April 30, 2010

Laiya Beach: Then and Now

I found this picture in my computer files. This was taken in Laiya in San Juan, Batangas almost 6 years ago. We were in Laiya during the Labor Day weekend in 2004.

Fiona was just 4 months old then. Zoe had just turned 4. Trish was just 8.

It's the Labor Day weekend again and we find ourselves back in Laiya.

Fiona is now 6, Zoe is 10 and Trish is 14.

April 28, 2010

Another Surprise on Flickr

I got a second surprise from another comment/message on my Flickr account:
Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Atmospheric perspective - BlĂ„ner, and we'd love to have this added to the group! 

taken during our road trip from Baguio to Cabanatuan via the Baguio-Aritao Road

Once more, I didn't think twice and agreed to add my picture to the group.

I'm starting to lurve the Flickr community ... haha! :)

April 26, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise on Flickr

Earlier today, I browsed through my Flickr album and was surprised to see a comment/message for one of my pictures:

Hi, I'm an admin for a group called McDonald's Storefronts, and we'd love to have this added to the group! 

I was pleasantly surprised, haha! Of course, I immediately shared my pic.  Who would have thought?!? :)

April 21, 2010

Heart-warming & Inspirational

I'd like to share a very heart-warming and inspirational article I read this morning in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was written by Marina Benipayo, a (former) beauty queen, supermodel and single parent to two boys. When I read this, I cannot help but think that she is indeed a supermodel in every essence of the word. As she continues to strike out that ideal work-life balance, she is a source of inspiration to working moms like me.

How raising children helps parents become more mature

CHILDREN ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES who grow. Parents do, too.

Mark and I were talking one night about what he would want to take up in college. He started counting the years, paused and then asked, “Mamma, when you think of all these years that we’re together, how do you feel?”

I looked at him and said, “I’m proud, Mark. Proud of you and Joshua; not only because of what you both have grown to become, but because of what I have become because of you.” Mark smiled and said, “I love you, mom!” When he left the room, what just happened made me think of how, although we emphasize the value of the love we give our kids, we every so often overlook the fact that they are instrumental to our own maturity as well.

We have, in all our existence, known that our own experiences with our parents had an impact on how we have become adults. Whether it is filled with good and not-so-good memories, we will always see some parts of our parentsin us. It could manifest in our behavior, gesture, the way we talk, walk, decide and live. On the same level as actions, a large factor comes from what our parents used to say to us. Even the way or manner in which a thought is said has long-term impact.

I have heard of some parents who, when asked a question by their children, would reply, “What kind of a question is that?” or “That’s a stupid question.” Some would even retort, “You don’t know?” These types of replies apparently would make the child think that he is either dumb or really ignorant. So do we want that to stay in their young minds?

Being a parent does not only give us the responsibility of giving our child his/her basic needs. We have to push and go far beyond what is expected of us. We nourish not only theirstomachs and minds, but also their souls.

If you come to a point that you start asking yourself, “What about my own needs?” because you may happen to be either overly stressed, tired and left out from the rest of the world, look at your child or children now. I know it sounds clichĂ©, but they are all you need. You may have forgotten, but despite their sometimes seemingly strange and outrageouspersonalities, they ARE your reasons for living. You work to make them live as comfortably as you could afford. When they’re happy, you become happy. When they tell you they have learned something new, it is because you have instilled openness in their minds, which allowed them to learn. Their achievements are your achievements, too. It goes back to you.

But of course with that openness, they also get to explore other new things which you had wished they never have found out. You enter into that “arena” with them, be with them, understand as well and explain to them in their own level of understanding why this or that would probably be generally wrong or morally off limits. Then listen to their thoughts.

Secret stuff

I have always told Mark and Joshua that as they grow up, they will be seeing more and more of the world which they thought was all perfect. If they hear or see or notice something of which they are curious to know, just let me know and we’ll talk about it. Anything from the absurdly simple thing to even the ones which they think I wouldn’t even know of. This so I could learn it with them. When they ask me why they need to tell me even the “secret stuff,” I’d answer, “It’s like going to battle knowing which weapons are available for you to use. As your mom, I don’t think I’d be comfortable sending you off to that battle without you knowing your gear. Let us look at the options. You choose.”

Let’s be brave enough to accept that although we cannot control our kids’ minds, the best we could do is continually remind them that we will always be there when they need us. For in as much as we help our kids build their character, we strengthen ours. And it could be exactly for that reason that our kids will decide to do what is right.

