Finally, our plans of going to Binondo pushed through. Aldekari has been planning on this trip for a long time, but for some reason or the other, we never really got to doing it. Sunday was our day, and despite a few setbacks, we were off.
Our transportation of choice was the jeepney. We met up early at Edsa/Shaw and took the jeepneys going to Quiapo. The driver mistook our destination for some other church and tried to drop us off at San Sebastian. “Sabi namin Quiapo!” we said, and he charged us an additional P3.00 each. Oh well.
Quiapo was bustling. There was a mass going on, and there were people doing their business along the streets and in Plaza Miranda. I am truly amused at how Quiapo has a big Catholic structure there, at the same time around it are people who offer the non-Christian services like card reading and fortune telling. Such a lovely study of contrasts.
Also, that day, people were selling fresh produce at Baguio prices. Den, Ching and I were all agog, wanting to buy whatever we can carry. Then again, it wasn’t advisable since we were going for a long walk after all.
And walk we did. From Quiapo down to Hidalgo then to Carriedo, crossing from Sta. Cruz Church, past the fountain, to the archway saying “Welcome to Binondo.” I acted as a tour guide, having gone to Binondo before.
Den gleefully asked for a picture with this statue
First stop was lunch at Waiying. I ordered roast duck with soy chicken and had a glass of lemon Coca-Cola to go with it. Sarap! Busog!
I’ve been going through several drafts of this post, figuring out what to write as a year-ender. In the past, I’ve done this survey about the past year. I’ll still do that, but I wanted to do something else. I don’t know what, but I’ve been inspired by several people’s posts.
There’s Kimmeh’s “first” post, where listed down things she did or experienced for the first time. Then there’s the various gratitude posts, which I truly would love to do, as I feel that 2010 was the year that I have so much to be thankful about. I decided to do a bit of both, since most of the firsts are also things I’m thankful for.
Being able to travel
This year I was able to get out of the usual places I go to. I went on a rather impromptu trip with my best friend and my brother to Bicol. It was the first trip Nez and I ever took together so it was fun. We had a lot of misadventures from the get-go but everything else was just great. It was also a first for so many things: Wakeboarding, going to Peñafrancia, Daraga Church, etc. It was also Miks’ first time on a plane.
I was also able to go to Bohol, and with a people I barely knew except through Plurk. It’s something out of my comfort zone, because I always believed that it was best to go someplace with people you know. However, I was proven to be wrong and had an amazing time with them.
It was also a thrill for me to bring some friends to Zambales. Even though I’ve been inviting people to visit, this is only the second time that friends really took me up on my invitation.
Celebrations with the family
This summer, Mama’s family took a vacation in Candelaria. We spent the weekend there, singing, swimming, eating and having a great time. For Mama and Nunik’s birthday, my Tita Ruth took us to Tagaytay for the weekend. It was great fun as I was with my crazy family and it allowed Mama to catch up with her siblings. Food and laugh trip all the way. It’s something I’m so very happy to have had.
This year we also had a string of family food gatherings, cookouts and trips, mostly with the Bañares side of the family. We went to Binondo, then had several food cookouts (including my birthday) and dinner whenever Tita Ruth and Tito Vic would arrive from a trip abroad.
Lolo Sal also celebrated his 85th birthday. We invited people who knew him from way back, and it was the first gathering we had for him since Lola passed away years ago. I think he enjoyed it, and I’m glad we had the chance to give him that.
Papa also won a position in the town council as kagawad in this year’s elections. It was a tight race, and even with all the challenges he won.
This year was when I expanded my circle of friends. Most of them are people I met through those I already know, or I got to know better through Plurk (I love that site). In a year’s time, I’ve gone on trips with them, eat all sorts of food, start a new hobby, saw them get married and seen all sorts of things (good ones, mostly).
This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There’s a lot more things I’m grateful for that happened in 2010. While it’s not the best year, it isn’t the worst either. There were so many challenges this year, but I’m so thankful to have hurdled them. 2011 will bring new challenges, and I think I’m set to face them. I’ve got my family, and I’ve got true friends who I know will help me, support me and give me a kick in the butt if they know I’m being stupid.
