Saturday, 31 December 2011

Last Sunset of 2011

Since 1999 I always go to the beach on the last day of the year to watch the sunset.
I guess it's my way of saying goodbye to the year..

Here's my photo for the last sunset of this year.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Why Travel?

Why Travel?

I always thought that there is an innate desire in every human being to explore, to be curious, to demystify the world around him.

I realized though that this curiosity varies in intensity among individuals. On one end of the scale are the risk averse who prefer to live within his comfort zones. On the other end are those who are open to new experience.

I belong to those whose openness to experience are extremely high. (although there are some things I would choose not to experience, drugs and tattoo for example). I am not sure if this is genetic but I think what led partly to this wanderlust was probably because growing I felt constricted in our small remote town.

At any rate I enjoy travelling because it changes my perspective about life. It broadens my horizon. It challenges my pre-conceived notions. There is a transformation that happens that is only visceral and palpable when one travels.

One also gets to appreciate more his roots, his humble beginnings when one stripped of his familiarity of his hometown.

This appreciation and change of perspective I guess is aptly captured by T.S. Eliot

“We never cease from exploration.
And the end to all exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And See the place for the first time”

How about you? Why do you travel?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Backpacking Tip No. 1 - Write down your goals

The list I made 2 years back. It helped me achieve my backpacking dream

I came to the backpacking scene quite late. Though I have been to several parts of the globe already, this was mainly due to business meetings from my previous jobs. The first real backpacking I would consider would be my single-man expedition to Qingdao, China to observe an Annular Eclipse during sunset. It happened only in 2010.

I had my first backpacking trip to Europe last September. I felt a twinge of envy whenever I mingled with my fellow backpackers in the hostel.  Most were either fresh from university or had worked for only a couple of years and decided to quit their jobs. I consider it an immense blessing therefore that I relatively look younger than my age thereby allowing me to blend in with the younger generation. (sounds like am tooting my horn here  hehe but allow me please)

My late foray to the world of backpacking is arguably excusable. From a culture standpoint (at least that’s how I perceive Pinoys to be and I could be wrong here), backpacking is something not embedded in the main consciousness of the mass. Travel especially to the countries abroad, to find one self, is something unheard of. So it is not usually an expectation that one travels after schooling.

Also unlike our western counterparts where it is a piece of cake to book a flight to a nearby continent, we Filipinos have to put up a considerable amount of show money in order to get a visa. The foreign embassies it seems always has this impression that Filipinos travelling abroad will never come back if given the chance to do a “TNT”. Hence the Herculean task of showing proof that one does intend to go back (gasp!) after travelling.

The currency power is also against our favor. Perhaps for some of us, we might even have to work our ass off for five to ten years to build up a respectable travel fund. And I couldn’t help but get envious whenever I hear stories from Caucasian counterparts how they just work on the sides-baby sitting or waiting tables- for a year then able to fund their travel.  I doubt if you can do that here in the Philippines in a year’s time. It sucks, I know,b ut what can we do.

Lastly I had to prioritize some family expenses. I had to settle the debts we incurred when my dad had a stroke in 2008.

I recall almost two years back I listed down my short-term goals. Backpacking was one of them. Back then it seemed like a lofty goal. Owing to my packrat nature I am glad I saved the note.

On hindsight it seems that it does pay to write down your goals. You might have read this new age concept . The one that claims of having the universe aligning to your dreams if you write them down.  I think there’s a tinge of truth to it. Something about writing your goals down forms a certain commitment with yourself that unconsciously directs your effort in achieving them. The universe does conspire in helping you achieve what you want.

It came to me.  Late, admittedly. But the important thing is that it came. I have no doubt it would come to you sooner rather than later. It would ,if you will it.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Europe Backpacking 101 - Part 1

It had always been my dream to travel around Europe. I recall drooling over the photos that my jet-setter aunt had when they visited Madrid, Paris and Rome some time in 2005. Ever since that moment I have filed in the deep recesses of my mind that some day I would get to see the breathtaking architecture that I have seen in the photos.

When I asked my aunt how much they spent for the trip, her nonchalant reply made me choke. 1 million pesos!!! Wow "Saang kamay ng Diyos ko kukunin yan?" I muttered to myself.

Though the price seemed steep I just knew that I had to to be in Europe in one way or the other. It was only a question of time.

 Fast forward to 2011. Through sheer luck and determination, the universe did conspire to finally have me get what I have always wanted.  I was finally able to backpack across Europe (well at least 6 of its cities) in two 2 weeks. To say that the trip changed my perspective is an understatement, it altered my game plan in life. But that's jumping ahead of the story.

I was deeply moved by what I have seen. It has been my wish since if every one from this side of the globe could get to see what I have seen.

I know it's tough, seeming impossible even. Hell, it's unfair for us Pinoys actually. We could slave in our jobs for ten years and that could barely give us the amount for backpacking in Europe. But they- I refer to my friends from the US and Europe- on the other hand had it somewhat easy. They can get an extra job-baby sitting, bartending etc- for a year and readily afford to roam around Europe.

