Life Lately / 10

It has been just a little over a week since my last post, but it felt like ages to me, most of it due so many things happening all at the same time. I still have yet to wrap my head around each of those milestones and moments, but I’m thankful for all of them nonetheless.

Since September, I have been interviewing with a company half of my family is currently working for. There was almost a month’s interval for each of the interviews (HR, Provincial Managers and Division Head) and it all ended last month when I got the go signal from their HR department to do and pass all the necessary pre-employment exams and requirements. I still can’t believe it. Sometimes, I’m so scared to take this leap so bad, I want to back out, but there are times that I think about finally getting out of my comfort zone so I can grow out of my crumbly shell.

I haven’t been this busy since my grandmother’s hospital admission, wake and burial back in Feb-March, so I could tell my body has yet to adjust to finally getting back on track. I have to keep mum on this as I might jinx it and because it still scares me just thinking about what this new career path holds for me.

On the other hand, we’ve also managed to conquer 2 tactical and challenging mountains exactly one week apart. The first one being Mt. Pamitinan in Rizal a week ago and and Mt. Pulag in Benguet yesterday.

I still can’t believe how I managed to do so, but with great company, a strong mindset and permission and guidance from God, both climbs have been made possible.

More on these wild adventures and milestones later on. For now, I leave you these majestic views from above.

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Realizations of a First Timer (#WhyILoveJapan)

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  1. I was the only one in my family/in the group I’m traveling with without a single stamp on my passport.IMG_20160830_093827
  2. Traveling makes my heart grow bigger. Always!
  3. Pinoys are much more disciplined when abroad.
  4. I can travel without so much baggage (no pun intended)! It was my first time to do so and it was heaven! IMG_20160829_110614
  5. I have never bowed so much as I have in the past 4 days. I grew accustomed to this practice, together with the phrase “Arigatou Gozai—-” (-it’s too long, I almost always just finish up to Gozai, so my sister would tell me to just say “Doumo” instead) I even bowed to thank the cab driver who had to stop outright, just for us to cross the street.
  6. In relation to #4, Japanese drivers are extremely cautious and give so much priority to pedestrians.
  7. I almost forgot that Japanese elderly people work past retirement age, so it was hard for me to see them working, especially those in customer service and maintenance. I even saw one carefully scouring shoe marks on the floor by hand, in Yodobashi. And yes, you read that right, shoe marks. I guess, this is how it really is in first-world countries? IMG_20160829_075037
  8. There aren’t a lot of Pinoys in Japan, at least not as many as I have expected. My parents were always talking about how there are so many Pinoys working in HK Disneyland, but we never saw one in Tokyo, so it always made me smile when I accidentally heard a couple of Pinoys talk to each other in Filipino in random places in Tokyo.
  9. Japanese trains and subways are not as confusing as I have expected, but it would have been without the help of our handy dandy Metro App.
  10. Japanese trains have seat cushions, not smelly and arrive and leave on time, which led me to ponder upon the money that should have been invested in better transit systems in our country. Also made me think how corrupt and shameless our government officials are. LRM_EXPORT_20160827_132018
  11. It’s so safe to walk around Tokyo even late at night, so we didn’t have a problem collecting (yes collecting talaga!) drinks from vending machines and scouting for a Ramen place. LRM_EXPORT_20160827_224836
  12. Speaking of vending machines, I love them!!!! They’re found literally everywhere in Tokyo, even inside some of the trains!
  13. I can’t explain how much I loved Japanese food even more after the trip. I was always scared of eating raw food other than sashimi, but not anymore! 🙂 LRM_EXPORT_20160828_232617
  14. Tourist spots that are less crowded, quiet and peaceful, more homey and laid back are what I loved the most: a.k.a Meiji Shrine, Nezu Shrine and the surrounding neighborhood (see first photo) and Bunkyo, where we stayed for 3 days! I even loved Yushima station in Bunkyo because of how quiet and less busy it always was, day or night! Ganun siguro talaga pag tumatanda na. Chos!IMG_20160830_123351
  15. It helps to learn some helpful Japanese phrases and I got giddy and nervous everytime I blurted out “Sumimasen” “Arigatou Gozaimasu” and “Gomen Nasai” for fear that I might mispronounce them. I didn’t want them to think I’m trying too hard either, but like one guy said on a forum, tourists would always stand out, no matter how hard they try to fit in, but it makes a good impression that you’re making an effort to learn their language and their customs.
  16. Speaking of customs, they have tons of them, so we made sure we didn’t use our chopsticks the wrong way (who knew there are so many ways you can commit a mistake with just 2 sticks?) and we made sure we followed the rules as much as we could.
  17. I thought I’d never find a Catholic church in Tokyo, but there are lots of them, with some even holding masses in Filipino!
  18. Japanese people in customer service are very polite, very helpful and kind in so many levels.IMG_20160827_105057
  19. I love sleeping on Japanese futons!LRM_EXPORT_20160829_004229
  20. I realized I peed on a Japanese squat toilet the wrong way, or at least at the wrong side twice!
  21. I realized I still love toys after entering Japanese anime and toy stores!
  22. Littlest things such as the catchy songs around Disneyland and the final song during the Nightfall Glow Parade easily made me cry,probably because of the certain feel the parade itself evokes. Apparently, it’s a back up parade for when the weather is bad. Here’s a video I found on Youtube! Still makes me cry. I’d definitely listen to this every night from this day on!
  23. I love kids so much and the hilarious stuff they say! There’s this Fil-Jap kid on our plane back home and he was so cute and square & straight. Everything he said made the whole waiting area laugh. When he came out of the restroom, he was complaining about how their group left him and his dad. He also shamelessly talked about how big his poop was. Hilarious kid. When we were boarding, he was asking his dad to move faster saying, “Papa dalian mo, iiwanan na naman nila tayo!” Imagine a chinky-eyed, rosy-cheeked boy boarding alone and was so frank and outspoken, speaking in straight Filipino. Reminded me so much of Miho‘s (PBB winner) daughter. 🙂

