Hong Kong’s trains are very efficient, it wasn’t a difficult trip.

In the train, we saw a few other concert goers. There was a pair of Japanese girls who said that they followed the band from their previous location, and will continue to Taiwan and the other places. They also had various memorabilia on them. Talk about hardcore. Ren talked to them and I just smiled at them because I couldn’t really understand what they were saying (I still need a bit more levelling up on my Japanese skills).

When we arrived at the arena, I was surprised that there wasn’t much people yet. I mean, I had expected that there were more people loitering about. My first goal was to find the merchandise table, but I didn’t find what I wanted and the CDs were sold out. I ended up not buying anything, which is fine.
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Going back to Binondo

No matter how many times you come back to Binondo, there is always something different. Everyone can go on a food tour, but with the sheer number of places to eat along Ongpin and its side streets, each visit is always new.

Last Sunday, I joined my new friends Nalani, Jonats and Marjorie for a food exploration in Binondo. Costs were divided among the four of us and we added P5 each for tips.

Stop 1: Dong Bei
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Dong Bei’s one of my favorite places to go to when I’m in Binondo. It’s a small dumpling place off Ongpin. Here you can see the attendants make the dumplings and cook them in a pot of boiling water. You can be sure that what you are eating is freshly made. We shared a plate of the mixed dumplings, popped open a can of Wai Long Kat and got to know each other better.

Cost: PHP 65

Side trip: A bakery along Carvajal
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We were going to Quick Snack along Carvajal but it was closed (along with most of the establishment along the esquinita). We passed by this bakery where I bought some tikoy bread from during the Chinese New Year. I didn’t buy anything, but everyone else did. Everything was freshly baked, which added to its appeal.

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Philippine Postal Heritage Tour

Pictures to follow. Sorry! Photos added. Still a work in progress. :)

About two years ago, I went with Lornadahl for a Postal Heritage Tour around Manila. While it’s not an official tour of the Philippine Post Office, it was nevertheless an educational tour on the postal service and philately, as well as some places around Manila that isn’t covered by the usual Celdran tour. This tour is hosted by the Filipinas Stamp Collectors Club and guided by Lawrence Chan.

What makes this tour interesting is that you get a look into the very fascinating field of philately, as well as a glimpse inside the majestic yet sadly dilapidated Metropolitan Theater in Manila. The tour also stretches to include Intramuros but as the tour is flexible, it sometimes doesn’t even get that far. Still, it’s a trip that is worth the time and effort.

I joined Anne and her cousin for this tour. Rence said that it usually lasts until early evening, mostly because the participants are fascinated by exploring that it’s hard to stick to the time table. We met at Liwasang Bonifacio, the park in front of the Post Office that is more known as Plaza Lawton. The older generation would probably recognize it as Arroceros Park.

The fountain was being used for the Bourne Legacy shoot, and the crew had set up camp at the park itself. I tried to catch a glimpse of Edward Norton but I doubt that he was still around.

The Historical Post Office
We went inside the Post Office first. The Post Office is a small, self-sustaining compound. Because of the large fleet of vehicles it needed, they had their own gas station. There are also smaller buildings within the compound, but sad to say, more than half of them are in a bad state. One is the Post Office museum, but it’s currently closed. I had the chance to attend a philately lecture there during the last tour, but the building is off limits now because it’s structurally unsound.

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The Post Office building is an impressive structure. It is often used in many local productions as a setting for school graduations or law offices. Sad to say, there is news that the building will be sold in the near future as the postal company is losing more money than what they are earning. Fullerton Hotel is said to be interested in it.

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If these walls could talk

Carlos Celdran shouldn’t be a stranger to any Filipino these days, thanks to his infamous protest at San Agustin Church a while back. It earned him the nickname “Damaso”, which people would shout to him when they seem him on the streets.

However, long before that, Carlos has gained a reputation for himself through his Old Manila Walk tours. A performer at heart, Carlos conducts walking tours around Intramuros, providing a crash course in Philippine history. His tours are among the first thing foreigners and balikbayans would go to upon arriving in Manila. His unique, no-holds-barred way of telling the story attracts people to listen, providing an insight to the often misunderstood Manila and its people.

