Perfect Day – Drew & Apple wedding

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I had my own wedding blog which documented our whole wedding preparation, but sadly, I lost it as it was only registered through a shared domain and the site does not exist anymore. Good thing I had backed up some of the entries I made, so here it goes… (Note that the rates indicated here are for 2012).

Wedding budget, tips and other things

When we started the whole wedding planning, both Drew and I were clueless. We started from scratch. We didn’t have savings (we have investment but we didn’t want to sacrifice it). At first we thought, we could pull off a big wedding with a budget of P100,000. As I begin to research, that’s when I realized, with all the things I wanted to include, P100,000 was too small.

I started budgeting. I have a monthly expected cashflow excel file that I started monitoring. I talked to Drew how much he was willing to shell out, and I also set the maximum amount I would be willing to put into our “wedding budget.” We didn’t ask our parents to contribute for anything. As much as possible, we want this to be our baby, our pride. We wanted to prove something – that we were really ready for this.

I talked to my friends about our plan to get married. That was I think mid-January 2012. Ida immediately volunteered to shoulder the souvenirs. And with much persuasion, Vikka, Myza and Veah agreed to shoulder the cake.

I have set my mind from the start that the things that I would prioritize and shell out a little extra from our budget would be photos, videos, food and my shoes (reason why I opted for a gown with a slit).

After our wedding, a lot of people had been approaching us on how much budget we set for a wedding like ours. I really want to be a big help for the future brides and grooms out there. Yes we could have had a simpler wedding, we could have foregone some of the wedding “wants”, but this is a once in a lifetime event (atleast for me). So to give you an idea, here is the breakdown of our expenses.

Venue: MONTE DI PORTOFINO, ALABANG

P25,000 (I wouldn’t recommend our venue, just because they gave me a lot of headache during the wedding day. Imagine they charged us P1,500 for a ladder so that our caterers could put up the swags. P1,500 for a freakin’ ladder! So unreasonable! We fully paid the venue as early as February 2012, and we didn’t get any credit for it, even just for them to lend us the ladder for free. Good thing I came to know this after the wedding already, or my day could be ruined. There were other things as well, but it just makes me cringe to reminisce.)

Video: ALT X VIDEO

P38,000 (video coverage + SDE + wedding teaser video). Now Alt-x offers only one package for P60,000 which they started November 2012. We booked them in February 2012, so we had a price lock.

Our SDE wedding video

Photo: (MAIN: PHASES & FACES; BACK-UP: KAYLE ANNE LUCERO)

P25,000 (2 photographers + magazine type album). This was a promotion we got during one of the wedding expos Drew attended and it was already a good deal.

P15,000++ (back up and prenup photos, incl prenup venue)

Caterer: JULIO’S CATERING

P170,000 (food + event styling + bridal car + flowers + sounds + lights + gazebo + swags + tokens), Originally it was P150,000 for 150 guests but our guests ballooned to 180 and we had to pay extra for the suppliers’ food.

SOUVENIR: Flipbook                                   

P11,500 (We got this in Deal Grocer. Their regular rate is at P14,000)


Mobile Bar: SHAKERS BIG PUNCH                                                           

P11,000 (sponsored by my brother)

Cake: JUDY USON-THE CAKE ARTIST                                                                      

c/o VJACKS (including mini cake as souvenirs)

Invitations: JCEF PRINTING PRESS, RECTO 

P6,750 (for 150 wedding invitations)

Tokens: Bateel Chocolates, Bahrain       

P10,000++ est (Chocolates as tokens for our Ninangs and suppliers)

Accommodation                                             

OTD (BELLEVUE, ALABANG): P7,000 for 2 deluxe rooms (We booked this in travel expo so this was really a great deal, plus we got a free upgrade to suite because of my SS, Marife through her friend Krissa who is working at Bellevue)

After wedding (CRIMSON, ALABANG): Sponsored by my parents.

HMUP: GRACE COPON & CHRISTIAN OF DAVID’S SALON

Over P10,000 but less than P15,000 (Drew and I have separate stylist. He got his friend Ian, senior stylist at David’s Salon, and I got my friend Grace Copon. Ian styled atleast 10 heads, Grace and her hairdresser styled atleast 6 heads. Grace used airbrush for me, so we personally think we got a good deal for HMUP as they are our friends. Airbrush is airbrush.)

Emcees: AUBREY FAMATIGAN & KENNETH CRISOSTOMO           

Free (They are my good friends)

Entourage Suit Rental: GARDINI, PQUE                                

P10,000 est (12 heads)

Entourage Gowns: MELBA MOLDEZ                                        

P25,000 est (Includes FG, BM, SS, Mother of Groom’s gowns)

MOH & MOB Gown: JANE NORMAN                                     

P8,000++ est  (RTW bought in Bahrain)

Bridal Gown + Groom’s Suit: DELIA ACOSTA                       

P28,000 (with complete bridal accessories)

 Bride & Groom’s Shoes : SERGIO ROSSI

atleast P20,000 est

 OTD Coordinator: THE ONE EXCLUSIVE

P12,000 (This has been really helpful so as much as possible, if you have the extra budget, book a coordinator. Big thanks to them especially to Kath and Anton. They were calm during the wedding. Anton who was assigned to me made sure that I have eaten before the ceremony. )

Wedding Rings: SUAREZ

P25,000

Out-of-pocket                                                  

atleast P20,000 est (This includes tips, fares, etc.)

Honeymoon: BANGKOK, THAILAND & SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA                                   

atleast P25,000 est:

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So you see, wedding could really be costly (depending on the bride and groom’s preferences.) So if you have been invited in one, feel privileged. The couple went under a lot of stress to break down the guest list. And please, for heaven’s sake, DO RSVP!!

Tips:

Plan the outflow! The term given to us by our caterer was P25,000 down, remaining 2 weeks before the wedding. I negotiated with them and insisted to include in the contract our planned outflow because I know for a fact that it would be a huge headache if we’ll pay the remaining amount in full in just one payment. So I set the date and considered our cash inflow. Like for example if you’re expecting a bonus in a particular month, then pay a large portion of the balance on that month.

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Babymoon in Greece

When Drew and I first found out we were pregnant, the first thing we thought was — no more traveling for us like we used to. 

It was last February 2017 when I was just randomly searching online when I stumbled upon a number of promo fares. One last travel. Why not?

Babymoon — it’s getting popular nowadays. It is something couples do before having a baby. It’s like the last chance to celebrate your freedom before your whole life changes entirely.

But where? US? Travel time is too long. Paris? UK? Same. Travel time is atleast 6 hrs. For someone pregnant like me, it is adviseable to keep it at most 4 hrs travel time. Turkey? Yes. But, I’ve been there already. Greece. Yes. Can I go to Santorini when I take this? Search… Yes! There are budget airlines from Athens. Perfect! Greece it is!

But when? As I researched when is the perfect time to travel when pregnant, they advised to have it on the 2nd trimester – atleast before 7 months. So I booked our flights for 2nd week of May, I’ll be 6 months by then. Just right.

I got our return flights Bahrain to Athens at just $590 for 2 pax (around BD 115 per pax) through Pegasus Airlines. Cheap! Then I booked a flight from Athens to Mykonos, and Santorini to Athens for just BD 60 total for the two of us via Ryan Air. Again, cheap. We were just originally planning to take a boat from Mykonos to Santorini. All set. Flights have been booked as early as February. We just have to wait. Hotels can be booked 2 months before, no worries.

Getting a visa

Greece is part of Schengen area and you need a Schengen visa to enter the country. There’s a Greece consulate in Bahrain but the embassy approval is done in Kuwait so you need atleast 15 working days visa processing time as the documents will be sent to Kuwait. 

Greece visa requirements

We first submitted our requirements on April 2 at the VFS global office in Diplomat, Manama (UK, Australia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark visa applications can also be done here). Unfortunately, our application was not accepted because we overlooked one very important thing– Drew’s residence visa in Bahrain will expire on September 2017, just 4 months valid when we travel in May. There’s a rule that residence visa and passport should be valid atleast 6 months at the time of travel. So we had to renew his visa first. 

We were close to giving up as his company doesn’t normally renew their visas that early, but still we tried. It was a looong waiting game. Thankfully, his visa got renewed on the last week of April. But still, we didn’t have time anymore for the 15 working day window of visa processing (our flight was supposed to be 11 May). 

We didn’t have a choice but to rebook our flights.  Good thing the hotels I booked had free cancellation policies (I normally do this through booking.com). Also, we cancelled our plan to go to Mykonos as Drew wanted to limit our movement due to my condition. So we just rebooked a return flight Athens to Santorini.

