April 2009


Note: This is a continuation of Part 3

“Mas mataas pa tayo sa clouds! (We’re higher than the clouds!)”

Excited voices woke me up at 6 am on Good Friday.  Apparently, my fellow travelers staying in the other dorm rooms at Alapo Inn were already up and about; thrilled about whatever they’re seeing outside. I got up, too, went to the window, and this is what I saw:

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A Sagada morning (above): Are these clouds or just a foggy morning? Being brkfstlowlanders all of our lives, we couldn’t tell (hehe, that’s how we are–we even get easily excited at the sight of a mere pine tree).  Whatever it was, it made me want to shower and dress up quickly.  No time to waste… there’s a long and bustling day ahead!

Breakfast awaits (at left): Included in the organized tour that we availed of were daily breakfast meals at the nearby St. Jo’s Café. We were served skinless longganisa, omelette and native fried rice, plus ‘bottomless’ Sagada brew. A perfect hearty meal to face a grueling day. Carbo-loading ito!

Then we were off to our activities for the day–nature trekking, cave exploring, and more (!) picture-taking and eating (^o^)丿だー:

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Grab on!: this is what they call ‘top load’ traveling (literally meaning, riding on top of jeepneys while traversing across rough terrains). Only for the fit and super-adventurous. And that doesn’t include me. No freakin’ way.

3098_1123742006080_1002990736_30399564_8059214_n Into the woods: We passed different kinds of pine trees along the way to our destination. I heard that 10 years ago, there were not enough modes of transportation to help you go around the place–one had to just walk and hike. Now, vans and jeepneys can be rented for around a thousand pesos (including the driver’s fee).  The roads are still rugged but that’s just part of what this place is all about.

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Care to take a dip?: Wha-? Brown water at Lake Danum? They said it’s usually blue but since it rained the previous day, it turned brown.  Oh, well. We took pics of it, anyway.

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The view during the hike on the way to the falls.

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The rice field terraces up close: young green rice plants. So this is what they look like…

n589437526_2811835_7803308We trekked across the fields and muddy trails.  Since I was afraid of slipping, falling and landing on my butt, I grabbed at whatever sturdy branches and leaves as much as I can.  I was able to manage much to my relief.

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At last, we reached a small waterfalls. Whew! The water was so cold, almost icy to the touch.  It was tempting to take a dip or explore the area a bit more but we still had places to go to:

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Next, we visited a viewing point that took our breath away:

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Wow! Now this was more like it!: “Profile Pic! Profile Pic!” we exclaimed when we reached the viewing point. There was another magnificent view at Mt. Ampucao but going there would require a lot of huffing and puffing since it was higher in altitude.  This one may not be as high in altitude but all the same, we were immensely ecstatic about it.

Umaga pa lang yan pero ang dami na… at meron pa…

To be continued….Part 5 (A Good Friday PM)

As of this writing, summer in the Philippines has just ended even before May began.

I know! It is such a major bummer that the rainy season has already started in the middle of summer. I’ve been complaining about the heat but i could still take it (for a few more days–I swear!).  Besides, there were still plans to go swimming especially this coming three-day weekend.  It seldom happens that Labor Day falls on a Friday. And yet, this happens: “At 2:00 p.m. today, a Low Pressure Area (LPA) was estimated based on satellite and surface data at 140 kms East of Legaspi City (13.3°N, waterboys6125.3°E). Another Low Pressure Area (LPA) was estimated at 280 kms Northwest of Mindoro (14.8°N, 117.9°E)” (source: PAG-ASA) which generally means we’ll get a wetter than wet holiday. *Groan!*

Sayang! What inspires me to enjoy the summer pa naman sana is the 2001 Japanese film, Waterboys (directed by Shinobi Yaguchi).  If you liked The Full Monty, you will like this one, too, because it kinda copied the premise a bit. Yet this one has synchronized swimming instead of male stripping; and young adorable Japanese high school boys instead of a bunch of thirty to fortyish old British men gyrating to disco music.

Waterboys poster (left)

What I liked about the movie was the theme of not giving up your dreams,  the value of hard work (which is usually the moral lesson common in most J dramas), and friendships, and just plain enjoying life satoandguysand the delights brought about by being young. And of course, the actors are also cute: Satoshi Tsumabuki (who had a bit part in the Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) played  the lead role, Suzuki; and a very young-looking Hiroshi Tamaki (another personal fave of mine–*sighs*) as the funny and goofy Sato.

Sato (fourth grinning guy from left) and the rest of the original waterguys are still making a splash even after 8 years. I let my nephew and niece watch it, and they too loved it!

270px-waterboys2aThe movie became a hit in Japan and so came a TV spin-off with the same title in 2004 (right photo).  I watched these series, too.  It followed the same story line but I found it too long.  But since I am a fan of the movie, I finished it nonetheless.

I’m wondering why Hollywood hasn’t made their own version of this movie, and if they do make one, will it live up to the original?