Let us take as much time as we could to cherish watching our kids grow into their own individual self. Hold their hands more than holding them back. Connect more than correct. Hug more than tug. Talk more than shout. Let us not take them for granted because they are just nearby. We have seen many movies and real-life stories about parents who fail to give their kids much attention in their younger years and have grown old only to realize they have missed living the essence of their lives. Their children grow up distant from them; not because of lack of love, but the ignorance of how it feels.

Give it all you’ve got while you can, and everything else in your life will follow smoothly. Test yourself even more and you learn to be more tolerant, more understanding, more learned. You will notice that even the most stressful things in your own life such as relationships, work, or the lack of income will encourage you more to persevere. There will also come a time when we won’t even think of what we do for our kids as responsibility, but a privilege as well. This is what Mark and Joshua have done for me.

Looking forward, when they have their own nests; and me with my empty one, I shall still expect myself to continue to grow more. Our growing doesn’t stop until we allow it to and it could be the best choice we could ever make.

Click here to see the original article from the Inquirer.

April 18, 2010

Laiya Beach Resorts

Here we are again, planning another trip to Laiya in San Juan, Batangas for April 30-May 1. I've spent most of this afternoon surfing and searching for a good value-for-money resort. Thus far, I've narrowed our choices down to two. Inquiries with regard to the availability of rooms were already sent. I'll be crossing my fingers in anticipation of the replies.

In the meantime, here's a list of the resorts in the stretch of Laiya Beach. Just click on the name of the resort to get directed to their respective websites. Hope this saves you a lot of time :)

April 20, 2010 Update: Both of my initial choices (La Luz & Kabayan) are fully booked for the weekend of April 30-May 1. I went through my list above and contacted each of them. All the resorts are fully-booked as well, except for White Cove but they could not accommodate our small family (as they require a minimum of 5 meal packages on top of the room/cottage rental).

Just 10 minutes ago, I was able to get a reservation with Laiya Austria Beach Resort, which is just beside or is actually an extension of the Kabayan Beach Resort. I was able to book an executive room for Php 4,000. The contact person is Grace who is very nice and accommodating. She may be reached through mobile numbers 0918-3163386 and/or 09157459396.

Whee! I am so excited now!

April 30, 2010 Photo Update:

April 12, 2010

Subic TreeTop: An Adventure Like No Other

The Tree Top Adventure is one of Subic's latest tourist attractions offering a unique ecological experience. Activities range from jungle trekking, suspended trails and bridges, motorized cable rides and rappelling. The various activity packages are definitely not for the weak-kneed and faint-hearted. The activities are not at all dangerous as the park promotes safety in all aspects. Only the park attendants are allowed to strap on the harnesses. They also offer packages for groups who would like to hold team-building exercises in an ecological setting. Click here to find out more about the TreeTop Adventure activities, facilities and packages.

Only my HB and eldest daughter mustered enough courage to take on the tree top challenges. The two younger girls wanted to try it out but we were informed that they were still too small (and I guess with their 'skinniness', no harness would fit them, heeheehee).

I, on the other hand, was only too happy to stay on the sidelines and cheer.

HB was the first to take the challenge.

HB makes his way to the tree drop platform

He tried out the Australian-style tree drop, a face-first rappelling style. It cost Php 150 per tree drop.

Trish tried the Interactive Freefall, a suspension ride taking adventurers to a high of about 60 meters. We paid Php 250 for this yoyo-like ride.

about 60 meters up high

Unfortunately, the park's most famous "Superman" ride was not available that time that we were there.

In the meantime, my younger girls were contented with just making wacky poses for me.

A Quick Dip in Subic Forest View's Pool

Last Sunday, we headed to Subic to follow our barkada who stayed overnight in Subic Bay Forest View where they rented a couple of villas with 3 bedrooms and 2 toilet and baths. The villas were air-conditioned which was a welcome respite from the summer heat.

When we arrived, they were just about to have breakfast so we just lounged around.

But after a while, our younger girls got restless so HB accompanied them to take a quick dip in the pool.

No doubt, Fiona had a good time!

April 10, 2010

Road Trip: Baguio-Aritao Road

From Baguio, our next destination was Cabanatuan. The regular route was to head on down to Pangasinan via Kennon Road or Marcos Highway, turn left in Rosales and pass by the towns of Cuyapo, Guimba and Talavera. Travel time was about 3 hours when we took this route a couple of years back.

But due to our wanderlust, we wanted to take a different route this time and my boss had been reading and talking about this other road. And so we excitedly took the Baguio-Aritao Road which is a more circuitous route.

We started our journey at 10:20 am when we left the hotel in Baguio, headed down to Pacdal Circle, and turned on Ambuklao Road.

After about an hour, we saw the Ambuklao Dam. We stopped for a short break and took some shots.