We went back to VFS and resubmitted our requirements. We had to get another set of travel insurance as our date of travel changed. We didn’t submit an updated bank statement anymore. Three days later, the consulte called and was asking for the latest bank statement. So I did, and just to be sure, I also submitted stamped copies of my savings-investment policies.

Our visas got approved after less than 10 days. Visa cost is BD 42 per person. 


Travel certificate

I first informed my doctor of our plan to travel when I was 25 weeks, and she assured me it was fine and airlines allow until 32 weeks. As the day approaches, and I was experiencing consistent contractions, she gave me 2 injections and prescribed medicines for it, and advised me to come back 3 days before my travel date to issue travel certificate as this would only be valid for 7 days. I thought she would just sign in the letter but when I came back, I still had to undergo all the tests I normally go through every check up. 

Doctor-issued travel certificate

But none of the airlines asked me for it, maybe because I don’t look that pregnant to them. 

Athens, Greece

We first landed in Athens (after a quick stopover in Istanbul), and our hotel transport was waiting for us in the arrival area.  We were quoted at EUR 40, one way for the hotel transfer. It is cheaper to go through metro (only EUR 18 one way for 2 pax), but we were after lesser hassle and we don’t want to waste time looking for our hotel on our own. Because we were set to go to Acropolis that day so I chose a nearby hotel. The hotel was very close to the metro – Victoria station (only 4 stations away from Acropolis). We would only stay for half a day as our flight to Santorini was on the same night, so we just had a few hours to explore Athens.

Around Acropolis metro station exit, you would see some promodizers selling simcards. We got a local sim (Vodaphone) with 10 gb data and few minutes call for EUR 15 which we were able to use in Santorini as well. You can also get at the airport in the postal office but unfortunately when we came, they were out of stock.

Entrance to Acropolis alone is at EUR 20 per person, but if you have several days to spare in Athens, they have multi-site ticket for EUR 30 which entitles you for an access to Acropolis and 6 other archeological sites and is valid for 5 days.

City of Athens on the background

The Parthenon


I had another goal in mind for Acropolis — a photoshoot! Theme: greek goddess. So I brought all the costume I bought in Bahrain, complete with the hair accessories. The only problem is, I have a KJ photographer- my husband. Just after 3 shots, he would already ask me to remove all the costume, because he was embarrassed. So I didn’t expect to have a good shot anymore, but lo he had some lucky ones!

Pregnant at 28 weeks


The metro

I really find their metro set-up weird. There are no ticket validating machines as you enter the station. Not even guards to have your tickets checked. Once you buy the ticket, there’s a small machine beside the ticket booth, you just have to insert your ticket to validate it, then you are free to enter the station. But the question that was bothering me, how will they ensure all the people entering the station had a valid ticket or even have a ticket. It’s really weirding me out. 

Almost a victim.

Before coming to Athens, we’ve already read about how notorious their metros are due to pickpocket incidents.

And we experienced it firsthand.

We boarded at Victoria station going to airport so we had our luggages with us. Drew carried 2 luggages (me being pregnant so he doesn’t want me to carry any).

When we entered the train, 2 people helped him carry the luggages and that’s when he felt the man’s hand trying to get in the front pocket of his pants. He immediately tapped away the suspect’s hand and transferred his wallet to safety. The train was full and we were a feet apart with some people between us , so I just heard him saying “yung bag mo, dinudukutan ako“. When we were at the next station (not our stop), he signaled at me to get off coz the guys were still beside him. It’s not just one guy. They’re atleast 3. We met a Filipina earlier before that incident and she also warned us about it coz the guys usually dress up decently so you wouldn’t think they are pickpocketers.

Lesson learned. 

Minus this and the vandalisms, they have a pretty efficient metro I must say. The airport has a walkway attached to the station so it’s convenient to take the metro to and from the airport.

Santorini, Greece
Kamari

We arrived in Santorini half past midnight so we opted to stay first in Kamari, a village just near the airport. We quickly explored Kamari after breakfast, headed to the black sand beach, and just walked around.

Kamari black sand beach

First Greek breakfast


Heart-shaped pool of our hotel in Kamari


Imerovigli

We checked out by lunchtime and headed to our hotel in Imerovigli – Athiri Family Hotel

Our hotel in Imerovigli

We really love our hotel. The location is good, our room is perfect for a decent price (got it for only EUR 81 per night, breakfast included). Our host, Kostas had been very helpful in giving us tips and recommendations in exploring the island. He provided a map, with all the sites to see and restaurants to try.

Imerovigli is a quiet village, away from the crowded Fira and Oia, but with the same beautiful view.

That afternoon, we headed to the caldera path which was just few minutes walk from our hotel, and trek along it towards Fira village. After about 10 minutes walk, finally, we saw what I expected of Santorini – the view of the whites and blues.



The hike along the caldera path is a must when visiting Santorini, as this would give you lots of instagram-worthy pictures and scenic views. You can start from Fira going to Oia (or vice versa) and the trek would take around 4 hours.

Even dogs appreciate Santorini’s beauty

The view is perfect all the time



Pyrgos

The next morning, our breakfast was delivered to our room.

We asked Kostas to arrange for an atv for us. We were quoted for EUR 35 for a 24 hour rent. We can actually rent a car for the same amount, but they didn’t accept our licenses, as it should be an international one.  For an atv rental, you would also be needing a valid driver’s license (any). The atv was delivered to our hotel and you can pay through credit card. They will hold your driver’s license until you return the atv. You would also need to put some gas, we just filled ours for EUR 5 and it was more than enough for a whole day.

We drove for around 15 mins and more to Pyrgos which can be found at the highest point of Santorini, with panoramic views of the whole island. The locations in the island are easy to navigate through google maps.

Panoramic view of the island


Around the village, you would see some shops selling souvenirs, which are much cheaper than the ones in Fira and Oia. So do your souvenir shopping here.

After some quick shopping and exploring the village, we asked Kostas for a good restaurant around the area. He recommended MetaxiMas in Exo Gonia, just a few minutes drive from Pyrgos, but unfortunately they were not open until 2pm and Terrence was already hungry. So we settled at Pyrgos Restaurant, which is quite good also. 

At Pyrgos restaurant with the view of the island

We headed back to our hotel and went for a quick dip in our little jacuzzi before proceeding to our next tour.


Amoudi Bay

After 15-20 mins atv ride from Imerovigli towards the end of Oia, would take you to this beautiful port.

Like a beautiful painting

You can also access this area from the top of Oia village but the steps down are steep, so better to take a drive going here.

Oia
Because we didn’t get the chance to fully explore Oia, we came back the next day. This time, we tried their public bus. There’s a bus stop near our hotel, and ticket is only EUR 1.8 per person. The first bus we saw didn’t stop, and when we asked Kostas, he said when the bus is full, they usually won’t stop. We were about to go back to our hotel and rent an atv again when another bus came and thankfully, it picked up some passengers on our stop.

Oia is the most popular village in Santorini and this is where most tourists flock to shop, dine and watch the sunset. This, for me, has also the most scenic view of the caldera and Aegean sea.

Finding the famous three blue domes

When you google search images relating to Santorini, I’m pretty sure images of the 3 blue domes would be on top.

I will give you the simplest direction on how to locate this to get your obligatory Santorini shot.

At Oia bus station (there’s only one) go to the main square where you would see this church (it’s just few steps away from the bus station):


Picture above shows the front of the church. Once you’re there, facing the caldera, proceed to the pathwalk on your right. You would see Bulgari jewelry store (yellow in color), take the small narrow left just beside this shop and follow the steps going down. This would already lead you to the blue domes. 

The obligatory shot with the famous three blue domes


To get these shots, there will be a queue. Be mindful of the time you spend on taking photos to give chance to other tourists. You can go nearer the domes as you wish by taking the steps further down.
After taking enough photos of the domes, we proceeded to get some desserts as this is the only place I remembered Kostas recommended (because it has something to do with sweets). It is called Melenio Cafe. We were able to get a table overlooking the caldera.

Mascarpone chocolate cake and Mille Feuille

Breathtaking view

 

Sunset in Santorini

Sunset in Santorini is considered as one of the most beautiful in the world. For the last two days of our stay, we weren’t able to see this as it was cloudy. Good thing on our last day we got the chance to witness it. The most popular spot to view the sunset is in Oia, but we settled in Imerovigli which has the lesser crowd. The sun sets here at 8:20-ish pm, so the day is long and you would feel that you have more time to explore the island.


So that concludes our Greece trip. If I wasn’t pregnant, we would definitely try the adventurous side of Santorini — taking the Caldera tour, trek to the volcano’s crater, swim at the hotspring. But personally witnessing the breathtaking views of the island was more than enough for me. 

– Personally, we find Athens more expensive than Santorini.

– Food cost averages EUR 10-15 per person.