Here is a bonus clip from the movie:  Suzuki (front row, at left) and Sato (front row, at right) and the rest of the energetic Waterboys actors are seen practicing for their Dance Revolution scene.  And even if my summer has been rained out way too soon, listening to the movie’s theme song (Niji by Fukuyama Masaharu) AND seeing these guys dance will always drive those rainy blues away. They just make me wanna put my hands together and cheer: SIN-KI-ROH (clap! clap!) SIN-KI-ROH (clap! clap!) ( ̄ー ̄)//”” ぱちぱち…

Note: this is a continuation of Part 2

By 2 pm, we finally reached the municipality of Sagada.  It was cold, of course, and as soon as we settled in our gear at Alapo Inn, it rained.  We were supposed to start touring the place but because of the rain, we had to postpone it.  So instead, we showered and freshened up.

The first thing we checked out is food, siempre naman(!) ★(*^-゚)⌒☆Wink!:

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After the rain: traversing a Sagada street on our way in search of an afternoon snack.

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Sagada yogurt with strawberries, banana and granola from the much-talked about Yoghurt House. There were a lot of customers that some would opt to eat outside.  Since there were too many orders, the yogurt we got tasted too sour; not enough time to let the cream ferment before it was served.

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Next, we went to the Municipal Hall and registered as tourists.

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Travel Tip 1: first thing to do also is to buy a map of Sagada. One can be bought from any of the souvenir stores that dot along the streets.

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We strolled around admiring the landscape and pine trees.  We also milled about in the market, checking out wares and stuff (mountain tea sold for 10 pesos; cinnamon bread for P17) and before we know it, it was already dark.

foodEmJ was craving for hot arroz caldo (rice porridge) and so was I but we couldn’t find any. So we settled for Shamrock Cafe. I ordered garden salad and cheese omelette (left) which were superb and satisfying nevertheless. It was also my first time to try out Sagada brewed coffee.

For desert, we wanted to try lemon pie at Lemon Pie (where else?) but we gave up because we had to hurry back to our inn before the curfew comes into effect at 9 pm. We slept early (with socks and mittens on to combat the cold cold night) because we had to rest and be ready to take on the next day’s adventures…

To be continued… Part 4

♪♪I’m turning Japanese/ I think I’m turning Japanese/ I really think so…♪♪ [[listen here!]]

So goes the 80’s song from The Vapors.  I’ve been watching many Japanese movies and dramas lately that I think it is turning into a major vice (not really anime though; the only anime I’m obsessed with right now is Naruto–so far). It started with Gokusen and Hana Yori Dango, that produced a fascination with Matsumoto Jun. I know I’m getting too old to be acting like a crazed fangirl but that’s what I am and I’m not ashamed of it!  (≧∇≦)キャー♪poster

Hana Yori Dango (DramaVersion) at right: I admit  I watched it over and over again... The Taiwanese and Korean versions don’t hold a candle to the REAL ONE!

The reason I like Japanese and Asian shows is because they’re short.  I was weaned on watching American shows and movies since I was a toddler.  But I have HAD ENOUGH of watching these shows because Hollywood is not offering anything new nowadays.  My friends tried to let me borrow their DVD copies of this and that US TV show but I’m not going to waste my time and energy on such shows anymore.  I just can’t devote and invest my time and emotions on never-ending stories milled out by Western writers; not really sure where the story will lead to and as a result, tend to fizzle out and lose steam.  And the stories seemed to be all the same–mostly shallow and empty with cardboard cutout and uninteresting characters with same problems and issues.  Some shows start out great but the producers should end it before the audience lose interest and move on to something else (e.g. Prison Break, Lost, Ugly Betty etc.).  Ho-hum! And if we DO like a show, those greedy, a-hole producers would cancel the series before they end because it is not generating enough audience (case in point, Jericho).  Tama ba yon? The audience should fight back and say “We’re not going to take it anymore!”

I prefer the mini-series or those TV shows that promise a limited run. They’re short but at least, we are assured of an ending in time, knowing that t44273here is a destination and that we will not wait in vain for the hero to overcome obstacles and come out victorious.  Come on, we all know the hero will win in the end… why prolong it? If you’re going to show a series, end it early, instead of milking a hit show for all its worth.  We’re so tired of it.  American writers and producers should learn something from this, and do a paradigm shift.

In the 70’s and 80’s, there was a mini-series craze like Rich Man Poor Man (at left), Shogun, Scruples, Lace, and of course Roots (TV shows that featured stories based on best-selling novels) that were short yet memorable. Those were great shows… Why not bring back this type of genre?

And one great thing about TV shows with a limited run is that the writers can concentrate on the quality of the story and not how to prolong it, which could destroy (or jump the shark) what could have been a great idea to begin with.  J-doramas (Japanese dramas) have a headstart on this since some are getting stories from well-loved, tried-and tested manga. And with the news recently about the power of manga and anime (“Japan Looks to Manga to Fight Off Recession”), Japan’s PM Taro Aso is certainly doing his homework.