Ticking an item off my bucket list- Backpacking in Europe
I guess it's just the way it is.. But it should not dampen your spirit. If you have the will, you will always find a way.

I'm putting this series to provide tips on how an average-income Pinoy can experience European backpacking.

I spent about 150 T ( a far cry from what aunt quoted) for the entire trip including airfare. I realize on hindsight that I could have even spent much lower. So if you're dream is to visit Europe on a shoestring here is my attempt to share my experience as well as my booboos along the way.

It is my fervent hope that this would help you pursue that European backpacking dream.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Philippines Tourism Video

I have another item on my bucket list... to visit every province of the Philippines. I think there are about 88 and as of last count I am halfway through. I considered visiting its 7107 islands but at a rate of 1 island per day, it would take me about 20 years hehehe. So have decided to stick back with the province as a marker.

This video I saw yesterday reminded me of that dream. I guess this Christmas I would have add one to that list by visiting Guimaras..

Pilipinas, Tara na!

Monday, 17 October 2011

KLM to discontinue Manila-Amsterdam flights


This comes as a devastating news. KLM is the only is the only airline that provides a direct flight to Europe from Manila. It had been one of the reasons why I was able to keep my backpack trip to Europe within budget. I do hope the government and the company can come to an agreement that's mutually beneficial. Otherwise the Euro backpacking plans of regular folks like me would become a tad more expensive.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Visit Antique

Been through different parts of the Philippines and of the world but I realized that there are still other parts of my hometown that I have not visited yet... I shall put them in my things to do in the next few years.. Enjoy..

Friday, 14 October 2011

Top 10 Lessons from Steve Jobs

Am reposting a nice article from

A great read for Steve Jobs fans out there

Top 10 lessons from Steve Jobs

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cable Car Ride to the Great Wall

Took this Cable Car Ride to the Great Wall of China... This way taken back in 2009. The ride scared the sh*t out of me haha..

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Postcard from my doppelganger

Sent myself  a postcard when I was in Vatican. It arrived today with a postcard of the aurora borealis sent by Iris, a friend based in Finland. Sending a postcard to myself, I guess, is a way of reconnecting with the past.

But what tickles my fancy is ..what if you receive a postcard from a future version of yourself?.. Man, that would be freaky... (Twilight Zone background music)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

LIfe's a beach - 1

Manila is not necessarily a good place to roam around. Traffic is terrible. The train system sucks. (I mean it's light years away compared to the train system in Europe, SG or Japan). The city is cramped and urban planning was never in the vocabulary (most likely) when the city was designed.

But if your visit to the Philippines is to see the wonderful beaches that its 7107 islands have to offer then you're in the right place. To whet your appetite (and am speaking to foreigners here, because I know how we Filipinos are blessed already) I will be posting  some pictures of the beaches we have here. 

Manila is the inevitable stopover for those planning to discover the beaches on the other islands ( Boracay, Bohol, Coron etc) .

Boracay Island... It's an hour plane ride from Manila. Stopover is in Caticlan and then you take a 30-minute banca ride from there. It's a bit touristy so if you want fun and the beach at the same time, this is the place to be. During off-peak seasons though the place is a soothing refuge.. Here's one of my favorite contemplation shots. Hope this photo soothes you.. If it doesn't, then yours must be a heart of stone.. =P


Boracay Island

Monday, 10 October 2011

Traveler's Tale

Wow I so envy this guy... He had his epiphany as young as 22..

Tale of a Nomad

The world awaits you

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Road Less Traveled

The lines diverged from my path... And I ..I took the one less travelled and that has made all the difference.. (With fond gratitude to Robert Frost for these lines)

I am about to embark on a journey where it runs contrary to the common expectations. The countdown has begun. Some might raised their eyebrows on my decision.. But I guess in the end, I must be accountable for my own life. I have to follow this inner voice and take the path less travelled.

Photo taken at one of the train stations in Vienna

Saturday, 8 October 2011

What is your travel dream?

Andrew Evans talks about achieving his one travel dream.

Friday, 7 October 2011

99,999 Km

Pebbles (my Mazda 3) has reached today the 99,999 km mark. I look back fondly at all the trips I've had with this car. I recall the first time I drove it to Laguna for the GE Volunteers planning session. I recall the first time I drove it at night to Batangas or the time I drove it to Pangasinan with Nonoy and Candy. I could  not forget the tour of Laguna de Bay. Then there's this almost spontaneous RORO trip to San Jose ( the farthest I have brought her) And of course those numerous trips to Bantay Pawikan.

I look forward to the next 99,999 km of fun and adventure.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

How Steve Jobs convinced me to do another backpacking adventure

I just came from a backpacking adventure in Europe.
It had been a blast !

It was supposed to be my last hurrah as a single person.
In my part of the globe, there is a certain expectation that at a certain age you’re supposed to settle down, have kids, have a house- the whole nine yards..

But seeing Europe for the first time made me realize there so much more to discover about the world.

I guess am a wide-eyed explorer not yet willing to let go of the joy of aimless wandering.

The trip has changed my game plan in life.

