Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Lesson on Humility

I was quite excited about the long weekend because I was celebrating the tenth anniversary of my 25th birthday. My friends encouraged me to celebrate since there was a lot to be thankful for. I had three separate home parties (that means I cooked!). The first one was planned by my Mom and Tita. It was held at my parents' house and was no different from the childhood birthday parties I had (sans the balloons). I even blew the candles with both my parents beside me (my choice!). The other two was just done at home with some childhood friends and I'm glad they liked my cooking.

One thing though marred my special day. As we were about to leave for my parents' house we heard a car horn honking like mad. The hubby went out to check it out. I wondered why he was taking so long so I went out to investigate who arrived. As I peeked out of the door the guy in the green car (he was the one honking madly) started to scream at me. Apparently he was upset that our guest (who was picking us up) somehow double parked the car (but the road was still passable, I don't drive all that well but I would've managed to get through).

During this time the hubby was moving the car behind another neighbor's vehicle. I apologized to the guy, but he kept on ranting and kept on saying, "I don't f--king care if your guests just arrived and are about to leave! Hindi ganyan mambastos ng kapitbahay, mga bagong salta lang kayo dito!" I just kept apologizing to him continuously, but he was in a rage and I didn't bother explaining that I've lived in the same village since birth. I waited for Jay to come back inside our house and the guy just kept on hurling insults at us. I just said one final apology and closed the door.

What happened hurt and I was shaking until about an hour after. To experience so much rage from someone we don't know was truly a scary experience and I wondered why I had to experience it on my birthday. When we got to my parents' house I immediately relayed to my parents and my Mom's friends what happened. I also told them that I was worried what may happen the next two days since I was expecting guests. My Tita immediately called the village security officer and requested for them to be around our place for the next two days (she's the village association president so it would be a big headache for her if anything else happened). That's what helped me calm down a bit and I soon managed to enjoy the party.

I still wondered though why it happened. The answer came during the homily the next day where our guest priest talked about humility. He said that being humble doesn't only mean not being a show-off. It's not only a test of character when you receive praise. Showing humility in times of trouble. The most powerful word, which should be the last word, during fights is an apology. The totally wrecked my mindset since I was really indignant about the incident. We weren't at fault and I thought he shouldn't have made a mountain about a mole hill. I wanted to find the neighbor. I wanted to talk it out or something just to get the bad feeling off my chest.

It took about 24 hours before the sermon sank in and as the priest said, "Humility is one of the hardest and most painful values to learn. Be thankful when God reminds you about it." It was a painful experience, but I'm glad we just held on and did not fight fire with fire. It would have just probably created a bigger mess. We always wondered as well why our neighbors don't seem to know each other (unlike in the street where I used to live, about 7 streets away). It was truly a painful experience to be berated by someone you don't know. Much less to be scolded by a mistake that isn't yours.

I thought I'd blog about it to get it totally out of my system and to be a reminder of the lesson on humility I received on my birthday.

And here's a song for my neighbor:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Heart of Healing

I wrote about a miracle last year. I was miraculously healed from heart failure. My Singaporean cardiologist was quite surprised that I was in good shape and took out most of my maintenance medicines. The planned heart surgery last year was postponed. It's been more than a year since the planned heart surgery and I've since been slowly getting over my allergies. I can now eat/drink chocolate, Coca-cola and I'm halfway over my allergies for crabs and shrimps! Hooray!

Early this year though, my cardio advised that I should still go through heart surgery so that I could live a normal life again and have more kids. I was really saddened over that and became a bit depressed over it. For a few weeks after my check-up I ended up having asthma attacks almost everyday and I was not my usual perky self.

Ardy Roberto's book "The Heart of Healing" was a token from a talk I gave. I was immediately hooked when I started reading the book while waiting for Sweetie to pick me up. The book is about Ardy's wife who had lupus. Lupus is a disease that isn't curable and Ardy's journey wasn't an easy one. I am glad though that I came across the book because it surely reminded me of what Fr. Faller said during his homily. He said that healing may not be immediate, but may come in phases.

The cloud that was on me for the past few months lifted half-way through the book. Healing is indeed a process which often takes time to happen. I continue to pray to be healed so I can continue my mission.

