Smackdown - Live In Manila

1:33 PM Wednesday, October 25, 2006

JRA and brother said twas boring compared to RAW... where the fights were extended and more entertaining.

But i've always been morbidly fascinated by Undertaker (coffin, death, you know) so I shrieked and screamed my heart out... my hubs and BIl and other kids I was sitting with all ended up watching me half the time. Ahehe.

And of course, I got way too excited, I didn't think of just video-taping Undertaker's entrance.

(by the way, digicams were supposedly not allowed but there were so many ways to still get them inside... and when the main event came on, nobody thought of hiding their cams anymore)

And of course, I cried when Batista made his entrance, not because am a fan... but because he carried Py in his arms and made my nephew happy for a while.

Oh... and may I rave about how great my cam is? It's 12x optical zoom didn't disappoint, as you can see.


JRA bought me a 1 gb SD for our Palawan trip :)

Divine Davao

12:23 AM Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's been ages since my trip there... and ok, now, am gonna cram :D

Davaoenos are soo nice! They're very magiliw, the Filipinos you cannot help but be proud of, the Pinoys you'd really wanna meet in your travels. They're gracious and sweet and helpful and patient and polite.

Hay, I have nothing but nice things to say about them! Of course, highway vendors will still rip you off some with overpriced fruits and stuff... but you won't be scared of them, or totally turned off by them.

I really wouldn't mind living with them around me.

Davao's main appeal to me is that there's a province-wide smoking ban. Colleagues from there tell us about how Duterte and his henchmen would sometimes storm certain facilities (like bars) just to check if the ban is being strictly implemented. :)

Duterte is also known to be very vigilant against criminals... thus the clean streets. Taxi drivers would give you change (heck, you can even make tawad and not pay the last 2 or 3 pesos). Almost anywhere is P7 in jeepney or multicab ride. Few taxis have air-condition... and you don't really need it because even if it's the middle of the day, there's always that cool breeze... non-polluted air you can enjoy.

Of course, Davao is like fruit bowl of Mindanao, where all produce converge. Rambutan, Mangosteen, Durian, Lansones, Pineapples, etc. All sweet, all cheap, all bountiful. Even fish and seafood, aside from vegetables, abound in this City... thus restos offering buffet meals for as cheap as P99 can be found left and right.

It's not as congested as Cebu... and highways are really highways... and travels would always offer views.

Lots are a lot cheaper compared to Manila, of course, but the number one thing offered by this Metropolis is the low cost of living... and the better quality of life. Stress isn't really part of life in Davao. At least, not in the same way it besets people in Manila, or other cities.

Because we didn't originally plan to stay here overnight, we had to settle for what available room we could find... which at that time happened to cost P1,800.00 overnight. I find it actually steep because, though the villa-type room is pretty, the overnight rate doesn't come with hot water, bath tub and breakfast. Then again, it is a resort so I shouldn't compare it to hotel rooms here in Manila.

Paradise is said to have gotten the second-best beach strip in the island of Samal. The best, of course, is what the Pearl Farm Resort got. Paradise is this massive property where they're adding more rooms. The cheapest rooms are the Family Rooms which can accommodate up to 20 people at P300/person. They also have Fan rooms... our room was the cheapest air-conditioned room.

They told us we couldn't bring in food... but day-trippers brought cases and jugs and bags and baskets of food. The Day Tour rate is only P75 and that entitles you to roam around their aviary, playground, use their wash/bathrooms, dine in their resto... and enjoy the glorious sun and white-sand beach.

Paradise owns this property at Sasa Wharf where people can park their cars... and 7 boats transport guests to and fro (i think from 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM) for only P10/pax (or P80 if you don't want to wait for the boat to be filled up). The ferry trip lasts for around 5 minutes.

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The resort has so many hired hands whose main job is to just clean and clean and clean the place... there are people in charge of raking leaves and whatever off the sand... there are boat men stationed near the breakwater's edge to collect whatever floating material they can scoop up with their nets... and everywhere, staff are handy to assist the guests.

