Friday, July 31, 2009
When we turned on the lights, we saw that the small, juvenile, thin snake, too big for a worm and too small for a normal sized snake, curled apparently frightened at the corner. With nowhere else to run, I knew it was one of his last moments alive. I hurriedly went upstairs to get my camera before the carnage took place.
The driver and my aunt, equipped with walis ended up smashing the small snake's head, pounding his frail body until it moved no more. I saw his skin open up. My mother wasn't done wailing at this point. Harvey was scared and watched, not really his usual brave self. My brother had a glazed look in his eyes as if he's enjoying the show. Whereas surprisingly, I felt pity on the snake.
After the confrontation, our driver picked it up and my mother instructed all of us to burn it and to not just throw it away. She kept on asking if it was done and she was cursing and wailing all over. Once it was finished, she cursed the spa-like bathroom my father designed with flowing water, stones and plants that might have been the habitat of the little snake. It was a sound theory upon seeing the section of my parents' bathroom. There is a silent therapeutic waterfall, different kinds of stones and plants reminiscent of a quiet stream or lake. My mother decided to have it rebuilt and torn down immediately. It took her a couple of hours to enter her room and enter the bathroom.
Thinking about it, snakes do not just come out of nowhere. The little snake must have a mother, a bigger version I'm sure. It must have brothers and sisters frolicking god knows where. He was just an unfortunate soul who explored and got caught. The problem is, where are the others? That's what we're trying to figure out as we let the dogs loose and Harvey on a lookout. Our grounds are relatively spacious with lots of corners, nooks, vegetation, moist areas and stones. Few of us in the house regularly maintain all areas and visit all these places. In terms of snakes, it doesn't belong in the list of pests we look out for. We were all caught by surprise and as much as possible, we don't want to hink of the growing possibilities.
However, some say snakes are signs of good luck especially if it's in the house. But honestly, as much as I've shared that fact, my mother wouldn't hear any of it. I would understand her. I'm not really a fan of snakes anyway and I'd rather have them away than in my home. I might not agree on how to get rid of it, but I wouldn't know what's the most effective way of doing so without killing it. There was no other way at that time.
Surprisingly as much as I hate snakes, I felt sorry for the juvenile snake. I don't like killing animals, especially those that are defenseless and small no matter how I hate it. I want it to be driven away, but not killed. I'm sure lots of pet lovers and snake lovers would condemn this, so I apologize for the hurt we may have caused in the ecology and creature itself. If only we knew another more effective and guaranteed way of getting rid of it. But in terms of superstition, I believe the safety and peace of mind reigned more than the supposed promises of good luck it might or might not bring. We'd rather be alive and sane than dead.
My father, upon hearing the tale, was amused and kept asking us if we really did kill it. He is the superstitious one in the family and was unusually calm when my mother told him the actual snake was found in their room. My sister who had a pet water snake in her room might feel devastated once she hears this. I on the other hand feels relief and guilt at the same time.
I don't even know what kind of snake it was. Our maid told us that it was a TANKING or a Philippine Cobra, which is highly toxic. With that knowledge I feared for Harvey and our dogs for constantly sniffing on the grounds and now expected to hunt for these snakes. My mother immediately commissioned them to it upon remembering from an article she read that cats are good killers of snakes, but I reminded her that no one, not even a giant of a human who isn't an expert can't be reliable in getting rid of a Philippine Cobra or any Cobra for that matter.
* The juvenile snake we saw in my parents' room
With what we've gathered, we highly believe the juvenile snake is just one of those common, defenseless house snakes we saw on the net. But of course we are not snake experts. We could never be sure. Also, rest assured that by next week my mother would call someone to inspect the house grounds for the possibility of more snakes. Until that clearance comes, we're all silently on a look out.
In this short lifetime, I already know a handful of good doctors; being a walking allergic target and klutz as I am. I am also not afraid of going through consultations if I get paranoid from time to time and I have been exposed and have interacted with doctors in various specialties. When I was a kid I respected my Pediatrician so much and knew early on that what she is doing is something brilliant and should remain unquestioned. I may not harbor the inkling of becoming a doctor, but I am always the courteous and very cooperative patient. That's why it pisses me off when I single out some doctors that do not meet my basic standards.
