Monday, June 29, 2009

Ice Cream Love: Chocolate Truffles

Last Sunday morning, after hearing mass alone, I decided to stop by a nearby grocery store to buy a few feminine stuff. I already had a rough estimate of what I would buy so I didn't withdraw extra cash. I was sifting through aisles and got what I needed until I found myself in the ice cream section. I peeked without any intention of buying. Let's just say I was curious of what stock they have. Lo and behold I saw a double tub pack of Selecta's most sought after Chocolate Truffles and Berry Strawberry Ice cream.

I paused. I looked. I stared.

I believe I warped for a few minutes there. I sincerely felt the baker in the nearby section bothered by my existence. I might have looked like a savage with drool and all. I contemplated. I've tasted Chocolate Truffles before in some party and I believe I had a glimpse of heaven. I sincerely wanted to try the Strawberry flavor just to see what's special about this version. In terms of chocolate or strawberry, I know I'm more of a strawberry fan.

At that moment, I was on paralysis. My conscience even made it more convenient to remind me that I have to save. If my short term memory served me right, I only had enough cash for my feminine products already in my basket. The ATM station is a good distance away and I would have slapped myself if I would swap my much needed kits for the ice cream tubs. Thinking about it, these Selecta Gold Series Ice cream tubs are more expensive than your usual brand.

After five minutes of looking at it and contemplating, just like an automatic reflex, I opened the freezer, got the two tubs and fished for my credit card. I just found justification in the thought of sharing this with my family just to make it a lot better. :)

After lunch, I invited my family to sample the Gold Series Tubs. My mother, as usual, found it expensive, but she loved the Strawberry Flavor. My brother liked the Chocolate Truffles immensely. Well, I love both. The ice cream is tastier, creamier and more fulfilling. I tell you, it could pacify you for a second. That's why foodies who are depressed reach out for ice cream. I remember a scene in Drag Me To Hell when Christine Brown was so depressed and frustrated with her situation, she ate a tub of chocolate ice cream to drown her sorrows away, then her boyfriend appears. Bummer. Ice cream will always be a remarkable dessert creation. It's soothing and comforting. It is very flexible and comes in so many different flavors. But unlike any other ice cream, these Selecta Gold Series flavors are the best locally so far. It is true to the taste, more fulfilling and creamier.

I admit that I'm not a fan of chocolate but the Chocolate Truffles for this Selecta version is to die for. The Strawberry Ice Cream is creamier and true to the taste. The only flavor I haven't tasted is the Hazelnut Brownie because of the nuts, but I'm sure it's heavenly as well. Every time I finish a rough game of Left4dead I finish a cup of ice cream as a reward. After every meal, a spoonful of Chocolate Truffles makes the dining experience more sophisticated.

As I type I'm finishing a serving of Berry Strawberry while I sneaked a cup of Chocolate Truffles for my brother. Our stock is slowly diminishing and if not for the added weight and sugar, I would've stretched my budget and bought another two tubs for tomorrow. I'd make it a lifetime supply even.

I pity those who are on a grave diet. I also pity those (including me) who aren't.

Just imagine if these are to be made fat free and sugarfree. Well, maybe in heaven.

*Our diminishing stock. Gold on a pile of meat.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Left 4 Dead Images

I already made a couple of posts of how I became Ga-ga over this new online co-op RPG game. This game in fact evolved into my certified bonding time with friends and siblings. I still can't get enough of it.

Look what I have stumbled upon the net:

These are the original images of the Left4Dead Characters. I think these were not released.

Francis is too hairy for me.
Louis looks like a character that you wouldn't mind dying instantaneously.
Bill looks like a rich gentleman playing war in his late life crisis.
Zoey looks too calm and might have been praying for a time like this.

No wonder they didn't go with this.

Now, this is is more like it.

Francis on the original release looks like your ordinary guy with more spunk minus the hair. He is a passable tattoo artist who has more to offer.

Bill now looks like a real war veteran that means business and actually knows what he's doing.

Zoey looks she could actually kick ass without the added angst drama.

And Louis looks like he is highly interesting to play with. Your ordinary guy turned into survival mode.

Now they all look normal and easier to relate with. In this type of game, images matter.

And now I'm itching to play Left 4 Dead 2. My brother and sister have already been waiting for it when I was still starting to love the original game.

And I believe this is how the new characters will look like in Left 4 Dead 2.

I swear I thought it was Edward Norton (Suit guy) on the cover.

Why is it always limited to 4? Can it be at least 10 wherein you could get to choose your own characters? Either you become the butcher, the businessman, the scholar, the actress, the pilot etc? Then all characters possess different abilities/strengths that could work against the infected?

I wonder, what have become of the original characters? I hope they inject more into it, plot-wise.

Nevertheless, this is interesting. I can't wait.

MJ's kind of Influence

One of Michael Jackson's best influences in the world. Him dancing with the inmates would've been euphoric. This beats any material and fame he had earned, that's why he's great.

Transformers Rise of the Fallen: Contemplative

My brother and I went on a date yesterday. As usual, I was the one who financed everything, but he rarely asks me out so I sort of feel touched by the gesture. He wanted to watch Transformers: Rise of the Fallen because most of his friends, who already watched, liked the movie and he is just a sucker for anything robotic and transforming. I initially planned to watch it with Mitch yesterday, but I arranged reservations for us on Sunday instead since he has engagements planned on that day. Since I had a free time yesterday, how can I say no to my brother?

So, after playing Left4Dead with my sister and a friend, my brother and I drove to a car dealership to test my new project and moved onto Glorietta 4 where I have reserved us tickets to the 8 pm show. By the time we got to Glorietta 4 parking, it was insane. We moved at a very slow pace and it took us about 30 minutes to find a parking slot. This never happened to us even on a weekend, but I guess it's unlike any other weekend because Transformers is showing. Everyone wants watch it the first weekend. People who aren't even interested to begin with got curious.

I would understand. The movie Transformers revolved into another Lord of the Rings magnitude only that the setting is modern and the war involved non-biological beings. But both movies which are very successful in the box office and very large in reach have developed into a household name. They got everyone interested and talking. They became staples in every conversation. Both are adapatations of previous works, JRR Tolkien's book and Transformers' 80's comic and tv series. Both insipired cults and groups of immense passion for their stories. Both movies are considered galactical and it's always nice to watch movies that most people appreciate.

After having a full meal dinner, we grabbed ourselves some pizza, Starbucks, fries, burger and popcorn since we eavesdropped that the movie would last for almost three hours. Not wanting to miss anything and get out something to eat in the middle of the film, we made sure we got ourselves covered. When we got to the cinema lobby, it was already jampacked and the ticket lines were insane. Thanks to the online ticket booking, we spared ourselves with the added hassle and got the best seats in the house.