Oh, before I forget, the room fee entitles you to several indoor sports (ping-pong and billiards) or 30-minute kayak or paddleboard time. You can also rent aqua cycles (err... but they're kinda not meant for BIG people; kids have fun with them tho) and banana boats. Aqua sports are only allowed when it's low tide... or when the current isn't too strong... so people need not be afraid of falling off the kayaks because the water will be manageable (and there'd be all those staff and lifeguards).

People from Davao think the food at the resort's restaurant is expensive... but really it's just like eating at Dencio's or something... and the total order you pay P600 for here equates to marginally more food. And at night time, serenaders go from guest to guest and table to table singing classic love songs.

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* correction, the small order of paella pala cost P200

I recorded the sound of the waves crashing on Samal shores for a ring tone :)

Paradise Island Resort works with Samal folks and generates a living for them in a number of ways... one of which is working with them to offer INLAND tours to their guests (actually, you can also avail of island-hopping, snorkelling tours).

Though a separate offering really, one can still expect the same courteous and friendly service from the tour guides. For P750 (max of 3 pax), a multicab takes you to three sites in Samal Island to give you a better feel of the island and its unexploited beauty.

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(Samal Island has convenience stores, internet shops and drug stores on top of the usual provincial elements like old churches and nipa huts.)

to the bat cave!
Actually, it wasn't a cave like the one in Sagada. Around 15 minutes from Paradise Resort is a hill, with four huge holes on the ground, a sort of underground cavity where fruit bats (largest colony of Rousette fruit bats in the world!) live (and fly, and make those chirp-like noises, and poo, and etc.).

I am honestly morbidly afraid of bats. Seriously! Anything that resembles rats, I wanna do nothing with. Thus, I had to rely on my cam's 12x optical zoom for closer pictures of them. JRA got a headache from the smell of their poo (guano?) but I was surprisingly un-bothered by it. I managed to take a video of them flying about in those holes... but manage to also stupidly delete the file from my cam. Ahehe.

Anyway, back to the bats. You pay P20/pax (i forgot na, but not more than that, and it's not included in the Tour Rate) to help the owner of the land maintain the area so that the bats will continue to fluorish. And since I was expecting a Sagada-like experience, I went there in my bathing suit and wrap... rendering my body (legs especially) free to be bitten by insects. And trust me, you will be bitten... by mosquitoes or by ants. I believe I came away from the place with at least 20 bites per leg... which led to a quick stop in a drug store to buy alcohol and Off Lotion (too late ahehe). So if you're going there, wear pants! If you want, bring a mask too (but that will so take away from the experience).

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Afraid as I am of them... creepy they may be as their throng flutter row after row... they were simply just amazing too. It's a phenomenon that makes you feel like a little child that discovered something... beautiful... and secret. If not for the biting insects and the smell, it's actually pretty calming to just watch them go about their bat business.

I heard the Extra Challenge went there. And they say that if you're down there with the bats (ah gawsh, heaven forbid!), the smell isn't as strong.

gushing forth
Next stop in the tour (about 20 minutes away) takes you to Hagimit Springs. You'd have to trek a little to go to the springs (and river and falls) but it's not very exacting. You pay P5 at the gate where the multicab waits for you. Supposedly, they have undertaken the establishment of CRs and bath rooms there but I didn't see any.

Anyway, there are more beautiful springs than Hagimit. But it is charming enough, its waters a dusky green and cold in a really refreshing way. Oh, how I frolicked there... and laughed... and hit my knee on stones again and again. But one cannot help but fall in love!

For anyone who wants to go there, better bring food with you and have a picnic under the trees that surround the place. Feel free to share some food with your guide (by the way, for each tour, you get two people, one drives, the other answers questions) or the locals (just don't be giving the kids money... let us not change their culture, let's just be gracious).

