Embracing the Waves

This travel with Power Rangers is long overdue. It took us two freaking years of planning before something materialized. It’s not because we are picky with the places we want to visit, it’s simply because our busy schedules won’t meet. Imagine how happy we are (especially Tina), when FINALLY we are having a trip together, albeit not with JL, still a milestone for this group.

A busy, full of activities day one.
We first had dinner at Chili’s at SM Megamall as a post birthday treat of Tina and Beejay. JL, Monique and Angus came. Little Allie (Monique’s baby girl) also dropped by. The food and company is great. We laughed, eat and laughed some more over the silliest of things and of course we can’t avoid talking about books and the book club when you are with this group. It was a reunion of some sort for Mae and Beejay who haven’t seen each other for a year. After dinner we stayed at CBTL to wait for midnight but later on decided to stay at Beejay’s place. What made that little impromptu detour memorable is that no one ever thought that Tina and Mae would step foot in his house again.


Dinner at Chili’s. (c) Atty. Monique


Going up. (c) TIna

We went to Partas Terminal past midnight and boarded the bus going to Vigan at around 2AM. The travel is for 6 hours so it’s more convenient to travel at night or early in the morning so you can sleep during the trip, just remember to wake up when you’re nearing your stop because you might miss it if you oversleep. We arrived at Sebay Surf Central at 8 in the morning; however, the hotel’s check in time is still at 2PM. We want to eat breakfast, get ready for the beach and start the vacation immediately so we paid the early check in fee for Php500. Ranee arrived in time for breakfast. She’s the only one who didn’t travel with us because she’s coming from Pangasinan which is just a few hours away from La Union. We ate at Fat’s Bar ‘N Grill, a beachside restaurant where all of us ordered Longsilog when we knew that it’s Vigan’s Longganisa. After we filled our tummies, even if it’s just a few hours before 12 noon, on to the beach! Who cares about sun burn? We need to feel the beach ASAP!

We had lunch at Urbiztondo Grill House where they serve home cooked Filipino meals. If you don’t want to go far away to eat, this place is good since it’s just a few minutes walk across the resort. They serve mostly Ilocano dishes so you should try some of the viands that you can only find here. Of course, pinakbet is a must. Every town up north has their own version of cooking pinakbet so if you’ll travel to different towns in Region 1, always include that in your to-eat-meals. We had tea after that at MoonLeaf Tea House a few blocks from where we ate. We enjoyed goofing around the café and then took some awesome solo shots and spent an hour talking about nonsense. Tsismisan [1] is something that we will never ever grow tired of. We are enjoying a few hours of doing nothing because after that we’ll go surfing. Why go to a surfing central if you’ll not try it, right? It’s the first time I surfed and I tell you, I fell in love.

Mind you, an hour of surfing is equivalent to a couple of hours in the gym. It was fun, exciting and difficult the first time you do it. You’ll fall trying to balance yourself on the board numerous times, you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll feel frustrated at one point, but the feeling when you are already riding the waves? Ah, it’s worth all the pain and effort. We had dinner at Sea Nymph Café, a nearby food place from the resort; it’s also a beachside café. After that we went to El Union for some coffee and a serious chat. We all fell in love with El Union’s s’mores. You should not miss this one if you visit San Juan, La Union. It’s a chocolate haven, I promise you. We spent a few hours at the beach, too bad bonfires are not allowed, listening to good random music while nursing a beer and talking of what we want in the next five years.


A subdued, ready to go home day two.
I spent the morning walking along the beach, barefoot, savoring the morning breeze while the sun isn’t fully up yet.  The calming sound of the waves hitting the shore clears your mind and makes you enjoy the beauty in front of you. I tend to over think yet that feels like, I can’t think at all. I had coffee with Mae and even if we don’t want to hit the beach because of body pains from yesterday’s surfing, we can’t say no to Tina. We spent the rest of the morning in the waters, trying to survive the angry waves while letting out all the #hugot lines about waves we can think of.

We had brunch at Gefseis Greek Grill and went home at 12 in the afternoon. It was another 6 hours spent sleeping on the bus.

The last time I step foot on a beach was in 2011 with the book club friends in Alabat Island, Quezon Province. I wasn’t even considering coming to this trip. I’m glad I came. It was the breather I was looking for weeks before this trip and finally feeling sand beneath my feet and the waves after 4 years.

Travel Details:
Here’s a simple breakdown my expenses for the trip:


*because it took me a while to document this trip, the expenses are approximate (near the total price though. I think I still have a hundred something remaining when we came back. The money I brought was exactly Php 3500.*

Aaron, Mae, Beejay, Ranee, Alona & Tina
Sebay Surf Central, Urbiztondo, La Union
March 28-29, 2015

Fat’s Bar ‘N Grill
Urbiztondo Grill House
MoonLeaf Tea House
Sea Nymph Café
El Union
Gefseis Greek Grill

* All images in this post are owned and edited by Alona unless otherwise stated.
You may view the images in high resolution here.

An open letter to the current you

Dear You,

You have to let go.

