June 19, 2016

Weekend trip in Puerto Galera

Summer in the Philippines isn't complete without swimming at the beach or pool. If given with enough time, resources, and preparation, I would want to spend much time taking a dip in some clear waters. Especially in summer time when it can get extremely hot and humid, who would not enjoy a trip to the beach?

Last April 29, we arranged a trip to White Beach, Puerto Galera (PG) with the TPWNs (read as Tapawan: my husband's family). Unfortunately, Tatie, my father-in-law did not come with us because it was far. Travel from Naic to PG could take at least five hours so we opted to leave early. There were a lot of tourists waiting for their scheduled trip, both locals and Koreans! We would have chosen to go to PG on weekdays to avoid the crowd but unfortunately, Michael's siblings could go during weekends only.
An hour and a half boat ride - Father & Sons Shipping Line
Upon arrival in White Beach and after paying the environmental fee, we started looking for an affordable accommodation for two days and two nights. We did not book in advance because we were quite confident that we could find one when we were there already. After half an hour of search, we chose a non-beachfront AC cottage with a kitchen for Php 2 500/night. It wasn't a bad deal at all but it was surprisingly more pricey than our accommodation in El Nido, Palawan! Anyway, it was nice that they didn't charge us with a per-head fee.
Welcome to White Beach!
We put our bags in the cottage and took a rest for a while before we went out for a late lunch. We ate at Foodtrip sa Galera and strolled at the shore after. We decided to buy at the talipapa and cook for dinner instead. Late that afternoon, we had a swim and there were a lot of people! I could say that the water was not as clear as before. When I went there for the first time, I was actually amazed at the blue waters!

Lunch at Foodtrp sa Galera. Ryan and Ruth weren't here yet.
The next day, we woke up early and headed to the town church to listen to the mass. The ride from our accommodation to the church took 20 minutes; it was far! Only a few people were waiting for the mass to start. After the mass, we asked around to find the market and buy food for our meals. We wanted to save as much and the kitchen in our cottage was a big help. I think we spent around Php 1 500, good for three meals for seven persons.

Around ten in the morning, Ryan and Ruth (Michael's siblings) arrived in PG. We called Ate Jenny to set an island hopping tour for us. We got to know her when we were looking for a cottage. Island hopping tour costs Php 1 500 for our whole group. Snorkeling gears were also included, but we had to go to another port where the boats were docked and were waiting for the tourists. We listed our names in the logbook, paid some fees (which I already forgot how much), and waited for the boat.
At the port, waiting for the boat.
The first activity in the tour was snorkeling. The water was clear and blue and we saw corals and some fish. The tour guide told us that we could rent small boats to get us to prettier snorkeling sites where we could do other activities such as fish feeding. We did not take the offer and we went off to another place with a lot of sea stars.
Snorkeling and looking for schools of fish!
There were no other boats where we snorkeled hence, the sea creatures underwater were not disturbed that much. We enjoyed seeing the sea stars and colorful fish!
Holding on the katig because the current are quite strong
For the last stop, we sailed to a beach and spent an hour relaxing there. We ate some snacks that we brought and took pictures there. We left when it was almost five in the afternoon.
Michael and I, with our toasted skin.
Underwater shot attempt - failed
This was such a good shot - thanks to our tour guide slash photographer.
TPWN (L-R: Michael, Ruth, me, Nanie, Theresa, Maan, Ryan)
Last shot before going to the boat
Going back to the port
Happy, sunny, faces!
Bright sun!
The tour was quite tiring but fun! We took a shower back in the cottage and prepared dinner. That night, we checked out the beach to see what's there to do. It was loud and crowded because all the bars and resto had different shows. There were fire dancers and people drinking alcohol almost everywhere. It was like a town fiesta at the beach. After checking out the strip of bars, we walked back to our cottage and slept.

The morning after, we looked for souvenir shirts and items. Our trip back to Batangas port was at ten o'clock AM so we had an early lunch. We reached Naic after five hours of travel.

PG is a relatively cheaper destination with a lot of beach and inland activities to offer. For people who are on a budget and want a nice beach with a night life, PG is the answer. If ever my feet takes me again to PG, I'll definitely try the inland tours! :)

May 31, 2016

Short and sweet

Vacation is a necessity when you are working or studying. Whether it is long or short, it helps give balance to tired mind and body, particularly when one is nearly burning out. Sometimes, weekends and regular days off from work are not enough to re-energize and motivate someone who's too fed up with the cycle of work, especially the people who works in a different country, far from families and loved ones.

Fortunately, my husband is entitled to an annual vacation to our home country and we decided to use it last April and May. We counted the days and weeks until our vacation and planned trips with families and few friends. We chose to spend a great amount of our time with families simply because, family first. We thought that being with our family and bringing them to great places especially our parents, were a way of giving back, and an expression of gratitude for the love (and time and money) they spent in our early years. Maybe next time, we'll do more meet-ups with friends and acquaintances.

Our hometown in Cavite, Naic, did not quite change at all. Yes, there were new places and cafés to hangout in, which we did not get a chance to try, and there was a rise in population brought by relocation, but the ambiance of the town is quite the same. That is actually one of the things I like in Naic, it gives you a warm feeling and a sense of home.
Waiting for boarding
Our flight to Manila was actually delayed for two hours. But hey, we're still happy.
We were really glad and grateful upon our arrival in Manila. The 9-hour flight from Riyadh to Manila only added up to the excitement of seeing our family after many months. When we saw some friends who seemed genuinely happy upon seeing us, we felt happier. Though we have missed a lot of happenings with them, it doesn't seem to matter.

