Saturday, May 31, 2008

Camotes: Rugged serenity

Rock islets and massive cliffs make up Camotes stunning beachscape. One rugged beauty is Buho Garden (buho means hole in Cebuano). Cottages are strategically built on rock islets so I sat there soothed by the gentle waves beneath and experience the beauty of nature---the endless blue horizon before me. Its rock islets are connected by foot bridges, the limestone wall is a challenge for the adventurous that can rappel about 100 feet down the cliff to the beach of Buho.

Navigating more than 50 steps from the top of the cliff to reach the rock islets was not easy for somebody like me who is fond of escalators. And going up those steps was an arduous task, I ran out of air!

The tip of the islet makes an excellent setting for stunning silhouettes against hues of orange and purple at sunset.

Another picturesque beach resort is Mangodlong. I was hoping to catch a spectacular sunset there but we arrived a bit late. It was a cloudy afternoon and the sunset was not as fiery, but it was beautiful nonetheless. The seaside serenity of Mangodlong is truly enchanting.

Perhaps Camotes’ most endearing value is its rustic provincial life. There are no enterprising vendors at the beach, or persistent boatmen forcing their services on you. The idyllic life in the farmlands and villages remains intact, and the simplicity of the countryside continues to charm.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Serene Lake Danao

There are places on earth that we must see at least once---for their beauty, their magnificence, their mystery. By a stroke of luck, fate brought me to Camotes Island. After I saw the spectacular view from my window, after I’ve sunk my bare feet into the warm white sand, after I bathe in the afterglow of a breathtaking sunset, I knew I found a piece of heaven that I'd like to come back to.

Camotes is not all white sand and beaches. There are rugged lime stone cliffs, rock islets, waterfalls, mountains, caves to explore, and a serene lake. I only have 2 days so I hired a habal-habal after lunch to drive me around. Jimmy, who brought me to the resort the night before, was my guide the whole afternoon. He’s a high school classmate of Imee, a lady who sat beside me in Ocean Jet.

One of the best places in Camotes is Lake Danao Park. It’s a lake park where you can do a picnic, fishing, boating, swimming, or just sit, put your feet up and contemplate. Lake Danao is said to be the largest lake in the Visayas and Mindanao with a size of 680 hectares. I asked Jimmy if there are crocodiles in the lake and he said there are none. But one of Santiago Bay’s caretakers told me there used to be a lot crocodiles in the lake. They were hunted down and the croc skins were made into leather goods in Mindanao. Nowadays, fresh water fishes are abundant and visitors can fish tilapia for about P80 per kilo. The place is so tranquil---you can hear your thoughts and the music of rustling leaves. I also love the trail around the lake.

the best place to relax
my favorite shot
trail beside the lake

We drove to Sonog Cave. It has a deep cavern with narrow crevices and an underground river. The water is so clear you can see the river bed. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a bathing suit (again!). There are parts of the cave where I almost crawled just to get to the other side. Stories were told that during the World War II, the Japanese hid treasures in the caves in Camotes. Treasure hunters continue to search for the treasure up to this day. Jimmy, however, believes that it’s a stuff of legend…but it would be fun to do some treasure hunt in those caves! I wanted to go to another cave called Bukilat but it was getting late and there’s a sunset waiting to be captured.

underground river

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Enchanting Camotes Island

Just off the northeast of Cebu is a picture-perfect tropical group of islands called Camotes. This off the beaten track comprises of four islands: Pacijan (San Francisco town), Poro (town of Poro where the pier is and Tudela), Ponson (Pilar town, a marine sancturary) and Tulang (an island barangay of San Francisco). If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, a bit of solitude, with no karaoke bars to keep you awake, then Camotes is a perfect place for you...a great place to unwind.

My original plan was to go to Bais, a city near Dumaguete, after my work in Cebu is done, to watch dolphins and explore Dumaguete. Then I missed my 9 am flight on Friday because PAL was overbooked (they are allowed by law to overbook up to 10%, according to PAL) and was only able to get a seat in their 4 pm flight. Meetings in Cebu were rescheduled and I decided to cancel my Dumaguete trip.