Today, I went to the 5th Christmas Toy Fair. It was also a joint event with the Mom’s Holiday Finds. I really wasn’t planning to get anything, but I was hoping to score some Pinky:St parts from Akihabara Toys. It was also my first trip outside after a week’s seclusion thanks to my infected eye. My sister gave me the go-signal to go out, so long as I take care of myself.
Yue, Ryan and I agreed to be there at 10 AM so we can maximize the morning. Yue arrived first while the mall was still closed. I arrived a few minutes later and Ryan came much, much later, thanks to the traffic in his area.
While waiting for Ryan, Yue and I went ahead exploring the booths that were there. According to Yue, this was a much bigger event than the last one she attended. Ryan said the same thing later on, that the space for the 2009 con was smaller than this year’s.
Here is the Akihabara Toys booth. They’re a toy store located at Malolos, Bulacan. Field trip, my fellow toy collectors?
Japanimation also had a booth there.
Since there’s so much to see, I will refrain from trying to write something in a narrative form. Instead, I will spam you with pictures (which you will see by clicking on “Read more” below) and provide some comments.
Last Saturday, I attended the wedding celebration of my friend Fristine to Alvin. There’s a lot of things unique about this wedding, not just on how it was celebrated, but also how I got acquainted with the couple. Fristine was a friend of my friend Lornadahl. I’ve never really spoken to her before, but Lorna asked if she could bring Fristine along when we planned on the Zambales trip a few months back. I said sure, because the more the merrier.
In all honestly, as much as I like to meet new people, I am very shy… to the extent that people see me as a snob. I am rather nervous at meeting friends of friends because I’m afraid that we may have nothing in common. There was no such thing with Fristine. From the get go, I was in awe of this woman who took whatever life had to offer — bad or good — and make it uniquely her own. The more time I spend with her, the more I admire her and oddly enough, the more I believe in myself. I don’t know if you’ll understand what I mean, but sometimes, you meet people who unconciously make you want to be a better person, people who inspire you simply because of who they are. Fristine was like that, and while I’ve got a long way to go before I’m truly happy with myself, I believe that I’ve changed for the better ever since I met her.
We don’t meet up much in real life, most of our talks were mostly on the Internet. Imagine my surprise when she not only invited me to join her wedding celebrations, but also to help make the invitations. I was floored, and very humbled. Here was this awesome woman asking me to create something for her. Pressure!
Fast forward to a few months later. Plans of having a bridal shower for Fristine was hatched through email and text messaging. Ideas flew, from hiring a macho dancer to what food to prepare. In the end, we fell back to the theme of her wedding: simple, intimate and a reflection of the things the bride believed in. We had dinner at Corner Tree Cafe in Jupiter St., Makati. I immediately fell in love with the place, cozy and homey. The food, wow. I’m a carnivore, and have long lived on the “meals are not complete if there isn’t at least on meat dish” mantra. However, the food here was so flavorful that you wouldn’t even look for meat. I enjoyed every bite and want more!
It was a lovely evening of good food and great company. Fristine had already been out with Lornadahl and Ces, and she didn’t really have an idea what was going on. When she saw who else was there, she was truly surprised. I was pretty excited myself that I spilled the beans on who else was coming haha. Sorry.
Fristine’s wedding day fell on the same birthday as my best friend, Carmenez. The first thing I did before accepting Fristine’s invitation was to ask Nez if she had anything special planned, especially as it was her 30th birthday. When she said she didn’t, I accepted the wedding invite. It was hard to choose between two good friends, one whom who’ve had for nearly all your life, and one whom you’ve just met. I feel blessed that both friends were that amazing.