– It is generally safer in Santorini than in Athens and people are friendlier as well.

Memory of my growing bump in Santorini


Glad to have this trip taken with my husband before our final approach to the realness of parenthood. A once in a babymoon trip of a lifetime. 

Andrew Terrence

It’s been quite a while since I last updated this blog. While at work, I kept looking at the time, it’s 5pm. Time to go home, but I still don’t want to go home. No urgent work to finish. Desperate, I even googled things to do when bored. And then I remembered my blog.

It has been almost a year when I last posted an entry, and since then I’ve been to couple of places. Nepal. Maldives (again). Japan (again). South Korea. I wanted to re-start with a travel entry, but then something kicked in (literally). So why not start with what’s keeping me busy these days, and the reason I look forward to the next couple of months…

I could still remember clearly everything that happened that day. It was 14 December 2016. I woke up early, went straight to bathroom.

Peed and waited.

The first line appeared, then another line quickly after.

OMG! I’m pregnant.

I just let it sink in me for few minutes. Went out of the toilet and woke Drew up.

“I’m going to be a daddy?” his exact words. “Wag kang feeling, ikaw ba ang ama?

We were both ecstatic. We were trying for few months (3 months to be exact), and we really thought one of us had some fertility issues, because although we weren’t really trying for the past years, we weren’t using contraceptives either.

I took the test because my period was already more than a month late, and although I was hopeful I was pregnant, I still had some reservations. But Drew had a strong feeling that I was pregnant because (that is according to him), my body was giving a different kind of heat leading up to that day.

Perfect timing.

I took a leave from work that day, and went to OB-GYN clinic to confirm. Excited as we were, we announced it the next day through Facebook although I was only 5 weeks that time (unspoken rule is to announce it after your 1st trimester — at 12 weeks when the risk of miscarriage decreases).

The first trimester was difficult for me. I had a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I doubt if I was really pregnant because in the ultrasound, my baby looked like a seed. Or just a poop. I felt weak in most days and just wanted to lie and sleep. I was even unproductive at work. This was because, according to the articles I’ve read, of all the changes that has been happening in my body. There was even a time when I had a slight bleeding, and I really thought I could lose the baby.

The second trimester has been really easy so far. My energy went back, and according to Drew, he’s thankful that I am not making my pregnancy difficult for him.

I had no special craving (or what they call “pinaglilihian”). I just want to eat whatever I think I want. But I guess the focus of my “lihi” is my husband, because I always want to see him.

At the start of this journey, I was planning to have a gender reveal party. But my doctor spoiled it for me. I was on my 18th week when we found out our baby’s sex. My doctor didn’t give me a chance to prepare. As soon as she placed the scanner on my belly, she immediately blurted “AY LALAKI!”. I didn’t know how to react. Because what I imagined was it would be gentle and slow, so we could have time to process the news. I didn’t even get to capture Drew’s first reaction, I was busy contemplating on my thoughts. But we were both happy overall.

The fun part of my everyday is when I get to feel my baby with his little kicks. Sometimes I would feel uneasy, especially when he does it while I’m driving or whenever he’s kicking my bladder. But I always want to feel him. It’s like an assurance that he’s doing fine. Drew is also looking forward to it everyday.

I am on my 25th week now, soon entering 3rd trimester. During my very first check up, I was at 43 kgs. Now, I’m 52 kgs. Pregnancy is really amazing. There are times when I think about the day of my delivery, what would be my pain tolerance? I know it would hurt a lot, how would I take it all in? Sometimes I get scared. How will I pee and poop after? Will my slim figure go back? I should buy a good girdle. Then it would transition to, are we going to be good parents? Will we still have a stable income when he starts his schooling? But there are more times that I am just really excited to finally get to see our baby.

I just still couldn’t believe a life is growing inside me. All the changes in my body. All the new experiences I am going through. All these emotions. Everyday has truly been a blessing and a miracle.

And we just couldn’t wait to see the testimony of our very own miracle.

We couldn’t wait to see you, baby Andrew.

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Our pouting baby Andrew Terrence.

Salvation in Lord Jesus Christ

What is the road to salvation?

I have been a Christian for almost 3 years. I was born of Catholic faith, and I thought I belong to Christian faith, but when I have come to know the truth, there are so many things I have realized. Being a Christian is not just being a member of a certain sect or religious denomination, it has depth. It is no longer about religion alone. Being a true believing Christian means having a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our time here on earth is very limited. There is no certainty that tomorrow you and I are still alive. We are too concerned about our future here on earth, so why not be concerned with the eternal destiny of your very own soul?

Salvation is too simple and complicated at the same time. Yes we may know Jesus as the Saviour, but ‘just’ knowing is not enough. You have to claim it – it is more of a personal choice.

If you appreciate and fully understand the purpose of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary, then Salvation through Jesus Christ could be yours.

It took a remarkable amount of time for me to understand God’s plan and purpose of salvation. I feel blessed because I know Drew, his mom and the people who cared for my soul prayed that one day I will take heed to the call of salvation.

I don’t consider myself as a matured Christian. There are still more to learn on the doctrines of Christianity. Sometimes, I still think I don’t deserve to present the truth because I myself have more to know about our Saviour Jesus Christ.

But I realize withholding the truth from other people is a selfish act.
I am not a good talker, because I always come off as “masungit”. I hope one day I can overcome that. That’s why this is my way of sharing God’s simple plan of salvation. I hope, just like me, you will take heed to His calling.

Whoever you are, Jesus cares for your soul. This message is for you. One day, I hope we can worship God together in Heaven.

If you understand that you are a sinner and in need of salvation through Jesus Christ, here is a sinner’s prayer you can pray to God: “God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I believe that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness. I trust in Jesus and Jesus alone as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you Lord, for saving me and forgiving me! Amen!”

Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Jet-setting Japan

When I was still in elementary, I remember spending my weekends/ summer months watching a Japanese travel show. I grew up admiring all those cute Japanese things, topping my list of favorite food was their Japanese nissin cup noodles. My mom used to work in Japan, and I have many relatives living there that’s why these influenced my Japan fascination. It was my childhood dream to step into the land of the rising sun and I grew up holding on to that dream. Someday.

Then someday became soon. When Cebu Pacific announced its piso fare early last year, my first choice was ofcourse – Japan! So I booked a seat for me, my husband, and my parents (I wanted my mom to come because she speaks Nihongo well). Imagine for the 4 of us, we just paid a total of Php 14,318. Yup 4 roundtrip tickets for that cost only! The only catch was, we had different flights, because promo fare seats are harder to purchase when you’re in group. How different? My husband, I and my mom flew to Narita, while my dad came in via Nagoya airport. Going back, my parents flew out of Narita, and my husband and I flew out from Nagoya. Not that bad. As early as March 2015, we were booked for a trip that was 6 months away.

Getting a visa

In June, we applied for a visa. When we went to Japan embassy in Bahrain, we didn’t have a hotel booking, because the original plan was to stay at my aunt’s apartment in Ito City. It turned out it would be a lengthy process since I still have to get an original guarantee letter straight from my aunt who was in Japan that time. We were about to leave the embassy when an idea came to me. Right there and then, I booked a hotel via booking.com which had free cancellation policy. So I just asked the lady who attended to us (good thing she’s a Filipina) if I can just email to them our hotel booking, to which she agreed. We submitted an application form (downloadable via embassy’s website), itinerary, flight booking, original passport, copy of our Bahrain residence permit, and 6 months bank statement (stamped by the bank). Processing usually takes atleast 2-5 working days. Ours took 2 days.

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Hurray! Approved!

Japan here we come!

Then soon became finally. It was September 1 to 8 last 2015 when I had the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. While we were still in Bahrain, we purchased the 7-days unlimited JR Rail Pass online to maximize our Japan experience. With this pass, we would be able to go city to city at a lesser cost! The thing is you cannot get this pass while in Japan and must be purchased outside from an authorized sales agent. Once you arrive in Narita airport, just go to JR office to get your actual pass (photo in right).

We also ordered online a pocket wifi which we also claimed at the airport. You can return them by inserting the items on a return envelope provided together with these and drop in mailbox at the airport. (Heads up: Just make sure you double check the number of items. We forgot to return the powerbank, so they charged us around Php 2,000+.)

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Just go to Pupuru website to order this in advance!

Because we had the unlimited rail pass, for the 8 days, we were able to visit Tokyo, Shizuoka, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya.

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The Japan bullet trains.

TOKYO

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Tokyo Station


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Tokyo Disney Sea


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Shibuya crossing

SHIZUOKA

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Yakiniku experience


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Conveyor belt sushi experience

KYOTO

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OSAKA

Bright lights and the big crowd. Just how I imagined Osaka.