But I'm not going to write anything about it yet. My reviews are reserved after I watch it the second time with Mitch. I wanted to make things objective this time because last night was packed with hype, fireworks, drama and expectations. I'm not saying I didn't like it, but yesterday's timing was too intense. The movie in itself is phenomenal. I congratulate everyone for the hard work they've put in there. New stars were discovered as old flames were rekindled. But I have some ideas forming in my head. Tonight is an objective way of sifting through it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remembering the Time: Michael Jackson

So I guess by now the world has already heard about Micheal Jackson's death last June 25, 2009 at exactly 2:15 pm in US time. That would be dawn in Philippines time, but the news went to me straight when my affected mother went into my room to ask me if I'm going to work and proclaimed that Michael Jackson is dead. I admit I couldn't make the connection at first. What does Michael Jackson have to do with the mundane activities in my life? And Michael Jackson, the living legend actually touched by death?

On my way to work, it was confirmed by local radio stations that the brilliant artist that I have known since I was a kid and most international artist look up to is dead. He is not merely a popular international artist. He is more than any member of N Sync or the Backstreet Boys put together. Spice Girls are just treading behind. He has progressed into something untouchable that bears the number one torch of a solid and universal entertainer that is loved across continents, countries, culture and religion. His music is more than just bubblegum pop. It is intelligent and could be heard by many generations. He is considered the icon with all the other music icons who have been given the title. The honor itself is already high, but he is a legend and an icon of all icons to me.

I love Michael Jackson. Back then when CDs were the "only in" thing in music, I took possession of his HIStory Album that my dad bought. I would listen to all CDs and really appreciated his songs closely. "The way you make me feel" followed by "Black and White" and "Stranger in Moscow" were my usual sequence in that album. But before he became really big, he is already a familiar artist in our household. My parents and I may have different artistic preferences, but we are all listeners of his music. I even noticed that he got whiter and whiter and I remembered asking my parents if he really is the brother of Janet Jackson when I began singing her song "Let's Wait Awhile" in my cassette tape. I thought maybe one of them is adopted. But seriously, do we immediately remember him as Black? As far as I'm concerned, we remember him greatly as "white."

True enough as great as his musical powers were, so was his indulgence to his own fantasies that will now be put to rest. I may love him as an artist and I might be one of those who would watch his concerts, but I can't say the same for his life outside music. For that, I just read the news, ponder, shed a cent or two, and move on. I believe whatever scandals he has been through, nothing could top his artistic achievements anyways.

I'm sure with all his death, hundreds of blogs and documentaries will erupt. Even now, browsing through online pages all I see are headlines of Michael Jackson. In TIME, in Manilatimes, in NYTIMES, it's all about Michael Jackson. Even in death he is a global news that might have reached the pope and make him pray for his soul. I wouldn't be surprised if the pope might even be a secret fan. I'm sure international artists especially those who have been inspired by him would shed a tear and take part of a remembrance concert singing his songs that will forever make him immortal. This year is a sad night for all fans, listeners, critics, producers and advocate of music. I do agree that we had a great loss on that one.

Some of my Michael Jackson Moments:

1. Took possession of HIStory album that my dad bought. He was about to bring it to Roxas City when I secretly kept it and until now he still has no idea where it is.

2. I have memorized a couple of his songs. My favorites are:
  • The Way you Make me Feel
  • Man in the Mirror
  • I just can't stop loving you
  • Black and White
  • Remember the Time
  • They don't really care about us
  • Scream
  • Stranger in Moscow
3. I know my friends were kind of taken a back but I did develop a crush on Michael Jackson for a bit. His White shirt, curly hair, black slacks, white socks, shimmering jackets and black loafers era. The time when he could pass off as a normal looking person. My infatuation intensified after watching the MTV of Do You Remember The Time set in ancient Egypt. I really wished I was the supermodel Iman.

4. I'm a sucker for his hiccups.

5. The song You are not Alone is cheesy but useful in trying times.

6. I now pity my younger brother for not growing up with his music. He missed a lot.

I'm sure a lot of people would still want a piece of him. There would be a lot of speculations and reports which caused his death. There might be historical documentaries and people paid to talk on live TV. Regardless, Michael Jackson is a musical legend and I'd rather we focus on his magnificent music. I hope he's at peace now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've noticed that it's been a week since I wrote here. Whatever happened?

Well I was busy with work, that's one. I had to relocate desks and adjust plus the fact that I had to attend late night conference calls which really drag me down. The result of this is waking up late and going home late. I had no time to surf anymore even at the office.

In between, leisure time was involved spending time with friends and colleagues. At least I reserved a room for that. Eating out, spending money, that sort of thing. It's more expensive than going straight at home and surf, but the new environment with interesting conversations could be relaxing too. I just had to shut off my brain and surrender to nature.

What else? I think that was about it. Nothing spectacular and nothing interesting, but not overly dull either. I felt I was busy, but listing down the limited activities I think I was just taken away. One week is fine, I hope this coming week would be better.

Old is Cool: Drag Me To Hell

Finally I was able to watch Drag Me to Hell after almost two weeks of planning. I was already resigned to watch it in DVD and rely on the comforts and abilities of the home theater system, but good thing I didn't. There is a reason.

With my sister, we drove to Glorietta at around lunch time, bought tickets and waited for my other cultured movie enthusiast friend Tim David. We noticed that after a week of showing, Drag Me To Hell had the highest ticket price due to the screening done in a THX enabled cinema. My sister asked what's up with the THX? Again, there is a reason.

We entered a semi-abandoned theater with minimal audience. Of course we picked the best seats and prepared to enjoy one of the horror treats of the season.

DRAG ME TO HELL has old school elements on it, but it's not something corny, slapstick or irrelevant. If you're familiar with the booming sound of vintage Frankenstein movies and Phantom of the Opera, he used that from the start of the film. The screeching violin sounds, the orchestra after every fright. No wonder the movie was advised to be watched in the cinemas and in THX at that. This is one of those movies that relied heavily on amazing sound effects. Sam Raimi was able to use sounds so effectively that my sister almost watched the movies with her ears covered. Sounds give you the fright before the actual thing. The creaking metal gate, the hoofs, the body clashes, the violin backgrounds are so old school, but done in a very large and sophisticated scale, which I was looking for in other horror movies. To watch it in DVD would rob us of that specific experience.

The actors are very bankable. They're not trying hard and they're very relative. Justin Long is a safe and an effective choice for being this understanding, rich boyfriend that cements the supporter role for this movie. He is not beaming with excessive star quality, which works for him very well. The Spanish Medium to the Indian Medium played by Adriana Baraza and Dileep Rao are also typical, yet true to their characters. Who could ever forget the old gypsy woman who started all the curse in the movie? Lorna Raver, playing the gypsy woman Mrs. Ganush, was one strong frightening woman when angry. Just hope that you're not the object of her anger or you'll endure physical tryst and a deadly curse. Reggie Lee, another supporting character played by Fil-AM Actor Reggie Lee, provides a modern and comic touch to the side of antagonists by being this over-competitive co-worker who makes life harder for Christine Brown. Alison Lohman in the meantime played Christine Brown who is struggling to achieve something in the city and wanted to forget the fact that she came from a farm. Alison Lohman is one golden girl who exactly reminds me of the leading lady of Johnny Depp in his movie Cry Baby. She first portrayed Christine Brown by being soft and naive as the image she wanted the world to see, yet inside the assertiveness and the courage are easily delivered when she's at the brink of losing everything.