It's my birthday today and I'd just like to thank my family, friends and everyone who has touched my life for being there. And, of course, thank you Papa God for the healing grace.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

10 Things that were Non-Existent Back in the 1980s

This post was inspired by the game that was played during Neo's launch of its newest 3D gaming laptop where we were challenged to name as many things that were non-existent during the 80s. I can easily name 30, but would just limit this post to ten things I use a lot now.


I remember back in high school me and my imaginative friends dreamt that we would eventually talk/chat easily through a computer. We all had PCs with monochrome monitors and no internet access yet when we had that conversation. It did come true. My best friend lives in Cebu and I only get to talk to my other friends via chat (GTalk, YM, Facebook, Skype and ICQ).

Mobile Phones and Wireless Landlines

I was issued my first mobile phone when I worked for a telco. It was the N100 and was nicknamed "pangkaskas ng yelo" because it was solid and heavy. It could only do voice calls back then. And who would've thought that we could carry around our landline phone? Smart phones nowadays, like my NexusOne, gets you on the internet in a jiffy. Oh back in the early 80s our phone had a rotary dialer. My son couldn't imagine how it worked.

CDs and Dibidi (DVD)

I used to collect cassette tapes and record my favorite songs while listening to the radio (unheard of for Miguel!). We also used to watch movies on Betamax and eventually VHS tapes. Nowadays one's favorite song can be easily acquired by buying the CD and movies through DVD (and BluRay!).

Email and Social Networking Sites

I lost touch with a number of friends to immigrated when I was a kid. I'm quite happy that I've found most of them through social networking sites like Friendster, Facebook, Multiply etc. Back then the only way to stay in touch was by calling them or writing them through snail mail. I even have a stamp collection to prove that I used to write a lot of letters. I now use snail mail only on rare occasions since there's email anyway.

Digital Cameras

I got my very first camera from my sister. She found it on a sidewalk in the US and when no one claimed it, she sent it to me. A good chunk of my allowance went to having film developed. Thank God for digital cameras since taking photos is now limited only to the size of your SD card/memory. Most phones also have cameras so it's easy to capture images anytime, anywhere. (And yes Miguel, back in the 80s we did have colored photos already! Rawr!!!).


The founders of Google are just 2 years older than me so it definitely didn't exist yet in the 80s although based on some readings I've done search has been around for sometime already, just not for everyone. I was already a college graduate when Google was founded, but it definitely got me through grad school because it made doing research much easier.


I don't really know how I would've survived commuting to and from school without the LRT. I used to take the jeepney though whenever I had to study for an exam.

Monstrous USB Storage and The Cloud

My first USB had tiny storage space. Inarbor ko from my Kuya. I dunno how old it is right now, but it's with Miguel and has survived a couple of floods already. There was a time my thesismates had to go to my house to physically share files with me (on a floppy disk!). I can't imagine how we managed to complete our thesis back then. Eventually things got more sophisticated and I just burned huge amounts of data on a CD, then DVD and now I can just easily copy stuff on a USB flash drive.

The iPod

I felt really cool when I was 12 because I had a Walkman. I used to sleep with it (and that probably affected my hearing) and that's how I listened to my cassette tape collection. I skipped owning a DiscMan because I found it too expensive (I was already working then so I couldn't ask my parents to buy me one), but I did gift myself with an iPod Nano (not the first gen iPod) when it came out. I love listening to music (my son too) and my iTunes holds my music collection now.

InkJet Printers 

My Kuya had a dot-matrix printer in the late 1980s. It was quite noisy and I'm proud to say that I acquired the skill to change its ribbon! My son has never experienced printing on a dot-matrix printer and maybe one day I'll unearth the one we had in the early 90s. It's still somewhere at home.

We take these things for granted nowadays, but kids are so lucky they have all of these things at their fingertips. I didn't mention gaming consoles in this post since the only one I had back in the 80s was Game & Watch and a PacMan watch. I was never allowed to play Atari or Super Mario so I still play games like a three year old. Anyway, all of these conveniences are great and helpful, I wonder how things will be 30 years from now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lumina Pandit

Allow me to verge away from the depressing previous post. I actually started a follow-up post, but something's just not right and I thought I'd postpone writing about it for now.