I was resigned to the possibility that I might be spending the weekend and my 2 days vacation in Cebu which I'm not very excited about. Don't get me wrong, Cebu is a great place to stay but work takes me there regularly for the past 9 years. So I've seen a lot of Cebu, and the nearby islands. While waiting for lunch on Saturday, I browsed in the net looking for photos of old houses in Cebu. I was thinking of visiting President Sergio Osmena's house and other old structures in Pari-an. Camotes was mentioned in one of the Cebu heritage websites I was reading. It was serendipity.
I’ve heard of Camotes a few years ago from a business acquaintance in Cebu who mentioned that he bought a beach-front property in Camotes, and he’d invite me after he has built a kubo there. I googled Camotes and some links came up. By Saturday afternoon, I’ve booked a room at Santiago Bay Resort, and bought tickets from Ocean Jet.

Two hours from Cebu City’s pier 1 is Poro town in Camotes. Ocean Jet’s departure was delayed so we arrived at Poro a little before 9 pm. The mode of transport is motorbike, or habal-habal in Cebuano. To get to Santiago Bay Resort is a 45-minute ride on habal-habal. The roads are concrete, with just a bit of rough road before San Francisco town. I didn't see much of the scenery on the way to the resort. So I was pleasantly surpirsed when I woke up to this view from my window.

More photos of Santiago Bay.

More of Camotes tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When you can't think of anything to blog

...a meme is the only way to go. Thanks, Crissy!

Name Four Scents You Love

  • Allure by Chanel (the bottle is almost empty!)

  • baby's scent

  • freshly-brewed coffee

  • freshly cut grass

Name Four Things You Are Thinking About Now

  • Syet, I need to clean my desk before Friday!

  • Did I call Bais' tourism office?

  • Oh, boss already left and I forgot to give him my leave form!

  • Oh,'s raining again!

Name the Last Four Things You Have Bought

  • notebooks, notebooks, notebooks for my nephews

  • dog biscuits for Fritz

  • a box of 'food for the gods'

  • a kilo of grapes

Name Four Drinks You Regularly Drink

  • coffee

  • orange juice with pulp

  • iced tea

  • mango shake

Last Time You Said 'I Love You' And Meant It

  • Last Fritz. He licked my toe afterwards.

Last Time You Cried?

  • About 2 hours ago, after I saw the photos of the victims in Burma

What's In Your Music Player?

  • If I write them all here, I'd miss my dinner. Currently, I have more than 1,000 songs in my pc and currently playing Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". It's a mix of classic rock, jazz and blues.

What's Under Your Bed?

  • 3 suitcases and lots of dust, I suppose

What Time Did You Wake Up Today?

  • 8:30 am but I left my bed around 9 am

Current Hair?

  • layered cut just below my shoulders

Current Clothes?

  • red, black and white striped shirt and black RL jeans

Current Desktop Picture?

  • red chili peppers

Current Worry?

  • That I won't be able to get seats in a boat for dolphin and whale watching

Current Hate?

  • the traffic jam outside

Favorite Physical Features Of The Opposite Sex?

  • chest, butt, clean nails

Last CD You Bought?

  • Best of Aerosmith, The Millennium Collection, a few months ago.

Favorite Places To Be?

  • my living room

  • my cubicle in the office

  • Italianis-Greenbelt

  • The Spa in Bonifacio High Street

Least Favorite Places?

  • dental clinic

  • hospital's emergency room

  • a crowded mall

  • stuck in traffic

If You Could Play An Instrument?

  • a violin

Favorite Color(s)?

  • red and black

Do You Believe In An Afterlife ?

  • Hmmm...can I call a friend? hehehe

How Tall Are You?

  • 5'2"

Current Favorite Word/Saying ?

  • Syet!

  • I wish!

Favorite Season?

  • the season after Christmas but before Summer..meron bang gano'n?

One Person From Your Past You Wish You Could Go Back And Talk To

  • my father

Favorite Day?

  • Sundays and holidays :D

Where Would You Like To Go ?

  • Jerusalem

How Many Kids Do You Want ?

