Jane

“Hey Jane, what’s up? Long time no see!”

“Hey Darby. Yes. Long time! How are you?”

“Doing good. And you? When is the wedding?” I said jokingly. I’m sure she’s engaged. Rumors.

“If God willing, next year!” she answered.

“How’s your ministry?” I asked. I have known Jane since God knows when and she’s really dedicated to the missions and other church ministries.

“I now handle the Young Adult’s ministry”, she answered. My faith shifted this year. I went on to a different spiritual path..very different from the faith I grew up with. I’m a bit jealous that they have been grounded to their beliefs. I can say that I love my faith now. But I know that the Mr. overly-obsessed-with-order version of me,  is longing for a safe ground and a defined path as far as spirituality is concerned.

As I reflected on what I have done this 2013 and the search I went through and the continuous deconstruction of my faith, I realized that all is just a cycle. Nothing is stable… even spirituality. And as much as I want that order, I can’t. Because the real order in this universe is actually chaos, which is neither beautiful nor ugly. I realized that I have to make peace with that fact.

My faith will always be in a cycle. High. Low. Nirvana. Samsara. Heaven. Hell. It should be that way. Embracing everything is the key. Understanding is the higher road.

This 2014, I want to stop seeking and start understanding. If I cannot understand, I will seek. If I cannot seek, I will understand.

Happy New Year to all!

Freakier than the Zip Line Ride

“Call the Magnum Shuttle operator” said Mikoy as he handed me his iPhone 5 to show the phone number.

It was 1:30pm and we have to catch the 2pm shuttle in Cagayan de Oro. We are still in Bukidnon. If we miss the 2pm shuttle, we will be forced to hire a taxi for an expensive deal..or worse, we will miss our 4pm flight.

Everybody was tensed. Mikoy drives swiftly for us to beat the time. The girls at the back are a bit dizzy. I’m worried about missing the flight because I have experienced it before. Too much hassle.

I dialed the phone and gave it to Ate Penny.

“Maam, can we ask for a 5 minute extension before you leave at 2pm? We still have 2 passengers with us. We were caught in the traffic”, said ate Penny in Bisaya.

“What did she say?” I asked.

“Negative. They can’t wait for us.”, she answered.

“They can’t wait for just 5 minutes?”, Mikoy asked.

“They can’t. I tried my best.”

It’s 2’oclock when we arrived at the city proper.

“I’ll try to call..”, said Mikoy. They talked. He negotiated. But still negative. But we all decided to take the risk and still go to the shuttle operator.

When we arrived, we realized that the shuttles are on the other side of the road and if we will take a u-turn, we will be trapped with the Cagayan de Oro’s heavy Christmas season traffic. Mikoy parked his car in front of the shuttle hub and we crossed the street as we climbed the elevated thoroughfare.

Then we finally arrived. That was 2:10pm,

I don’t know but a miracle just happened. Because of the traffic, the 2pm shuttle failed to go out on the highway giving us the opportunity to ride it. There were no formal goodbyes and hugs with the awesome Cagayan de Oro’s Couchsurfers because we were rushing to ride the almost ready to go shuttle bus. Just like in the movies, we just waved our goodbyes at the semi tinted backseat mirror as the shuttle bus was able to enter the traffic jam. That was close. But the tension doesn’t end there. It’s already 2:15 and we still have to travel an hour away from Cagayan de Oro to Laginduingan Airport. We need to be there at exactly 3:15 for our 4pm flight.

The shuttle is running slow.

“This is way freakier than my zip line ride in Bukidon”, said Jogs.

“I know right. I’ve been in this situation before and I can’t afford to miss the flight again”, I answered.

I opened my GPS and realized that it is impossible for us to reach the airport on time.

“This is bad.. We will book the 5pm Cebu Pacific flight if we miss ours” I said. “It’s a chance flight”.

“Worst case scenario!” said Jogs.

But another miracle happened. The shuttle suddenly became swifter as ever. We arrived at the airport 6 minutes before the check in counter closes.

Safe and sound. But yes, it was freakier than the zip line ride.

Summary of my 2013 Travels

I love this year. Its probably the most traveled year I had ever since I was born. And I can proudly say that because of these travels, I have become a better man and a better human.

February 8-10, 2013 – The Weekenders

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A – Pampanga – Starting Point

B- Makati City – Brasilipinas– A Brazilian themed party held at the Rockwell Tent, Makati City. We all had fun and probably deep inside us we can all shout “PUTANG INA, SOBRANG SAYA!!!”  Cheers to CS Manila!

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C. Lipa City, Batangas- Ate the best Lomi ever. We were hosted by our Italy-based friend, Oyo.

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D. Tagaytay City (Taal) – Saw the Philippines’ “Lake in a Volcano in a lake”

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E. Binondo and Intramuros, Manila- Celebrated the Chinese New Year and ate some frog legs with the couchsurfers in Manila. Delish!

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February 21-24, 2013- The Impromptu North Luzon Travel

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A. Pampanga – Starting Point

B. Laoag City, Ilocos Norte

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C. Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte – Experienced the beauty of the North and the best homestay ever.

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D. Bangui, Ilocos Norte – The windmills are just awesome (and I am awesome for wearing a boxers while traveling)

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E. Burgos, Ilocos Norte- Help! Im running out of adjectives!!!

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F. Paoay, Ilocos Norte – Just like in the postcards.

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G. Vigan, Ilocos Sur- A taste of the past.

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H. Baguio City – witnessed my first Flower Festival or commonly known as the Panagbenga Festival.

