Monday, December 31, 2012

Thank you, 2012!

The places I visited in 2012
(Oops! I forgot to include Naga!)

MANILA, Philippines  It's been a year full of adventures and misadventures. 

And obviously, I'm broke! 

If the world ended two Fridays ago, I could've said with confidence that I made the most out of this year. But since it didn't, I'm glad that there's more time to see the world.

Thank you, 2012! It has definitely been a good year. Here's to more wanderings and going with the flow in 2013! 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

12 Favorite Photos of 2012

MANILA, Philippines  As a year-ender of sorts, allow me to share with you 12 of my favorite photos from 2012. 

Here they are, in no particular order:

Just because the weather was extra nice when we landed in Puerto Princesa. I love the drama of the plane about to take off and the airport personnel walking against the light.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan

The mirrored wall outside the Swarovsky shop caught my eye.
It was timely that a woman walked by.
Shinjuku, Tokyo

I ended up with a bloody scratch on my back after this! 
The rock formation was extra low so I literally squeezed myself out. It was worth it, though.
Minalajos Island, Caramoan

Most often than not, Filipino kids are always eager to have their pictures taken.
This was the first of many.
Moalboal, Cebu

Just because I didn't expect to see this under the bridge. 
Harajuku, Tokyo

That's not sperm, mind you. It's actually a close-up of my towel.
One of the most random shots on the beach turned out to be a favorite!
Moalboal, Cebu

To describe what I felt while crossing the famous street in Shibuya, this would be it. 
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo

We had the beach all to ourselves. The sunset that day was amazing. 
Santiago White Beach, Cebu

I attended their noontime prayer session. If I were that guy, I'd be yawning, too!
Cao Dai Temple, Ho Chi Minh City

Somehow, I was so drawn to that piece of art. It was disturbingly beautiful.
I had to edited this slightly to bring out more of the darkness that I wanted. 
BenCab Museum, Baguio

I think this is when my friend Tina posted a shout-out on Facebook: "This is it!!!"
San Agustin Church, Manila

Playing with the waves.
Esperanza Beach, Cebu

I hope you like them as much as I do!

PS. I didn't bother giving them creative titles as I've never been good at it. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Camping in Borawan?

MANILA, Philippines  If it weren't for the bad weather lately, I would've taken up my friend's offer to go camping in Borawan tomorrow.

Borawan Island is in Quezon province.
By the looks of it, it's a merger between Boracay and Palawan!
(Photo from Cellan SkunkWorks, 

The two-day camping trip includes visiting six islands for just around Php 1,000! Again, if only it would stop raining in Quezon. But sadly, it won't, according to recent weather reports.

I just hope I don't regret not going.

See the 2D/1N itinerary my friend shared.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

White Christmas in the Philippines?

MANILA, Philippines  A white Christmas in the Philippines? Why not?

It's more fun in the Philippines!
(Photo from the Philippine Department of Tourism, NY office's FB Page) 

Exactly a year ago today, I was enjoying a white Christmas at Boracay Island in Aklan. No snow. Just white powdery sand.

I've been to Boracay during both the summer and Christmas holidays. While the beach was to die for on both occasions, I still prefer it in December. It isn't as cramped, the weather isn't as hot, and there's less algae in the water compared to the summer.

Some rated-PG highlights from last December:

Boracay isn't as crowded in December compared to the summer months 

Awaiting the sun's kiss

Happy Hour at White House
(Photo from Maik Alturas)

We like it at White House because it's quiet.
(Photo from Mia Navarro)

Mandatory sunset picture

Mandatory picture with the sunset while enjoying shakes from Jonah's
(Photo from Mia Navarro)

Happy Hour with friends from the office!
(Photo by Rommel Rome)

Tugz-tugz at Summer Place at night,
(Photo from Maik Alturas)

Will there be a white Christmas for me this year? Probably not. Even if I terribly miss the beach, I've decided to be a homebody over the holidays to give my body (and wallet) a break. 

Next year, perhaps!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Archiving Photos

MANILA, Philippines  I swear. It's painful to lose photos!

This is why I always make a back-up of all the photos I take. While most of them are stored in an external hard drive for safekeeping, I still make copies in CDs or DVDs just in case.

Archiving photos used to be a monthly activity. Now, I find myself doing it once every two years. Not good at all. Risky, too!

Just last night, I finished doing a back-up of all my photos in 2011. 