And enjoy the water! Honestly, I had more fun swimming there than at the beach in Paradise! I just really loved, loved the place! Of course, since I can't swim, I didn't dare immitate the locals who use the rocks as diving boards.

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Feel free to also pose with the locals. And yes, it's really a wise decision to bring along a waterproof camera (disposable ones from Kodak cost P300, non-disposable ones from Toby's cost P1,300... but I honestly like the quality of the pictures from the disposable ones... only the disposable ones don't have flash)

proud beauty
Perched on one of the highest points of the island, the Samal White House (or old Moncadian headquarters) can be seen from mainland Davao. It's an old structure undergoing piecemeal renovation, a relic from a past riddled with wars and resonating of our Spanish ancestry.

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Of course, I fell in love with the house... its huge windows and sparse furnishing (then again, nobody lives there anymore)... the wood used in its beams and flooring... It didn't even feel haunted... and didn't smell musty, maybe because the sea breeze cleanses the smell of decay from it.

Mitchi was a Moncadian volunteer who took us on a tour of the house... up to its attic... and down to where treasure hunters have dug a hole in the ground, under the house, looking for Yamashita's treasure. I think I fell in love with her too, her serene face and gracious manner. Volunteers alternate in 'manning' the place so that tourists/travellers would have someone to show them around and answer questions.

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* Helario Moncado founded the Filipino Crusaders World Army in 1925 in Los Angeles. Its followers are referred to as Moncadians... it's a cult or a religious sect, a little like the Rizalistas. They hold their Sabbath (or Mass for us Catholics, and Worship for other Christian sects) on Saturdays. They are mostly vegetarian/fruitarian (but some can eat raw veggies alone, or cooked veggies, or veggies and fish, or veggies and seafood, or veggies and chicken... but not pork or beef). They have female divinity. Their collections resulted in the Moncado Settlement where the White House and their old church was built (the church was later transferred to a more accesible place). There are also Moncadians in Visayas. And their leaders are addressed as Generals.

The White House used to house the officials of the religion aside from their written works. I already forgot how many hectares the settlement is but we were told that there are plans of building accommodations at the foot of the hill for guests. We suggested that it will make the perfect retreat place... with the House as a piece de resistance of sorts, standing grand over the area.

The entire tour takes about four hours (depending of course on how long you enjoy each stop)

Their lunch and dinner buffet costs P195/pax ( 12% VAT) which I found cheap and totally worth it. Actually I just like the native enselada station they have, with kilawin na tuna (not sure which fish but definitely not blue marlin)... and absolutely love the dessert station, topped with a halo-halo bar.

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Again, staff are courteous. The ambience is nice. And its located just near Gate 6 of the Victoria Plaza Mall.

But of course, I decidedly skipped SM Davao.

Victoria Plaza Mall's main atraction for me is the bake shop in front of its grocery (near Gate 6) where one can get melt-in-your mouth eggpies! It cost P150/whole. Just near it is Merco bakeshop... Davao's answer to Goldilocks, showcasing really mouth-watering leche flans (ahehe, I didn't bother finding out if their cakes were divine). One can already buy the durian-mangosteen-pomelo candies and tarts and what-nots at the grocery there.

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I had my nails done and my brows plucked at Hair Zone (near Gate 1). Again, I have nothing but good things to say about their staff. Pedis cost P80, manis cost P60, plucking costs P80, threading costs P80, massages cost P300 (i think).

Gaisano Mall is a bigger mall... with areas dedicated to phones... computers/gadgets... spas/beauty... bakeshops (one bakeshop there even offers 50% discount on everything starting 7:30 PM)... and it had two stalls of Holy Kettle Corn. Now I know I can really live in Davao!