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March 22-29, 2013The Holy Week Adventure in Central Visayas

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A. Cebu City – Starting Point. Couchsurfed @ Tsari’s Place

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B. Dumaguete City – Toured around Siliman University and ate at Sans Rival Restaurant.

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C. Siquijor City- Experienced brownout at night at the mystical island of Siquijor. Creepy? Nah! Hosted by the Abing Family.

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D. Just passing by Dumaguete again

E. Oslob, Cebu – Whalesharks!

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F. Carcar, Cebu – The heritage town of the province of Cebu

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G. Cebu City- attended a seminar on Social Media and Website Making

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H. Badian, Cebu – an extreme spiritual retreat at Terra Manna Camping resort

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September 22-25, 2013 – The Birthday Trip in Vietnam

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A. Hanoi Vietnam – Starting Point

B. Trang An, Ninh Binh Province – Paddled, Prayed and ate a goat..

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C. Bai Dinh Temple – The largest temple in North Vietnam

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D. Hanoi, Vietnam – traveled around the city and had the chance to spend it with the beautiful people of Hanoi.

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December 6-9, 2013 – Being Complete in Bicol (Yep, Im a quarter Bicolano)!

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A. Pampanga – Starting Point

B. Naga and Pili, Camarines Sur – Wild sports, spicy foods and very generous hosts– special mention: Kha and Jeson of CS Naga.

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C. Ligao, Camalig, Cagsawa, and Legazpi, Albay – Extreme food trip, Brilliant Sites and awesome CSers– Special Mention: Julie and Jopz of CS Albay.

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December 14-17, 2013 – The North Mindanao Trip, Last for the year.Image

A. Manila – Starting Point

B. Camiguin – Too bad there were no lanzones during that time.

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C. Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental – Nightlife at its finest with CDO couchsurfers

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D. Bukidnon – getting lost in the pineapple maze is worth it!

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Short travels:

A. Ratha Yatra Festival, UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (February 2, 2013)

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B. Ermita Church, Manila (March 2, 2013) – during the feeding program of CS Manila

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C. Visita Iglesia in Pampanga (March 14, 2013)

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D. Potipot Island, Candelaria, Zambales, Philippines (August 7-8, 2013)

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That’s it for me this year. Hope you were able to enjoy the pictures the way I enjoyed them. If you are from the Philippines and Vietnam, what are you waiting for, our countries are really SOMETHING! If you are outside the aforementioned countries, come and visit us.

Happy New Year and lets welcome 2014 with a blast!

Food Trippin’ in Bicol

Pampanga, my hometown, is known as the culinary capital of the country. I have to agree that the food in Pampanga is undoubtedly tasty and delicious. But for a local of the town, you can’t stop me in searching for an alternate culinary capital– and that is Bicol. I am a bit bias because I am a quarter Bicolano. And here’s my Anthony Bourdain slash Biyahe ni Drew culinary experience in Bicol:

Biggs Diner is the largest fast food chain in the Bicol Region. They are everywhere. I love 50s themed diners as much as I love pubs so Bicol is basically heaven for me. During my 4-day stay in Bicol, I had the chance to try 3 branches– Naga City, Albay and Embarcadero. I also had the chance to enjoy the experience with amazing people I met along the way. Vintage cameras are everywhere as well..

BIGG’S NAGA (with Kuya Jeson)

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BIGG’S OLD ALBAY (with Ate Jules and Jopz)

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BIGG’S EMBARCADERO (with Ate Thet)

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When you are in Naga, don’t miss the Laing Pizza at Camsur Watersports Complex. Spicy. Tasty. Heavenly. Crunchy. A bit Fishy.

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My host, Kuya Jeson bought some rice-based delicacies well known in Naga.

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I also had a love affair with the famous soup dish in Naga…the Kinalas.

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Bicol is the spice hub of the country. You should definitely try the Sili Ice Cream here:

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“Cherry on top” is for babies…

…and the Rice Coffee Ice Cream..

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and the Pili Ice Cream.

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Our lunch in Let’s Pinangat is also an unforgettable one..

INGAT PINANGAT!

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Street foods in Legazpi, Albay.. “The Hepa Lane” haha

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There you have it… and I repeat.. Bicol is my alternate culinary capital!

Fight or Flee

“This is to inform you that the Cebu Pacific Flight bound to Legazpi City is cancelled due to the bad weather condition in the area”

Bummer! That’s probably one of the worst travel situations a traveler might face. Shit happens. I have 2 options: Take a 10-hour bus ride (fight) or flee. I met a girl who was really devastated because her company sent her to Legazpi City to close a million peso deal. I also met Ate Judith who desperately needs to go to Legazpi City because her nephew died. In my case, I have nothing to lose. It’s just a pleasure trip.

But I have decided to fight! I took a taxi to the bus terminal. Unfortunately, the next bus will be a 5pm bus meaning I will be in Naga (Camarines Sur) at 3am. Then something awesome happened. At the front of the queue, I saw Ate Judith again. She waved at me and told me to ride the bus with her to Legazpi City via the Maasin Leyte bus. The bus will leave at exactly 12 noon.

Ate Karol, my host in Naga told me that she was really worried that time. But I told her that it wasn’t that bad as it sounds. I asked for an adventure. I got one. And one thing I love about the experience is that I conquered it…just like all the travel hassles I had before.  Again, this story is one of those stories that my friends will listen to and probably will encourage them to get out of their comfort zones and just travel.