And rather timely in a surreal way, the death of Steve Jobs reminded me of his words…

“Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

So here I am throwing caution to the wind and lookin forward to another adventure next year yeba

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Yes I can

If these folks can do it, why can't I?

This is a website put up by a pair of spunky souls who quit their jobs and went on a six month backpacking adventure across Asia. And oh they funded their dream with this website. Ain't it neat?


I am geared up for my next European backpack adventure, and am hoping to partially fund this with this blog.. Yeba..

Biyaheng UP Ikot

Monday, 3 October 2011

Carpe Diem

I just capped off a 2-week amazing journey to Europe. An item is ticked off from my bucket list. Yeba.. I now long forward to another adventure some time next year... Of late I have been watching repeatedly the Dead Poets Society.. Something primal has been stirred in me when I went to Europe.

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Day of Reckoning

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paolo Coelho

The day of reckoning comes this Monday.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Euro Trip

I had a rather intriguing dream this afternoon. I resigned from my current job and took a trip on a ship ( whick rather looked more like a huge banca than a cruise line). I presumed I was suppose to document my travel as the boat makes stops at the diferent islands of the country.

A harbinger of things to come ?Haha. The book by Tim Ferriss has somehow tickled my imagination.

If all goes well I am supposed to get my Schengen visa on Monday September 5. If the universe conspires wih me I would still get the plane fare to Europe at a cheap cost and be able to book my hostel and train fares within my budget.

Am keeping my fingers crossed. Hope luck is on my side.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Snippets of Road Trips Past

Today I am celebrating my first year with Pebbles, my Mazda 3. I acquired her exactly last year.

What better way to celebrate this milestone than posting a video of my past conquests.

Here's to more Road Trips.. Celebrate life !

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Turtle Release

I’m quite surprised that, of late , there has been a lot interest from my friends on Turtle Release. What’s surprising is that I have been posting pics and videos from my past escapades (since 07) but it’s only now that I get such overwhelming interest.

I am not sure what I did right but definitely am not complaining..=)
For those who plan to have a similar experience, I am writing down some here tips and info..

1. The Turtle Release site is in the Bantay Pawikan Hatchery Site in Brgy Nagbalayong, Morong, Bataan. It’s a 3 to 4-hour drive from Manila depending on the traffic. It’s going to Balintawak or Mindanao exit part that sucks, the NLEX and SCTEX part is a breeze.

2. You can take 2 possible routes via SCTEX 1) Dinalupihan exit – turn right at Pilar or 2) Subic exit then pass by Morong gate of SBMA ( much preferred option)

3. The Bantay Pawikan Foundation increases the chance of survival of the marine turtles by transferring the eggs to their hatchery site. Temperature is tracked on a daily basis so they get to predict when the eggs will be hatched. For more info on their efforts visit this site

4. For those who want to support their endeavors one can adopt a marine turtle at a price of PhP 250/ hatchling. This comes with a shirt and you can have the hands on experience of releasing the turtle to the sea.

5. Turtle release is normally done in the early morning (around 7 am) or late afternoon (around 5pm) to avoid the harsh rays of the sun which can have an adverse impact on turtle survival. If you plan for a day tour you would need to leave Manila around 3:30 am.

6. Call in advance (at least 3 days) to check if there are turtles due for release on the day you intend to visit . (You may call Ate Nida of Bantay Pawikan at 0928 718 5721).

7. Turtle hatching season happens from September to March.. There are still eggs being laid at this time so the hatching might still happen until the first week of April.

8. Sometimes one can get lucky (like what happened to us last visit). There are a hundred of hatchlings due for release and there are no sponsors so we get to release the whole lot !!!

9. Given that it’s a long ride, to make the most of the travel you can also opt to stay overnight. The Foundation offers accommodation. The aircon room ranges from 2500 (good for 5) to 4500 (good for 12). You can also opt to set up a tent for a much lower rate. The room accommodations are very basic so don’t expect anything fancy. Personally for the same quality, I think it’s a bit expensive compared to the rooms in Boracay and Puerto Galera. However I am consoled by the fact that what I pay helps in their endeavors.

10. For those staying overnight you can cook your food as the Foundation has cooking equipment. You can also hire one of their staff to do the preparation and cooking.

11. You can also opt to stay in Subic since Morong is only about 20 km away.

12. In order to maximize the trip plan to do other activities on the side…like Tree Top Adventure , Zoobic Safari or Ocean Adventure in Subic. You can also visit the Dambana ng Kagitingan in Pilar Bataan. ( highly recommended, I enjoy the scenic 6 km drive from the foot to the top of the hill)

13. Since the trip entails the use of gas, if you want to make the experience carbon-neutral, plan to offset the increase in the carbon footprint by planting some trees or reducing your electricity consumption. ( Haven’t computed the amount yet but will post once I have the numbers.. =) )

That’s all I have. Just let me know if you have other queries.


Monday, 7 March 2011

I miss..

I miss the beach.

I miss driving through the highway with "I Still Haven't found what I'm lookin for" blasting on my CD player.

I miss feeling the chaos and the noise of the world surrendering to serenity atop a summit.

I miss this and a hundred other things.

I miss my old self.

I need to get in touch again with my soul..