The place wasn't as big as I thought it would be. But people should bring food when they go there because there isn't much in the way of kiosks... and it's really a nice place for a picnic. I think the best area is right near the monkey pen :)

Anyway, one can either take a bus or a van at Bangkerohan (it's near the marketplace) bound for Calinan. I'd suggest that you go for the van (provided you don't ride it with someone bearing durian). The bus we rode going there had poor air-conditioning and was very slow and kept stopping everywhere. The ride takes about 40-60 minutes. I ate a whole pomelo during the bus ride to the eagle center and yet another on the return trip... amidst curious glances of the people I rode the van with. Fare costs P30. Then you pay P5 at rhe Watershed gate. Then you pay P50 at the Eagle center.

Aside from plants (wonderful orchids) and other animals (croc, monkeys, deer, warthog, other birds), the Center boasts of some 15-20 eagles there. The Philippine eagles are housed in cages that are at least 4 stories high, making it difficult to sometimes see them... what more, take pictures of them.

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Good thing my cam had 12x optical zoom! (now, if only i'd stop having problems with batteries). Adopt an Eagle requires godparents to donate around P100,000 for at least 6 years. hopefully, more wealthy people would take up that cause so these majestic creatures could be soaring our skies again.

SPA 101
This spa is newly opened. And cheap. With quality service! Located along J. P Laurel avenue, Bajada (in front of Davao Light Plant), they offer promo rates for their massages. And they said they're going to bring the rates further down for December.

Anyway, I was able to twice get a massage there... and I love the peppermint oil they smeared all over my body! Their cheapest massage costs P199 (promo rate), Sea Salt Exfoliating Body Scrub is only P399, and Facial with Masque costs P199.

Aldevinco is a one-stop shop for Moslem/Mindanao wares. The sarongs I bought cost only P110-140 ea (depending on wether tie-dyed or not) and are bigger in width than the ones being sold here in Manila... with back-to-back designs. T-shirts could be had for as cheap as P85, with the cotton quality very good. I also bought 2 bags that cost P200... but the purchase that sends me into ecstasies are the malongs I bought.

I already have some 7 malongs at least... which I use as blankets here at home... and back when I was into mountaineering. But these malongs are a little more special... they're made from Rosalinda cotton, which is softer and smoother. That's where Jasmina's come in. Their shop is located just near one of the many enrances of Aldevinco (one that also fronts Ateneo de Davao). You can text 0919-2831134 for directions. Anyway, we went to so many stalls but they're the only ones who had the malongs I bought. Most shops will offer the usual cotton ones... or the metallic/silk ones. I bought four at P250 each. I'd take pictures of them later :D

Haggling is a must in Aldevinco! And note that some of their offerings are priced much higher than if you bought them in Quiapo, Sta. Cruz, Greenhills or other tiannges here in Manila.

We didn't stay here... although i've stayed there before. We just went there to eat breakfast one morning :) I dunno, I love their buffet! And yeah, by the time we went there, I was already too sick of taking pictures that's why I don't have any. Ahehe.

Of course, there are so many restaurants offering buffets in Davao.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting I was only in Davao for a week. But I feasted on great food, great sights and great people. I really wouldn't mind living there...

And I wouldn't mind returning for more adventures. We were supposed to go to Davao Crocodile Park which is in the same area as the Butterfly Farm at Riverfront Corporate City (tricycle ride to the Park costs P10, but it can prove a hassle because you'd really have to chance taxis and stuff). Actually, we managed to get to the gate but rain poured in buckets for hours and so we decided to skip it. If anybody's going there, they better go in the afternoon. More things happening in the afternoon.

I'd also want to stay overnight in Eden Nature Park and try white-water rafting in Davao. I'd also love to visit Talicud Island, snorkel there, and go trekking in the unexplored trails in Samal. And of course, there is Mt. Apo to be conquered too.

I feasted too much on tuna sashimi and kilawing tuna, I broke out in rashes. See, technically, am supposed to be allergic to tuna. Howell.

Hopefully, I didn't forget anything. If I did, i'd just add to this.

And yes, I had a blast in Davao. I keep falling in love with this great city. It has everything I love about the Philippines... and the Filipino.


