Monday, March 28, 2011

My Trip to Puerto Princesa Palawan

Two down!

I was looking at my list of resolutions for the year and I crossed 2 items. I've went to the dentist (and had my tooth extracted) and I've traveled enough to appreciate the Philippines more than I ever did. Good job!

I recently went to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and everything about it is just amazing as I expected. From the flight to the food, I had a great time.

Boarding a plane was first time thing. Although, I was told that I've flown before, I was too young to appreciate the experience. So when I did it this time, the moment the plane lift off the ground, it was a wow moment! Seeing the world from the top makes me realize how small I am in a big, big world. Amazing! As I watch the Philippines from atop, I am reminded of the fact that we have 7107 islands, amazing islands. It's true when they say we have a lot of beaches and I never realized until then. I saw abundant beaches and coral reefs that seemed to have not been reached by anyone yet. I hope so. There are places and creatures that we should just leave alone.

I travelled with my friends Che and Cha who are experienced travellers. You don't wanna travel with anyone who doesn't know a thing about places do you? Hehehe. I am thankful for these two girls, they made my life away from home easier.

We started our 3 day stay with a city tour. We contracted a trike driver to take us to popular tourist spots in the city. We went to Butterfly Garden, Crocodile Farm, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Plaza Cuartel, Tiange Tiange, Mitra's Ranch, Baker's Hill, Bay Walk. The city's tag line is "the city in the forest" and it is! A typical province ambience but with more greens. I was overwhelmed by the number of restaurants. But of course, it's a popular tourist destination after all. We decided to drop the visit to Iwahig Prison and the Firefly watching, they were too far, we had to add additional price and we felt that firefly watching is not unique to Palawan.

The next day we went to the Underground River and did a side-trip to the Ugong Rock. Che heavily promoted the Underground River to me, and I would say that it's the part of the trip that I anticipated the most. It is located 50 km from the city proper. Once we got to the site, I have to say, that I didn't expect too many tourists. We have to wait for our turn to navigate the river that runs through a cave using paddle boat that can accommodate 11 people including the boatman. The waiting time took half of my excitement, but once we got inside, I felt that it was really worth the wait. Contrary to the climate in the area, it was cold inside. The stalactites and stalagmites are awesome, they form various shapes like a dinosaur, a woman, the Holy Family, etc. It's amazing how nature works.

The side trip to Ugong Rock was not part of our travel package. Ugong is a term that locals use for echo. It was called as such because the stalactites inside the Ugong Rock creates a Wadaiko-like sound when tapped. The tour guide said that these Ugong Rocks were submerged in water million years ago. I tried to wiki it but found nothing about it yet.

the tallest Ugong Rock

So we did a brief spelunking on the smallest Ugong Rock, and as fun as it may sound, it was hard. Che told me that it was 50 times easier compared to the caving they did in Sagada. Once we got to the top, we had the option to take the zip line to go down but I (and Cha) didn't have the courage to do it. We had to take the same route we took going up. I realized that I'm physically weak and not made for outdoors. I'll never do that again.

the hardest moment of my life XD

The third day was the Honda Bay island hopping. The main activity is to swim and snorkel. I originally had no plans of dipping into the sea. I don't really enjoy swimming, simply because I don't know how and I hate to wear a swim suit. I thought that I'd just bum out there and enjoy the sight of the sea, but then there's snorkeling and I couldn't pass on that one. I skipped the snorkelling at the Pambato Reef but indulged once we got to Snake Island. I love looking at the corals and mingling with the fish. The scene under the sea reminded me of Finding Nemo (I think any kid would) and I just have no word to describe it other than awesome. After the lunch at Snake Island, we hopped to Pandan Island. There's really not much difference other than the finer sand and the abundance of Pandan trees. Snake Island by the way does not boast abundant number of snakes, but the island itself is shaped like a snake. The waves are stronger during our stay in Pandan Island so I opted to stay on the shore and made an attempt to make a snowman out of sand. I burned my skin for this cause but a mound was the closest thing it resembled. Epic fail hehehe.

The whole trip burned me out. The next day I called in sick for work. But it was really worth all that energy. By the time I post this, I'm already thinking of a next trip. Where to? I'll see...