What about the plot? Well, the plot is about the supernatural. Don't expect a merely psychological battle, it is just one of the products of being cursed by the Lamia, a very powerful deity that drags cursed souls to hell in three days. But before the third day comes, the Lamia torments the cursed soul like a poltergeist with painful hallucinations. The story focuses on the cursed Christine Brown and how she could overcome the Lamia.

Everything is in place, but one thing I didn't expect from this theatrical horror movie are the numerous times I have laughed so hard from some of the detailed scenes, which are in a way needed in the film. It is a horror movie no doubt but Sam Raimi didn't take this one too seriously and provided effortless gags that would leave anyone laughing. The timing is just right and he is effectively playing the emotions of his audience. One minute I caught myself laughing really hard on the mishaps and then the next thing, I'm back to being frightened. It's not something slapstick, I tell you. It's simply effortless.

If people would ask me if I should recommend it? Go ahead. You'll be enjoying an old school movie that isn't bad. You would appreciate how the old school elements were brought to this film and figure that this is what a well crafted horror movie should be like. It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions too. You would come out of the cinema highly entertained and not jaded. It's one of his finest. Don't wait till it's over. Of courseI wouldn't say that you'd get the same experience in watching it in DVD.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gone to Play Left4Dead

Last night Mitch and two of our friends Nikkon and SR initially planned to play Counter Strike, the old version, our version. After a quick rendezvous over pasta in our house, we rode SR's sleek black Mazda 3, which I'm growing to love, and went to Better Living to check out the gaming zones. Unfortunately, most guys had the same idea as ours and we're left with no vacant spots. With unwavering desire, we skipped Better Living and went immediately to BF Sucat, which is a good distance away. Upon cruising President's Avenue, we landed upon Bytehead cafe where all teeny bopper guys meet. Luckily they still have four slots.

Upon paying at the counter and logging in, I noticed that some of the groups there were playing Left4Dead, the newest and very popular online group game similar to that of Resident Evil. If you're a fan of RPG, killing zombies as the main task and solving mysteries at the side, then you'll love this one. It is exactly like that of Resident Evil, only that the graphics are so much better and the zombies nastier. What's also nice about this is, four people could actually work together as a team. Hey wait, since we were already four and we have heard great reviews, we decided to play this instead.

The four of us are already 'experts' in counter strike, but since adulthood consumed us, we haven't played online games since eternity. Left4dead is really something new that all of us could try. I mentioned to them that even my sister, the not-so-online-games girl, was instantly hooked with this particular game. She would play it from night till wee hours in the morning with her other friends online. My brother and I would just instantly hear her scream through the mike and figure out she is playing 'it.' This got my brother hooked as well.

The most recent games I've played are friendly ones like SIMS and Diner dash, which I've finished yesterday. A part of me doesn't miss the entire gore and action, but I must admit I got pretty excited with the whole gaming vibe last night. To work as a team in close proximity is fun. And since I've finished Resident Evil both on PS and on PC, how hard could this be, right? I have three expert counter strike people with me whose major chunk of past life involved playing games like this, so I didn't feel there's anything to worry about.

Until we started acting and shouting like we're in the game of course. People in the cafe must've thought we were a bunch of screaming sissies playing commandos. We kept on building up our team strategy out loud as if our lives depend on it. We kept of reprimanding our line and instilling the back-up scheme. With all that effort, we still didn't reach past the second stage until we decided to change starting points...and er...much worse, we couldn't reach the first stage of that starting point alive. It was insane. We already played for 2 hours and a half but our progress was super below average. What a shame. My sister would've laughed so hard at our status right now, and to think she is not technically a gamer.

Left4dead aside for the better graphics and character movements, has kick-ass zombies. The zombies vary in range and they come in hundreds. They attack hard and they run, which is a new thing. They also have different kinds of zombies with specialties like blob, smoker, hunter and the gigantic mean machine one. They attack from all sides and sometimes without warning. If a team mate goes down, another team mate could revive him or her by giving a life support kit or a minimum amount of energy just to get up and find a safehouse.

Also, there is no map, which is more real than those zombie games with a mission because in real life, we wouldn't really have a map now would we? We had to explore every niche and rooms to figure where we are going next. We don't know where the next safehouse is, where can we find extra ammo or another gun. We had to be vigilant with our surroundings and explore every possible storage area. If a team mate dies, he or she would automatically be revived in the middle of the game. Also, going to another level is automatic. If the team has reached a certain point, a safe room with supplies, the game records the end of that particular stage, but if not, it automatically brings you back from point 1, which is very frustrating.

The game is very entertaining as it is challenging. It forces the team to re-think their strategy and be vigilant with each other. This has not been supplied by any online zombie games I've played before. The graphics are way better and the zombies are far deadlier. They run, they attack in groups and they are one mean bunch of dead guys, not passive ones that attack you in slow motion. Left4dead slightly envisions a hopeless case of four guys, but with great team work and skill, the challenges could be surmounted and that is why I think the game is so popular.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Southerners Up North

I've lived in the South since four years old. Before relocating here in Paranaque, we had lived in Makati central, but I could only remember bits and pieces of it. I grew up in the South and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Southern towns are self-sufficient and peaceful. It has developed into a family hub sprawling of villages and condominiums. We have our own set of entertainment and restaurants to choose from and if that's not enough, we're always near Makati and Manila anyways.

That's why anywhere beyond Makati for us entails a lot of effort and psyching. I seldom go to the north. It was only when I relocated in Cubao for Accenture, was I open to what's happening in the northern area, but usually I go there via MRT. It was also past 2 years ago when I got to consider Greenhills as an option, but before that Makati is really my end point. I imagined that if my car broke down in the middle of QC, I wouldn't know what to do. I might as well just sit down and cry.

With all the traffic and the distance, I only go to QC or anywhere up north only if I have to especially if there's an important agenda at hand. I don't go there just to hang out and pass the time. It would be stupid. I'd only be wasting gas, time and effort. That crazy traffic, long drive and busy thoroughfares are enough to keep me at my boiling point.

Places like Tomas Morato, Timog and Q Ave are just names of places to me. I have no idea how to go there, where it's exactly located and what it has to offer. That was until Mitch became more exposed to his photography. Ever since he became serious with his art, he began attending photo shoots in different studios and most of them are in QC. His new friends and photo colleagues are all from QC that's why he is the one left to adjust. From clueless fellow, he now goes to QC with ease. That's also the reason why I get exposed to it from time to time.

