J’aurais dû être plus gentille. That is something a person will never regret.

Pari, A Thousand Splendid Suns (2013)

5 Greatest Moments in my First Mindanao Trip

1. I climbed this stairway to hell/heaven (I’d say both were applicable). 

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In the 3-4 hours I was climbing the boulder phase that characterizes the hike to Mt. Apo, I was on the bridge of giving up. For one, our guide told us that that segment would only take about 2 hours. But obviously, it didn’t take just 2 hours of the whole trek. Heck, it took most of daylight! Most frustrating part is, you can see the top but little did you know it takes so much time to get to that point. Secondly, there was my strategic (right on my knee) wound to worry about. It didn’t give my left leg its full ability to stretch so, that was one thing to worry about. Finally, my pack was just so damn heavy. 

2. But ultimately, you reach the peak!

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My face upon reaching the summit of Mt. Apo, 2,956 MASL. It was about half past 6pm; there was little of the sunset left to lust on. But as everyone says on the end of an assault, “It’s all worth it!” And yes, it’s all worth it!!!! 

3. After our climb, we took a side trip to South Cotabato — 2 bus rides and 1 van ride in the span of about 5 1/2 hours. 

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This was our last ride before finally reaching Lake Sebu. To maximize each trip, four people were forced in one row. As you can see, it was very cramped. You could literally smell each other, and not only your shoulders are situated one beside the next person but also your knees. Sweet, eh! Shoulders-to-shoulders at knees-to-knees. Haha. I was feeling a bit worried for the rest of our group ‘cause everyone was impatient to reach the destination. For some reason, I felt like I had to comfort and tell them we were almost there. (But that only happened inside my head)

4. Highlight of the trip was staying with a T’boli family in Lake Sebu. 

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There’s always a unique experience in visiting and staying with a community far from home and different from your usual way of life. I always consider it a privilege to be able to find a family who’s willing to share their life with strangers, and a great opportunity to learn as much from them. So when Storm told me that there’s a family who offers their home, I hunted it down automatically. 

We stayed with the family of Todi. Oyog Todi (or Ms. Maria), our host, is a teacher in School of Living Traditions — an informal, week-end school for T’boli kids to learn indigenous music and dance. Kids as young as 2 years old are already encouraged to come every Saturday and Sunday morning to preserve their intangible heritage. In the picture above are some of her pamangkins who proved to be outgoing hosts even at their young age! This was taken on our last night when Andrea, Rhea and Boyboy (if my memory serves me right) surprised us with their traditional dance. Saya

5. Finally, never forget the Tiongson Arcade in General Santos City. 

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Related to my previous post….. dampa. Cheap and fresh seafood. And free (hehe), thank you to my LM batch mate, Neil Falgui, who was a local there. Best way to cap off the trip. I highly suggest you try their garlic Diana. And yes, Diana is a kind of fish! 

I love dampa and everything about dampa! I love how meals can be cheap (if you go to the real ones), and how the taste can be so familiar and so Filipino. Personally, if I want a good eat with the company of friends, I would suggest eating at a dampa. 
The dampa in Marikina goes way back pre-Ondoy (2009). Mom brought me, together with my siblings, in a cluster of tents just behind SM Marikina. It was a bit shady. For a while, I thought there was a tiangge happening across the amphitheater but at the back of my mind, I was thinking that it wasn’t possible because it was an odd position to put up a bazaar. When we got nearer, ho and behold, I saw smoke (the good one) coming out of the tents, smelled the familiar ihaw, heard utensils scratching against the plates and people talking. From thereon, I started bringing people AKA my high school friends to try it out. They loved it, obviously! It was so cheap. A viand would cost about 70 pesos plus, it comes with free soup and free ensalada — green mango, bagoong. I even remember celebrating my 17th birthday with them in dampa! Hahaha. When Ondoy happened, it stopped operating because of the recovery operations that happened in Riverbanks. 
After 2 years, Cayco and I discovered it again. It’s the still the same set of restaurants, distinguished by the colors of the tables, only they are situated beside the science center in Riverbanks. More importantly, it still tasted the same! :) However, I didn’t go as often as before. That’s why I enjoyed rekindling old memories over late dinner with Storm two weeks ago. 
What to order: inihaw na liempo, mussels with cheese, sinigang na ulo sa misoBudget: 120-150php per person
Sobrang solb! 

I love dampa and everything about dampa! I love how meals can be cheap (if you go to the real ones), and how the taste can be so familiar and so Filipino. Personally, if I want a good eat with the company of friends, I would suggest eating at a dampa. 

The dampa in Marikina goes way back pre-Ondoy (2009). Mom brought me, together with my siblings, in a cluster of tents just behind SM Marikina. It was a bit shady. For a while, I thought there was a tiangge happening across the amphitheater but at the back of my mind, I was thinking that it wasn’t possible because it was an odd position to put up a bazaar. When we got nearer, ho and behold, I saw smoke (the good one) coming out of the tents, smelled the familiar ihaw, heard utensils scratching against the plates and people talking. From thereon, I started bringing people AKA my high school friends to try it out. They loved it, obviously! It was so cheap. A viand would cost about 70 pesos plus, it comes with free soup and free ensalada — green mango, bagoong. I even remember celebrating my 17th birthday with them in dampa! Hahaha. When Ondoy happened, it stopped operating because of the recovery operations that happened in Riverbanks. 