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NAGOYA

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Staying at a capsule hotel in Nagoya

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Now, I’m wide awake from a Japan dream. But before that, let’s grab all the delicious treats we could get.

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Breathtaking Batanes

Have you ever been to a place where you just look around, and everything is just so pretty? You deeply breathe in, hoping you can absorb all its prettiness. Sigh…. Oh Batanes! This postcard-worthy, scenic destination is definitely a must see in your lifetime. And if you think, you can always find an alternative to Batanes, think again! I just couldn’t find words to describe how beautiful this place is. I’m sure you have an idea of a perfect place you would want to spend your remaining years after retirement. Where you can just find solitude and peace. Drown in all those greens and blues. Yes, my idea of this ‘perfect place’ was found in Batanes.

Ticking this off from my ‘ultimate’ bucket list happened in year 2015, when I was planning where will my husband and I spend our annual vacation to Philippines. That’s the beauty of planning ahead, you can always get a cheaper airfare. So yayyyyyy!

Let me just give you an idea what to expect in exploring Batanes. This is just few of what I can remember, but you can always go to Batanes with no plan. Just get lost in all its beauty.

Aerial view

Aerial view before we landed. All green!

NORTH BATAN

We arrived in Basco by morning, so we started our 1st tour by noon. North Batan tour can be done in half a day. By the way, their tour rates are mostly fixed, and you can arrange it through your lodging. No need to book in advance.

Welcome to Basco

The “Welcome to Basco” obligatory shot!

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The famous Mt Carmel Chapel

Fundacion Pacita

The famous Fundacion Pacita. The only hotel in Basco (being that, ofcourse it is expensive!).

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Valugan Boulder Beach.

Batanes day 1

First day high!

kid with carabao

Just random kid and a random carabao.

piggy back ride

Vayang Rolling Hills with Mt Iraya in the background

SABTANG ISLAND

For our 2nd day, we visited another island. You will be taken to Ivana port by tricycle and a boat would take you to Sabtang (30 minutes travel time). Sabtang tour can be done in half a day because last trip boats going back to Basco are scheduled by 1pm (not later due to unpredictable sea/ weather). If you have more than 4 days to spare, I suggest you spend a night or two in Sabtang. I’m sure it would be worth it.

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Old stone house!

Sabtang Island

Amazing view of just a part of Sabtang.

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Chamantad cove!

Sabtang_Ivatan Dario

Ivatan Dario!

Sabtang-Morong beach

Morong beach

By 1 pm we headed back to Basco and explored on our own.

BTW, near Ivana port you would see the Honesty Coffee Shop. For me, this place is overrated. I get the hype, a coffee place where no one is manning it. The owners are relying on customers’ honesty. I was so excited to see this shop, and when our tour guide pointed us to this small quaint place, “yan na yun?”

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This store is too small for dishonest people.

SOUTH BATAN

For our 3rd day, we did the whole day South Batan Tour in Basco. Tours usually start by 8-9 am and finish at around 4-5 pm, depending on the amount of time you would spend on each site. I suggest you take time to savor and appreciate each and every destination.

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Inside their blank book archive library, where you can write down your random thoughts. Ours is in book no. 900!

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The blue lagoon

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Alapad Hills. Where the movie “Hihintiyan kita sa langit” was shot (starring Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez)

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Chawa View Deck

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Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse

South_Mahatao

Mahatao lighthouse with Mt Iraya

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What a view!

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Chillin’ at Marlboro Hills.

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So that concludes our unforgettable Batanes trip. We recommend the following contacts because our experience with them were all smooth:

Lodging:
Marfel Lodge – 09088931475 / 09178574493

Tour guide – Batan tours
Kuya Toto Fainza – 09198933146

Tour guide – Mt. Iraya trek (athough we didn’t do this, we had a good conversation with Kuya Rene and he was so easy to talk to)
Kuya Irineo Balmores – 09176083964 / 09995533630

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Cost breakdown:

Flights: (via Philippines Airlines. You might also want to check Skyjet)

PAL (MLA-BSO)             – Php 2,504/pax (promo fare)

PAL (BSO-MLA)             – Php 4,392/pax (regular fare)

PAL (MLA-BSO-MLA)  – Php 8,969/pax (regular fare)

Lodging:

Marfel’s Lodge               – Php 1,200/night (fan room-Php 400/pax)

 Tours:

North Batan Tour           – Php 1,500 (tricycle – 3 pax/ half day tour)

Sabtang Tour                   – Php 1,000 (tricycle – 3 pax/ half day tour)

– Php 150/pax (Boat transfers: two-way)

– Php 200/pax (Sabtang environmental fee)

South Batan Tour           – Php 2,000 (tricycle – 3 pax/ whole day tour)

Food:

SDC Canteen                     – Php 90/meal (atleast)

Restaurants                       – Php 150-300/dish (atleast)

**Traveled September 2015

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Below is my Facebook Batanes album description I would also want to share:

Batanes has been my ultimate Philippine dream destination, with its scenic views taken straight out of a postcard, but this time it offers the real deal. But let me start sharing the downside of Batanes.

1) It is expensive. And I mean really expensive, especially the food. This is understandable as importing food here could be costly. And according to a reliable source, municipality taxes are crazy high. Good thing we brought canned goods and cup noodles, so we cooked our own breakfast.

2) There are very few restaurants in Basco. Hindi uso sa kanila ang karinderya because according to them, these kinds of eateries will not last. Tourists are not that plenteous, and locals don’t really go out and eat. We average at 500-600 pesos per meal for 3 pax.

3) It is one of the cleanest tourist places I’ve been to. But don’t be deceived. It is also home to many “ebaks”, so be careful in lying around Rolling Hills, Marlboro Hills or Alapad Hills. Goat & cow feces are everywhere. Lol.

4) Internet connection is pain. But who needs it anyway when you have such beauty to appreciate?

But despite these, we would still love to go back here. Because cliche as it may sound, Batanes is really worth it. Everything you see is beyond compare. It is very easy to fall in love with Batanes and so heartbreaking to leave such a beautiful place. We loved the fact that despite September being a rainy month here, we were still welcomed with a great weather, it didn’t rain during our whole stay. The experience is indeed a blessing from God.

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“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

Two To Tango

Characters:

Kim, 20 years old, maputi, simple ang beauty
Seph, ex ni Kim, 23 years old, matangkad, gwapo
Both are with strong personality. Parang aso’t pusa. Away-bati.

Tagpuan:
Manila going to Baguio. Lahat ng pag-uusap, nasa loob ng sasakyan.

(Hinihintay ni Seph si Kim sa isang parking lot habang humihithit ng sigarilyo. Nakakakalahating kaha na siya, saka dumating si Kim. May dalang malaking bag si Kim para sa outing nilang magbabarkada sa Baguio , halatang ngarag ang kilos sa labis na pagmamadali.)

Seph: Haaay salamat! (Kukunin ang bag kay Kim at ilalagay sa compartment).
Kim: Sorry. Ang daming pinagawa ni Mama before kong umalis, tutal three days naman daw akong mawawala. (Titingin-tingin at kukunot ang noo) Sina Pauline?
Seph: Nauna na. Ang tagal mo daw kasi! (isasarado ang compartment ng kotse. Lalakad papuntang driver’s seat) Buteh nalang natakas ko ‘tong auto sa tito ko, kung hindi, sumabay na ako sa kanila, kawawa ka naman, maiiwan ka. (Papasok sa loob ng sasakyan. Bubuksan ang kabilang pinto.)