You have to accept that things between the two of you will never be the same. You have to learn that when you ended your relationship, your friendship will eventually fall apart. You have to see things through his eyes and not just what you want to see. You have to stand up on your own. Stop finding reasons to hold on to something you have let go.

I know you don’t understand why your friendship has to suffer when you are willing to fight for that friendship without second thoughts. I know you consider him your bestest friend not that you have many which makes it even harder for you. But you hurt him when you chose to walk away and the pain is far greater than being your friend. You have to think not only of yourself but of others as well.

Change is inevitable. It’s bound to happen. You want to go out of your comfort zone, right? Isn’t this your comfort zone? All changes are scary. You aren’t used to it but you have to be brave and courageous and have faith that everything is going to turn out right. Save yourself from disappointments. It’s not the same anymore.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a ten year friendship. It’s difficult to break old habits—turning to him when things get tight. You have let go. This time you have to really let go. Maybe in the future when you see each other again, the friendship would still be there. A true friendship will stay even if you don’t see or talk to each other. Time can only tell.

Be brave. You’re a strong person. You have a path you want to take. It may not happen now but you know you’ll get there because you want to be there. Don’t let your current struggles bring you down. It’s not the end of your journey. It’s the beginning of a new one and whenever you close a chapter of your life, there are characters that you have to leave behind because they don’t fit the story anymore.

People come and go but there is someone who will stay with you no matter what, if you let Him. Hold the hand of someone greater than you—greater than what people can give you. You have forgotten. No one said this journey is a piece of cake. There are times you won’t feel okay. You can always go back and strengthen your connection with Him. Then one day you’ll realize that everything is according to His plan. The road getting there seem difficult but remember what they always say, there is a light after all of this.

Be kind to yourself and be happy—even without a best friend.


Your Rational-Positive-Self

Waiting—in His Time

I lived half of my life in the metro. I spent my childhood looking at how the city progress for a decade, only spending the holidays and summer in the province. I am accustomed to how fast the life here is. I’ve learned to adapt with the busy lives of the adults around me. It wasn’t a big deal because in the eyes of a child or a fourteen year old teenager, life in the city is perfect. It changed when I have to move to the province thirteen years ago to live with my grandmother and finish school. It wasn’t easy.  Imagine growing up in a place where you can see people even at wee hours in the morning, sleeping late at night and waking up at noon and then suddenly transported in a town that sleeps at six in the evening and wakes up at dawn. I learned to cope and I got used to it but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss the city. I do. So I moved back.

I never thought I’d feel the need to move somewhere else, again.

For the past seven years, I’ve been living in the hustle and bustle of the metro, (almost) on my own, thinking of how to survive each day without the comfort of family. Seven years of pollution, crazy traffic, busy schedule and high cost of living. Life as an adult in the city isn’t the same as when you’re a teenage girl thinking only of your studies, friends and your daily allowance. As a grownup it entails responsibilities and unending commitment either from work, peers, and colleagues or to whatever endeavor you have right now. The first five years were fine. I get by. I still have the drive. I was living in a place that is demographically a part of a province but is only a few hours from Manila depending on traffic and a few minutes away from one of the metro’s business districts. I still get to spend my rest days in a town that is almost urban but still laid back which is probably why the urge of moving to a different place is easy to ignore—until six months ago.

I was living with relatives at first in Caloocan then moved to a rented room somewhere in Sampaloc near the University Belt. A few months after I moved to a condo in Cainta, stayed for a year and then transferred to an apartment in a different Barangay of the same town for almost 3 years. I moved back to the same condo in Cainta two years ago and then things happened last November, I decided to temporarily stay with my Mom’s friend in Caloocan for 2 months. I looked for an apartment in the same area, packed my things and started living on my own, alone this time, last February. I moved seven times in seven years. That’s a lot of packing and unpacking boxes, getting the feel of the place, adjusting to new travel time to work or when going out with friends in meet up places far from my place, and making an effort to make the house I’m living in a home, not to mention the money spent whenever I move. Those seven times of moving places is out of necessity. It’s not like I have an option. I moved because I need to not because I want to.

I’m tired of the city life.
Living alone for the past months means going home to an empty house. No pets. No housemates. No boyfriend. No neighbors. Technically, you have neighbors next door but you don’t see them, once in a while maybe. Apartments for those who just relocated to Manila to work aren’t like the ones you go home to where you grew up. It’s not a neighborhood; it’s a house where you sleep in. It’s literally a place where you leave your things and take a bath then go somewhere else to earn money. I should have gotten used to it, considering that I’d been here for years, going home to my hometown only if time permits it. Sometimes I don’t even go home because after the busy week you had in the office, you’d want just to lie in your bed and sleep the whole day. The difference this time is that I’m alone—in a chaotic, hot as hell (in terms of the weather), not really a remarkable city of Caloocan. Yes, I lived here before. I practically spent my growing up years in this area. I know how the life here is. I can tolerate it but no one said I should like it. Moving to different places made me see how better other cities are compared here. I know I can just move again, however, it’s just a 30-minute travel to the office, a big advantage from my usual 2-3 hours travel time coming from Rizal, and the apartments here are a lot cheaper. See? Necessity.