We traveled to different pretty places in the Philippines; some were really far. We went to Baler, El Nido, Puerto Galera, and not so far places such as Tagaytay and Batangas. Summer in the Philippines is really fun and great. I hope to write about our adventures in those beautiful places!

Aside from traveling and visiting some places, we also made sure to attend the Sunday mass because it's definitely one of the things that we missed while staying in Riyadh. It felt new and refreshing to see and hear the gospel with other people in the church.

April 5, 2016

Morning walk by the lake

Spring has come here in the kingdom, and the winter winds have slowly gone away. It won't feel too cold for picnics in the park or morning walks anymore. My husband and I planned to visit one of the lakes just around Riyadh, since we wanted to go somewhere because we had a stressful week.

The initial plan was to visit Wadi Hanifah on Saturday morning. We saved the route in Google map, followed the directions but we did not find any access going to the lake. We were a little disappointed so we searched again for another lake nearby and found Wadi Namar. With the directions we found and signage along the way, it was easier to find this lake. 

It was still early when we reached Wadi Namar. Few families were already gathering around for picnic. There were children enjoying their bicycles, and groups of women enjoying their walk while chatting. Some men preferred sitting on their picnic mats while enjoying their cups of tea. We looked for a bench where we could eat our sandwiches and coffee before finally walking along the park. Next time, we'll buy a mat that we could bring for times like this.

Palm trees and seating benches are plenty in the park. The sun was up but the wind was still a bit cold that morning. Unfortunately, we did not bring sweater because winter is over, but walking kept us warm. The lake was calm even when some ducks were swimming and looking for food. A man feeding the ducks with leftover bread greeted us "As-salamu alaykum." Indeed, it was a peaceful morning.

A reminder to people visiting the lake.
In between the palm trees.
Michael posing after looking at the ducks and the not-so-clean water
A sunny day!
Namar Lake
My husband and I snapped a quick shot on top of the dam before we left.
A view from the top.
We had fun spending our morning by the lake. The only thing that concerns me is the rubbish that's all over the place. There were trash bins in every side but it seems that some people frequenting the place are not responsible enough with their waste. Yes, there are cleaners assigned to manage the park, but we should not just leave our rubbish behind. This simple practice of cleaning up before we go can help a lot. Anyway, we had a splendid morning in Wadi Namar!

You can check this page for other photos of this place. You can use this location map of Wadi Namar if you're planning to visit. :)

March 17, 2016

Speak again, speak like rain *

Writing poems seemed like an effortless hobby when I was in college. I felt good when I wrote something down, even when no one would have the chance to read them. The poems I write are quite short but enough and are usually inspired by particular situations.

I love reading poetry that speaks to thyself. So when I stumbled upon videos of people reading out their poetry aloud and famous verses read by some people, I began to appreciate the words more, spoken out with proper intonations and emotions. I attended a journalism seminar when I was younger with a session on poetry reading, but it did not strike me more than the videos I have watched. I supposed that spoken word isn't so famous when I first heard about it. Nonetheless, spoken word as an art has been going on for a long time, even before printing presses evolved. When I saw clips of performances by different artists especially Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye, I enjoyed them very much that I would want to personally see and listen to spoken word performances. When Love Arrives is a great piece about savoring each moment we encounter love. I wished I knew them before they came to the Philippines.

I also found about the Anima community, and they are producing clips sending messages and verses from the bible. Their messages are both empowering and inspiring. It's pleasing that their community is able to use this kind of art for their missions. The video below entitled Who You Are: A Message To All Women spoken by Jon Jorgenson is one of my faves. Loads of spoken word artists make pieces with positive messages and advantages of personal relationship with Jesus. These pieces are especially appealing to visual and auditory learners.

Spoken word has become more popular in the Philippines when one television series (which I never saw though) featured a spoken word poet named Juan Miguel Severo. It was a hit and all of sudden, more people have been sharing verses and prose from that particular poet. I have watched one of his performances (through the clips of course) and I found it intense and full of emotions. Words Anonymous artists are also great and they have been sharing clips of different pieces. Recently, I got ahold of Zuela Herrera's Dulo't Simula with a fitting video. I loved the words and the rhymes that she used. It talks about lovers that will always find each other. I've said it before and I'll say it again, love is universal and people will not tire talking about it. You can also check out the other artists out there who are equally amazing.

Some of the poems I have written were collected by my husband. One of those was about happiness and was made into a music piece - my husband recorded himself speaking the words with his original composition playing in the background. That piece entitled Masaya Ang Mundo was apparently included in our wedding songs. I am proud of his work and wished that we can make more projects like this in the future. Take a listen.

Poetry has been undeniably a part of my life and I will go always go back to it, whether as a writer, a listener, or a reader. Maybe soon, I'll write again, and write like rain. :)

* Out of Africa, Isak Dinesen

March 10, 2016

See you soon

Few more weeks and the second term in our school will end. Some of the kids will be leaving next week to spend Easter in their home country. And it means that we have to do their assessments before they leave.

Anyway, my husband and I also planned to spend the holy week in the Philippines. It has been years since my husband missed Semana Santa and the traditions that go with it. But, there was a problem when he filed our vacation leave so we'll have to go to the Philippines at a later time. Still, that's alright! That means we'll be going there when the schools are on break. And, it's summer - best time to go to the beach!

We are already talking about the things that we want to do while in the Philippines, aside from eating at different places. Haha! I just don't want to laze around when we are at home, so better list down sensible things to do with the family. We are going to travel to somewhere with our families, but I don't want to put in a lot of money for our travels. So, we must budget too and mind our savings.
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