Like today when I got my senses ready for lunch, Mitch and I were squeezing our brains out for possible things to do. We originally wanted to go to Tagaytay but his brother who had been there ruled it out since almost everyone we know is there and based from experience, the traffic is insane.

Makati and Fort are completely at the end of our option since we spend most of our week there that it's becoming sickening already. We were going nowhere with an empty stomach when Mitch offered to take me to Mister Kabab, a famous persian restaurant in the metro. Mister Kabab is solely a north establishment, which means people from the south really have to travel all the way to West Ave to sample their cheap, but succulent persian dishes. Since I haven't eaten there and with nothing else planned, I quickly agreed as we manipulated to use my sister's gas-friendly Honda City for the long drive.

Going there really felt like a journey. Even though there were only minimal traffic jams in EDSA, I still got to feel the entire stretch of it. It was even worse because my stomach was growling. I kept on asking in my mind..are we there yet? Going there, I thought we could have just easily settled in Makati. But when we got to West Ave, where incidentally Harvey was born, we saw lots of specialty restaurants left and right. Some establishments are even original. Quezon City is sprawling of stand alone restaurants and original establishments. Makati might project that all restaurants are to be found there, but the Northern commercial avenues gave birth to most of it.

The trip going there demanded us time and gas consumption, that's why I have to really enjoy my late lunch at Mister Kabab. As soon as we settled in their large and open restaurant, I ordered their best seller Kabab sizzler with ice cream and ice cold softdrinks. Their Kabab, for the price is savory and generous. That's why the restaurant retains its popularity even for Southern people like us because they have a very good meal for a very good price. Mitch would often say that the line in Mister Kabab during dinner go in circles at the parking lot.

After the Kabab experience, with nothing left to do, we went to Katipunan to have dessert in Banapple, a brainchild of his podcentral friend. Whenever Mitch is up north, he always tries to buy me a slice of their bestselling Banoffee pie. Again, this is only located up north that's why southerners really have to "journey" to sample their luscious desserts and dishes.

At around five, we decided to go home via C5 to rest after a stuffed afternoon.

I admit it was something spontaneous, maybe others might think too spontaneous for our taste. Basically we just traveled up north to eat. We didn't do anything else. We didn't meet with anyone else. If practicality caught us off guard, we would've lashed ourselves for actually doing it, but both of us at that time wanted to do something out of the ordinary. We want to go somewhere new and it doesn't get newer than QC for both of us. As long as the desire is unwavering and the gas meter is at its fullest, then up north we can go. But we could only take so much of course because we are and always will be southerners by heart.

My most recent Book Experience

For the Past Summer, here are the books I've read (re-read) and actually finished.

These books are read in order depending on various trips I've had. In Boracay of April 2009, it was Joshua Ferris' modern-office satire Then we Came to the End. Purchasing this book is a story on its own. But the experience reading it was fun. This book reminded me of my demons in the office. The book tells the professional lives of bold and dynamic characters that I can't help but relate to. It offers lessons and satirical moments on how to deal with office politics and relationships that make work either stressful or colorful. This is the voice of my generation.

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks was the book I read on my next trip to Cebu-Bohol of May 2009. Initially, this should have been the first ever Nicholas Sparks book I planned to read. The planning was intense since I bought this copy last December 2008 on my way to a dinner party. But the actual decision dawned on me earlier in August 2008 when I went with my friends to Tagaytay for a wedding. My friend Caan was reading it and recommended it amongst all Nicholas Sparks books. Although not really a fan of him, I decided to take a leap and try. In between those dates, I bought a Rearder's Digest Condensed book and came across The Bend, which he also wrote. At that time, I was itching to read something light after a series of jaded stories. So the Guardian ended up to be the second book I read by Nicholas Sparks. I have to say I liked The Bend better. I just couldn't relate to The Guardian. Except for the immense love of the character to her dog, there is too much loss and relationship drama that is too high school for my taste. The psycho element added to it was cheesy. For now, I'm having a Nicholas Sparks hiatus.

The third book was by Khaled Hosseini, the best selling author of the Kite Runner, which I love. Of all the books I've read this summer, I had the highest expectations for this one. I read this on my Camiguin Trip on May- June 2009 and I finished it earlier than intended. A Thousand Splendid Suns brings me back to the torn architecture of Afghanistan, specifically emphasizing the role of women in the family and social structure of this country.

As a woman, I couldn't help but feel sad, angry and distraught about how women are maltreated and subject to subordination against most men of Afghanistan. It must have been their adherance to their culture and social teachings, but it made me realize how much sacrifice and sufferings a woman could endure in her lifetime. The simplicity of a woman is very touching, yet her strength and will to survive moved me completely. Khaled Hosseini successfully described the situations that is visually imprinted in my mind as I read. Every retribution the character goes through spurted up an excitement in me. Every tragedy makes me feel thankful for my life. Every hope a woman faces in adversity also brings me inner hope. I thought, this couldn't have been fiction. It was like watching a documentary in my head. This is one of the truest stories I've read and should be read by all especially women.

These three marked my summer readings. There are also notable titles I've tried to read, but didn't actually finish because of piling work I left while on vacation. Right now, the book in my bag is Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera that's been egging in my shelf for four years. I've tried to read it a couple of times, but it was just too deep for my taste as of the moment. I cannot find my philosophical vibe. I should wait for an appropriate timing for this book. I'm currenly lost in my own book collection, but luckily last week, my colleague sent an email that she is selling her own collection of books, majority of it are romance novels by notable romance writers. I ended up buying 2 Jude Deveraux for only 120 pesos.

Frankly, I'm not entirely a fan of romance novels because I always taste the formula of it. The endings are practically the same as the passionate exchanges of dialogues and err..fluids just vary in execution. The plot may be twisted to a certain degree, but it always seems familiar. Romance writers, for me, just differ themselves from other romance writers on how they execute lines and character exchanges, their mastery on a certain setting (medieval/contemporary), and how they would gracefully incorporate other aspects such as feminism and/or mystery to the story. If they don't have the selling or distinct factor for this, it would just be a bore to read it.

Officemates from previous corporations I've worked for introduced me to this. I was hesitant at first, but when the opportunity was offered to me, I felt no grave reason to decline. A romance expert reader handed me, a non-enthusiastic reader, a copy. I ended up reading Judith Mcnaught's Something Wonderful and lo and behold...I immediately liked it. When I went to the US on that same year, I brought other Judith McNaught titles, since hers were difficult to acquire in local bookstores. I remember reading Whitney My love in a coffee shop in LA while waiting for my friend, Vanessa So, from work.