CDs are kept in albums, which are labeled with little pieces of paper (oftentimes recycled).

Messy table while preparing for back-up.
Essentials: CDs/DVDs, DVD burner, pen and paper for labeling, laptop, external hard drive, CD album.

The way I do it isn't perfect and can be improved. Searching for photos can be a pain especially if I don't remember when I took it. I'd have to manually go through the CD album just to find it. 

Do you archive your photos? If so, how?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve in Sta. Mesa

MANILA, Philippines  As kids, gift-giving used to be the most awaited part of Christmas eve.

I remember how we'd all sit anxiously around the Christmas tree waiting for presents to come our way. We'd even cheer every time someone got a gift!

But that was more than two decades ago.

Now that we're older, Christmas eve is spent enjoying each other's company. We'd simply eat dinner together and catch up on each others' lives. (Love life included!) No more gift-giving, no more cheering, and no more violently opening presentssave for the few kids.

Christmas eve with the Wong family!

Amidst change through the years, one thing constant in our Sta. Mesa ancestral home is the decades-old Christmas tree. It's the quiet figure in the house that has always been there with its gold trimmings and tarsier ornaments. Undeniably, it has been witness to our growing up... and sideways, even.

How did you spend Christmas eve?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! 
How are you celebrating this year?

(Photo taken at the Christmas lantern festival in Baguio)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Some things will never change."

MANILA, Philippines — The world was supposed to end last Friday. But it didn't.

If it did, though, I'm glad to have spent the night with my college buddies. We had a little potluck to kick off the holidays. It's been almost five years since we graduated and while we've all gained (or lost) a few pounds, we find ourselves still being our old college selves towards each other.

We still laugh at the same old cringe-worthy stories, talk and about the same old people, and do all sorts of crazy stuff that we used to do.

(Photo from Kat Tan)

"Show me your teeeeets!"
(Photo from

(Photo from Kat Tan)

With my favorite beckies!
(Photo from Kat Tan)

(Photo from

As my friend Andrew said, "Some things will never change."

Yes. Thank God for that.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Real End-of-the-World Story?

MANILA, Philippines  Could this be the real deal behind the Mayan's end-of-the-world prophesy? 

Somehow, I was actually open to the idea that the world was going to end. Why not, right? Perhaps not as destructive as how the movies portrayed it, though. I just imagined a big earthquake and days of darkness that would swallow us all.

But I'm glad that we're all still here. 

Life goes on!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just a Drop!

MANILA, Philippines - "Don't go in the bathroom yet!"

I'm sure all of us have used this warning after going "number 2". It's pretty embarrassing having to drop a stink bomb when there are other people lining up to use the bathroom. It's worse if there aren't matches around.

Recently, my friend gave me this:

Just a Drop. The Personal Odour Eliminator.
It's awesome.

True to its name, just a drop in the toilet before delivering your "friends" off the "pool" eliminates the smell. No need to light matches or use air fresheners. You don't even need to stall your roommate anymore while waiting for the smell to subside.

Believe me. It works.

One drop in the toilet before you go eliminates the smell.
Php 79 for 6ml / Php 325 for 15ml @ True Value

Of all days, I tried it during an upset stomach. Yep. (Sorry, TMI?)

If you ask me, 90% of the smell was gone. That's great considering that we're talking about an upset stomach here! (And trust me. You know how mind blowing that can get.)

To prove it, I even had my little sister go in the bathroom immediately flushing. Thank God she came out alive! But really. She hardly noticed anything.

I'm definitely bringing this on my next trip.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Passport's Here!

MANILA, Philippines  It's finally here! After 3 weeks of waiting, my passport has arrived.

I was hoping that it'd be delivered last Thursday or Friday, as advised by DFA. In fact, my colleagues who renewed their passports on the same day as I did got theirs last Thursday! *jealous*

Technically, I can't blame DFA since it stated in the receipt that delivery could be a day or two delayed. And besides, the delivery guy said he tried to deliver it last Saturday but I wasn't around.

I'm happy nonetheless. I can finally book a trip! (Hhhhhhm!)

The new Philippine biometric passport is noticeably stiffer than what it used to be. It's still maroon, though.

Mona Lisa smile... take #3.

Click here to see how I renewed my passport in less than an hour. Recently, I heard that my friend renewed his passport in 20 minutes at Robinson's Galleria.

Way to go, DFA!