I have long wanted to go on a Carlos Celdran tour (naks, parang brand name lang siya), but time and money constraints made it a little difficult. I was fortunate enough to be able to join a quick tour he hosted in part with Samsung. While interesting, it still didn’t have the full Carlos Celdran touch of theatrics and whimsey that I wanted to experience.

He occasionally throws out barter tours, where you can give anything you think is worth something in exchange. However, it is mostly held during the weekdays which automatically made it a no go for me. When he posted a call for another barter tour and I figured it was my chance.

Carlos Celdran

A Crash Course in Philippine History
I expected the tour to be mostly barter attendees, but it turns out we were going with regular tourists as well. There were quite a number of Filipinos among the foreigners, many of whom were balikbayans on vacation. One was a man who thought it would be a nice way to pass time while waiting for his friends. Another was a group of women who had roots in Manila but hadn’t been back in decades.

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Enter the Dragon

I’ve been a member of Couchsurfing since February 2010 but have yet to participate in anything the local group would organize. With all this free time in my hands, I’m eager to join in activities that sound like fun and do not cost much. When an invitation to join the group in Binondo to celebrate the Chinese New Year appeared on my dashboard, well, I couldn’t pass it up. I dragged Anne, my usual partner-in-crime for such adventures and off we go.

Getting lost, sort of
I’ve been to Binondo many times, and I was confident that I knew how to get there. However, I would normally come from the Sta. Cruz church side and walk up to Ongpin. I forgot what jeep I should ride if I wanted to arrive in front of Binondo Church. In the end, I walked a long way just to get where I was supposed to meet Anne.

The Philippines has a long and rich history with the Chinese. Business relations had been on going long before the Spanish set foot in the country. The establishment of the Chinatown here was in the 1500s, making the the oldest recorded Chinatown in the world — outside of China, of course. An interesting read about Binondo can be found here.

Filipino-Chinese Friendship arch

Meeting the Couchsurfers
Anne and I have the shyness gene so it took us quite a bit before either one of us had the gumption to ask the group of mostly red-shirted people in front if they were the CS group. Thankfully, we got it right the first time and a flurry of introductions began.

Street Party
The festivities had already started by the time our group of (my estimate) 40-plus people made our way through Ongpin. The street was clogged with people (tourists and locals alike) watching the dragon and lion dances. Hawkers lined the street selling lucky charms. Some shops were closed but many were open like a regular working day. It was easy to get separated from the rest of the group, which was what happened to me several times during the day.

After the fireworks and dance, the proprietors of a grocery store threw candy and other giveaways to the crowd. It was scary as people clamored to get something. To avoid getting crushed, I immediately left the area.

The colorful crowd scene

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Cagayan De Oro Adventure: Day 1

Nez and I have barely recovered from the Amazing Race we did the week prior when she invited me to go along with her for a weekend trip to Cagayan de Oro. It seems that it’s becoming a tradition for the two of us to have last minute trips. Because of the expense and other worries, I nearly passed the opportunity. Thank God I didn’t.

We left Manila on Saturday morning. Travel time is about an hour and twenty minutes. From the airport, we went straight to Cagayan de Oro river for our white water rafting adventure. Thanks to the awesome crew of Red Raft for arranging to pick us up and take us on.

Not Quite Like the ride in Enchanted Kingdom
In theory, I know how to swim. However, I am prone to panicking when the water closes in on me, hence my fear of falling into the water. More so if I’m unfamiliar with the water and if I cannot feel the ground beneath me. My worst fear for this trip was a capsized boat and being carried away by the current. I immediately told our guide, “Kuya, kung matangay ako, rescue mo ako ha?”

From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011

We suited up with personal floatation devices (PFDs, or life vests) and helmet, and grabbed our paddles. Nez, Char and I were the last of the group to arrive. Everyone else was already by the river and being briefed by Alan, one of the guides. We were also the only girls in the entire group. The Red Raft team had four rafts: Two with three people each, the other two with more than six (I didn’t take count). Because of this, we were dubbed the “Tres Marias”. Alan, however, called us “boys”.

After being briefed for water safety (I made sure to listen well), we were off. Each raft had one lead guide and an assistant guide. They’ll be the ones to tell you when to paddle and what sort of paddle you should do. There’s three basic paddles: the forward, the fast forward (I’m not sure if that’s the real name, but it’s similar to the first) and back paddle.