I also like Judith Deveraux and Catherine Coulter, who usually adds an element of mystery to her stories. Surprisingly, also on a book bargain in one of the biggest malls, I had a game with Tin, a high school friend, to find the book that has the crappiest title. I browsed and fished the double soft bound book of Josie Litton's Dream of Me and Believe in Me. I thought, nothing gets crappier than that, and for a dare, I bought it. In the end I won. But when I actually read the two books, I was thrown in the Anglo-Saxon era with these characters that are dynamic. I'm a sucker for medieval era, so this slammed my ego hard. Josie Litton is practically "unknown" here and I couldn't find book copies except on Amazon. Since I have a timely trip to the States that time, I checked on the availability and immediately went to Borders San Francisco to buy the third installment of the book. As a bonus round, I also bought another fresh trilogy of hers that I'm safekeeping until the right moment comes to me. I must say the title was crappy, but instantly got me to read it. And you know what they say, do not judge the book by its cover.

*The book Tin and I saw in the mall book fair

*The third book to complete the trilogy, which I had to get in the States

Again, this year it's all about reading. I have to redeem my crappy 2008 exposure to various literature as I'm keeping this genre-flexible. I just hope I make the right choices this time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I condemn Suicide Bombing

I condemn suicide bombers who kill civilians and innocent people. What would have they achieved by doing that? Absolutely nothing. They might want to instill fear and impose warning for people to back off, but seriously the whole world's looking and the whole world would not back off because for us, we don't see any positive message and sense in killing people. In fact, we are more likely to infiltrate and put some sense to those who brainwash people to blow themselves up for a false cause. They're hurting themselves and up hurting innocent people.

Suicide bombing will never be a way to achieve change and sense. It's cowardly. It's hurtful and unintelligent. Is that the only message that they want to send? Because if it is, then we've heard enough and frankly it's condemnable and stupid. And even if there's a tiny sense beyond the act, well I'm afraid suicide bombing is highly ineffective.

The Supposed Thursday

Today I have a schedule to cover the Tampa, Florida shift to manage the crucial month end data being submitted to my assigned data warehouse. The colleague who is supposed to be covering this time zone will be out for two days. This just means that I'll be on graveyard shift for Thursday and Friday, Friday being a Philippine holiday to boot. This is obviously not included in the protocol, but I could not have the heart to decline this colleague's special request due to personal reasons. If I will not decide to cover, I would run the risk of coming to work with a messed up data warehouse or I could have her work remotely making life harder for her, but I was in a good mood that day, and the fact being that I am in no super human position to decline.

So for Thursday and Friday I will sacrifice, but that doesn't mean the end of the world. I have no upcoming plans to cancel anyways and going on graveyard shift at work would be fun. No people. No interruptions and no heavy traffic. I just need to bring Harriet with me, go to a 24 hours coffee shop and I'm all good.

Last Tuesday night, my good friend Vanessa So sent me a message that she is having a girl. Apparently she reminded me that she was in fact really having a baby. The first time the news reached me, I was stunned. Vanessa was my buddy in college. We are not your typical ladies who are expected to act ladylike. In the broad end of the spectrum, we have qualities that keep us so so undesirable for men. Although I must admit, she has more heart when it comes to children and she has a very understanding boyfriend at that time. The two of them end up getting married and I attended their simple and frisk-less wedding. I was afraid that Vanessa would ultimately transform and become domesticated, but whenever I visit their house, it seems like nothing has changed. They might be living together legally, but she hadn't caught up the wife-domesticity bug. So, you could just imagine how stunned I was to know that after two years of marriage that Vanessa is having a baby. I know she mentioned it to me that they were planning to have one to probably ease the reality into my head. But when the news hit, it still took me a few days to recover. Now that she's having a girl and I'm assuming her tummy is this big, I have no choice but to accept.

So since I was in a happy mood for everyone this week, I invited her for a breakfast date on Thursday (which is today). I told her that I'll treat her to a good dessert as my welcoming gift to her future daughter. The date was set and I already checked the restaurants on line. Yesterday in the office, I confirmed to her about the details of our brunch when she sent me a message that she couldn't make it. Apparently, her Tita Persy So, the revered tita that I've been hearing since college, was killed in a suicide bomb that exploded in a Peshawar Hotel in Pakistan. Just like Vanessa's other news, this completely took me by surprise.

In that morning, I happened to read a news online about the bombing. As I recalled it mentioned UN workers, a russian and a Philippine woman. I never ever would have expected it to be her Tita Persy So. Vanessa even mentioned that UN representatives met her to confirm the unfortunate news. The body is to be sent back to the Philippines by Saturday. (FULL STORY)

I was lost for words. I didn't know what to say. Of all the other positive things that should happen in this world, this had to happen. And of all the people, it was her tita who visited her two weeks ago. It's heartbreaking for people who died and who were injured. I feel sadness and hate to the suicide bomber who killed innocent people, and I was especially moved to the fact that it was Vanessa's own aunt whose life was put on the line. Her aunt was not anymore a form of news or statistic for me, it's reality at its finest.

Naturally we canceled our Thursday morning date and I just offered her my condolences. I would love to be with her today, but I don't know if it's proper or I would be meddling with her affairs this early. Knowing Vanessa, she is one tough chick. I have never seen her cry. But I know it's different when an aunt died while fighting for peace and doing her job in a world scarred by suicide bombs, which are spurred by hate. Also, I don't know much about babies, but I do know pregnant women have unstable hormones that I may not be prepared on the possible effects that it might have on my friend.

This supposed Thursday was a reflection of sorts. A week of sacrifice and doing what's right just hit me in the closest and most effective way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A couple of things

I'm kind of annoyed that I haven't watched DRAG ME TO HELL yet. There were opportunities last weekend, but something always came up. I've asked a couple of friends that I could bear watching movies with, but most of them declined. I even had to bribe them with free popcorn.

A horror movie is not such an easy genre to sell. The results are just two things. It could scare the shit out of you or waste money by watching complete crap. Either way, it's a big risk. I thought I've seen the light when I finally bribed my brother and cousin for a healthy lunch in Flapjacks in exchange for going with me. Horror movies are always fun when you're with kids, only to find out that my cousin will not be allowed to watch. I was this close to arguing that my young cousin is beyond her years and she can perfectly handle a good fright. She watches Exorcism while playing with her Barbies for crying out loud. But no. I had to go with the Majority vote, which means spending it in TIMEZONE.

Since I would be covering the graveyard shift this coming Thursday and Friday, I would watch this with my brother or even alone, during the daytime if have to. I've seen good reviews, and I'm not watching this on DVD. I would have to either love it or hate it in theaters. I believe this is the only window of opportunity that I have because my upcoming weekend will be so unpredictable. Drag Me To Hell? I'll drag my butt to the theater house for starters.


Last week, crazy thunderous rain, the sound that would disturb anyone in their sleep, happened on consecutive nights. Insane heavy traffic for at least Wednesday and Thursday made me feel grateful that I stayed at the office. But it was quite unfortunate for my Cebu relatives who were here. They were mostly stuck at home enjoying late night shows and each others' company. In fact, it was not advisable to go out last week. Period.