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    that’s the kid behind us and his family at the end of the hall, if you could still see them

  24. I realized I could never get enough of Japan and I would definitely go back. There’s still so much to see in Tokyo alone, and even more outside. I would definitely be back for Osaka and HP world, Nagano and its beautiful mountains, Mt. Fuji and Mt. Takao, the Ryokan town, Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima and a hundred others, the FOOOOOOOOD, make up and skin care, FILMS and more FILM CAMERAS and a whole lot more! Being a first world country in Asia, I easily felt culture shocked, but in time easily got used to it, as long as I’m willing to comply and I should.
  25. Lastly, I realized how truly endless the possibilities are with God. He is the most loving, generous and merciful father and with faith in Him, nothing is impossible. Because He is such a kind God and all His creations were created in His image and likeness, all of us possess goodness inside of us. When they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess that also applies to God being our Father and us being His children and so I know that my parents’ generosity not only to us but to those who work for them, came ultimately from God Himself. In turn, they too have imparted God’s generosity to my younger siblings and I and it isn’t quite surprising to see how unconditionally giving they are especially now. It was a miracle that I was able to go on this trip and that miracle wouldn’t have been possible without God and the help of my family, a.k.a., my sponsors. 🙂 For that, I am truly grateful! ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU! IMG_20160830_133040LRM_EXPORT_20160828_055441

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Trip Down Memory Lane | Weekend Warriors Part I

I’ve been having a hard time getting myself to write about things I’ve been meaning to for the longest time now. You see, I created this blog mainly to immortalize events and milestones in my life that I can easily go back to whenever, especially since I don’t really have the sharpest memory; however, procrastination always gets the better of me.

So much has happened since the start of the year and if I don’t get everything cast in stone now, I’m afraid I’ll lose all those memories in my head forever, good or bad. I can’t say I won’t regret not having something to look back to, because I will. Plus, reminiscing is always more fun for me when I read my own blog entries, no matter how pathetic it may seem to you. LOL!

So to start of my trip down memory lane, I’m going back to the time when I climbed my second mountain and this time around, not as a part of the school curriculum.

Normally, I’d be writing about our trips as soon as we get settled in, maybe a few hours up until a few days after we get back, so I’m not sure why I put writing off lately. I’d either need a strong urge and willpower to do so or in this case, an inspiration.

I just saw the film, “Everest” for the second time this afternoon and thankfully, with a much clearer copy. Obviously, I appreciated it more this time, thus the post. Now, I can cross off Mt. Manalmon on my “to-write” list.

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Surprisingly, here we were looking happy and not tired at all, despite having just trekked, hiked and climbed the very challenging, Mt. Manalmon. Okay, it was just a very minor climb, and the summit was about 196 MASL (LOL), with a difficulty level of 2/9, according to the site, Pinoy Mountaineer. It took us about 2 hours to reach the summit with 5-6 breaks that took 10-15 minutes each including the mandatory photo ops.

So that’s about it. 5 paragraphs of introduction before the most awaited “after photo” and it’s not event the summit photo. What the heck?