Kim: Sorry na. (Papasok rin sa loob ng sasakyan katabi ng driver’s seat) Eh nagtext naman ako sa’yo na male-late ako ng konti!
Seph: Konti pa ba sayo ang isa’t kalahating oras? Tumirik na mata ko kakaantay.
Kim: Nagpa-mekaniko ka sana muna!!
Seph: Nge! Joke ba yun? Kelangan ko ba tumawa?
Kim: Sorry na nga eh..
Seph: Ano pa nga ba magagawa ko? Parang di na ako nasanay!
Kim: So galit ka na nyan?
Seph: Sinabi ko ba?
Kim: Hinde! Pero pinapakita mo!
Seph: Hindi ako galit.
Kim: Talaga?
Seph: Hindi nga.
Kim: Owss?
Seph: Bakit? Gusto mo magalit ako?
Kim: Ayos lang. keber ko.
Seph: E di galit ako!
Kim: Whatever.
(Mahabang Katahimikan. Magiging abala si Seph sa pagmamaneho, habang si Kim naman ay kinakalikot ang cellphone. Titingin tingin si Kim sa gawi ni Seph, nag-iisip ng maaring sabihin nang biglang may maalala)

Kim: Nakita ko nga pala si Riza kanina. (Hindi kikibo si Seph. Aaktong tila walang narinig) Hoi! Sabi ko nakita ko si Riza kanina. (Hindi parin kikibo si Seph. Maiirita si Kim.) Anu ba? Bingi ka ba? Sabi ko nakita ko si Riza!
Seph: Narinig ko! Wag mo akong sigawan! E ano ngayon kung nakita mo?
Kim: Wala lang sinabi ko lang! Bakit ang sunget mo?
Seph: Eh dba nga galit ako?
Kim: Huuu!! Ang sabihin mo, di ka pa rin moved on sa kanya kaya ka nagkakaganyan! At natapakan yang super taas mong pride kaya inis na inis ka kay Riza!
Seph: Hinde noh! Leche lang talaga yung babaeng yun!
Kim: See! Bitter ka parin sa nangyari.
Seph: Why should i? Dun na siya sa bestfriend niya! Ayos na ako sa buhay single.
Kim: E ano ba talagang nangyari sa inyo? Kwento mo nang buo.
Seph: Ayoko nga.
Kim: Ay corny! Sige na.
Seph: Sabing ayoko.
Kim: Puuhhh-leeeeaaaseeeeeee…
Seph: Bahala ka dyan!
Kim: E di wag! (Magdadabog! Pipihitin ang bukasan ng sounds. Maghahanap ng magandang kanta saka ilalagay sa full volume. Sasabayan ang kanta.)
Seph: (Papatayin ang stereo) Anu ka ba? Hindi ka ba naglilinis ng tenga? ang lakas-lakas mo magpatugtog!
Kim: Eh ayaw mo naman kasi magkwento, alangang kausapin ko nalang sarili ko?!
Seph: Bakit ba masyado ka interesado ha?
Kim: Eh bakit ba galit na galit ka sa kanya?
Seph: Hindi ako galit sa kanya. (Boses nagagalit biglang hihina) Inis lang.
Kim: Ganun na din yun. Eh bakit nga?
Seph: Ang kulet mo talaga!
Kim: Grabe naman Seph… Ako, pagdadamutan mo pa ng istorya ng buhay mo? ouch naman yun! (Aarteng malungkot at nasasaktan)
Seph: (Matatawa sa reaction ni Kim) Oo na sige na, ikkwento ko na. Hmm.. panu ba? (Nakatingin lang si Kim kay Seph habang nakikinig) The night before my birthday yun eh. Sinundo ko siya sa office. It should have been a double celebration kasi mag-si-6 months narin kame DAPAT nung bday ko. ayun, while we were eating, yun na! ayun..
Kim: Anong yun na? Ganda mo magkwento ah!
Seph: Yun na.. nakipag-break siya.
Kim: Bakit naman? Nalaman nyang may babae ka? (Kunot ang noong tumingin lang si Seph kay Kim) Fine! Seryoso mode pala dapat. O bakit nga?
Seph: One stupid reason: Mahal nya bestfriend niya. Kasi daw biglang nagtext sa kanya bestfriend niya, siguro natuwa siya, nalito. Sabi nya saken, narealize niya, mahal pala talaga niya bestfriend niya–na kung hindi yung bestfriend niya makakatuluyan niya, mas gugustuhin niyang mag-stay as single na lang.
Kim: Magpapaka-tandang dalaga siya para sa bestfriend niya?
Seph: Malamang.
Kim: Teka, ano ba bestfriend niya—lalaki o babae?
Seph: (Matatawa) Syempre lalaki-ano ka ba? Ginawa mo namang tibo.
Kim: Oh bakit? Pwede naman ah! May iba nga dyang lalaki, pinagpapalit gf’s nila sa bakla. Hindi na iba yun.
Seph: Sabagay…
Kim: Eh teka lang. Reasonable naman pala eh kung bakit siya nakipag-break, bakit nagagalit ka sa kanya?
Seph: Anong reasonable don? Tignan mo ha. Mahal niya bestfriend niya. Ibig sabihin, the feeling was there right from the start. Bago pa naging kame.
Kim: Oh tapos?
Seph: Di mo ba kuha ung logic? Ginago niya lang ako. Hindi niya ako mahal or minahal or whatever the term may be.
Kim: Hindi ganun yun. Malay mo mahal ka talaga niya, ang kaso MAS mahal lang talaga niya bestfriend niya.
Seph: Yun na rin yun eh!
Kim: Atleast naging fair siya. sinabi niya sa’yo yung totoo. Hindi ka niya pinagmukhang tanga.
Seph: Nagmukha na akong tanga, ano ka ba? Makipagbreak ba naman e kinabukasan non, birthday and supposed-to-be monthsary namen! And take note, why should it take 6 months for her to realize that? Ano ako, trial lang?
Kim: Ahh.. yun nga lang. Kaya super ka naglasing nung birthday mo.
Seph: Oo.
Kim: Kaya tinulugan mo ako sa phone non!
Seph: (Tatawa. Sasabay sa pagtawa si Kim) Lasing na lasing ako non. Di ko na namalayan. (Pagkaraan ng ilang saglit, seseryoso ang mood)
Kim: Masyado kang nasaktan?
Seph: Ewan ko. Oo masakit. Napamahal na rin yung tao saken eh. Balak ko na kasing magseryoso sa kanya. Wala eh. Ganun lang talaga.
Kim: Teka, nakailang girlfriends ka na nga ba?
Seph: (Ngingisi) Wag mo nang tanungin.
Kim: Ang dame na kasi!
Seph: ‘Di naman. Yung iba kasi for 1 week lang. 1 day. Ngayon gf ko, kinabukasan hindi na. Yung iba nga nakakalimutan ko nang naging gf ko pala. Pati pangalan ng limot ko na.
Kim: Grabe ka naman!
Seph: Old ways. Pero nung naging girlfriend ko si Riza, magseseryoso na talaga ako dapat, kaso ayun, palpak! (Tatahimik ang dalawa. Nakadungaw lang sa may bintana si Kim habang pilit pinupokus ni Seph ang sarili sa dinaraanan) Ikaw kasi, ayaw mo pa pumayag na makipagbalikan saken kahit 1month lang.
Kim: (magugulat sa sinabi ni Seph) Ay naku Seph! Tantanan mo ako! Ayan ka na naman eh. Napag-usapan na natin yan! Kung magkataon kasi, papaiyakin mo na naman ako.
Seph: Anu ka? ikaw mahilig magpaiyak dyan eh.
Kim: Ha! talaga lang, huh? E sino kaya ang kinakarma saten ngayon?
Tahimik.
Seph: Oo na. Alam ko naman eh, Ako na masama. Pero naging masama karin naman ah!
Kim: Hala ipasa ba? Kelan kaya?
Seph: Nung nagpanggap kang may boyfriend.
Kim: (Kukunot ang noo) Kelan yun?
Seph: Nung kakabreak lang natin.
Kim: Ahhh..yun. Hinde masama yun. Pinoprotektahan ko lang sarili ko sa’yo. Tsaka immature pa ako non! I possessed a brilliant mind, though. Biruin mo, naisip ko yun just to get even with you. HA!
Seph: So gumaganti ka?
Kim: No. Tapos na yun. Alam ko kasing makikipagbalikan ka sa akin that time kaya inunahan na kita! Ano ako stupid? Magpapaloko na naman sa’yo?
Seph: Ang feeling mo naman. Anong makikipagbalikan?
Kim: Maganda na ang FEELING kaysa MANHID! Bakit, hindi ba?? Eh ngayon nga nakikipagbalikan ka eh! (Tatawa ng mahina) Loko-loko ka kasi! Napaka-babaero mo.
Seph: Dati yun noh! Bata pa ako non. Iba na ako ngayon.
Kim: Ako rin naman bata pa non! The point is, nasaktan mo ako non.
Seph: Hinde yun intentional.
Kim: The harm was still done!
Seph: That was five years ago. Nagbago na ako. Bakit ba ayaw mong maniwala?
Kim: Eh why do you keep on saying na nagbago ka na? Prove it. (Walang magsasalita for few seconds)
Seph: Galit ka parin ba saken dahil dun?
Kim: Tingin mo?!
Seph: OO?! (May halong pagtatanong)
Kim: (Tatawa) Ito naman! La na yun! Tagal-tagal na non. Masakit lang talaga yung nangyari.
Seph: Alam ko. Inaamin ko naman, loko-loko talaga ako dateh. Gago. Pero Kim, totoo, minahal kita non. Masakit din saken yung nangyari.
Kim: Ah talaga? Di ko ramdam.
Tahimik. Mapapansing na-offend si Seph sa sinagot ni Kim.
Kim: Oi ito naman. Joke lang. (Walang sagot) Hoi! Kausapin mo ako. (Walang sagot) Hello??! (Hindi parin tutugon si Seph) FINE!
Tahimik.
Kim: Wag na nga natin pag-usapan yun. Hmmm… Musta na nga pala si Gail?
Seph: (Medyo walang gana ang pagsagot) Ano naman meron sa kanya?
Kim: Musta na kayo?
Seph: Kame?! Anong meron sa’men?
Kim: Musta na kayong dalawa?
Seph: Kame? …Siya? …Ayun! Sila pa rin.
Kim: …ni Santi. Mahal mo pa?
Seph: Ewan ko.
Kim: Magbebreak din sila. antayin mo nalang. Or just be happy for them.
Seph: Sana nga sila na magkatuluyan.
Kim: Paano ka?
Seph: Wala na ako pakialam.
Kim: But i do.
Seph: (Mag-iisip. Medyo sisigla ang boses) Salamat. Pero bahala na. They deserve each other, wala na ako magagawa. I had too many chances before kaso pinalampas ko lang. Ikaw na rin nagsabi, kinakarma ako ngayon. So i guess, i have to live with that.
Tahimik.
Kim: Nakakatawa yung nangyari sa’ten no? Ikaw… Ako… Si Gail.
Seph: Weird. Inaway mo pa si Gail. Pinabasa niya saken yung letter mo.
Kim: (Tatawa ng mahina) I knew it. Tinatanong-tanong mo pa sa aken dateh kung anong laman nung letter, nabasa mo rin pala. Hindi mo rin ako masisisi. Nagmukha kasi akong tanga non. Kaibigan ko siya, hinde ko man lang nalaman na nagkakamabutihan na kayo. It came as a surprise, that’s why it fucking hurts! Alam mo yung feeling na oblivious ka sa nangyayari, but the whole world knows? Masakit lang, it greatly concerns me tapos huli ko pa malalaman.
Seph: Di naman kasalanan ni Gail yun.
Kim: I know. Kasalanan ko rin naman. i was too engrossed with the idea of getting even with you–i messed up your life, Gail’s life–even worst, MINE. everything backfired. In the end, ako parin pala ang talo. You have each other, i have no one.
Seph: You hated me that much kaya mo nagawa yun.
Kim: Maybe. Masyado kong sinasanay ang sarili ko sa pagkukunwari. Dinamay ko pa si Gail non. Gusto kitang saktan, yung sakit na naramdaman ko when i found out about Hannah. Kaso iba siguro talaga charisma mo and you gained Gail’s trust. In an instant, nasira lahat ng plano. Sinabi niya about Nico and that me and him was all made-up. Nagalit sina Pauline kay Gail non. Kasi kame ang magkakaibigan, tapos dahil sa’yo muntik nang masira yun. But i just acted nonchalant. Kunyari ayos lang, masaya ako sa inyo, pakialam ko. Pero sa totoo lang ha, what i felt was betrayal. I kept the pain for too long, i have to say it to her through a letter.
Seph: Tanong lang..
Kim: What?
Seph: What made you do that?
Kim: Do what?
Seph: Pretending…
Kim: Pretending? About me and Nico?(Mag-iisip) I guess to save myself. Mahal pa kasi kita noon, but what consumed me was my pride. I can’t afford getting hurt again. But in the end, nasaktan pa rin ako.
Seph: Nagselos ka.
Kim: (kibit balikat)