Last Saturday while my family and relatives in Cebu had a chance to go to a nearby mall, I had to go to Makati work. I figured of taking them out to FIC Ice Cream Bar after dinner since the movie idea was already scratched off my list due to age-reasons of my designated company. But I saw the gloomy skies and warned me of things to come. So after work, I decided to stop by Rustans Magallanes and bring the my own "FIC ice cream bar" to them instead.

I bought three gallons of ice cream (not FIc, unfortunately) a mixture of BTIC and Magnolia. I bought chocolate syrup, belgian waffles, milk, marshmallows, bananas and wafer sticks. For the midnight snack, I bought 400 bucks worth of hungarian sausages and Bravo Italian Garlic Dip. All in all I racked up a total of 1,500 bucks worth of wonderful "junk foods."

*The FAT ME UP sundae: 2 scoops of Vanilla, 2 scoops of Strawberry, banana slices, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, waffle and a choice of sweetened Belgian Waffle or Krispy Kreme cheesecake doughnut.

When I got home I saw a box of Krispy Kremes waiting. As soon as we finished eating dinner, I started my experimentation. I made 8 sundaes, some milk shakes and left them on a sugar-high. After the sugar rush, we played poker, drank some wine and ate those spicy hungarian.

Unfortunately the hungarian supply didn't last the entire weekend, but the dessert did even sharing the sugar and fats to a neighbor friend and Mitch.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vacation 101: Come Again to Camiguin and CDO

I recently had a vacation in Camiguin. I learned few things about the island. So for those who are planning to get enchanted by it, here are some few pointers that might prove useful.


  • If you plan to head out to Camiguin, you need to book the earliest flight to Cagayan De Oro to arrive in Camiguin before lunch.
  • Once you land at Cagayan De Oro there are taxis outside of the airport that are metered. These taxis will take you to any point of CDO or specifically 2 places for Camiguin bound: CDO Pier where you could ride the convenient Paras Sea Cat fast craft for a faster and more convenient travel experience . Or to the Agora Bus Terminal if you want a cheaper and longer travel time via Bus. The taxi ride would cost you (on both options) less than 200 as opposed to the 350 fixed rate of Airport Taxis. Also, Taxi models in CDO are newer rangin from the 2004 Altis to the 2009 Altis.
  • IF you want to take the faster and most convenient way to Camiguin, go to the CDO Pier and buy tickets for the Paras Sea Cat. The Paras Sea Cat leaves at 8:30 am sharp bound for Camiguin and for your return trip, 3:30 pm sharp bound for CDO. The cost ranges from 400 (open air) to 600 (air-conditioned VIP). It would take 2 hours and 30 minutes tops to get you to Camiguin Port. The Paras Sea Cat also travels to Bohol. Check the schedules.
  • If you are on a tight budget and want to take the more adventurous route, the air-conditioned and well maintained Buses in Agora Terminal would take you to Balingoan port where you would ride the bigger, older and rustic ship or "lansta" to Camiguin. The travel on bus to Balingoan Port is around 2 hours, which is followed by the travel from Balingoan Port to Camiguin Port with more or less 1 hour and 30 minutes. Bus fee is 130 pesos, tricycle fee going to Balingoan Port is 10 pesos each, and 120 for the ship going to Camiguin Port. In more or less 4 hours expect yourself in Camiguin.


  • In Camiguin it is recommended to hire a multi-cab or a van to go around. Since Camiguin has various tourist spots, it's not advisable to commute from one tourist spot to the next. Most of the multi-cabs on the road are already rented and it would take a while to hitch a ride since Camiguin is like one big two-lane highway. Usually 2 thousands bucks are what the multi-cab operators would ask for a day long trip in various destinations for a day. This includes the tour and the gas. It's just up to you to haggle.
  • Hiring a certified tour guide is not needed. The drivers of the multi-cab already know the major tourist spots in Camiguin since the island is just relatively small.
  • You could literally tour the major tourist spots in one day.
  • The people of Camiguin are conservative, but very accommodating and friendly.
  • They are speaking in Bisaya tongues.
  • Camiguin is safe. You could walk at night feeling secure.
  • Boat to White island is 400-500 bucks round trip.
  • Souvenirs of pastel could be easily found in Mambajao. If there are no time, CDO has plenty.
  • Paras Beach Resort is one of the best resorts in Camiguin with 1,900 pesos for their cheapest rooms.
  • If you're on a budget, check in at the cottages for half the price, complete with cable TV, bathroom and airconditioning.
  • People live off on Sari-Sari Stores
  • ATM is only found in Mambajao
Cagayan De Oro

  • CDO is a sufficient city. From CDO pier, the metered taxi could take you to your hotel for 200 bucks only.
  • Preferably get the hotel nearest to LimketKai mall, one of the main malls in CDO. In this area there are bars, upscale restaurants, fastfood chains and coffee shops. Try Discovery Hotel, Mallberry or Pearlmont Inn.
  • Allot at least one whole day for extreme sports in CDO.

Vacation 101: Camiguin's White Island

Contrary to popular belief, Camiguin is not known for beaches. It may be a nature lover's destination, but not necessarily because of the beaches. This island is known for lush surroundings, peaceful living, waterfalls and springs. There might be notable shorelines, but it isn't something you would travel for.

The only notable and popular beach Camiguin is known for is the WHITE ISLAND. I've seen a couple of pictures of friends who visited this White Island. The scenery is nice and the white sand could rival that of Boracay. Luckily, our cottage is just across Paras Beach Resort, which has a dock that could take us to the White island 10 minutes tops. Carlo advised that we should go there early morning, so even in a gloomy weather, we booked our Sunday for that.

The boat ride to Camiguin was pretty intense especially if you hate traveling by this mode. It's smaller than your usual pump boat and could only carry up to 6 people. Do not even expect a better price also. A roundtrip boat fee for a 10 minute cross to the island would easily cost you a whopping 400 bucks.

White Island is pretty amusing. It is a C shaped island wherein you could walk end to end. When we got there, the waves at all sides were crashing that an eerie thought entered my mind. If by chance, the waves could easily gobble the C-island and us with it. It must have been the foul weather.

The island has make-shift stalls that sell chips, bread, coffee, softdrinks and juices.

Tourists swim and bask in the sun. Actually, you have no other choice but to subject yourself to sunbathing because there are no resorts, huts or anything that could reserve as your niche. The only refuge one might have is the sitting at the plastic tables and chairs put up by the stalls, but the coverage from the sun is pretty useless because it's made of cloth and easily blown by the wind.

Like what most tourists did, we took pictures with Mount Hibok-Hibok as our background. Other groups did their jumping shots. A group of Koreans entertained the public with their annoying staged shots. And most people swam and snorkeled.