So before my weekend was ruined by that bad taxi driver I managed to visit University of Sto. Tomas with Sweetie and blogger friends, Nina, Juned and Winston. We were in the area because Miguel was taking his college entrance exam at Mapua, so we headed to UST after eating breakfast in Intramuros.

Met with with our blogger friends at the UST main building and then proceeded to tour the UST Museum Arts and Sciences (check out my post on Lakwatsera Ako). Rested a bit at the new quadrangle and then went to the UST Library lobby for  the "Lumina Pandit" exhibit.

I was amazed at the collection of books that was in the exhibit. Here's a few of them:

La Guerra Judaica by Flavius Josephus (1492)
(This is the oldest book in their collection. I wonder how they
managed the fully justified margins back 500 years ago?).

De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by Nicholaus Copernicus (1543)
(According to the curator there are only 200 of these books in existence).

They have books in alibata writing, the Doctrina Christiana and many others I would've loved to scrutinize (we unfortunately did not finish our tour since we had to pick up Miguel). One thing that caught my attention was the 1507 World Map. I tried to look for the Philippines on it but failed.

In exhibition were other old Philippine maps. I hope to see one day an overlay of all these maps so we can see how our country evolve geographically!

Anyway, do visit this awesome exhibit and learn more about our history. I'd like to visit again to view the grades of four Philippine presidents and 6 Supreme Court chief justices!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Most Horrible Taxi Ride Ever

PAFC Transport Coop, Plate number PYM 320, white Toyota Corolla. Do not ride this taxi service!

My bottomless optimism almost hit rock bottom today after experiencing the most horrible taxi ride in my life. This ride's worse than the roach-infested taxi, the gas smelling taxi, the reckless driver, the time I got harassed (driver almost brought me in a motel), etc. etc. The taxi was in perfect condition and the driver drove just fine. What really irked me was the blatant deceit through it's taxi meter.

The cab's meter was a new one, it wasn't the usual red-lighted meter. I noticed because I always check if it was flagged and running properly (yes I am paranoid that way). We got the taxi at SM Mall of Asia and I was surprised to hear a sound coming from the meter. I was shocked to witness the meter jump from 30 pesos to 40 pesos as we were turning right to Macapagal Avenue. I thought I was just imagining things but it happened again and the meter was at 60 pesos even before we crossed Roxas Boulevard to the Airport Road.

I fell silent after that and communicated with Jay and Miguel via SMS so as not to alert the driver that we were having suspicions that his meter was rigged. I told Jay that I couldn't see meter because the driver was covering it with his hand on the clutch (isn't it supposed to be on the dashboard and not by the clutch?). He then started to send me messages on the amount. Traffic wasn't as bad as two weeks ago, but by the time we were beside the airport I was alarmed to see that the meter moved by 12.50 in four minutes.

6:39 p.m. PhP132.50
6:41 p.m. PhP135.00
6:43 p.m. PhP145.00

And we had barely moved 5 meters during that time (we were about to turn left to Kaingin Road). I was really alarmed by then because I remember the taxi we took 2 weeks ago (same route) billed us only 140 pesos (I added 30 pesos as goodwill because he was an honest driver and traffic was quite heavy). I realized then that we were being robbed. By the time we reached the end of Dona Soledad the bill was at 192.50 and I told Jay that I wanted to get off of the cab already since I was scared that the bill would reach 300 pesos.

I gave Jay 205 and tried to get out of the cab immediately (it was hard because the door handle was broken). When I got off a traffic enforcer approached the taxi and told the driver the he was holding traffic up. I wondered why Jay was taking so long to get out of the cab. Apparently the driver was asking him to give him 20 pesos more, but he didn't have any change and finally got out of the cab. I then told the traffic enforcer that the taxi's meter was rigged and that he was asking us for additional payment.

The traffic enforcer then told the driver that I had a complaint and that he should settle it first before leaving. The taxi then sped off. Good thing the traffic enforcer had a radio and told her colleague down the road to flag the taxi. We then walked towards where the driver was. We had a few exchanges and then I moved a few meters away since I was a bit scared that he might try to run over me. I then saw the driver offer money to the traffic enforcer. I then shouted out to the traffic enforcer, "Ano yan nilalagyan ka niya?" (What's that? He trying to bribe you?). The traffic enforcer then told the driver that they don't accept bribes and that I had a complaint about him. She then called her colleague who had the "ticket".