Cue video-scratching rewind sound effect….

This was the easiest trip we’ve planned together as a family (oldies not included, of course). 2-3 weeks prior, we weren’t even sure this climb was going to push through. For all I knew, it was just one of those trips we planned ahead and never talk about again. Fortunately, we all agreed on a date, May 14, and the rest, they say, is history.

Funny ’cause we just bought our trekking sandals the night before the climb. And we also pigged out on street food, Maginhawa street food, that is. You can just imagine how hard it was for us to wake up a few hours after this.

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Anyway, we started strong despite the lack of sleep, not to mention sleeping on full stomachs.

So the next day, we just had to eat again, to make up for the energy we lost by sleeping and taking a bath, and sleeping again in the car.

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During the trip, I must say that we never ran short on food as we had containers of snacks and drinks and a whole pot of Adobo c/o our tita E, mother of our 2 cousins here, waiting for us in the car after a whole day of climbing and spelunking. Surely, we were a bunch of skinny people with bottomless guts, so my clever, little sister made up a hashtag on instagram just for our group, #TeamLamonManalmon. FYI: Lamon is a local, colloquial term for “pig out”.

You can even see my cousin below bringing a whole can of chocolate wafer sticks on the way up to the mountain.

 

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We couldn’t be more excited!! It was like a school field trip all over again, except that I was with the people I really, really love. I couldn’t remember a time we weren’t laughing. God, I love them all.

Of course, being the careful and thorough planners that we were, we didn’t have a permit to show when we reached the jump off point. We had a copy of their itinerary for climbers c/o our aunt who is an experienced climber, but we weren’t aware we had to let the authorities know beforehand of our scheduled climb. Fortunately, they were very kind enough to let us through after a quick orientation. This is not something we’re proud of btw, but it would have been disappointing had they not allowed us to so we’re very grateful to all of them for taking care of us still.

So for those who would want to experience the beauty of Mt. Manalmon and all the other fun activities within Sitio Madlum, be sure to submit a permit via email so the organizers would be able to anticipate the number of people climbing each day as well as the number of guides needed.

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Around 8:30am: After our descent from what I believe to be the historic Madlum cave, our eyes feasted on these beautiful, huge stone formations along an almost water-less Madlum river. This was also our first stop, a.k.a first photo op. This photo was taken by our very nice and funny guide, Sir Joseph, whom I highly recommend not only for his great photography skills (check out our summit photos later on), but also for his happy disposition and easy-going attitude.

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Not sure what this spot is called, but it had a spectacular, surreal feel that I couldn’t help but pause for a moment and convince myself that the moment is real. I want to say that I think I captured the moment quite well, but it looks more beautiful in reality. I guess I just watch a lot of action-adventure movies with lots of wide angle shots in beautiful landscapes. Sort of like those LOTR moments where Frodo and his troop traverse vast fields with mountains in the backdrop and with the camera panning across. Or perhaps a couple of scenes from the movie I mentioned earlier, Everest where the mountaineers seem like dots moving in one line, cutting through a blanket of snow, while the camera sweeps across the beautiful landscape. That’s how I saw this moment then.

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Here we were beginning our first ascent on the way to the foot of Mt. Manalmon, led by kuya Joseph. My cousin had a bit of a hard time so we had to stop for a few times, but it wouldn’t be too difficult if you work out regularly. It’s just like climbing the stairs to a 5-storey building.

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Had to ask them to pose for me from time to time.

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The group feetfie. but of course!

Unfortunately, I would have to end the first part here, but would be posting the second half soon! This would be my last post for July and tomorrow, I start the August Break Challenge! Woooot! Woooot!

****photos taken by everyone on this trip!

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Happy Birthday: The One When I Didn’t Wish for Anything

Wow. It sure looks like a lot has happened since I last wrote something here. This will be my first ever November post and the blog editor looks different, but much better. I like it!

So November huh? Ain’t it my favorite month and time of the year!?! It’s almost Christmas, but not quite yet. The air is definitely cooler in the morning and most people have started to decorate. Malls are getting busier (even on ordinary weekdays) and Christmas trees are up on sale again, and so are Poinsettias! Yay! I spelled it right!

It’s also my birth month and this year, I got to have 3 days off from work! Woot woot!!

Last year, we traveled south to Cebu to visit my brother, but this year, sadly, he wasn’t with us to celebrate my 26th birthday. You see, it’s also the APEC week so most flights in and out of the country/metro have all been cancelled to make way for the world leaders’ arrival and departure.

