The days have been so mercilessly hot and humid. Living in a tropical climate all my life would make me think that I could take this summer beating but this is somewhat too plain much!  After going through all those rains and floods last year, now this?

The unbearable heat leaves you drained of energy – move an inch, and you’re already shedding buckets of sweat! ハッ!(`ロ´ ; )  Sure there is an AC at my place of work, but it’s the Holy Week break (yahoo!) so I’m at home now.  My unreliable AC can’t fight off the heat in my room. During the hottest part of the day (10 am to 4 pm) I can’t help but lie down and sleep off the heat.  Ugh! huhuhu!

But summer has its perks: fruits like mangoes, melons, avocado, and watermelons are cheaper and abundant; tropical flowers like our fiery fuchsia bougainvillea seem to be thriving in this unusual dry spell; since school is out, there’s less traffic jams, and of course, summer means BEACH OUTINGS!

Last Sunday, we had our company outing at Laiya, Batangas.  I brought along my best bud, Levlev.  I’ve been going to Laiya every summer since 2004  (except last year though 😦 ). It’s my most favorite beach (even topping Boracay in my list) so far…

Located in San Juan in Batangas, Laiya is a three hour drive from Manila.  The beach is clean, and has no dangerous waves… great for kayaking.

Casa Remo was where we stayed.  It is reasonably priced and has small apartelles and one big house (above) with plenty of rooms.  It is not beside the beach though, so you have to walk a short distance to get to it.

Palm Sunday 2010: we celebrated mass at White Cove Resort.

Early Monday morning, we woke up to make use of the time left… swim to our hearts’ content!

Watcha waitin’ for? Ligo naaaah! Woo-hoo!

I♡♡♡  Laiya, forevah! \(♡´∀`♡ )/ If only this is the view that greets me when I look outside my house.  Sighs.

if not, then, i’m praying for the rains to come soon…*fingerscrossed*

~pls Lord umulan na sana~ (^人^ ) 雨乞いをする

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Kailan ka pupunta dito? Sis texted me from Provident Village. This was before the Big Flood.  I spent a lot of my weekends in the Village but at that time I haven’t been there for over a month, that’s why she was texting me.  I had been too busy at work and needed my weekends to unwind at my own home and be alone – that was why I haven’t visited them at the rented house they were staying in.

Saka na. Di naman aalis yang bahay dyan e, I replied.

Then a week later, Typhoon Ondoy came.

Well, you could imagine my regret.  Ayan tuloy. Di ka na makakadalaw uli – kahit kelan Sis laughingly scolded me.

Sis and Doc have decided to abandon Provident and are staying over at Doc’s family’s house.  The house at Provident – post-Ondoy – reeked of stench (real or imagined) from the putrid mud no matter how much they scrubbed it clean.  In fairness to the brave residents who chose to stay, the village had indeed been washed, cleaned and repaired.  However, even so, there is said to be this gloomy and tragic sentiment lingering in the air – of a haunting allusion of grief and frustration, heavy feeling of sadness, and memories of misery and destruction.  It was even worst at night. And then there is this nagging fear: for how long will one be safe and what if the nightmare happens again – and again?

Provident Village was one of the worst-hit areas when the heavy rains of Ondoy came down. Most of the village is nearest to the Marikina river – nestling dangerously inside its U-shaped path (at right)- thus, the village gets easily inundated once it overflows.

(pic courtesy of Google Maps)

I do miss Provident.  We ALL do. Despite the poor location, it is quite ideally and conveniently located near all the major areas of urban living necessities– the malls, schools and universities in Katipunan, the markets, the church, the tiangges, the plaza, sports complex, etc.  Sis misses the fresh cool wind that permeates the house even in summer time; Paw misses the peaceful silence that pervades throughout the village (Parang buhay probinsya). Levic misses riding his bike through the relatively safe streets. Me? I miss the roof deck of the house…

My most favorite part is the roofdeck. I remember I would go straight up there and enjoy watching the sunset or just eat ice cream…

On the roofdeck, Pawie (above) would sit on the ledge, too, at night and just chillax.  We even camped and slept overnight here under the stars last summer. Too bad, I didn’t take pix of us ‘camping.’ Now, it won’t happen again….

I used to exercise and walk through the streets of Provident Village at night while Levic acted as my bodyguard as he rode his bike.  He and I know the streets like the back of our hands. The scariest part of the village at night was near the village wall that separates it from the river – for it was dark there and lacks street lights, right, Lev?

Every weekend all throughout December, fireworks can be seen from the roof deck. Like this pic of a fireworks display from last Christmas season.  Well, now, no more fireworks viewing from there this year (or from hereon for that matter). Sighs…

What’s to be learned from all these? Not to take for granted what we have. Appreciate the simple things and always be grateful.  It’s better to enrich ourselves not with owning material things but with wonderful memories and life experiences instead.  So let’s build more memories! With new hopes, new dreams, and a positive outlook in life… for there is nowhere to go but up!