Better Living traffic enforcer J.V. Baticados then arrived and taxi driver's license and ticket in-hand asked me what happened. I was just starting to recount my story when the taxi driver flashed Baticados a "card" with a smile. Baticados then told me, "Wala ako nakikitang violation nitong taxi na ito." (I don't see any traffic violation). His tone totally changed when the driver flashed him the "card" (I only saw the back side). I then told the traffic enforcer what happened and then he asked me, "So ano lalagay nating violation?" (What violation do I put?). I then called up my Dad to ask what violation to place, he mentioned that essentially the driver was in violation of the taxi's franchise.

When I told this to the traffic enforcer his tone changed again and said that maybe we could just ask the driver to return the excess money and that we should just complain to LTFRB about the problem so that we won't be hassled anymore. I knew then that it was a dead-end for us so I agreed but said that I was really going to send a complaint. I said that he should just return 50 pesos. The driver then said, "Sus, 50 pesos lang pala, ito 100!" (So it's just 50 pesos, here's 100!).

The traffic enforcer then said that he would return the driver's license and let the driver go. I said okay since I wanted to go home already. The traffic enforcer then returned the license, but lo and behold, it wasn't the end of the horrible evening yet. I saw the driver get some cash from his shirt pocket, folded it and give it to the traffic enforcer. I then said, "Ano yan? Hindi ka dapat naglalagay! Umalis ka na!" (What's that? You shouldn't be bribing!).

The driver then tried to intimidate me by shouting at me, "Sino ka para paalisin ako?" (Who are you to tell me to leave).  I just replied that the traffic enforcer told him to leave already and that he shouldn't be bribing him. Baticados then told the driver to leave and said, "Hindi kami tumatanggap ng lagay noh! Kami dito sa Better Living tapat kami!" (We don't accept bribes. We here at Better Living are honest!). And while he was saying this he was putting whatever the driver gave him in his pocket. Driver left and Baticados immediately left as well.

We were left with the other female traffic enforcer who was then denying that the driver was trying to give her money. She assisted us to get on a tricycle. A few meters away I saw the taxi parked and the driver got off of the cab. I told Jay and Miguel to hide because I wasn't sure why the driver was there and I was scared that he might follow us home. Miguel said that he saw the motorcycle of Baticados parked near where the taxi was.

I've reported this incident to SM Mall of Asia's hotline number and also sent an email complaint to LTFRB (as suggested by someone I know who works for MMDA). I won't bother reporting to the DOTC hotline since I've reported so many incident there already and I never saw any action anyway. Oh, after doing some online research we found out that the taxi franchise PAFC Transport Coop is under the Philippine Army Finance Center. I tried calling their number too, but no one was answering.

Be safe my friends!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Bathroom Dance

My friend Ivan Harry has been asking me all sorts of questions on Formspring. He asked me today what my all-time favorite video was. My all time favorite video is Michael V's "Hindi Ako Bakla". It was one of the videos that Sweetie showed me when we were just newly acquainted and I had to keep myself from laughing out loud since we were in the office lobby of

Michael V. is just amazingly funny. All he needs to do is move his eyebrows and I end up giggling already. My friend Maui shared this video to me via Google Buzz and I couldn't stop laughing at Michael V's antics. My Mom would probably raise her brows over this vid, but it's just plain funny.

Here's the video for some laugh-time and I dedicate it to those people who think I'm a bully. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google Pilipinas - July 2010 Zeitgeist

The July 2010 Google Zeitgeist goes to show that Filipinos are thinking about a lot of things. Here's the top 5 things Filipinos were searching for last month of July:

1. Pacquiao - newly elected congressman. Perhaps Pinoys want to know what he's up to now and whether the Mayweather fight is going to happen.

2. Charice Pempengco - of course! Everyone wants to know about her Glee gig.

3. Panfilo Lacson - if only we can find out where he is hiding with a simple search. May Tito Bubby rest in peace.

4. Basyang - ahh the typhoon that hit Manila when it wasn't supposed to pass at all. I really thought there was a helicopter on our roof during the height of the typhoon!