Take for instance the doctor I consulted with just a couple of hours ago. I visited a nearby self sufficient private hospital and scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist to officially consult my worsening allergies. Before going there I had already done my research, sifted through information and took the effort of outlining the pertinent sequence of events that might help her analyze my situation. No matter how brilliant the doctor may be, a thorough story telling from the patient would help them do their job better. The patient too has responsibilities. So I went to the hospital, confirmed my schedule at the nurses' station and was received with a less than appropriate slur by one of the nurses as if I'm a nuisance to their prime time soap opera viewing. With that I didn't get mad. I even pitied them actually. There they are managing the doctors' paper work and seeing to it that the patients are queued in properly. Their whole world revolves that way. How sad, sometimes I feel we owe them at least a TV where they could watch their soap opera.
The schedule of the doctor is 6:30 pm and I was there 15 minutes early. Of course, I waited, but the doctor was late. It was already 7 at that time and her clinic would end at 8 pm. I double checked at the nurses' station until I saw an old man carry some luggage into the doctor's office. I figured the doctor might have been on a trip until I saw a slim, long haired woman in jeans and white shirt hurriedly entering her office. With her ultra feminine vibe, her white smooth skin and demeanor, I bet she must be the dermatologist.
There was one patient before me and I waited patiently. When it was my turn, I positively went inside her clinic and was welcomed with a hurried smile. She tried to read my record as I began to thoroughly narrate to her my condition. I mentioned that after doing my thorough research I believe I might have the "Swimmer's Itch." I recounted the exact same symptoms I read in the net and the symptoms I have on my body. I perfectly laid out the exact time the allergies manifested and it greatly matched the information I found online. While I was narrating this, I was expecting she would've gone up from her desk, took the initiative to inspect what I was referring to as these "red, itchy, bumpy spots" and gladly laugh and tell me I was wrong. But she did not. She was just there listening to whatever "diagnosis" I formulated without even the slightest sense of urgency and concern. She was writing something until she saw ONE spot on my arm. One freaking visible spot. After I recanted the history of the allergy she focused only on this ONE spot visually seen from her vantage point. I got pissed. So, without warning I stood up and literally went beside her and pulled my jogging pants to let her sink the images I was talking about. Every spot, fading red and bright red, I know the history and I told her the medicine that I was relying on and even injected the fact on how I bathe myself and the type of soap I use just to open up the conversation. There is always that possibility that I might be doing something wrong. With all the information I told her about the disease, my precautionary methods and my suggestive prognosis, all she could ever say was "Insect bite." With all the exhibit and pinpointing I showed her, she dismissed it and told me it was an "insect bite." It was like a bubble in me fizzled out. I sat back down.
I think I deserve more than an "insect bite" explanation. I'm sure it was some sort of insect or parasite that caused this, but she could've given me something more specific, a condition, a name anything scientific, which she would in the end explain to me. She could've easily disposed my theory of a "Swimmer's Itch." I would've been happier if she did that, but she didn't contest me, nor provided any clearer explanation to what I have provided. I guess it's safe to say that I was right with my theory. Only to her it's an insect bite. How medically profound can you get?
I sat down and tried to inject something else she might need to know. I stressed out, that the allergy manifested 48 hours after exposure to a possibly contaminated water as suggested by having a Swimmer's Itch, which I read on the net. And my intense colds and allergic rhinitis attacked me at least 12 hours after that. There might be a certain angle she might need to look into, but she dismissed it by saying "as long as you don't have fever, you're fine." Okay, that is really good to know. She didn't offer an explanation or any connection that it might have been a cause of my colds and flu-like symptoms or it might have been just two different things. She didn't confirm or contest anything, damn it!
I was the one supplying her information and all she needed to know, but she was there not confirming anything and she just gave me explanations that a grade schooler can easily come up with. Insect bite?!