  • too late...:D next question, please

Favorite Car?

  • a vintage Ferrari convertible

Monday, May 19, 2008

Old crushes

Crushes are what they are---not heavy romantic full-blown relationships, but fun and sometimes, heartbreaking. My first crush was my uncle's best friend, and I was crushed when he got married. I was 9 years old, and I sulked for almost a week! I moved on and discovered that the world was full of boys...buried my first heartache together with my paper dolls and childish wishes.

I still get teased by my brothers and cousins about my crushes. Maybe because I was always vocal about the objects of my girlish infatuations. I would announce it to the whole clan, and the boys in the family were often embarrassed by my shameless display of admiration. One unforgettable crush was a brother-in-law of my aunt's officemate. I was 14, and the boy was a high school senior, a star player in a basketball team. Stars would get into my eyes when the boy passed by our house, and I jumped like a lunatic when he smiled at me. Then a wicked cousin who was rooting for another basketball team burst my bubble by telling my brothers that my crush was too chicken to get circumcised. The boys teased me mercilessly until I threw a banana-Q stick at my brother's face that narrowly missed his left eye.

That incident didn't discourage my brothers and cousins. And I didn't care if my crushes were circumcised or not! Hahahaha
I bet no other girl will remember every detail about you…except for me…I bet no other girl will remember your favorite song except for me…No other girl will remember your perfect smile, except for me…so why is it that you look at every other girl…except for me?
This morning, I ran into an old crush on my way to the parking lot. I didn't recognize him at first, but he looked familiar so I said hi and introduced myself (I don't know why I do that---a few times, to people that I thought I knew, only to realize that I saw that person on TV). Anyway, he was surprised (and I'd like to think, glad) to see me, and we chatted happily. Incidentally, he lives in my neighborhood, married, with an adopted daughter. We stood at the sidewalk, talking like old friends, and he mentioned a couple of times that he got married because I left him. What??? Left him??? What a load of blarney! (Pero kinilig ako do'n ha?! hehehe)

We shared an office building at Ayala Avenue many years ago. I was in my early 20's...he was a dashing guy with chinky eyes and dimpled smile, who impelled to me visit the cafeteria at exactly 3 pm whether I was hungry or not. He and his buddies were having coffee there. I was quite shameless at that age! And I bet that everybody in the building knew that I had a huge crush on the guy---from the security guard to Manong Eli, the janitor, who winked at me while I was walking towards the cafeteria. And he was charming, always nice to me and my officemates...I felt like a high school kid when he was around. After I moved to another job, I didn't see him was more than 15 years ago!

I'm glad to see him still looking good, obviously happy. Now, the question that I always dread: "Why are you still single?" he asked. I retaliated by saying---kasi di mo ako niligawan n'on! I'm bad! But talking to him again after all these years has excited my molecules, and brought a smile on my face the whole morning.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Afternoon Delight

Patapat Viaduct, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

I dream of driving on this highway someday soon. And this would be the perfect song to sing along...

Afternoon Delight
Starland Vocal Band

"Afternoon Delight" was a quintessential soft rock chart-topping single from the Starland Vocal Band's debut album in the summer of 1976, which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 200 and remained on the album charts for 25 weeks. That same year, the band received a Grammy Award for "Best Arrangement for Voices" and the "Best New Artist of the Year." They also received 3 other Grammy nominations and "Afternoon Delight" is in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

Also click here for Ron Burgundy's version.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Baker Street

Baker Street

Gerry Rafferty, City to City album, 1978

Winding your way down on Baker Street

Light in your head and dead on your feet

Well another crazy day

You drink the night away

And forget about everything

This city desert makes she feel so cold

It's got so many people but it's got no soul

And it's taken you so long

To find out you were wrong

When you thought it held everything

Used to think that it was so easy

Used to say that it was so easy

But you're trying, you're trying now

Another year and then you'd be happy

Just one more year and then you'll be happy

But you're crying, you're crying now

Ref. [Saxophone solo]

Way down the street there's a light in his place

He opens the door, he's got that look on his face

And he asked where you've been

You tell him who you've seen

And you talk about anything

He's got this dream about buying some land

He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands

And then he'll settle downIn this quiet little town

And forget about everything

But you know he'll always keep moving

You know, he's never gonna stop moving

Cause he's rolling, he's the rolling stone

When you wake up, it's a new morning

The sun is shining, it's a new morning

When you're going, you're going home...