Fristine and Alvin celebrated their wedding in a very unique way. The ceremony itself, held at the Filipinas Heritage Library, was for their family, and while many expressed their disappointment in not seeing the two exchange their vows, everyone understood. The second part was a guided tour at the Ayala Musuem, which the couple said they wanted to do in order to be able to share with their guests how wonderful the Philippines is and how much we can do to help bring it to its full glory. The tour made me both sad and happy.
We saw the exhibit of works by National Artists Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo, gold works of our ancestors from the Pre-Hispanic era, the diorama exhibit and more.
Closing the day’s festivities was dinner at Travel Cafe Philippines in Greenbelt 5. It’s my first time to try the place and I love it. The Pancit Buko was very tasty and filling, and you don’t feel guilty eating a lot.
The rest of the night was spent with much laughter. I had a great time meeting all these people that were there to help celebrate the couple’s union. I was both in awe and utterly humbled by these people.
Thank you Fristine and Alvin for sharing this part of your journey together with us. I look forward to your adventures in the years to come!
Saturday had me visiting Riverbanks for the Hobbyworx toy fair. Last month they had their event at Glorietta 5, where my friends managed to get great bargains on some merchandise. This month’s event had fewer booths, but had a cosplay and auction activities in partnership with Cosplay.ph.
I met Ryan, then with Drew. Nothing much to look at (except for the fascinating and somewhat creepy giant janitor fish in Marikina River), so we decided to head on to Makati to meet up with the rest of the Plurkers for pizza. I missed seeing Yue because I didn’t get there fast enough.
The trip to Cubao itself was an adventure. We were stuck in traffic next to a truckload of pigs. We couldn’t take the smell, so we got off at Project 4 and took a different route to Cubao. It was a familiar place for both Ryan and myself, so we pointed out places to Drew (much like touring a foreigner, which is now a running joke amongst us). When we got to Cubao, we stopped over at Ali Mall only long enough for me to get my Pinky:St dolls and the Chopper hat for Joiz.
The line for MRT tickets was long. It was also crowded inside the train, so we sort of just squeezed against each other. It was marginally better than the horrendous traffic along EDSA. When we arrived at Magallanes, we took a jeep to Makati Cinema Square, where Joiz was with Shabby, Marsha and Jan.
Danbo and the Chopper hat
Danbo wants pizza
Danbo loves the giant juice
I like the Chopper hat!
We ordered pizza, and knowing that it would take a while, Ryan, Drew and I went to Waltermart to look at Great Toys. Drew wanted to buy a toy because I got some and Ryan got comics. :p He ended up getting Revoltech Airi from Queen’s Blade.
Dinner was fun. We had the 27″ pizza and a plate of pasta. Surprise! Busog. Took pics, made fun of Joiz then headed off to Greenbelt for drinks. I got sleepy after one bottle of Super Dry, so I had coffee. I looked so cool.
I had to leave early because I had to be up and about by 6 AM the next day for the Samsung Galaxy Tab tour. I was late in getting up, but still earlier than everyone. I should get plus points… say, a free Tab. Hehe.
Saturday found me with friends and fellow toy enthusiasts Drew, Ryan and Joiz browsing through the booths of various toy shops at the October Toy Fair in Glorietta 5.
Ryan jumped into the comic book bins, while the rest of us went around looking at what’s for sale. I never really intended to buy anything, but I did get my first Pinky St. from Ryan.
There were more than twenty booths that fit in the activity area of Glorietta 5. My favorite booth had to be Akihabara toys, which mostly had anime figures. Original, high priced toys stood side by side with bootleg copies, while vintage toys also attracted some attention. I saw two complete sets of Voltron Go Lion die-casts (just the figures, minus the accessories), while there were also some loose lions for sale. Sadly, it is very much over my budget so I just gazed at them until I was dragged away by my friends.
After lunch we planned to head to Bonifacio High Street but the rain was too strong, so we went back to the toy fair to wait for Fritz. He went there solely to buy the Black Rock Shooter figure from Figma.
Everyone got something that day. Joiz hauled a set of four Ruroni Kenshin figures, Drew gave in to buying a Peter Venkman figure while I got a cute pendant, aside from the Pinky St. figure.