With nothing better left to do. We left the island at 10:30 am. Basically we just stayed there for one and a half hours. There goes our 400.

It's a pretty amazing beach, but I like the springs better.

Vacation 101: Camiguin in the Flesh

Camiguin is a peaceful island. People literally leave their front doors open and the term "crime rate" doesn't apply to them. Quick brawls over drinks are just about it. I understand why most foreigners love this island. It is an escape and a nature lover's haven. There are no heavy traffic, pollution, schedules and unnecessary distractions. Despite being provincial, the roads are well maintained and paved, the telecommunications including cable and internet are good (except for SUN cellular) and the island is easily accessible to Cebu, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro and Surigao via fast craft/sea craft.


On our Tour Day, Mr. Ray brought us to the Philvocs center for a little bit of Camiguin's history. There we were able to beef up our knowledge about volcanic eruptions, how Camiguin came into place and the history of the enigmatic Sunken Cemetery. Most importantly, we saw the new equipment of Philvocs including the computers at the main center that pick up signals from the sensors located a few feet away from the volcanoes.


After the gracious educational tour, we went to Katibawasan falls, the most popular waterfall in the island. The travel time is just about 20-30 minutes.

The road going to Katibawasan falls is a little bit rough at the end that's why you need an SUV or your best bet is a multi-cab. Upon going there, there are make-shift stalls that sell chips and water. It's not actually a rip-off but slightly expensive as expected. The entrance fee to Katibawasan falls for adults is 15 pesos.

From the entry point, besides seeing the annoying monkey that attacks people, you could already hear the falls already. One has to go down cemented stairs to go to the foot of the falls. As it was a weekend there were lots of tourists swimming and taking pictures. Mitch was frustrated at some points because he couldn't get his perfect angle and he was distracted by the tourists. I initially wanted to swim, but I have a thing about swimming in lakes where I couldn't actually see what lies beneath. What really amusedme was that the leaves near the falls were moving in an orchestrated dance from the intense pressure of the water.


After an hour, we packed up and met Mr. Ray at the entrance. It was already at around 11 am at that time and he advised that we should take lunch at Mambajao proper before continuing with the tour. We agreed and he took us to a buffet lunch for 100 bucks per head. The restaurant's owners are the exact makers of the renowned VJandep Camiguin Pastel, a local delicacy of soft ensaymada-like bread with yema-custard filling.


After the buffet at around 1 pm, we drove towards the popular Cold Springs. One look and we didn't want to stay. It was so packed. It was packed with families, tourists and foreigners. I got to view the springs and pool. Viewing is was enough for us. The crowd destroyed it. We just bought some grilled hotdogs and left the cramped resort.


Our next stop was the Stations of the Cross, volcano style. This is a popular tourist destination because you get to climb the mountain and see life size statues. We paid 20 bucks each at the ground entrance.

We climbed the cemented stairs and as expected, city dwellers like us, who are categorized as unfit and couch potatoes, got to the first station panting. Shamefully, we only reached station 2. The distance of one station to another was overwhelming, at least for us. After Station 2, we trekked back with a surprised Ray welcoming us. At that point, he must have thought of us as sissies.


We went inside a cemented drive path going to the edge of a cliff to view the Sunken Cemetery. There is no entrance fee.

It must have been the gloomy weather, but I was not quite overwhelmed by it. All I saw was a huge cross in the middle of the ocean. My imagination took over when I began thinking about the cemetery beneath it. In fact, one can cross towards the church via a banca, but Mitch just wouldn't have it. After finishing his shoot and taking creative shots, we went on with the rest of the tour.


Just a few minutes from Sunken Cemetery, we went to the Guiob Church Ruins where there's a tour guide waiting at the entrance. The properly dressed woman, in English, told the history of the Guiob Church and its demise after the volcanic eruption some ancient years ago. We saw the abandoned convent and stone structures preserved after the eruption.


AT around 3:00 pm Mr. Ray took us to one of the most popular spring resorts in Camiguin, which is the Ardent Hot Springs. This Hot springs is fully developed with a resort and hotel, but not losing its essence and therapeutic significance.

The entrance fee, if you're just a day tripper, is 40 bucks. The grounds are vast and impressive. It's clean with only tufts of cotton from plants floating about. The place is actually good shoot for a fantasy-nature shoot. The area in itself is cool because of towering trees. Upon a few minutes of walking, we saw the man-made structure of the springs and the aquamarine color it releases. The "springs" might be man-made but the water isn't. It comes directly from the mountain and is divided unto categories, very hot, hot and lukewarm as the water passes in different pools.

Most seniors liked the hot pool, whereas for some allergic reasons, I couldn't. Mitch and I stayed at the mid-section of the pool with hot to lukewarm temperature. For the entire trip, Mitch didn't entertain the thought of dipping until Ardent Springs. The water is refreshing and soothing. We even positioned ourselves at the mini-falls area for a quick back massage. We ended up talking and staying there until our fingers got pruned. Mr. Ray mentioned that the springs transformed into a spectacle at night because of the lights attached to the trees. This resort closes at 11 pm.

AT around 4:30 we left and met Mr. Ray at the entrance. On our way home, we stopped over at some scenic views for Mitch to take some shots. By around 5:00 we got home.

Dinner as usual was in Paras Beach Resort. WE decided to go for Italian this time. We ordered two pastas and a whole pizza. It was okay, but unfortunately our bill this time was 800 bucks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vacation 101: First Day taste of Camiguin

Last weekend I finally traveled to Camiguin. It was practically a "now or never" situation. The trip was planned a year ago and was booked twice. Anticipation was nursed and crushed at the same time. Days before the exact trip, I was already a master of repressing expectations.

Based from my travel guru-friend Carlo, who has been to Camiguin thrice, it is a peaceful and relaxing island. It is a place worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. Camiguin is a land born of fire, to take it metaphorically, it is an island built from volcanic eruptions. To date, Camiguin has seven volcanoes, some active, some aren't. Despite its threatening geological structure it didn't shade the fact that Camiguin people are one of the most friendliest people in the country. No matter how provincial this place is, Camiguin is self-sufficient and a very nice place to live in if you like nature, silence and hot/cold springs.

Totally sold on the idea of trying something different, we planned the itinerary and tours with the help of a person who could easily be an adopted son of Camiguin. Carlo, a travel blogger, was able to assist us on this four day trip of ours. He shared his contacts which gave us discounts on almost everything.


Manila going to Camiguin requires a plane ride to Cagayan De Oro.

Mitch and I caught the earliest flight to Cagayan De Oro approximately at 4:40 am, Cebu Pacific. But due to unforeseen events, we were re-booked to the 6:30 am flight. As far as Cebu Pacific is concerned, the passenger has to check in at the counter 45 minutes before departure, or else the inevitable of re-booking and repurchasing would occur. The rule was formalized just last month so it came as a shock to most of us who are used to checking in 20 minutes before the flight. The travel time to CDO is more or less 1 hour and 15 minutes.