505806409_small♪♪ I’ve got your picture/I’ve got your picture ♪♪ *sighs*: J-Idol MatsuJun (Right) is in the frontline of actors portraying manga characters such as Doumyouji Tsukasa of HYD and Ban Shogo of Bambino!(* ̄3 ̄)

Keep an open mind and try it… I started out as a non-believer but once I got into it– I couldn’t watch anything else (and mind you–I’m not very easy to please)!  And if you do try, stick with the fansubs, then the dubbed ones– there’s much more oomph when listening to the actors’ dialogues and their original voices; plus it’s also a great way to learn a new language. But I do pick the good ones though.  Not all are worth your time and patience.   So with this… I will be sharing soon my favorite J-cinema and Jdorama in future posts!

Note: This is a continuation of Part 1

It was Maundy Thursday.  En route to Sagada, we had several stop-overs in Bontoc. First, we reached Mount Polis, which is the borderline between Ifugao and the Mountain Province.  Again we took some neat photos:

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HIGH-yop! This is said to be the highest highway, maybe in Luzon; here, you could literally ‘touch’ passing clouds (low-lying ones only) but there were none when we passed by.

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Sorry po sa distorbo, Manong… A Bontoc elder contemplates, seemingly unmindful of us, a bunch of noisy, giddy kulit travelers.

pict0465Feels like heaven: A huge statue of the Virgin Mary, probably measuring 20 feet tall…

pict0464…and a cabbage patch can be found at Mt. Polis where organic vegetables can be sold really cheap. We decided to buy some when we pass by here again on our way home.

Then, we stopped again to gaze with amazement at the picturesque town of Bay-yo and its terraces:

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There were more terraces along the way…

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We reached Bontoc Proper at 12 noon and went straight to visit the Bontoc Museum first before it closes. There were replicas of Ifugao houses displayed there that are worth checking out if ever you drop by someday:

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A mannequin display of an Igorot woman weaving cloth at the museum (left); and the museum features old photos of the Cordillera’s rich culture and heritage (right)

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Fellow traveler, Melo (above), a food and travel blogger is hard at work, doing his thing (Check out his post on this; he has better pix than me!)– taking picture of our lunch: delicious lechon kawali dish from Tchayapan restaurant in Bontoc.

After a good meal, we were off for one last ride (for another hour) before reaching our final destination: Sagada.

To be continued…Part 3

As I said, it had been a dream of mine to go up and see Sagada of the Mountain Province, Cordillera region for thebataan-126 longest time.  It had been in my bucket list of destinations that I’ve been itching to tick off for so long.  There were several attempts to actually push through with it in the past but something always came up, and so I thought this elusive dream of mine will never be realized. Until now…

Last Holy Week, I and two of my friends (EmJ and Zbeth) from work finally decided to avail of a packaged tour of Sagada, organized by NACCI. We would be traveling with some strangers who also availed of the tour. We took the Banaue/Bontoc route instead of the one via Baguio (Benguet), taking a Florida airconed bus Wednesday night (God! the bus station was practically bursting at the seams with people trying to get home to their respective hometowns!).

We also passed through Nueva Vizcaya in the dark. We first arrived in Banaue at 8 am where we had our breakfast, took souvenir pictures and marveled at the Banaue Rice Terraces…

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This view from the balcony at Stairway Lodge and Restaurant seemed to be greeting us a bright and cheery morning.

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We Pinoys proudly claim it as the eighth wonder of the world.  Even if some do not agree, it is so in our hearts.  Alas! My camera (and our view deck’s location) did not give it justice though.  I mean when it came to the ‘view-deck’ (which was something carved out on the side of a road cliff) that we were taken to, I think it was too low.  Maybe there was one at a higher vantage point and better angle where the terraces or steps can be fully seen and appreciated but we were not taken to that.  But hey, it was a blast to finally see The Terraces with my own eyes anyway (and not in some post card), so I was happy nevertheless.    pict0420

Our breakfast at Stairway… they were pretty fast in serving a motley crew of hungry, sleep-deprived travelers like us who were on the road for almost 9 hours.

And so afterward, we ventured on.  We transferred our backpacks to a yellow jeepney (which is a longer and modified Pinoy version of a  jeep meant to take in passengers; great for rough roads) that was going to take us the rest of the way to Bontoc and Sagada…

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pict0444The long and winding roads (which can be seen at the picture above) up the mountains were quite safe (with some parts still being improved, constructed and paved), not at all scary and still offered breath-taking views of the cliffs, mountain terrains and more mini-terraces along the way.

To be continued in Part 2! ☆^(*・ω・)ノ゜+。*゜+。

I’m back from the boondocks.  It was a real memorable and worthwhile trip.  But really tiring… I would LOOOVE to write about it and post my pix but now I’ve got to get back to work. Sighs…

Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to post just ONE pic as a sort of preview:

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Taking it all in: Now, I can proudly declare, “I survived Sagada, man!” Wooweee!

To read my Sagada Adventures, start here —ヾ(゜∀゜*)人(*゜∀゜)ノ

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