Afterwards, we went to UCC near 6750 to take pictures and trade other stuff.
Some behind the scenes
Speaking of toys, here is one that I haven’t shared with the world just yet.
It’s a pair of Star Wars chopsticks from Kotobukiya US. Rochelle of magnetic_rose.net had a raffle for two of these babies, and I won one of them. This is Mace Windu’s. It’s nine inches long, made out of plastic. The saber handles are detailed like the actual weapon it’s patterned from, and the “light” part is also made of plastic that is safe to use with food. There’s also a chopstick rest with the logo “Star Wars”. As my cousin and Star Wars fan would say, “Awesome!”
And here is my new Pinky St: Maki. Thanks Ryan!
I haven’t edited this, so sorry for the awful photo.
*A warning posted at one of the displays. No pic, tsk.
The weekend’s coming up again soon. I’m loving my Saturdays because I get to see my friends and do fun things with them. I really wish I could split myself a la Naruto so I could see all my friends, but alas, I can not.
I was late in meeting Drew, who patiently waited at the MRT station. The NCF was a jeep’s ride away, and was already in full swing when we arrived. There were various exhibits, lectures and activities guests can participate in, including an aikido demonstration, origami lessons, tea ceremony basics and a trivia booth. There were also a few items for sale, and for Php5, you can rent a cute hat for a photo op.
You can also rent and wear a yukata for the day. Drew agreed to wear one after I said I will, but the girls’ yukata had a long line, and I didn’t bring mine.
There was also food available. They looked yummy, even if they were packed in styrofoam boxes.
We spent less than two hours there. Headed off north so Drew could go to Gilmore and I to Ateneo.
The 1st Human Heart Nature Summit I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to attend because I wasn’t able to pay for the tickets. Imagine my surprise (and glee) when I got a message saying that tickets would be sold for half the price! Instead of paying P500 for two, I got to pay P300! What luck!
I arrived shortly before one. I picked up my tickets and purchased the mineral make-up at only P215. Haven’t used it yet, so don’t expect any reviews.
Fristine was already inside, and I got to hang out with Lornadahl. We saw Bryan McClelland, the guy who makes bamboo bikes. Tita Rose arrived shortly after and we went inside.
Suzy Andrada-Abrera, a Human Heart Nature dealer herself, was one of the lively hosts of the program. Anna Meloto-Wilk, her husband Daniel and HHN spokesperson Rachel Grant all said a few words. Daniel also introduced members of the HHN team who are from various GK villages. As they told their stories, I couldn’t help but tear up. Awards were also given to the best performing HHN branch and dealer.
My beautiful friends
HHN also introduced the “One Heart, One Community” program, where 100% of the proceeds from the company’s best selling product will go to the community who provides the main ingredient for that product. Imagine, ALL the proceeds go to them and not Human Heart Nature. Wow.
The program lasted until 5 PM. There was also a search for the next HHN ambassador, as well as a very rousing performance from the Ryan Cayabyab Singers. Tony Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga, said a few words as the program ended. It rained while we were inside, making the air cooler as we stepped out to head our own ways. There were various booths outside, other organic producers, NGOs and groups.
It was definitely a success. Until the next summit!
September seems to be my vacation/travel month. Two years ago I visited Sagada. Last year, I went to Baguio (which shouldn’t really count). This year, I surpassed my quota (if I actually had any) by going to three different places: Bicol, Tagaytay and Bohol.
It’s my first time to see Bohol outside TV and pictures and it’s a strong candidate for a place I want to retire to. Seriously. While some people prefer city life, I can happily survive in small, provincial towns. Given that I hardly go out most of the time, I hate pollution and traffic, it’s an ideal place. Not to mention that there’s Internet there too.