5. 73rd Season of UAAP - college basketball! Quite awesome too that it's my alma mater hosting this year.

Here's Anne Espiritu of Google reporting the July 2010 Zeitgeist.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Onboard the USS Blue Ridge

My father-in-law served the US Navy for two decades and their love story revolves around the different ships he served because of all the transatlantic love letters between him and Mom. The USS Blue Ridge, a combat and communications ship of the United States, was one of the ships Dad served (1975 to 1978).

This is just about a third of the USS Blue Ridge.

I've never been on a huge ship, so I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation from the Ambassador of the United States of America, Harry K. Thomas, Jr., and the Commander U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Admiral John M. Bird, for a reception onboard the USS Blue Ridge. I was extremely excited and immediately did a Google search to learn more about the ship and asked Sweetie about the time Dad served the ship. Apparently Dad was onboard the ship when the USS Blue Ridge was sent to Vietnam for a rescue mission and this historical event is documented in a yearbook (which Dad has a copy of).

It was raining when Juned, Fritz and I arrived at the pier. Security was tight so we had to walk across the pier to the reach the ship since the cab wasn't allowed to get in. We waited a bit in the holding area and a few minutes later we were joined by Nina. Sweetie was in the next tent with his colleagues. We were all raring to board the ship and quickly crossed the last strip of land with gusto (also because it was raining).

I didn't really know what to expect. I went through photos of the USS Blue Ridge on their website. The last ship I've been on is the tiny Super Ferry from Bohol to Cebu, so this was really a rare treat. We were welcomed by officers of the ship and were escorted to a lounge. After a few minutes we were allowed to go up the deck.

As we exited to the deck we were welcomed by USS Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Rudy Lupton. The tent was filled with people from different sectors of society, politicians, government officials, military officials, musicians, hoteliers, businessmen, media etc. etc. plus me and my blogger-friends. It was an overwhelming and exciting experience and I just happily observed and hoped my sea-legs would hold up (I think I was the only one who felt the ship rock).

The program was short and sweet with messages from the USS Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Rudy Lupton, Ambassador Harry Thomas, Jr., Mayor Alfredo Lim, Departmet of Justice Secretary Leila Delima, Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, and Philippine Army Chief Maj. Gen. Arturo Ortiz. After the speeches was the cake-cutting ceremony which happened right in front of me. Here's the photo:

Too bad we were not able to tour the ship, but being on the deck and experiencing going through the maze of hallways and stairs was more than enough. I must say the food was also awesome and one thing that we'll never forget is the "as good as grandma's/Mrs. Field's" cookies (Fritz said that they probably have a grandma somewhere in the ship baking cookies!).

I can't stop thinking about these chocolate chip cookies!

The USS Blue Ridge will be docked at the Manila Pier for about four days with its crew doing some outreach activities (i.e. Gawad Kalinga, Habitat for Humanities etc.) and of course, liberty!

My heartfelt thanks to the United States Embassy for the invitation. I had an awesome time. =)

I felt a bit shy asking the officer to join us for the photo-opt, but happy he obliged.
Too bad we didn't take a photo of Max (right Juned and Nina?).
(L-R) Juned, Fritz, Nina, Me, Jay and Jane.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Top Emerging Philippine Destinations (Part 2)

This is the continuation of my post about the "Top Emerging Philippine Destinations". (Part one is here.)

Region VII, Central Visayas Region

The Philippine tarsier (Bohol).

Dumaguete. I go to this region often since it is where Cebu is located. I have been wanting to go to Dumaguete though since college because my best friend stayed there for a few weeks for the National Writers Workshop at Siliman University. She said that Dumaguete is such a romantic place. You can just walk around and be inspired to write. Aside from the famous Siliman University, Dumaguete also has one of the country's best dive sites, Sumilon Island and Apo Island.

Region VIII, Eastern Visayas Region

I Shall Return!

Catarman, Northern Samar. In this region I've only visited Tacloban (Leyte) and Ormoc and (as usual) I was just there for about 24 hours. I only managed to see MacArthur's monument and Ormoc's port from afar (poor me!). I have not been to Catarman and did some reading about it. The province is the center of arts, education and commerce in the province (lots of schools!). It's probably a place where you can relax a bit and just chill.