To be continued in Life after Ondoy

(I wasn’t able to upload pictures from my cellphone camera for the past weeks.  Something went wrong with my computer lately due to viruses I got from the Internet. But now it is semi-fixed and so I have a backlog of 200 pics waiting to be uploaded and some are worthy to be posted.  So you will see a lot of pictures in my upcoming posts for the next few weeks… starting with the following pix from two weekends ago…)

Spent the weekend of Dec. 12 to 14 mostly in Marikina because it was the birthday of Levic.  I’ll just let the pictures do the talking:

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Sushiiiiii(!) which was a gift from a relative, pusit, pasta, barbeque, and other yummy dishes served for the party prepared by Sis.  Happy Birthday, Levic!

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It was the year’s last biggest full moon that hovered over us that weekend according to the news.  Took a pic of it but it was partly hidden by clouds.

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Enjoying one of my favorite comfort foods: ice cream and barquillos (crunchy sweet wafer rolls) leftovers from the previous night’s party on the rooftop slash balcony of the house.

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Checking out the Marikina River scene and Bayani Fernando and his missus’ attempt to make it look great…Hmm, still smelly and it’s no Disneyland but at least it’s clean, attracting some crowds, and the residents seem to like it.

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Tis the season to go bargain-hunting!: Paw and I checking out the ukay-ukay strip along the river’s banks.  She got some great bargains on sandals and blouses (like 2 for P180)–not bad!

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From low-end ukayan to high end ukayan (below): Passed by San Juan to check out an indoor bazaar in front of the Pinaglabanan shrine (above pic)

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The San Juan ukay-ukay was selling merchandise that were branded factory overruns which include Chanel shirts, Vera Wang, etc. If you still want to check it out, it’s at the second floor of the building in front of the said shrine.

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Every weekend for this month, fireworks light up the Marikina skyline at night…

So goes the weekend…

Undas is a major holiday that we observed as the “All Souls Day” (Nov. 2) in the Philippines.  It is celebrated along with All Saints Day (Nov. 1).  It is a Catholic tradition that was adapted from ancient Mexican rituals of honoring departed loved ones (um, I think).

During the Undas, families and clans reunite.  They go home to their respective hometowns or regions, clean and repaint the tombs of deceased relatives, and cook up a simple feast (usually kakanin or glutinous rice delicacies like biko) to take with them to the cemeteries. Families would have picnics by the graves or tombs, offer flowers or food, play cards, camp out, eat and pray.  On the downside, there would be lots of traffic jams along major highways and naturally, plenty of headaches and occasional petty traffic spats and squabbles.

Offering flowers, lit candles and prayers for Mommy (Oct. 30, 2008):


Picnicking on the memorial park grounds at night and watching out for shooting stars together with Sis, Doc, Pchi, Paw, Levic, and Lolo Daddy.

Traditional holiday food: Biko prepared at home, made from glutinous rice, sugar, and coconut milk:

I remember when we go to the memorial park way back in the 80’s to visit mama.  There were a lot more people back then.  There was generally a festive atmosphere at that time.  There were food stalls all around and many families would stay for hours and hours or set up huge tents on the grass so that they could camp overnight.

Now, I have noticed that the number of people visiting the park during the Undas have dwindled down considerably during the past years.  Or that if they do visit, they will stay for a short time, and then leave.  Or some visit ahead of time (like what we did) so as to avoid the traffic hassles and headaches.  Times are changing, I guess but I am pretty sure the tradition will continue to live on…  After all Undas is all about remembering.  As an Irish blessing goes: “May you never forget what is worth remembering nor ever remember what is best forgotten.” Nobody wants to be forgotten so let’s hope we all live a life that is worth remembering… Have a Safe and Happy Undas, Pinoys!

Eversince the 90’s, I have heard of a waterspa and other wellness spa of such sorts that, alas, only catered to A-list celebrities and rich people.  I thought i would never partake of such a luxurious experience–cascading water massaging your body, soothing tired and aching muscles and relieving anxiety and stress

So I was excited to finally find out about Ace Waterspa through some people.  It also helped that I saw it featured on a show on qtv11.  I looked it up, checked their website, found the price affordable and made a date for a relaxing Sunday.

The ladies at the front desk gave us our locker keys (left) which we have to wear around our wrists the whole time as well as red swimming caps (a must–to avoid having falling hair from clogging up the pools’ drainpipes).

I rented an extra towel (forgot to bring one more-so dumb of me!) which costs 100 pesos. I also had to rent swimming trunks for Levic who could not find his at home (P150–oh, well!).  I was hesitant to let Levic go inside the men’s locker and dressing room unaccompanied but I felt assured knowing that there were male attendants inside who would keep an eye on him.

The spacious locker room inside the female dressing area (Right).

They don’t allow pictures to be taken inside the pool area (so I had to take some stolen shots–hehe, well you know me!–as if that would stop me):

The Spa Pool

The Lap Pool

Levic pausing to catch his breath after swimming in the lap pool.