Still Got the Blues

Still Got the Blues
Gary Moore

The video is a bit baduy but I love this song, anyway. Suddenly, I got an urge to smoke!:D It's a sign...that I should hit the sack. Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Madness

I usually listen to music while driving. And on Fridays, it's 89.9 Magic! Friday is nostalgia day with Friday Magic Madness, an old radio show playing 70’s and 80’s music---mostly new wave music of the 80’s. I always enjoy listening to Wishful Thinking, Summer of 69, Purple Rain, Second Chance, Highly Strung, Pale Shelter, I've Been in Love Before and the many great songs of the 70's and 80’s while in the middle of Friday traffic jam. I miss the songs of my 'youth', songs that bring back memories, songs to which I danced badly to but enjoyed nonetheless. Sometimes, while a song that I don’t like is playing, I’ll switch stations, and check out the jazz stations or 100.3 RJ. I could tell you what I was doing or where my life was when I hear a favorite song. I’m sure you have a song in your head, too.

Singing out loud while driving is a great way to forget the slow-moving traffic. It somehow lowers the stress level after some maniac cuts across my lane. Music calms me even when a speeding bus comes barreling down at my rear, or a motorcyle suddenly appears infront of my bumper, and a jeepney suddenly stops in the middle of the street without warning.

Oftentimes, there are ghosts in these old songs, a flashback of haunting memories. There are songs that remind me of long-forgotten dreams. Songs that remind me of growing up pains, and an embarassing time in high school. Songs that remind me of loss, grief and broken promises. Songs that remind me of long lost friends. Songs that make me breath deeply, as if anticipating pain, remembering a heartache that makes me reach out to change the station, then hesitate long enough to acknowledge a remembered ache. Songs that allow me to embrace life’s disappointments, sorrows, and joys, and how I dealt with them have shaped the person I am now. And so I sing along with this old favorite, softly.

Melissa Etheridge with Jewel
You Can Sleep While I Drive
Brave and Crazy album, 1989

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Videoke: the new opium of the masses

finalists of All-Star K One Million Videoke Challenge

On Sunday afternoons, my nap is usually interrupted by my neighbor singing Green, Green Grass of Home, or Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses in his Magic Sing. For somebody who loves music, I suffer a great deal when my neighbor is in the mood for a concert because he always “murders” the lyrics of the songs, and I’ve been gritting my teeth listening to his version of Skyline Pigeon. It sounds like this---

Torn me lost from your hens
Let me plyyyyy to distant lands
Ober green pelds, trees and mountayns
Plowrs and poorest pawnteens
Home along the lanes of the skyweeee…
OK, he’s having a great time, and nobody in her/his right mind has the right to stop him because the guy is having fun. But enduring three solid hours of Michael Learns to Rock, I found out, is a form of torture worse than sensory deprivation or submersion in ice water. I’ve grown to hate Michael Learns to Rock with nuclear capacity (sorry, MLTR fans)…their songs are as tasteless as oatmeal, and soooo boring---drives me to pull my hair! Sometimes, it becomes physically painful to listen to my neighbor and I feel this tooth-edge pain on my 2 front teeth. When I feel that, it's a sign that I need to be somewhere else, or I'd lock myself in the bathroom.

Well, I had my revenge last Sunday. My cousins arrived for merienda, and they requested that we celebrate Mother’s Day with a videoke party! Yeheyyyy! Images of Celine Dion and Lani Misalucha rushed to my head. I dug up the vcd’s and microphone, turned the volume up, and we’re ready! My cousin Pinky started with Get Here, followed by the walang-kamatayang Dancing Queen.

Rain poured…lightning strike, thunder rumbled---it didn’t stop us! From Carpenters to James Taylor to Regine Velasquez…from oldies to jazz, rock ‘n roll and Manila sound. Even Fritz started to cover his ears!