Cagayan de Oro’s rapids range from level 2 to level 4, so it shouldn’t be hard for a beginner. Nez decided to pick the advanced course, which had me in a panic. However, at the end of the course, I feel like an old hand. I do admit that there were times when I’d scramble to find a solid handhold if I feel the boat will tip or if our guide had this certain grin that indicates he was up to something.

From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011
From Cagayan de Oro – July 2011

In the end, he pulled Nez out of the raft and into the water. I have to give him props for taking my fear into consideration and did not try to tip the boat (well, he did try once). We easily exchanged jokes with them, although when they start talking in Bisaya I feel they’re making fun at our expense. No problems though.

The guides of the other rafts were also game to joke around with us. Most of the other riders were quiet, and my best friend was very chatty (she commented on their quietness and the guide said, “Ma’am, we’re on a spiritual river tour. Nagba-Bible study kami.”). When their rafts would float near us, they’d talk to her and joke around.

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The Great Singapore Adventure: Day 5

Continued from The Great Singapore Adventure Day 4.

Our last day came on a rather somber tone, what with the events of last night hanging over our heads. Plans of heading to the Philippine embassy was scrapped due to the lateness of the day, so it was decided that Nez and Everlo would go to the Singapore Tourism Board while everyone can do some sightseeing.

I didn’t really have plans for the day, as I was quite hesitant to go about on my own. I still haven’t done some things on my list, namely: eat Hainanese chicken, go to Funan, find some Pinky St. toys and explore Kinokuniya. We headed off to Orchard Road.


Orchard reminded me of Ayala and Buendia Avenue. Only instead of offices, the street is lined with malls and shopping centers. Our first stop was the Louie Vuitton shop near ION, where we bought a bag for someone back home.

It’s my first time to enter an LV store. I’m not a fan of such designer labels, and I’m quite intimidated by them. A friend related a story of how her mother went to one LV store and the attendants looked down on her like she couldn’t afford to even buy the cheapest item (she can, and more). I was worried that we’d have the same treatment, especially since the attendants looked like they were earning more than I am.

However, we were warmly greeted as we entered the store, and someone immediately came up to us to ask what we wanted. She immediately showed us the bag, answered our questions and even helped facilitate a certain request. In less than thirty minutes we were done.

It was nearly noon. We just walked along the street looking at shops, stopping at a $1 ice cream stall. I spotted a Kinokuniya sign and told everyone that I needed to go there for a few minutes. Since there was a line for the ice cream, they let me go.

My kind of store
The building happened to be Takashimaya, a branch of a well-known Japanese department store. I made a beeline for the bookstore on the 3rd floor, and immediately went to look for Dianne Jacob’s “Will Write For Food”. As luck would have it, there was one copy left. I grabbed it, browsed a little more a wished desperately I had more than $50 left to spend. Kinokuniya is massive. While it’s not as big as the Fully Booked flagship in Bonifacio High Street, the selection here is massive. I found several books that I’ve been wanting to get but could never find in any of the bookstores here. However, due to budget constraints, I had to make do with this one book.

I decided to do a bit of exploring, so I headed up another floor. Here there were toy stores that had a lot of Japanese character products (no figures though, it was mostly plushies and cartoon characters). The best place on this floor was the massive art supply store called Art Friend. 10,000 square meters of art supplies. I wanted to genuflect and weep. Deovir had nothing on this place. The section near the entrance alone had me gaping in awe for a few minutes. Fabric paints of various sizes and brands had me imagining the projects I could do. Sadly, as I was pressed for both time and funds, I had to leave empty handed. I did promise to myself that I’ll come back and splurge heavily here.

Note: I wasn’t able to take any pictures because I didn’t know if it was allowed.


Lunch was at the Food Republic at Wisma Atria. I like how it looks like it’s all hawkers but it isn’t. The prices don’t seem very far from the ones you see in hawker places, so we settled on having lunch there. I ordered some roasted Hainanese chicken, and discovered that drinks really seem to be sold separately here.

Verdict on the chicken hasn’t changed. I still prefer tinola.

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