(Tahimik. Bubuksan ni Kim ang stereo. Nasa normal volume. Maririnig ang kantang “Stupid Love” ng Salbakutah. Magkakatinginan si Seph at Kim at sabay na tatawa. Mapapansing namumula si Kim.)

Kim: Hala. nananadya ata to ah! Ang luma-luma na ng kantang toh, pinapatug-tog pa.
Seph: (natatawa pa rin) Pinapaalala lang kung gaano ka ka-baduy.
Kim: Tse! Eh sa totoo namang bagay yang kanta sa’yo.
Seph: I remember, you put the lyrics on a crampled paper. In-edit mo pa nga ung ibang lyrics.
Kim: (Pulang-pula) OO na! Wag mo na paalala.
Seph: (tumatawa pa rin) Pero, natauhan ako dun ha!
Kim: (pinapakinggan ang kanta. Sasabayan sa chorus, sabay mapapahinto nang may maalala) Oi dba, nung binigay ko sayo ung —wat do you call it— break-up gift?!?–dba nandun ung ring na binigay mo?
Seph: Yup. Binalik mo.
Kim: Nasa’yo pa ba? Gusto ko sana bawiin ulet. Remembrance.
Seph: Ewan ko na eh. Nasa gamet ng lola ko, pero nakatago parin.
Kim: Kunin ko ulet.
Seph: Ayoko nga! Binalik mo na eh.
Kim: Sige na…
Seph: E inayawan mo yun dba? Binalik mo eh.
Kim: Galit lang ako sa’yo non, pero akin na ulet.
Seph: Wala nang bawian. (hehehe..)
Kim: Di WAG!

(Maririnig sa background ang iba pang lumang hiphop song. Medyo naiinis na nilipat ni Kim ang station. Kukuha ng chips si Kim at tuloy-tuloy na kakain, hindi aalukin si Seph. Maglalabas ng sigarilyo si Seph at bubuksan ang bintana.)

Seph: Mind if i smoke?
Kim: Ok lang. Kotse mo naman toh at baga mo naman yang sinisira mo.
Seph: (Hihithit hanggang makalima sakamagsasalita) Musta na nga pala kayo ni Kevin?
Kim: (tatawa ng mahina) What’s with us? Fling lang un. Nothing serious.
Seph: Pero mahal ka ng tao, dba? (Hithit, buga) See, masama ka rin.
Kim: Ayoko na mag-commit ngayon, takot na ako. I made that clear to him already sa una palang. Sabi ko, no feelings involve. Para kung nagkataon, walang magkasakitan. Kaso, talo siya. Minahal niya ako.
Seph: Ayaw mo sa kanya?
Kim: Mabait siya. He’s everything a woman could ask for. Minsan iniisip ko, why don’t I give him the chance. But it would be unfair kasi pilitin ko man turuan puso ko para mahalin siya, that would never happen.
Seph: Bakit naman? Man-hater ka na?
Kim: (Tatawa) Hindi naman! Ewan ko ba. Manhid na ata ako. Ayoko pa talaga ng seryosohan. Pa-flings fling muna. Gaya mo.
Seph: Dati. …Nagpapaasa ka lang.
Kim: Hindi lang ako nagmamadali.
Seph: Pero niloloko mo sila.
Kim: Ikaw ang nagturo sa akin.
Matagal na katahimikan. Nang maubos ni Seph ang isang stick, kumuha ulet siya ng isa.
Seph: Kim, ayaw mo na bang makipagbalikan sa akin?
Kim: Nagpapatawa ka ba?(Titignan si Seph. Makikitangseryoso si Seph) Please, Seph. Para ano pa? Okay na naman tayo as friends dba?
Seph: Everybody keeps on asking me kasi, bakit hindi pa daw tayo magkabalikan? Hindi ko alam ang isasagot. Sabi ko, ayaw na ni Kim. Alam ko rin naman na hindi na mababalik yung dating naramdaman mo sa aken.
Kim: Hindi ganun yun, Seph. Kahit sa akin tinatanong nila yun. “Bagay daw tayo, bakit di tayo ulet?”… Masarap pakinggan but if you look at the bigger picture, iba ang lumalabas. What could be your reason? Because I’m your last resort? Kasi may boyfriend na si Gail. Kasi nakipagbreak sa’yo si Riza? Shit Seph! Ayokong magmukhang laruan na babalikan mo pag wala ka nang mapuntahan.
Seph: Hindi ganun yun!
Kim: It has always been like that Seph! Kahit noon pa! I’m always the rebound!
Seph: Hindi ganun yun!
Kim: Then tell me kung ano!
Seph: (Itatapon ni Seph ang stick at ihihinto ang kotse) MAHAL KITA! Mahal pa rin kita! Hindi nawala. After all these years, ikaw pa rin. I live like hell after nating magbreak. Kaliwa’t kanan, nambababae ako. ‘Yun lang ang alam kong paraan, Kim. Kasi alam ko namang ako ang may kasalanan. Pinarusahan ko ang sarili ko… 3 months after nating magbreak, makikipagbalikan dapat ako. Than i found out about Nico. Then 1 year after, malalaman ko ‘di totoong naging kayo, na palabas lang ang lahat. Gusto kong magalit sa’yo non, gusto kong sabayan yung galit mo. Ang sakit malamang may iba ka na but i kept my distance knowing na masaya ka, … or so i thought na masaya ka. Tapos di pala totoo. Gail told me everything. Pero di ko nagawang magalit sa’yo kasi alam ko namang you want me out of the picture kaya mo ginawa yun. Pero di ko hahayaan yun Kim. Basta nandyan ka. Nakipagkaibigan ako kay Gail, baka sakaling kahit papano magselos ka. Pinakita ko sa’yo na kaya ko, kahit nasasaktan ako na kaibigan lang kita. Pero ikaw pa ang nag-push sa akin kay Gail. Nung naging kami ni Riza, I thought it was time to move on, but she proved me wrong. Everything that has been happening would always lead back to you.
Kim: (Pigil ang luha. Matigas ang mukha) Sarili mo lang ang mahal mo, Seph. Napatunayan ko na yan, maraming beses na. Bakit ngayon mo lang sinasabi? Kasi hindi ka sigurado dati? Kasi marami naman nagkakandarapa sa’yo? Kasi alam mo, andito lang ako lagi? Ka-s…
Seph: Kasi hindi mo ako binigyan ng pagakakataon. I asked it from you too many times, pero lagi mo lang sinusumbat ang mga kasalanang nagawa ko sa’yo dateh. I want to make it up for you but you always push me to other girls.
Kim: But you said to me before, you love Gail.
Seph: OO sinabi ko yun! Pero yun ang akala ko dahil yun ang gusto mong paniwalaan ko. Yun ang sinabi ko dahil yun ang gusto mo marinig.
Kim: Mahal mo si Gail, alam ko! Alam ko.
Seph: Mahal kita.
Kim: Hindi na kita mahal! (Matigas parin ang mukha, nguni’t bumagsak na ang luha.)
Seph: (Tumiim baga) Are you telling me the truth or you’re here again… pretending?
Kim: That’s what I’m really feeling… Matagal ko nang kinalimutan, Seph. Ayoko na isipin. Ayoko na maramdaman.
Seph: Sabihin mo ulit.
Kim: Alin?
Seph: Kung ano talagang nararamdaman mo.
Kim: Nasabi ko na.
Seph: Gusto ko ulit marinig…
Kim: Hindi na kita mahal! Gusto mo ulitin ko pa? HINDI NA KITA MAHAL!
Seph: That’s all it takes. Thank you for being honest… (tumalikod si Seph at pinaandar ang kotse, habang patuloy na pumapatak ang mga luha sa mata ni Kim. Walang nagsasalita hanggang sa makarating sila sa destinasyon nila.)