After 2 years, Cayco and I discovered it again. It’s the still the same set of restaurants, distinguished by the colors of the tables, only they are situated beside the science center in Riverbanks. More importantly, it still tasted the same! :) However, I didn’t go as often as before. That’s why I enjoyed rekindling old memories over late dinner with Storm two weeks ago. 

What to order: inihaw na liempo, mussels with cheese, sinigang na ulo sa miso
Budget: 120-150php per person

Sobrang solb! 

June Marieezy
SaGuijo Bar, Makati
March 21, 2014

Wow, oh, wow. How to even feel about yourself when you’re inches away from this artist. I felt so self-conscious every time she looked back at me. I didn’t know what to do! I tried to smile but she was looking even longer. I tried to look away but it was no use. After a few seconds, I would just look back at her and mesmerize at her quirky habits when performing. Her aura is just captivating, and I speak for the others who have already seen her perform.

June Marieezy
SaGuijo Bar, Makati
March 21, 2014

Wow, oh, wow. How to even feel about yourself when you’re inches away from this artist. I felt so self-conscious every time she looked back at me. I didn’t know what to do! I tried to smile but she was looking even longer. I tried to look away but it was no use. After a few seconds, I would just look back at her and mesmerize at her quirky habits when performing. Her aura is just captivating, and I speak for the others who have already seen her perform.

Today’s surprise and quckie merienda is brought to you by Beni’s falafel (and Storm).

Today’s surprise and quckie merienda is brought to you by Beni’s falafel (and Storm).

Living with your loved one means compromise. You learn to let down facades and be dependent enough to need each other, but sovereign enough to still be yourself. The stakes are as high as your winter gas bill: You don’t want to let yourselves become truly one, because if they ever depart, and then you’re left with only a half.

Georgia Frances King, Living for Two: Make it a Double, Kinfolk Vol 11
The East (2013)
This is my favorite scene in the movie. When Izzy (played by Ellen Page) asked Sarah to wear the straightjacket for dinner, I thought they were just a bunch of radical hipsters who were trying to gang up on her. But this surprised me equally as Sarah’s reaction to how they serve dinner to one another. 
Brilliant movie! I got hooked to witnessing more “jams” and wish a group like this actually exists in real life. It would make a lot of people think twice about the system. 

The East (2013)

This is my favorite scene in the movie. When Izzy (played by Ellen Page) asked Sarah to wear the straightjacket for dinner, I thought they were just a bunch of radical hipsters who were trying to gang up on her. But this surprised me equally as Sarah’s reaction to how they serve dinner to one another. 

Brilliant movie! I got hooked to witnessing more “jams” and wish a group like this actually exists in real life. It would make a lot of people think twice about the system. 

I just can’t help but be jealous with the Ateneo students who are in France right now for their JTA (Junior Term Abroad). It is really the greatest life experience a college student can ever ask for!
Yes, I would admit I didn’t learn much about business or economics but it taught me how to take things slow and to worry less. Prior to my JTA, I was such a worry-er. I will admit that I worried about my grades too much! (but wouldn’t have been qualified for the program if I didn’t) I was too focused that I missed other important things. But my sejourn en France taught me to enjoy meals with the company of friends, long hours in the park or on the grass, and sceneries that are just now tucked in your memory.
This picture was taken somewhere in Montparnasse on our second day in Paris. We stopped by a boulangerie to get a quick breakfast before touring around. We were so eager to be like a local and to eat baguette (most common French bread we knew) for breakfast. I also remember it didn’t last us long and gave in to rice eventually.

I just can’t help but be jealous with the Ateneo students who are in France right now for their JTA (Junior Term Abroad). It is really the greatest life experience a college student can ever ask for!

Yes, I would admit I didn’t learn much about business or economics but it taught me how to take things slow and to worry less. Prior to my JTA, I was such a worry-er. I will admit that I worried about my grades too much! (but wouldn’t have been qualified for the program if I didn’t) I was too focused that I missed other important things. But my sejourn en France taught me to enjoy meals with the company of friends, long hours in the park or on the grass, and sceneries that are just now tucked in your memory.

This picture was taken somewhere in Montparnasse on our second day in Paris. We stopped by a boulangerie to get a quick breakfast before touring around. We were so eager to be like a local and to eat baguette (most common French bread we knew) for breakfast. I also remember it didn’t last us long and gave in to rice eventually.

Dear Catherine, I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I’m sorry for that. I’ll always love you ‘cause we grew up together and you helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me always, and I’m grateful for that. Whatever someone you become, and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my friend to the end. Love, Theodore.

Her (2013)