I was with fellow Plurkers Joiz, Jan, Shabby and Marco. We booked for three days and two nights at Linaw Beach Resort in Panglao island. Of all the places we asked, this was the one that replied rather promptly with all the details we needed. The pictures showed a rather nice place so everyone gave it their approval. When we got to the resort, oh my. It was worth every centavo. Downside: no complimentary breakfast. Everything else was good.
We were practically the only people there, although we did see some people from other resorts dropping by the restaurant for dinner and some visitors coming in the next few days. It was nice to have it all to ourselves. On the first day, we didn’t do much except to go around and take pictures. The atmosphere was so relaxing, I would feel drowsy every time I sit down (which was what happened some time after lunch). Sat down to read “Hunger Games”, then the next thing I knew, it was mid afternoon and everyone was gone.
On our second day, we went on the countryside tour around Bohol. That means no island hopping, nothing too tiring or adventurous — unless you count crossing that hanging bridge that had me screaming bloody murder when everyone started jumping and swaying. I did not relish the idea of falling twenty or so feet into the brown waters of Loboc River. Yes, I was scared. Very much so. :p
So, tour. It started off rather promisingly, especially with the Belgian guys. Headed off to the Chocolate Hills (too many tourists posing for wacky shots), then to the butterfly sanctuary (did you know that there are butterflies that are both male and female?). Took a look at some tarsiers (I kinda felt sorry for the little creatures), crossed that blasted bridge (twice), caused traffic along the man-made forest and went on the Loboc River tour.
My best friend Carmenez invited me on a trip to Legaspi, Albay. It had been years since I last stepped foot on my motherís home province and I jumped on the chance. A few days later, she asked if I knew of anyone else who wanted to go, so I took my brother Miks along.
The moments before the actual flight were rather tense. one reason was mostly due to my carelessness, and the other one was purely because of fate. But when the plane was in the air and we landed in Legaspi, we didnít really care and had a grand time laughing about it.
Day 1: Legaspi and Daraga It was Miksí first time to ride a plane, and his first visit back to Bicol after twenty years. He was roughly two years old when he first visited, and hasnít been back since. He said that the plane ride was rather short (less than an hour from Manila to Legaspi), but enjoyed it nonetheless.
Upon landing, we immediately whipped out our cameras for a shot at the tarmac, even though we were asked not to take pictures in the runway. Since there were not much activity, the airport personnel was a bit more accommodating.
We were able to get a ride with someone Carmenez knew from work, so we arrived at our hotel pretty quickly. Sampaguita Tourist Inn is located along Rizal St., and is easily accessible through public or private transportation. Itís relatively cheap and clean. Our room had three single beds, one bathroom, a TV with cable, aircon and fan. itís the bare essentials, but for P750+ per night, itís very good. Thereís no WiFi in the rooms, but thereís a free connection at the lobby. Thereís also a restaurant on the first floor, but I donít know how the food is.
After dumping our things and freshening up a bit, we headed out. Pacific Mall was our first stop, where we were told we can easily get rides to where we needed to go. A trike is P7 per person, but for some reason the drivers kept asking for P30 for the three of us. It wouldnít be so bad, but the total of those extra three pesos does make a difference.
Mall nanaman? Pacific Mall is a Gaisano mall, hence the familiar uniforms of the department store ladies. The funny thing was it was only a few blocks away from our hotel, and we couldíve easily walked to it. It houses several familiar establishments like McDonaldís, Jollibee, Bench, Penshoppe and National Bookstore.
We had lunch at Graceland, all because we thought there were two Jollibee stores in the mall, thanks to the mascot Qweenie. For less than P100, you get a full meal. Miks and I had lechon kawali with Bicol Express, while Nez had porkchop with laing.
Right on the second floor is the store my friends and I know and love so well: Booksale. Since I was with the friend who introduced me to it, we just had to pass by. Iím sure my brother rolled his eyes as we made a beeline for it. I purchased a book for Lolo, while Nez hauled in some pocketbooks at P15 each.