After landing at 7:30 am, we declined taxis on queue and walked out of the airport premises. Carlo suggested that we search for a taxi outside the airport compound to get a metered rate against the fix rate the airport taxis demand of you, which is around 350 pesos. A metered taxi outside at the airport would only cost you 155 pesos to 170 depending on the "slight" traffic.

**just outside the airport, metered taxi's (non-members of the airport taxi group) are waiting.

We asked the driver to take us to the Agora Bus Terminal. The place is highly popular so we didn't bother explaining anymore. This is the primary bus terminal going to different neighboring provinces of CDO. We got there at around 8:15.

From the Agora Bus terminal, we rode the air-conditioned bus (Bachelor) going to BUTUAN, which would pass by Balingoan Port, which has ferries or "lantsa" for Camiguin. The bus ride from Agora to Balingoan is 2 hours and 30 minutes more or less. The bus fare is 130 pesos per person.

Since we arrived late, we had to wait for the next batch and we were able to leave the Agora Terminal at around 9 am. Our consolation price were the scenes going to Balingoan. It countered the annoying part that the bus driver must've been a fan of the Band Survivor. I listened to the whole CD at least three times before he switched to FM. The result, I kept on humming songs like "The Search is over" over and over again.

At around 11:10 am they dropped us off at Balingoan proper. Mitch at that time was stressed already because he's not really used to long land travels by bus, carrying my luggage and his photo gear at that. We found out that to be able to go to the port, we had to walk 200 meters or just pay 10 pesos each for a tricycle ride. It was a no-brainer. We got a tricycle.

The Balingoan Port is not as organized and pretty compared to Tagbilaran port in Bohol. Do not expect it to be world class. We were hopping frantically to get to the next ferry trip because we were so behind schedule only to find out that the ferry I had in mind is totally different from what I saw. All along I thought the ferry was a motored banca that most of us are accustomed to ride going to Boracay or to Puerto Galera. But no. What was in front of us was a large boat, more of like a "Lantsa" that can accommodate cars. It has open and close sections for viewing. The boat was old, rusty and stinky. There were no seating arrangements therefore you if you arrived late, which we did, expect yourself to be sitting on floors or on your bags. The trip to Camiguin island takes 1 hour and 30 minutes or even less (depends on the lantsa) and costs 130 pesos per person. We can't be choosers, so we rode the Donya Pepita line.

On or way to Camiguin, I was multi-texting our travel guide a.ka. driver and my uncle's relatives on our whereabouts. We were scheduled to have lunch with relatives at Bura, Camiguin, but so far we were running late. I had to extend their patience knowing that we had to travel to the cottage first to settle down before actually going to Bura which is a good set of kilometers from where we were staying. My uncle's relatives are so very kind and told us not to worry while the driver pledged that he would wait for us at Camiguin port stating to look for his bright purple multi-cab and him wearing a Kota Kinabalu shirt courtesy of Carlo.

**Our Multi-cab with Kuya Ray

After semi-sunbathing and squatting for an hour or so, we arrived at the lush Camiguin Port just eager to finalize one more leg of the trip. We got out and looked for the purple multi-cab and Mr. Ray, our contact. It wasn't hard to find the shocking purple multi-cab and the man near it with full smiles. We introduced each other and he was very accommodating despite his long wait. We told him of our super late lunch engagement and asked him to take us to Bura where also the Sto Nino Soda Pool is located.

But first thing's first, going to our Padua's cottage just across the famous Paras Resort was a good 30 minutes ride from the port with no traffic. The roads are smooth and well paved. While you're at it, stick your hand or head out because the air is so crisp, cold and divine. What I breathed in there is fresh air at its finest. Also going to the cottage we passed by Camiguin's simple City of Mambajao noting a few ATM units at main buildings.

WE arrived at the cottage at around 1:45 and settled a little bit before leaving for our late lunch. On our way to Bura, we passed by a sufficient grocery store to buy knick knacks, water and canned goods. We had to load ourselves with whatever basic sustenance we could think of because Camiguin is not like Boracay wherein you could just walk to buy stuff. Stores and restaurants could be pretty far from houses and resorts. It's not quite a problem for other tourists because most of the main hotels have restaurants, but if you're on a backpack tour or on a budget, it might be cheaper to buy canned goods and ask the accommodation's kitchen to cook for you. This you would have to confirm though.

Going to Bura, we saw pleasant scenery, passed by the Sunken Cemetery and overlooking cliffs. The air is so fresh and cold that you don't mind the open drive.

We arrived at our hosts' quaint home at around 2:45. Even though it was the first time we saw each other, they made me feel that I know them forever. I kept on telling them how my uncle was doing in Manila and even shared information about my aunts and mom who have traveled to Camiguin when they were kids. After a good lunch of grilled fish, chicken curry, chicken adobo and salad they instructed the driver to take us to the nearby Sto. Nino Soda Pool just a few meters from their home. By 3:45 we left the house and went to our first tourist spot.

The Sto. Nino Soda Pool takes its name from the tangy taste of fresh water directly derived from the mountains that make up the brilliant backdrop. The Entrance fee there is 40 bucks per person and you could get to sample their fresh water at the main reception. Since the pool's location is secluded from main thoroughfares, there was a lack of annoying crowds which was perfect. I swam the cold pool as Mitch was able to get some backdrop shots.

By 5 pm we left the Soda Pool and drove back to our Cottage. While going home, we stopped over at scenic cliffs for photo-ops. Mr. Ray greatly obliged and instantly became our impromptu photographer. By 6 pm we were already home.

Upon taking a bath and settling down, we paid Mr. Ray a discounted rate of 700 bucks for the day, which included the rate for his service, gas and impromptu tour to Bura. We also asked him to organize our itinerary for the following day, which required a whole day of touring.

By 8 pm our stomach demanded dinner and since we had no desire to eat canned goods at the moment we crossed over Paras Beach Resort and ate at their restaurant. Surprisingly Paras Resort is big and sufficient. The restaurant was packed and we had to wait for around five minutes to be seated. Their menu is also extensive from Filipino dishes to Italian. I remembered Carlo recommended their Sisig, although not quite a sisig fan myself, I put myself up to it. We ordered Calamares and rice to go with it.

Fortunately, the FOOD was amazingly good and we had no leftovers. The Calamares was tasty and I really liked the pork Sisig. It has the right spice, crunch and flavor. Both dishes have generous servings and just cost around 120 each. Not bad for resort food. I added a dessert of mango float for 30 bucks to the bill. All in all we just paid 350 bucks for a stuffed and yummy dinner.

After scratching our tummies, tiredness crept in from the long journey. We went home, watched a couple of basketball reruns and surrendered to sleep.

That was our first day taste of Camiguin.