It was wonderful! Levic enjoyed the Waterfalls Massage and Lazy River that flows around the pool while hanging on to a floater.  I thoroughly relished all the spa pool facilities.  My personal favorites: I basked under the invigorating Rainfall Acupuncture (water falling like rain but ‘pin-pricking’ your body as you lie flat out on a smooth tiled slab), Jet Chair with Foot Massage (water massaging the soles of your feet, thighs, shoulders and back), and the Hydro Massage Chairs (bubbly, jacuzzi-like water targeting your lower torso and neck as you lie on a chair).  There were also the herbal hot baths–mint, jasmine and lavender (I only tried the Mint pool which was only 36 degrees warm) as well as the lap pool but not the sauna rooms (for some reason i still feel uncomfortable with idea of ‘bathing’ in wet steam).

We were only allowed four hours or else we will be charged for the extra hours if we exceeded.  There were free shampoo and liquid soap (theirs was alright but I still prefer to use my own), hair gel, ear buds and free use of their hair dryer.  I was also provided with plastic bags to place in our wet items, much to my relief!

Plus, they gave us free hot soup.  Chinese Corn Soup served hot at their restaurant.

The whole waterspa experience was like magic. The endorphins were released and flowing in me, (plus with the help of the hot, soothing soup) feeling relax and slightly elated and light.

Since I was in such a good mood, I was also compelled to try their Shrimp Popcorn with mango mayo dip and a dash of spring onions which was juicy and delicious.

Levic enjoying the food…

Pero kapag nagtitipid ka, beware! Dahil alam nilang nasa good mood ka, baka mapabili ka sa kanilang restaurant ng di mo inaasahan. I had no regrets though. Their food tasted good.  All in all, Ace Waterspa would make an ideal treat for hard-working people who would like to reward themselves from time to time.  Worth your 550 pesos? Yes!  Hmmm, but is it just me or the endorphins talking?

We stayed in Tita Dolly’s beautiful home in Alaminos.  And for the rest of the Holy Week, we spent it in various ways to amuse ourselves:

zzz…sleeping and snoringHUY, GISING NA!

Mani, ang daming mani…shelling and eating toasted peanuts by the bushel…

and rocking and swaying in a hammock…What can I say? I love lying in hammocks!

Tita Dolly lovingly took time in designing and constructing this Filipino zen-styled garden in front of her home (photos below). We love spending time here…a real refreshing and peaceful place that every home should have…

However, when Typhoon Cosme wreaked havoc all over Central and Northern Luzon, her beloved garden was badly damaged.  But no worries, my artistic and creative tita will rebuild it in no time.

…I also practiced my henna tattooing skills:

Is this “Pangasinan Ink?” Naaah! –its just toy henna that didn’t stain much–not the real thing. But it was fun though. At left is my version of a Scorpion henna.

At right, Levic proudly showcased his Fire Dragon…

Pchie’s Cross of Hearts…in honor of the Holy Week (left).

Doc’s Ethnic Dragon…versus Sis’ Fluttering Butterfly…(below):

…More revisiting in the next post…Part 3: Revisiting Beloved Pangasinan…

During the sembreak of 2007 (last week of October), I joined Sis, Doc Drew and family on a trip to The Doc’s place of his roots, Gumasa, Glan, Sarangani. We had been planning this for ages, and I’ve heard of the place being talked about with so much awe for a long time that I had to see it myself. Taking advantage of Cebu Pacific’s promo discounted fares, we immediately booked the available seats months in advance for the sembreak period without second thoughts.

And it was without regrets…

Drew’s parents fetched us from the Gensan Airport. After a long trip, we arrived on a dark stormy afternoon with the waves crashing on the seashore. It felt like nature was telling us, “Welcome! You’ll enjoy your stay just as long as you don’t mess with me, alright?” As the waves calmed down, we walked along the beach at night and I immediately got fascinated by the soft, powdery sands underneath my feet. The next morning…well, the pictures below tell the story:

…..I lazed around, lying on the hammock under the shade of the manzanillo tree. The strong waves from the previous night had cleaned up the shore–making the sand stand out with its fine ecru-white hues. Sarangani Bay looked inviting and calm in its turquoise-blue state of serenity.

Other snapshots from the beach…

….Wow, Philippines! Pchie scanning the blue, blue horizon ala baywatch babe.

Hello, Gumasa beach boy! Levic showing off a shell he had found along the shore…

….Aah..sarraap! a local dog cavorting (more like getting a self-massage) on the sand

Ang bahay sa gulod…this privately-owned, charming, little pink house fronting the beach was where we stayed. Sis enjoys her respite on the porch, listening to the waves (top right). There is a series of simple beach resorts along the 3 kilometer stretch of the shoreline. Don’t expect anything fancy though. People who live around this area are simple folks who frown on loud, raucous drunks and ear-splitting karaoke singing…

It was a time to slow down and recharge, to breathe deep and throw away your cellphones (don’t gasp–it’s just for a while)…

More snapshots in the next post