Filipinos share a passion for music although naturally we have different tastes. No party in these islands is complete without a videoke. Beer tastes better when you’re holding a mic and belting out Mariah's Ken Leeee (I'm sure you saw the video in You Tube)! You forget the cholesterol in sisig and crispy pata that you’ve been munching for over an hour; forget the unpaid, overdue credit card bill when you’re crooning your favorite Beautiful Girl. You sing Livin’ on a Prayer like there’s no tomorrow, forget for a moment the rice crisis, the skyrocketing oil prices, inflation, tuition fee hike, predictions of an earthquake or rumors of another coup. Then you sober up, drink an espresso and chant your haunting version of I Love You for Sentimental Reasons.

In one of our Red Box parties, a very feminine friend, grabbed the mic, climbed on top of the table and sang, Lakas Tama, with matching head-bang. We all sat there, our mouths open! We never thought she had it in her. An officemate surprised everybody when he suddenly dropped on the floor like an epileptic in the middle of I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing, imitating Aerosmith’s vocalist Steve Tyler’s vocal histrionics. A very macho friend got drunk, sang Diana Ross’ Touch Me in the Morning, and did a center split like a ballet dancer. After that episode, we never looked at him quite the same way again.

And here’s a secret: one of my frustrations is singing Aegis songs like Luha, Halik, or Basang-Basa sa Ulan. A friend and I even tried rolling on the floor while singing Luha but we couldn’t match Aegis’ vocals (yeah, we were a bit loaded when we did that stunt!:D). My top 3 videoke songs are:
1) I Will Survive
2) Better Days
3) Superstar

But a Pinoy videoke experience is not complete without somebody (usually a man, balding, with a beer belly) singing---

I ate it up and spit it out,
I faced it all and I stood tall,
And deeeeed eeeet my way!


Applause! (But be on the look out for some juramentado ready to attack the singer with a fork!)

it's My Way or the highway
a song and dance number
our videoke party in London
with friends from Cebu
a Bon Jovi-wanna-be and his muse

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's funny, anyway?

Daranak Falls, Tanay, Rizal
I don’t know about you but I laugh at myself regularly. It makes life seem less of a struggle. I know a lot of people who take themselves and their lives too seriously that they refuse to admit the absurdity of some of the things they do and say. Not that everything in life is a laughing matter. But I’m sure you meet people who have a chip on their shoulders.

I have a friend who spends much of her time complaining how everyone in her office is talking behind her back. She’s incapable of shrugging off even the most inconsequential things. She’s crabby, touchy, angry and self-righteous. Ewwww! I hope it’s not you!

It takes courage to laugh at oneself. I feel less tension, less worry and I feel so much better when I laugh at myself. It gives me the ability to put things in their proper perspective.
I have a co-worker (I hope he’s not reading my blogs! hehehe) who is almost incapable of poking fun at himself. He has a certain image that I guess he had worked very hard to maintain, and the harder he tries, the sillier he seems to the rest of us in the office. Laughter is a gift. I guess God must think some parts of life are pretty funny, or He wouldn’t have given us a sense of humor.

One advantage of laughing at yourself is that you don’t hurt anyone in the process, and you may just brighten someone’s day through some self-depreciating humor. I know some people who are highly sensitive….they’re insecure, and laughing at them is cruel. So I’d joke about my own eccentricities. It’s like releasing a built-in safety valve…and steals power from my troubles.

Joan and Don talking about the brids and the bees :D
Desperation can make some of us too serious. We see every first date as a life-or-death situation. We tense up on meeting new people, terrified of making a bad impression. We try too hard because it feels like the fate of the world depends on whether this person likes us or not. But's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. I got that from an [old], wise friend.

"When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other." ~Alan Alda
It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes. I used to be my own worst enemy, but living on my own for years has taught me to become my own bestfriend. I’m more comfortable with who I am. I like the person I’m becoming, and brave enough to admit my own quirks. One of life’s greatest accomplishments is to learn to like who you see in the mirror. When you’re self-assured enough to laugh at yourself, you’ve made real progress toward that goal.