We haven’t really planned anything for my birthday. Papa thought it would be nice to have lunch or dinner buffet (again), but a day before my birthday, I saw a pretty detailed article on Looloo on things to try up north. Papa told me he printed the article out (right then and there) and the next thing I know, we were driving along NLEX-SCTEX, heading to Tarlac!

Originally, we were supposed to try Sandbox before finding our way to Tarlac, but since it was a pretty busy and long weekend, it took us half a day just lining up on various toll gates, so we went straight to Tarlac. It would’ve been too crowded in Pampanga anyway, said the bitter girl.

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First stop was the breathtaking and sacred Monasterio De Tarlac. Behind us on the third pic is a 30-foot statue of the risen Christ.

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Among the 3 stops we were to make that day, the Monasterio was the farthest from McArthur Highway (we were counting on the km road signs to see how far it was going to take before we reached the monastery-30km from Tibag, if I’m not mistaken) and in going there, you would pass by Tarlac Recreation Park.

While traversing the almost endless and empty roads (and a single-lane bridge) across vast fields of green, one would think that the place wouldn’t be flocked by city-dwellers, but we were wrong. The parking lot was full, and the place was peppered with tourists. We even saw Fr. Jerry Orbos just before we left.

The place is a go-to hideaway in times when you have too many things going on in your mind. It’s quiet (except for some excited, shrieking tourists :P) and tucked within several mountains of San Jose, Tarlac.

You can also offer petitions and prayer requests and feel like whatever you put in there would be granted, so long as you wouldn’t lose faith.

Next stop on the itinerary was of course, the aforementioned Tarlac Recreational Park.

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Here I was, obviously with feet itching, literally and figuratively. #slippersanddenimpamore!

You should get there in 10-15 minutes from the monastery. We got there at around quarter past 3. The 2 groups that registered just before we did signed up for kayaking and dune buggies and since they said there wouldn’t be enough time for us to drive buggies after the first group does, we opted to just bike around the place.

I must say, their bikes were all in good condition and probably well-maintained. They have trails that are shared by both bikers and buggy drivers and we found an easy-enough one (at least for beginners) just beyond the football field beside the oval.

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Here are my parents flushed and probably with hearts racing at the time as it has been years since we biked together as a family, excluding that time back in May when we went to Bataan.

There weren’t a lot of guests that day (which I extremely love). Most of those I saw were young families who were there to swim, 2-3 pairs of biker couples, the 2 groups I mentioned earlier and a big group of about 25-30 students training at the oval. The place is huuuuge and there’s so much to do so there’s a very little chance of you bumping into the other guests.

An hour should be enough to go around the trails, thrice, but then we also needed time to take photos of each other. As you can see, we were there right during the golden hour! It was the best time to bring out all the cameras, including my newest, a Yashiflex TLR.

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Here we were, the sedentary trio, an hour later, all parched and weak from biking uphill and on rough terrain, but not quite ready to quit just yet as we had one more stop to make before we called it a day.

After the obligatory feetfie and groupfie, off we went to our third and final stop…

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Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, it just did!

I remember I used to be friends with this girl back in grade school, whose dad races and who happened to be the only girl I ever heard of enjoying karting, to think we were only kids at the time. I mean, how can a kid drive a race car, right?

I’ve never tried karting in my 26 years of existence until my 26th year of existence, but one thing I know now for sure, I’d definitely do this again, over and over if I can!

TRIVIA TIME! Did you know that apart from zombie-killing and other shooting games, I also love playing GTA (just so I could drive around) and of course, Forza Horizon. I’ve always wanted to drive fast and I’m really good at it with a gaming console, but I’ve also had the chance to drive soooper fast in an express way once. Of course, I was still really cautious because I’m a girl. 😛

Going back, I think I definitely got the hang of it instantly. During the first few laps, I was “half-braking” when going around the curved parts, and was sooooper stiff too, but I learned to loosen up in the end.

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I have to say, with an entire year that mostly sucked, I never thought I’d have a birthday as beautiful as this one. Like what I said, this was the only year I never asked for anything (at least none for myself). I just wanted to spend time with my family and God gave me more than that. So thank YOU.

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I can’t say that I’ve been a good girl this year because I have been literally the opposite of being good. I have pushed people out of my life and I’m not going to blame anyone but myself for that. This is all me, but despite everything, I’m still thankful. Thank You, for never giving up on me and for giving me people who will love me no matter what. You are the reason why I am here and You have a purpose for me. Whatever that is, please, please help me find it. One more thing, Could you please never let go of my hand? Please?

So there goes another year and came another one for me to be thankful for, again! We can’t thank God enough and those who love us unconditionally. It was a happy birthday, indeed!