Monday, March 14, 2011


The week ended with a very heavy mood. As what have been said all over in the news, Japan was devastated by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, followed by a massive Tsunami, and now, the threat of a nuclear meltdown. It's always been hard to see a country devastated by such disaster. But it's been extra saddening for me because Japan has always been closer to my heart. Seeing a country I love so much go down right before my eyes is just heart breaking. At the same time, scared. Scared that something similar, God forbid, would happen here. In a time like this, the least I can do is pray. But you have the means to help, please do.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Remembering Francis M

I'm browsing some pictures from archive folders when I saw some Francis Magalona pics. It was a little timing because March 6 is his death anniversary. And believe it or not, my playlist coincidentally played "Kaleidoscope World" while looking at the pictures. I remember these pictures were taken sometime in October 2006, it was an Octoberfest event it Eastwood. He was performing the same song that I'm listening right now. This was the first and the last time I saw him perform.

Francis M. is one of the few Filipino musicians that I really like and I think are talented. He wouldn't be dubbed as the King of Rap if he wasn't. I remember, when he died 2 years ago, I felt sad as a fan and as a Filipino. He was one of the few artists I know that had originality and sense of pride of being a Filipino. And he was cute too. He was 42 when i last saw him, but he looked way younger than that.

It has been 2 years since he passed a way. It was such a loss in the music industry, gone too soon, but his legacy as a musician lives on.

soup anyone?

It has been a weekly habit. But I gotta say, I am so hooked. I am in love with the new item on Pizza Hut Bistro's menu. The Pumpkin Bacon soup. I've always loved soup and order one every time I go on a fine dining in. You don't normally see them on fast food that's why. But I love soup. Though I usually crave for it when I'm sick, I'd often go to Soup Kitchen, but now the branch in Megamall is gone, I had to settle with French Baker's soup of the day in a bread bowl. Then last February, Pizza Hut Bistro launched their latest product, and it was just love!

Meeting a Japanese Girl

I had the pleasure of having my first Japanese encounter last Wednesday. Okay not excatly first encounter. I've been to a lot of Japanese related events, had several Ebay transactions with Japanese sellers (my favorite Ebay seller is a Japanese by the way *shout out to Seiki-san*), my former boss once introduced her former boss to me. But all of them were more of a hi, hello, will you sign my stuff, thank you, excellent, ja mata ne and all that one liner thingie. My friend Che is a member of a wonderful Japanese NGO that provides various voluntary works here in the Philippines. I don't have a comprehensive idea of what they do, but Che told me once that they set up a portable water system in Palumbanes island. I don't exactly know where it is, but it's somewhere in the Bicol region. Since I really don't know much of the details, let's just say she has a Japanese friend named Risa that she introduced to me and my other colleague, Bryan. We ate breakfast at Chowking because she likes Kangkong (Water Spinach a.k.a Ipomoea aquatica). While it surprised me in weird way that she likes Kangkong, it amazed me to know that she knows Tagalog and had lived in
Palumbanes island for a month. To go here for travel is common, to do some charity works is admirable, but to actually immerse yourself to the life of the locals, in a remote place where electricity is supplied by a generator and runs for a limited time... is just awe inspiring. It was a pleasing experience, to talk to a Japanese and ask a lot of questions and confirm my knowledge about Japan and its culture. It ignited my desire to go to Japan. Gosh, I hope I can go there before my passport expires... I have to start saving...

demonstrating how to eat Halo-halo

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

kidd's breakfast

(Puto is the yellow one, Kuchinta is the brown one, and Niyog is the white stuff)

Puto is Philippine steamed rice cake prepared practically all over the country and eaten alone, with butter or butter substitute and/or grated fresh coconut or as accompaniment to a number of savory dishes for breakfast (most notably, with dinuguan). - from

Kuchinta is another delicious steamed cake made of rice flour, sugar and water. The ingredients may sound so simple yet tastes excellent especially when topped with shredded coconut. - from

I normally have Pandesal for breakfast, but on days that I'd catch a mobile vendor of puto and kuchinta, I'd have them instead. See, these are some of the things that I like living in the province. Traditional food like these are easily accessible at the right time. There are times that I'd wake up at the sound of the vendor yelling "puto, kuchinta". For me, morning is the best time to eat them. For eight years that I stayed in Manila, I can't remember ever eating puto or kuchinta for breakfast, unless I would eat out.

They are best accompanied with niyog (grated coconut). I think for a couple of years we stopped buying from the mobile vendors because part of the cost cutting strategy of the owners was to eliminate the niyog. They're just not the same without niyog, but this morning, there's a vendor and my mom asked me if I want it for breakfast, and the first thing I asked was "may niyog ba?" (is there grated coconut?). And she said, yes. So I was in for a great breakfast! Ittadakimasu!