More pictures here... like 200+ of them

suddenly senti

1:01 PM Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Davao post would have to wait.

I didn't know what led me to make contact to someone from the past. But I just realized today that I have been holding on to the pain and anger... when we had all those wonderful memories I could instead hold dear.

I suddenly felt it's about time I make peace... not with what could have been between us, but with what was... and be happy with what could be from what was.

Knowing him, I don't expect a reply really. Heck, he may not even read the e-mail (and heck, his e-mail client actually returned the first one I sent because the mp3 I attached was too big daw). But let that be my last say.

And somewhere over the rainbow, who knows, we could be friends again.

twenty-nine years

1:14 AM Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Twenty-nine years...

Enough time to have scabbed knees and gotten chicken pox and the measles...

But not yet enough to have seen the world.

Enough time to have run with wolves, gone out with jerks, and learned to be a b!tch...

But not yet enough to really be an authority in love and life.

Enough time to have bridged distances and forged friendships...

But not yet enough to really say, I have made a difference in this world.

Enough time to have gotten inspired, and be amazed and know joy

But not yet enough to have been a mentor to someone else.

Enough time to find a good person to spend a lifetime with...

But not yet enough to be a mother to my own kids.

Enough time to have enjoyed my parents, my family...

But not yet enough to let them go.

Enough time to have realized some of my dreams...

But not yet enough to have stopped dreaming.

I turn twenty-nine years today... and I am grateful for all the things those years have given me.

I turn twenty-nine years today... and I am asking for twenty-nine years more.


It is also Pyro's anniversary today.


For the 2nd time in my life, I will be spending my birthday away from my family... watch out for my travelogue on Davao next week.

thanks, for we were blessed

9:25 PM Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's like my world stood still all the more last week, getting caught up with preparations for our Davao Budget Hearing this coming week... adjusting to the fact that there is no more Boss Len... dealing with our Dept. Mngr.'s anxiety over the change (and not doing pretty well myself)...

And then, Bagyong Milenyo hit... and I shamefully slept the whole time it was raging its war on billboards and trees and houses (subdivisions even) and electric posts and who knows what else. Last Thursday, I woke up at past 6 AM to see our street already flooded, and the rain already pouring. I already read another boss' text message that work was cancelled due to the typhoon and actually just had enough time to worry about my husband driving on flooded streets.

Twas a blessing in disguise that it's coding day for Maxime (our car) so JRA left way before the rains really fell down catastrophically... and I fell asleep to wake up at past 2 PM to find Manila ravaged. I even had to find out that electricity was cut off from a text message from a friend... I really didn't notice since I slept just fine without the electric fan.

I woke up, went to the other house and my sis was anxious to have me come in asap, afraid something flying would hit me. Turned out, pieces of roofs, branches and other stuff landed on cars and houses and windows here... and I just really slept through it all.

And both houses were relatively untouched by the typhoon... while our neighbors had to deal with leaks and broken roofing and uprooted trees.

And the news and the clean-up going on in streets and roads... it felt all surreal to me!

But the devastation was great indeed... and am so sorry for all those who were left without homes, or the comforts of having electricity (and being able to use your mobile phone, other gadgets, having internet and cable tv).

On another note, it was humbling to know that the typhoon was non-discriminating... everyone was at its mercy, both the rich and poor. People who can afford houses in subdivisions (Bacoor) and informal settlers and farmers alike were all chased away. People in Tondo and people living in Ayala, Alabang suffered from lack of electricity and water supply. In fact, there are still no classes at DLS-Zobel tomorrow because they had not yet been able to fix a line that got broken.

Hopefully, there will be no more storms such as this... for a really long time.

And hopefully, everyone stops from putting up those billboards back on thoroughfares.

I'm really thankful I, and my family, are blessed.


I'm sorry my blog friends, I'm really busy and pre-occupied with a lot of things... and I don't know when I can return the favor of a visit. But thank you for dropping by...