Region IX, Zamboanga Peninsula Region

Dapitan. Zamboanga is one province that I have almost been to twice. Almost because my trips have always been cancelled at the last minute, but I am really keen to go this year (for the Mindanao Bloggers Summit) and see my techie-friends, Yolynne, Ryan and Jerome in their hometown. Anyway, Dapitan is located in Zamboanga del Norte and is known to be our country's "Shrine City" because it was where our national here, Jose Rizal, was exiled. Dapitan is also known for the beach resort "Dakak". Crossing my fingers that I'll be able to go later this year!

Region X, Northern Mindanao

My video blog on Cagayan de Oro.

Cagayan de Oro. Ahhh I've been to CDO many times already. It is truly the "City of Golden Friendship" that's why I've been there countless of times already. There's so much you can do in Cagayan de Oro and I went white water rafting on my very first visit (way back in 2004) and did the tree top walk (dare to look down to see the awesome caves). Last year I finally got to visit the Divine Mercy Shrine and the Ostrich Farm. Bukidnon is also just a stone's throw away from CDO so I always try to visit Del Monte's pineapple farm (as far as the eye could see). Also nearby is Mindanao's "Baguio" called "Buda". More about Cagayan de Oro in my travel blog, Lakwatsera Ako.

Region XI, Davao

Beautiful Samal Island during my visit back in 2009.

Samal. I want Davao to be my home (only if I could) and last year I managed to vacay with my high school buddies. Our first stop was Samal Island. We proceeded to Samal Island from the airport and stayed there the whole day. You can now go to Samal via bus, but we took a short ferry ride and got off Paradise Island (there are quite a number of resorts there). Aside from the beach there are a lot of things you can do in Samal Island - there's a mini zoo, lots of plants, a giant slide etc. etc. Read up more about Samal Island in my travel blog.

Region XII, Soccksargen Region

One of my two video blogs about GenSan.

Saranggani. I go to General Santos often in this region, but haven't been to Saranggani. My friends though have shared with me really great tales about Saranggani. Beautiful beaches. Yummy food. Lots of activities to experience (caves, waterfalls, rainforests). And I can only sit here in front of my PC and dream that someday I'll be able to visit Saranggani (and hopefully to see PacMan!).

Region XIII, Caraga

Butuan. Another place I almost went to (last week sana!), but my schedule didn't permit me to go so one of my friends went. Butuan is home to a number of festivals, Abayan Festival, The Kahimunan Festival and Adlaw Hong Festival. I'm looking forward to sampling my friend's pasalubong, durian polvoron!

ARMM. Perfect place for nature lovers with its lovely beaches and rich rain-forests. This region is also home to kulintang music.

It's quite easy to go to these destinations. All you need to do is book a flight through Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Top Emerging Philippine Destinations (Part 1)

Last weekend I had the chance to listen to PHILTOA president, Cesar Cruz, and DOT undersecretary, Enteng Romano, talk about the top emerging Philippine destinations. Cesar Cruz mentioned that PHILTOA will be encouraging corporate buyers during the Philippine Travel Mart to book local destinations for their needs. I totally agree. We have much to see in our country!

Here's the list of top emerging Philippine destinations by region:

Region 1

The lovely Fort Ilocandia Hotel back in 2007.

Laoag. I've been to Laoag only once and stayed at the famous Fort Ilocandia Hotel. I'd love to visit Laoag again and see its historical sights. Vigan is also about 2 hours away by bus (that's just about PhP100).

Dagupan. Mica's home and the "Land of Milkfish". I think I was still a kid the last time I've been to one of Dagupan's beaches.

Cordillera Administrative Region

A glimpse of the Cordillera mountains during my visit back in 2004.

La Trinidad, Benguet. There is much to see in the endless mountain ranges in the Cordillera Region aside from the famous Banaue Rice Terraces and Baguio. La Trinidad, Benguet is near Baguio and that's were all the yummy strawberries come from. Cesar Cruz said that one activity you can do there is strawberry picking. I remember doing this when I was a kid.

Region II

Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley. Palau Island is located at Sta. Ana in Cagayan Valley and has been declared a marine reserve in 1994. This place would be perfect for my diver friends.