P.S. All photos were taken by my beautiful sister, Kat and yes, the title was patterned to be like those FRIENDS episode titles (I have been looking for and watching the Christmas episodes yesterday).

30 Day Writing Challenge: DAY 12

Write about five blessings in your life

These are mainly just some random things I’ve thought of now. They’re the best yet simplest things and I couldn’t be more thankful for them!

  1. dinner last night – On weekdays, there would only be manang, our house help and me at home for dinner, and sometimes, when I’m up in my room the whole night, she’d assume that I’ve fallen asleep (which is only about 70% of the time), so she wouldn’t cook dinner at all, not even for herself. She’d just find a piece of bread or a biscuit to munch on and she’s good to go. I can’t blame her though, because like I’ve said 70% of the time, I’d fall asleep without having dinner, so on the rarest times she cooks dinner, I don’t get to come down and eat at all. Talk about bad timing. This is what I come home to most of the time, no food on the table (charrr), but since we’re currently having our house renovated (for the nth time) and have men to feed, she started cooking again and there’d be enough food for us both for dinner. Last night though, my parents decided to bring home some food and that’s what I’m thankful for now. It’s a blessing, though it might not seem like a big deal, it is for me and it’s still one of the things I’m grateful for, especially in desperate times. haha!
  2. plants – A trip to a hardware store in a recently opened “mall” in Kapitolyo about a month ago had my mother, my sister and I hoarding new gardening stuff, while my father bought stuff for himself. While my mother started getting a bunch of plastic pots for her plants, my sister and I saw these seeds of flowering plants and basil plants and thought, why not give this a try this time? We always see these in hardware stores, but never really bothered buying some, thinking they’d never grow in a tropical country like ours, so why the heck do they still sell these stuff here? So when I saw this soilless potting mix that sells for just a hundred pesos, I thought I’d give it a try this time. The seeds were pricey especially for hoarding so we had to pick plants carefully (and throw a few ones back to the shelf) and bought those that we thought would really thrive in this climate. In the end, we got the dahlia, zinnia, chamomile and basil seeds! I was like a kid who almost peed her pants out of excitement! About 2 weeks after planting the seeds, they’ve finally shown themselves (photo1). Then after a couple of weeks more, I was able to finally re-pot them because they’re growing up so fast. 🙂 I’m grateful for being blessed by the ability to cultivate plants, not knowing that I could.
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  3. recent family trip – My sister planned an out of town trip to Bataan for my brother’s recent and quick trip back home from Cebu, for one weekend (phew!). It was a very short weekend, but we were happy to have him back after what he went through. It was rainy, but it was worth it. We stayed in the beautiful Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and boy, I’ll tell you, beautiful doesn’t give justice to it. The entire place was both breathtaking and a breath of fresh air; and not to mention, just incredibly awesome. It was a place with lots of beautifully reconstructed heritage houses from all over the country/Luzon. Just thinking about how they transported and put back together these houses will leave you in awe. The experience was like a trip back to the Spanish era, when girls dressed in long skirts and guardia civils roamed the streets. I would certainly go back, just because I haven’t seen enough of it, yet. 🙂 and I’m definitely grateful and blessed for having a wonderful family and also for the rarest times we get to spend together as a family.
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  4. 49th month together – Last month, B and I celebrated our 48th month together as a couple, so that’s 4 years of our lives that we’ve known each other and 4 years of a crazy, whirlwind romance. Yesterday marked another milestone in our thriving relationship as we celebrated our 49th monthsary and hopefully, this time, we’d get to appreciate more how far we’ve come and how blessed we are both to have each other. 🙂 I’m definitely grateful that we both realized and felt how much we love each other now more than ever. It makes me feel awfully good inside and it makes me smile every time I think of it. 🙂
  5. lola’s birthday – It was her birthday yesterday and as crazy as it sounds, I may not have kept track of her age in the past couple of years, so I’m not sure if she just turned 84 or 85 this year. Nonetheless, it is a blessing for all of us that she’s still with us. I’ve always believed that she’s the binding force that keeps this whole family together. She’s the reason why we still have family reunions. I cannot imagine life without her. Unfortunately though, one of her closest friends died the same day and they haven’t told her about the sad news yet. It would’ve made her feel bad and no one wants that. That’s another reason to be thankful for, not that her friend passed away, but despite her delicate condition she’s fought for all these years, she continues to be strong for us

. 13270034 I took this a year ago and my lola, despite not being able to travel far nowadays, stays strong and happy. 🙂