Kim: (nang wala na si Seph) …and here I am again…. Pretending…

Lagi siyang ganyan. Lagi nyang dinadaan sa biro ang hinde niya masabi ng harap-harapan. Yun ang problema sa kanya. Yun ang problema naming dalawa.

 

**This was written by me when I was in 1st year college. Year 2005.

The Maldives

I’ve always wanted to start a blog to share my wonderful travel adventures, but I’ve been too lazy to do so. So yeah, here we are now after years of self-persuasion, I finally convinced myself to make one!

So for my 1st travel post, I decided to start with my top blog-worthy destination — the beautiful paradise of The Maldives! *..sigh..*

My 15 year old me couldn’t be anymore prouder. Until now, it felt surreal that I was able to go to the place I thought I won’t ever get the chance to visit. I’ve always equated Maldives to luxury and considered it as a far-fetched dream.

The Maldives I used to imagine, now unfolding right before my eyes.

Last June 2015, my sister and I decided to go for it. It was all her idea because my parents promised to pay for her fare as her reward for obtaining the highest GPA in the School of Business at her previous college in Qatar. Ofcourse who am I to pass up this opportunity? Besides, I only have to pay for myself.

It was a little adventure because we would be coming from different flights. I would be departing from Bahrain, and she from Muscat with connecting flight in Doha. Good thing our ETA in Maldives were just 30 minutes apart. I just instructed her to wait for me at the most visible place I could see her once I exit immigration. Also, Male airport is just small (to which I had no idea that is why I was a bit worried).

Make sure to take a morning flight so you could witness the beautiful aerial view of the islands.

Upon arrival, I was welcomed by our hotel contact and he showed me where my sister was. We waited for our boat to arrive which would transfer us to our hotel. I didn’t bother to buy their local currency as USD is widely used and accepted here.

I thoroughly researched on how we could squeeze in Maldives for 4d3n at a lower cost. I found out that this country only allowed guesthouses to operate from 2009 (all guesthouses were abruptly shut down by the Government in May 1984), so tourists are no longer limited to stay at privately owned islands and resort hotels. Now, it is very much possible to experience Maldives on a budget. 

Video highlights of our Maldives trip made by my sister.

MAAFUSHI

We opted to stay at a local island, Maafushi, and spent our three nights in a guesthouse: Stingray Beach Inn. It was a good find because Mr. Ibrahim, the owner-manager was such a helpful and nice guy and their staff were very accomodating. They also offer tour packages at a reasonable price and operate speed boat transfers, so everything became easy for us. In my communication with him through email, he sent me a price list of all the possible excursions to do in Maldives, so I already had the idea of the approximate amount we would be spending.

Do not expect much from Maafushi because it has not been fully developed. But if you are after experiencing Maldives on a budget, then I suggest you do the same. You can always go to the luxury resorts on a day trip anyway.

Beach side of Maafushi.

 

ANANTARA DHIGU RESORT

So we’re in Maldives, why not take advantage and experience what it is best known for? Luxury. On our second day, we chose to go to Anantara Dhigu Resort for a day tour.

Just as soon as we arrived at the resort, I thought to myself, this is exactly how I imagined Maldives! If only I could make it my home.

Yes it is expensive. But you will get the value of the money you paid for. View pa lang, tiba tiba ka na! Worth every penny. Besides, the minimum consumable credit could be spent on food and massage.

A perfect spot to relax: read a book on a hammock in the middle of the sea.

A perfect playground: swing your way to the waters. 

BIYADHOO

Another thing which Maldives has to take pride on is their rich marine life. Because we wanted to do snorkeling and see corals and fishes for our third day, Mr. Ibrahim advised us to go to Biyadhoo Island Resort. Indeed, it did not disappoint. The island was surrounded by good snorkeling sites. Even on their shallow waters, you could already see beautiful corals.

If only we were professionals, we would have gone to deeper reefs to see the turtles and sharks, but since we didn’t have a tour guide with us, I didn’t want to take risk of endangering ourselves.

MALE

Male is the capital city of Maldives. We had a pleasure of taking a glimpse of the capital by taking a public ferry from Maafushi instead of private speedboat which would take us straight to the airport.

The city was crowded. I perfectly understand since most islands in the country were made into hotel resorts, so they have limited area for their people. And as expected, their apartment rentals are quite expensive, just as confirmed by one of the locals I interviewed. It is also considered as one of the most densely populated cities of the world.

 

Because we have time to spare awaiting our flight back, we visited Hulhule Island Resort before finally bidding adieu to this paradise.

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Maldives is a muslim country, but although we came during Ramadan, considering that their main industry is tourism, restaurants were still open for business. Also on some of their local islands, wearing bikinis is not allowed.


There are more to do in Maldives, besides we just went to four islands out of more than a thousand they have. If you have the budget, I advise you to visit this beautiful country as soon as you can because it is already ranked the third most endangered nation due to climate change. In 2012, former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed stated,

“If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be under water in seven years.” (source: Wikipedia)

So if his projection is true, then you only have four years left to plan your own Maldivian adventure.

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To give you an idea of the cost, here it is (note that we came at a low season, so the prices they quoted us were slightly below average, if not the average):

Airfare:

BAH-MALE-BAH via Srilankan Airlines : US$ 608

Accommodation:

Room rates for a double deluxe room is US$ 60 (B&B)

Additional cost involved are; + 10% Service charge + 12% TGST

Speedboat Transfer (to/from airport):

Private: US$ 175/pax + 10% Service charge + 12% TGST

Shared: US$ 45/pax + 10% Service charge + 12% TGST.

Excursions:

Day tour in Anantara Dhigu: Per pax entry fee is US$50++, US$100++ is a minimum usable credit towards final bill payable at the resort. Speed boat transfer is at US$ 35/pax for 2 persons.

Day tour in Biyadhoo: Per pax entry fee is US$35++. Speed boat transfer is at US$ 25/pax for 2 persons.

If you want a copy of the full price list of the excursions Mr. Ibrahim sent me, drop me a message and I’ll email it.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Re Asian Cuisine: Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

Hubby & I with the Manama City Skyline as the background

As one of his birthday presents, my husband brought me to a restaurant in Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay last November 17. I know what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t demand it from him. I didn’t even feel like celebrating my birthday that night. I used to hold my birthday celebrations mostly with friends for years. But I just didn’t feel of arranging another one this year. Signs of aging maybe? But yeah, he insisted that we go out. He saved up for that night. The original plan was to have it in Meisei, a Japanese Restaurant in Adliya. But at the last minute, he found this and after careful research, decided that we’d just go here. This is not my first fine dining experience, as for my birthday last 2013, my family and I went to Gordon Ramsay Restaurant at The St. Regis Hotel and to The Three Sixty Restaurant at The Torch Hotel, both in Doha, Qatar.