The Ambuklao Dam spillway

The Ambuklao Dam

We proceeded on and passed by a fork on the road: the left one leading to Bocod (which leads to the Halsema Highway going to Banawe and Sagada) and the Mt. Pulag National Park (jump off point for mountaineers) and the right road leading to Kayapa. We took the higher road on the right and continued on.

After about 30 minutes, we stopped to check our bearings and got out of the car. As soon as I stepped out, I noticed the scent of pine. It was so surreal.

Forty-five minutes later, we reached the town of Kayapa, the first town of Nueva Vizcaya (coming from Baguio). But the road trip was far from over and we trudged on more winding roads.

After one more hour, we reached the Maharlika Highway and turned right on the junction. Total travel time for the 104-kilometer highway was three hours and fifteen minutes.

From this point on, we had to crawl several times along the National Highway due to the many road menaces called tricycles. We traversed through the towns of Aritao and Sta. Fe. By this time, it was already close to 2:00 pm so we decided to stop to take our lunch on a roadside eatery.

Then we continued on. We climbed up the winding road that is the Dalton Pass.

going up the Dalton Pass

Many portions of the road were not good. Buses expertly navigated this zigzag road while trucks with extremely heavy loads crawled.

Upon reaching the top, I was on the look out for the Dalton Pass marker. After a few more meters, this marker came into sight.

Road marker separating the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija

view from the top of Dalton Pass

going down the Dalton Pass

Several minutes later, we reached flat plains and saw vast rice fields. Nueva Ecija, after all, is known to be the "rice granary" of the Philippines. We continued on and passed by the towns of San Jose, Munoz and Talavera.

It was past 5:00 pm when we finally reached Cabanatuan City.

sunset on Barangay Arcadia in Cabanatuan City

The view of the sunset was a befitting conclusion to our road trip. Though the travel time was longer, I must say that it was worth it because the journey was, indeed, very rewarding for the senses.

April 9, 2010

Pasalubong Shopping in Baguio Public Market

Squeezed in a quick detour to the Baguio Public Market to buy my usual pasalubong stuff for my girls. For more than 3 years now, I have a suki stall where I go. (I wanted to take her picture beside her stall but she refused.)

Here are my purchases:

cornic, Php 35 per bag or 3 for Php 100

chocolate crinkles, Php 35 per pack (1 dozen) or 3 for Php 100

chocolate flakes, Php 60 each

lengua de gato, Php 80 each

honey, Php 150 per bottle

When in Baguio, the usual pasalubong fare, aside from fresh strawberries, vegetables and flowers, are the Romana's peanut brittle, strawberry jam and Good Shepherd ube. I also recommend the Sagada oranges which are usually sold at Php 80 per kilo (about 2-3 pieces). Various flavored sausages can also be brought home as pasalubong. The usual 'flavors' are garlic, hamonado and Vigan-style. Handicrafts and woodcrafts are also favorite souvenir items. Some hoard Ilocos-made blankets.

The Baguio public market is a favorite one-stop area for souvenir and pasalubong shopping. The dry goods section is relatively clean and devoid of smell. A personal pet-peeve though are the local kids pestering tourists to buy their plastic bags or sack bags. Some even offer their service to carry your bags for a minimal fee. My suki also tipped me off about pickpockets and she advised me to place my bag in front of my body.

Going to the Baguio Public Market is an experience one shouldn't miss. There's a certain thrill in getting good finds at bargain prices (compared to that of Manila) offered by this market.

April 7, 2010

On The Road Once More

I'm here right now where the air is cool and pine trees abound.

April 3, 2010

The Malabrigo Lighthouse (Faro de Punta de Malabrigo)

From the Andrea Beach Resort, we took a 15-minute drive to get to the southernmost tip of Lobo to take a glimpse of the Malabrigo Point Lighthouse.

The drive was mostly on narrow winding roads along the coast of Lobo. The view of the deep blue sea was simply breathtaking.

As with most lighthouses, the Malabrigo Lighthouse sits on top of a hill. This particular parola (the Filipino word for lighthouse) is situated on top of a cliff overlooking the Verde Island Passage in between Batangas and the island of Mindoro.

A short climb on a steep winding unpaved road leads to a glorious sight. True to the words of Rosanna Harper Alonso, editor of Faro de Malabrigo: Story of a Philippine Lighthouse,

Built in 1896 during the Spanish colonial period, the lighthouse has been declared as a national historical landmark. It is one of the only 24 remaining lighthouses which date back to the Spanish era.

Below the cliff, the sight of clear blue water was awesome.

Sea below the cliff of Malabrigo Point in Lobo, Batangas

Of course we didn't leave without getting our souvenir shot.

Mi tres ninas en Faro de Punta de Malabrigo