She eventually asked me the medications that I'm currently taking and I gave her the usual medications I have, which I observe and feel are working given the proper observation and time. She let me continue my oral medicine, but as if on auto mode, she stood up, reached unto one of her luggage and presented one small bottle of cream that is not heavily sealed, and put it in a small plastic bag. She told me to stop taking my other creams and apply hers. Wasn't that dictatorial and imposing? She didn't give me a choice. She didn't even consider if I may ever have money with me. And what's worse, she didn't tell me how to use it. When she gave it to me our conversation practically ended and she just told me to pay for the cream at the nurses' station. I stood up and immediately remembered to ask her how and when I should apply it. As expected, I ended up answering my own questions.
I went outside her office feeling more confused and tired from the effort of explaining as I went to the nurses' station to pay for an overpriced 500 bucks cream that is I believe smaller than the smallest package of Vicks vapor Rub.
While I was waiting for the driver at the lobby I can feel the heat on my face. I could take the fact that she arrived late, practically looked like a trendy mom out on a mall trip with one of her daughters. She could even brag about her title and act so high and mighty as long as she's doing her job well. There were lots of things that she could've done. She could've made an extra effort and inspect my lesions. I wasn't asking for a tissue sample for crying out loud. She could've come up to me and inspected where the lesions erupted, what they look like and not be utterly disgusted by it as if those were just pecks of mosquito bites because it sure don't look like it. She could've asked me the condition on where and when I swam. She could've formed theories on how I got it. She should have given me precautions from now on whenever I find myself at the beach. She would've tried to explain the connection of my rhintis to this and not just shove her little cream up my ass. There were lots of things she could've explained or done, but I guess she was in a hurry or she didn't care about doing justice to her job.
I'm pissed because I respect doctors so much only to find myself consulting with a doctor who doesn't act like one. Her medical expertise didn't comfort me at all. Wikipedia was more helpful. I sincerely felt I was the doctor in that consultation. I'm sorry, I might not have the proper title, medical knowledge and expertise, but I sure had bragging rights on that encounter, which I hope would be my last.
I've been sick since Tuesday and I think I experienced the worst last night. Apparently based on my own research I'm suffering from Swimmer's Itch. The exact symptoms, description of itchiness and the cause are the same with mine. Because against my better judgment I swam, frolicked and wadded in the shallow waters of a visually clear and pristine beach (Or so I thought) and two days after I was itching non stop and disgusting red blisters are popping every now and then. It seems my immune system couldn't take the infection of contaminated waters despite the cleansing and immediate remedy I performed after that stupid decision. A walking allergy target like me should have known better.
The itchiness was an inconvenience as it was disgusting, it might have triggered my severe colds, fever and slight flu. Starting Wednesday, when I was at work, I began to perform combo sneezes and seriously thought that my head would pop. I stayed at home yesterday (thursday) since my condition was getting worse as the real battle began.
*Just one part of the blisters/rashes (one knee)
Starting yesterday afternoon the bones near my shoulders began to ache. My sneezes reached up to 5 sneezes per combo as if I'm on a cardio work out. My eyes are watering like crazy. My allergies attacked me in full blast. I hallucinated while watching Pokemon. My sleep was disturbed by the intense burning sensation of itchiness. It was, I believe, a taste of my personal hell. I kept consulting with my bestfriend and she just told me comforting words of "just observe," with a couple of medications she thinks would be effective. The morning after, I felt more sane without thinking of grabbing medication upon medication. I know I'm still weak, but I'm still alive and blogging aren't I?
Despite being weak and feeling handicapped for a couple of days I still felt the need to go out, search for some comforting food, go to a comforting familiar place that could boost my spirit. I want to watch a movie, hang out in my favorite coffee shop, write and do things that I want that would make me feel productive. A lot of people are against it of course. My parents wouldn't hear of it. Harvey barks for constant attention and being his charming self to entice me to stay. Mitch even had the creativity to bribe me with something that I really want in return of not going out and surprise him for dinner. Half of my brain told me to listen and to not make yet another stupid decision, but half of my brain knows that I'm not helping myself if I continue to get locked up. Fresh air and a comforting scene are simple things that I need right now, so I decided to grab an extension cord, relocate at one part of the house, which we rarely visit and enjoy the rest of my stay there in this gloomy morning. I get to see a different view, be outdoors, get some fresh air without breaching the agreement of not going out. Mentally I feel a lot better, maybe hopefully this is a start.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Is this freaking for real? My skin sections around the legs and arms part have small, circular and bumpy reddish spots that are damn itchy. I got it when I swam on a beach and walked in relatively shallow water during an impending storm. I did every remedy possible. Is my skin this weak? I think I found my answers..