Located at the 50th floor of Four Seasons Hotel, Re Asian Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck offers a beautiful view of Manama city skyline for their window seating. The restaurant’s cuisine is Modern Asian: mainly a mix of Singaporean, Chinese, and Thai. Wolfgang Puck? Sounds familiar. I am not really a foodie, so forgive my ignorance. As I look into google, turns out he is a celebrity chef.

We ordered their 3-course set menu which includes appetizer, main dish and dessert.

As I am not a professional “foodie reviewer”, so my take would just be as simple as sharing if it was delicious or not. For our appetizer, I had Chinese Chicken Salad and Drew had the Dim Sum Duo. My salad was a bit bitter, because it had Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette. Oh well, I should have read the entire menu, but then I wouldn’t know either way that it was supposed to be bitter. We’re here for the surprise anyway, so charge it to experience. Drew’s chicken dumplings and beef wagyu were very good.

Then the main dish. I had the pan-seared Sea Bass and Drew had the Braised-Beef Short Ribs. Mine came with noodles, and Drew’s with steamed rice. I liked my sea bass, I didn’t like the beef (maybe because I didn’t find anything special about it). What we both loved was the Fried Rice and Spicy Chow Fun Noodles as sides that came already with it. Kanin palang, ulam na. And the noodles, very tasty! Very Thai!

Off to my favorite part: Desserts! (Cue in Dawin’s Music) I ordered the Marjolasian which had a coffee ice cream on the side (YAY! Coffee!). It was heaven… Loved it, considering that I am a coffee lover! I forgot the name of Drew’s dessert, but it was like a moist cake with apple (or was it passion fruit? or pineapple?) flavored sorbet on the side and coconut mousse. He liked it. I didn’t because the sorbet was a bit sour. The staff made the night special by placing a birthday dedication and candles on each of the desserts plate. Drew noticed that they have put little salt on the ice cream and the sorbet just so they would not melt from the candle.

The bill: Each set menu is priced at BD 23 +++ (15% service charge & 5% gov. levy). For me, it was reasonably priced. The service the staff rendered to us that night was excellent. Our server, who happens to be a Filipina, knows very well the food she was serving. Kudos ate! Forgot her name.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. What made my birthday more exceptional is the thought that Drew actually prepared for it. Eating at a five star hotel was an added bonus. Honestly, I don’t know what I did to deserve such a sweet and loving husband. You know that feeling when you are being showered with so much love for just being yourself? I don’t do fancy stuff for Drew, but still he never fails to make me feel special. That’s what makes my birthday this year a definite one for the books!

***The restaurant is open only for dinner from Mondays to Saturdays, 7pm to 11 pm. For reservations, you can visit their website at Re Asian Cuisine: Four Seasons Hotel.

I like food. I like eating. And I don’t want to deprive myself of good food. – Sarah Michelle Gellar

 

28 Life Goals

Today I’m officially turning 28. Looking back, it may seem that I have come a long way. I’m happily married for almost 3 years now. I’ve traveled to a of lot of places/countries I could only dream of, growing up. People may see my life as one filled with blessings because I have great family, a super loving husband, and a stable career. I’m also active in several of our Church ministries which is very fulfilling because I get to serve God in these simple ways. Believe me, there have been more days when I feel truly blessed but I couldn’t help but sometimes wonder, are these enough?

At 28, I started questioning my choices. The path that I chose traversing seems so muddled. The grass always seems greener on the other side, so they say. There are many things I still want to do. But that is how you make your life more meaningful right? To have actual life goals. So I thought, why not blog about mine, just so I could convince myself to try to turn them into my reality… So here it goes.

1) I really should start considering getting pregnant. Maybe that’s why sometimes, life seems chaotic – Drew and I doesn’t have something serious going on. Know what I mean? Maybe once we have kids, then we’d start ironing out our priorities.

2) I need to change career. Audit is such a stressful job. If I really want to start building my own family, then maybe I should consider moving to a simpler work. But I don’t know how and where to start. It feels that this is the only thing I’m good at because I’ve been in audit for my whole career life, right after I passed the qualification, until now.

3) I should start saving up to have our house in Paranaque renovated (and I mean, building my dream house). That is really my plan.

4) I should get over my past bad experience and get a driving license. Or maybe Drew should start getting one. Why did I bought car in the first place when neither of us have license? Sayang. It seems I paid for nothing.

5) My next target travel destination: US and/or Europe.

6) I should start exercising. I don’t really have a healthy lifestyle.

7) Start considering moving to another country. Japan is on top of our list because life there seems simpler and orderly. I just find it hard because you really need to learn their language to fit in, unlike in Bahrain that it’s fine if you don’t speak Arabic. Most people here knows English anyway.

8) Put up a small business where we could earn a passive income.

9) Update our Pag-ibig and Philhealth contributions. And keep SSS updated.

10) Add up our investment portfolio. Diversify.

11) Set aside at least 10% of our monthly income to a separate savings account. Before, since we have mutual fund investment and variable life insurance policies, we opted not to set a monthly savings. This time I’ve decided to really start this one. (That’s why it gets me pissed off whenever Drew has another episode of impulse buying just because it’s on “SALE”. A sale for me is below BD 10. A sale for him is as long as it’s on sale, even if it amounts to a freakin’ BD 50, he’d buy it! It could have already added up to our savings. It’s not a question of having extra money for it. It’s a question of putting your money to a better use. I could make a separate blog entry about that. *wink*)

12) Increase our mission support.

13) Cook more, dine out less.

14) Limit going to Starbucks. I’ve been planning this already long before. But now that I’ve actually found out that Starbucks is supporting “planned parenthood” and “same-sex marriage”, I now have all the reason to quit. I would not support a product from a Company which supports something I don’t believe in. Wait. But, please let me have Green tea frappe & iced white mocha once in a while. 😂

15) Skydive!

16) Cruise.

17) Bring CJ to Disneyland or Universal Studios. I really want to take him to a theme park. When I went to Singapore in 2012, all I could think about is how I wish I brought CJ with me. He’d enjoy it.

18) All girls travel bonding. With my mom and my sister.

19) See Adele live. When I was in elementary and highschool, my ultimate dream was to see Spice Girls or Britney Spears live in concert. Good thing I’ve outgrown that already.

20) Start considering getting a credit card. Credit cards are very useful for travelling. But since I think I know myself too much and my (and Drew’s) shopping tendencies, that’s why I was not entertaining the idea at first.

21) Pay for CJ’s college tuition fee or atleast share a portion with my parents.

22) Get a property in Davao. Why Davao? Not only because it’s one of the safest cities in the world, but because this is my mom’s hometown.

23) Blog at least once a week.

24) Read the bible and actually finish it.

25) Minimize time spent on social media sites.

26) Have an executive check up, and consult an OB/GYN. I’m the type of person who avoids hospitals at all cost. I’m not fond of taking meds as well whenever I feel slight discomfort in my body. But if we’re serious in starting a family, then I need to check my health and fertility status.

27) Continue to focus on the positive things in my life. I am generally a happy person because I practice this “positivity pledge”.

28) Trust God for these things and pray for His will.

When I was in college, I tried writing a bucket list, and it’s a great feeling to look back on them and know that atleast 90% of them were realized. Here is the link:

Apolsky’s Bucket list (2007)

Deciding for my life have become a bit more complicated, now that I’m already married. I couldn’t just decide on my own (though I admit, sometimes I still do). I could not be the same spontaneous girl I used to be. Drew & I are still at a point where there are numerous cases of unwise spending. We would spend it for our friends, for our own luxuries, we still don’t have regard for the future. I just really pray that God would help us to overcome that stage. Yes we have been faithful in giving back our thites and offerings, but what about the other part of our expending? Has it been pleasing before God? Yes we have investments, but if emergency comes, we couldn’t just withdraw them. Yes we have properties in our name, but those were with the help of our parents and his aunt.

At 28, I want to take things more seriously. I need to focus on the bigger aspects. But these things could only be done if it’s the will of God. These goals may be shaken up if God takes some things away from my life. Our no. 1 goal should be to have a life pleasing before Him. There comes a time when I feel so contented with my life that I tell myself that it’s fine if God suddenly takes me away from this world (I’m sure of my salvation anyway). But there also comes a time when you need to reassess your life, if it was something you could be proud of. Not just for yourself, not for the people around you either, but has it been one pleasing before God?

28 ka na. May napatunayan ka na ba?” 

I give all my account to the Lord…