We finished running our errands and headed off to the Philippine Ports Authority office, where Nez met up with people she knew from work. We took a trike from the mall, which then dropped us off in front of the Naval base. Unfortunately neither the trike driver nor the security guard we asked knew where PPA was, so we were off for a long walk. We made some wrong turns but eventually ended up where we needed to be.
Most of Legaspiís government offices are located in one compound. I saw the Civil Service, DOST, DOT, LTO, Commission on Audit, DILG among others. There were other government offices outside the compound but they were more like satellite offices.
The Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga
We headed off to Daraga to see the Cagsawa Ruins. The last time I was there, it seemed like it was just a big field with the bell tower in the middle of it. Now thereís a gate, where you have to pay the entrance fee, plus stalls where you can buy souvenirs. Inside the compound, we ran into King, a young man who took us around the ruins and told us the story behind it. He was also really cool to take pictures of us, and gave us information on where we could go next. If ever you do stop by the Cagsawa Ruins, look for King.
Our next stop was Daraga church, which sits on top of a hill. Daraga was celebrating its fiesta the next day, so the church was all spruced up. It had an amazing view of Mayon, and thanks to Kingís tips, we were able to get great pictures of the church and the volcano.
It was late afternoon when we got back to Legaspi, so we opted to go to Bacacay the next day, after wakeboarding in CamSur. Instead, we freshened up and went downtown to look for the bus terminal. Legaspi has a busy downtown district, the only thing I recall ever seeing back then was LCC Mall. We took a walk around but didnít find what we wanted. We poked around an ukay-ukay store, and I finally saw the post office, complete with a really odd statue of kneeling headless man. According to my research, it was originally found along the townís port area and is a memorial to a guerilla hero beheaded by the Japanese during World War II.
Legaspi’s night life A short walk away is the Embarcadero, a waterfront development full of stores and restaurants, considered as the portal of nightlife in Legaspi. Much of it is still under development, and will house a hotel and spa as well as a IT park in the future. For now, it has enough to keep one entertained. We had dinner in Biggs Diner, one of Bicol’s popular food chain.
At first, Nez wasn’t impressed because it functioned quite like McDonaldís where you have to line up to order instead of sitting down then ordering from a menu. However, when our orders came, we didnít have anything bad to say about it. For the price, Biggís is well worth it. The servings are, well, big, and the taste lives up to the images that are posted on the menu board.
For a Monday night, there were a lot of people milling about. There was a boxing event, and there was a live band playing. Nez wanted coffee, so we looked around for a coffeeshop. No Starbucks or CBTL, instead, we saw La Mia Tazza. Like Biggís and Graceland, it is purely homegrown. Many of the drinks and the desserts have incorporated what Bicol is known for. I just tried tea, but I heard that they have drinks with pili nuts. My mom would love that.
We spent the rest of the evening listening to the band, then headed back to Sampaguita to rest as we had to get up early the next day.
Wow. I’m on a roll. Yet another post for the week. It feels good to be able to get back into the groove of writing and blogging. Five years ago I used to write blog posts at least twice a day. Now, barely one a week, so this is certainly a good thing.
Met up with Drew at Megamall to meet up with some friends from Plurk who were going to Metro Comic Con. To kill time, we went around Cyberzone to check out things for a future desktop. I drooled over Android phones and DSLRs. Later, we met up with Gilbz, Shabby, Joiz and Ryan at Teriyaki Boy.
After eating, we went around some toy stores, then headed back to the 5th floor to try and get some pictures of the cosplayers. In the end, we got the surprise of our lives when the “crush ng Plurk bayan” got her photo taken by a fan. Oha. Walang costume yan!
Sorry about the bad photos. I wasn’t really in the mood to take them
Ryan & Gilbz had to go, so the remaining four of us went to Forever 21 to look at some things. We dragged Drew, who babysat Jack while we girls went around. I finished my task rather quickly, so I sat with him and took random photos. Made a little girl a wee envious as I hugged Jack.
Afterwards, the three south side folks went home, and I went to meet Den at KFC. Dinner was California Maki Twister, then some rounds of bookhunting. Came up empty handed.