Region III

Baler. Great for surfing. Follow Batang Baler to learn more about the town (I have!).

Zambales. I remember going to Zambales too when I was a kid (my parents were such lakwatseras!) and I recall comparing how feisty the water was compared to our place in Camangui, Pasacao (Camarines Sur). Also great place to surf according to Cesar Cruz.

National Capital Region

Taguig. Most of us who live in Metro Manila probably take for granted what we have here. Taguig is one of my favorite places to go to since there's a lot of yummy restos around the place.

Region IV-A, Calabarzon

San Juan, Batangas. There are a lot of lovely beaches in Batangas great for snorkeling and scuba diving. I remember an outing I had back in college where we took a boat ride to check out the different islands around Batangas. The water was very clear and I jumped off the boat thinking that the water was just about 5 feet high. It wasn't! I scrambled back up the boat since my imagination got the best of me (I started imagining that Jaws was going to get me). But I still had a great time.

Region IV-B, Mimaropa

Marinduque. Marinduque is home of the Moriones Festival. All I've been doing this years is just checking out photos of the festival. I didn't know as well that Marinduque also has scenic beaches and great diving sites.

Region V, Bicol

The majestic Mayon Volcano two weeks ago. 

Sorsogon. Bicol is my home but I have not gone beyond Albay. I've been wanting to visit Sorsogon and say hi to the friend "Butandings" (whale sharks). I read that the best time to see them is during the month of May and early in the morning.

Naga, Camarines Sur. I've been going to Naga since I was just 8 months old since this is where my parents grew up (my Dad's Ateneo de Naga's basketball star back in the 1950s!) and I absolutely love the Naga Market because there are so many unique stuff you can buy there (bags, foodies etc.). Naga also boasts of many yummy food (i.e. laing, pinangat, pili nuts etc.) and of course don't forget to get some fried siopao and pambonete from the Moderna Bakery. Also visit the Penafrancia Shrine (both the old and the new one) and give homage to Ina. The famous place to go to now is the Camsur Watersports Complex at Pili, Camarines Sur.

Region VI, Western Visayas Region

Silay. I got my first glimpse of Silay during my last visit to Bacolod since the new airport is now located there.  All I got to see though was the lush green fields from the plane and the endless horizon of sugar cane on my way to Bacolod. Silay though is known to be the center for culture of the Visayas region and is a place to go to especially if you are interested in Philippine architecture. I promised Kuya Ricky that I'll visit him one day (hopefully soon!).

I obviously still have a lot of places to go to and hope to up my Lakbayan rating by summer next year. Have you checked what your Lakbayan rating is? Go over to Eugene's app here. Also, the annual Philippine Travel Mart (organized by PHILTOA) will be on September 3 to 5, 2010, at the Megatrade Hall.

*PHILTOA - Philippine Tour Operations Association
DOT - Department of Tourism

This post is to be continued...

I Like Tanya Markova

I found a copy of Tanya Markova's self-titled album on Sweetie's desk last week and thought I'd listen to it. I learnt about Tanya Markova from my rocker-friends, Karla and Sha when they started singing "Picture Perfect" during a mapping party.

I slipped the album in my CD drive with some apprehension. I was expecting that it would just give me a headache and bust my ears (haha). I was dead wrong. I actually liked it and copied a couple of songs into my iTunes so I can listen to it anytime.

It's been sometime since I heard a local band come out with original songs and I guess that's one reason why I liked Tanya Markova. The last time (I think) I heard something "new" was when "Parokya ni Edgar" was launched. I hoped that Tanya Markova's "Picture Perfect" wasn't a one-hit wonder and I'm glad to share that they have other songs in their album that would hook you in.

Tanya Markova's songs are easy to sing along with and the songs I love most include, "Linda Blair", "Disney", "Bye Mosquito" and "P.A. Roadie Fernandez". My favorite song (aside from "Picture Perfect") is "Linda Blair" because the beat is just so cute and kulit. There were some songs in the album that were a bit hardcore head-banging songs (okay so I'm kind old na), but generally I loved the album and have recommended friends to buy it to.

Here's Tanya Markova's "Picture Perfect":