I want to pack my bags and move somewhere far from the frantic, non-stop life of the metro.
I went to Malolos, a city in the province of Bulacan, to see a friend last May. It made me realize how tired I was with the kind of lifestyle I have right now. Of how I am barely surviving. I’d been pushing this at the back of my mind for so long now. I started thinking of moving back to the north late 2013. I want it so bad in the beginning of this year but I knew that I am not emotionally and financially ready. It has to wait. And then when I saw the life my young friend is living, of the neighborhood they have, of the laid back lifestyle of the place, I suddenly missed my hometown. I missed the simple life of the province, of the people going through life at their own pace as if they have all the time in the world.

I missed home.

I have this ongoing argument with some friends who lived their entire lives in their respective cities in the province that their lifestyle is laidback compared when you are in the metro. “It’s a city,” they said.  “Yes, it’s a city in THE province,” I pointed out. “It is not a city in the metro.” They would just roll their eyes and let me win the discussion. If you haven’t tried the way of living in the metropolis and if you are planning to move to the big city coming from a smaller town to experience the adult independent life, you have to be prepared. Leave your comfort zone and be brave. Don’t forget to be smart because if not, the big city will eat you alive.

Am I really giving up?
I’m asking myself if I am just running away from the memories of my life here. Partly, yes. I want to start over. Like a reset. I realized that nothing is really holding me to stay here aside from practical reasons. I need my job. I need the money. Even if I want to go now, I can’t. Not yet. If only Pangasinan is just an hour or two travel from Manila, I would go home every weekend to rest before going back to face the crazy life of the big city. I wouldn’t feel so tired or alone.

No, I am not giving up. I just want something else.

I didn’t expect that what I want seven years ago is not the same with I want seven years after. It’s also true that there are things you can’t have right now. I’m giving myself enough time to prepare and do what I want.  I’m done pushing myself to something that is not going to happen yet no matter how much I want it. He has reasons why He isn’t giving me what I want now. Probably He has another plan for me or maybe He feels that it’s not the right time yet. I’ll leave it up to Him. I just have to remind myself to be patient and wait. I know I’ll get my answers—in His time.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Baguio ’14: Day Two

After my first night out (FIRST NIGHT OUT! I FEEL SO MATURE.) in Baguio, Alona, Cary, and I got up early and headed to BenCab Museum.

It was our first time to go there (and hopefully not the last). We all had our own favorites. I was really fascinated by the exhibition of Abi Dionisio entitled Backbone & Stitches. It truly was a feast for the eyes. After our eyes were satisfied, we headed down to Café Sabel to silence our grumbling stomachs.

Duck Flakes, Strawberry Salad. Yum. The strawberry vinaigrette was definitely something. We did find the Tuyo pasta a wee bit saltier than needed but nonetheless, our hunger was satiated.

Next stop: Tam-awan Village

We weren’t able to appreciate the view once we reached the top deck, but we did enjoy the cold climate and not to mention the exercise.

You haven’t seen everything Tam-Awan Village has to offer if you haven’t spotted THE Dreamcatcher. Hahahaha.

We headed off to Camp John Hay later in the afternoon and made a quick stopover at Treetop Adventure just to check the prices (which were out of our budget for this trip, sad to say). We went to see the Cemetery of Negativity where we had our fair share of oohhs, aahhs, and laughs as we related to the epitaphs written with such wit. Then the ampitheatre.

Bell House (feeling American Christmas!)

This a feels like a Christmas in [insert US state here]!

After that we had a quick stop at the Christmas village which was Frozen-themed (who would have guessed?). We missed the “snow” so we decided not to enter the premises. We also made a quick visit to Chocolate d Batirol but changed our minds about eating there. We headed out to Oh My Gulay to have a quick snack.

The food was delicious. Bulaklak Tempura was a winner. Too bad Alona wasn’t able to get photos of our food.

But she got a panoramic shot of the view outside Oh My Gulay. She was so enthralled with the place she forgot to take a photo inside which is as lovely as this. Imagine entering a regular building, going up the stairs to the fifth floor and seeing garden inside.

Once we were tired enough (finally!) we decided to head back home to rest before travelling back to Manila. It was a weekend worth remembering. I don’t get to explore the city much because well, I’m a local and I’d have all the time to explore compared to visitors. 😛 And obviously, it’s best to explore when in the company of friends. I’m looking forward to our next (mis)adventures!

If you wish to see better copies of the images, click here .
Click here to see the first day of our trip.

Portmanteau Stamp:

Visited: Bencab Museum, Cafe Sabel, Tam-Awan Village, Camp John Hay
Place: Baguio

Travel Dates: November 22-23, 2014
Adventurers: Alona, Ingrid and Cary


Portmanteau’s (mis)Adventures (3)
A semi-regular meme of the things Portmanteau did (adventure or not) or any activity we had together that is worth mentioning.

***** All images in this post are owned and edited by Alona unless otherwise stated.