Swimmer's itch, also called cercarial dermatitis (SIR-care-ee-uhl DER-muh-TIGHT-iss), is a skin rash which generally occurs during summer months. It is caused by an allergic reaction to infection with certain parasites of birds and mammals. These microscopic parasites swim in fresh and salt water, such as lakes, ponds, and oceans used for swimming and wading.
What are the symptoms of swimmer's itch?
Symptoms of swimmer's itch may include:
- Tingling, burning or itching of the skin
- Small reddish pimples
- Small blisters
Within minutes to days after swimming in contaminated water, you may experience tingling, burning or itching of the skin. Small reddish pimples may appear within twelve hours; the pimples may develop into small blisters. Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. Itching may last up to a week or more, but will gradually go away.
Because swimmer's itch is caused by an allergic reaction to infection, the more often you swim or wade in contaminated water, the more likely you are to develop more serious symptoms. The more times you are exposed to contaminated water, the more intense and immediate the symptoms of swimmer's itch will be.
What can I do to avoid getting swimmer's itch?
- Do not swim in areas where swimmer's itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted warning of unsafe water
- Avoid swimming near or wading in marshy areas where snails are commonly found
- Towel dry or shower immediately after leaving the water
- Encourage health official to post signs on shorelines where swimmer's itch is a current problem
- Do not attract birds by feeding them to areas where people are swimming
What do I do if I think I have Swimmer's Itch?
If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:
- Cool compresses
- Bath with 1/2 cup of baking soda
- Baking soda paste to the rash
- Colloidal oatmeal baths, such as Aveeno
- Anti-itch lotion (consult a pharmacist)
- Calamine lotion (consult a pharmacist)
- Corticosteroid cream (consult a pharmacist)
- Antihistamine medication (consult a physician or pharmacist)
Try not to scratch. Scratching may cause the rash to become infected. If itching is severe, your health care provider may prescribe lotion or creams to lessen your symptoms. If symptoms persist, consult a physician.
Can Swimmer's Itch be spread from person-to-person?
Who is at risk for Swimmer's Itch?
Anyone who swims or wades in infested water may be at risk. Larvae are more likely to be swimming along shallow water by the shoreline. Children are most often affected because they swim, wade, and play in the shallow water more than adults. Also, they do not towel dry themselves when leaving the water.
How does water become infested with the parasite?
The adult parasite lives in the blood of infected animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, as well as certain aquatic mammals such as muskrats and beavers. The parasites produce eggs that are passed in the feces of infected birds or mammals.
If the eggs land in the water, the water becomes contaminated. Eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming larvae. These larvae swim in the water in search of a certain species of aquatic snail.
If the larvae find one of these snails, they infect the snail and undergo further development. Infected snails release a different type of larvae (cercariae, hence the name cercarial dermatitis) into the water. This larval form then searched for a suitable host (bird, muskrat) so they can start the lifecycle over again. Although humans are not a suitable host, the larvae burrow into the skin of swimmers, which may cause an allergic reaction/rash. The larvae cannot develop inside a human and they soon die.
Once an outbreak of Swimmer's Itch has occurred at a beach, will the water always be unsafe?
No. Many factors must be present for swimmer's itch to become a problem in water. Since these factors change (sometimes within a swim season), swimmer's itch will not always be a problem.
However, there is no way to know how long water may be unsafe. Larvae are generally infective for 24 hours once they are released from the snail. However, an infected snail will continue to produce cercariae throughout the remainder of its life. For future snails to become infected, migratory birds or mammals in the area must also be infected so the lifecycle can continue.
Is my swimming pool safe to swim in?
Yes. As long as your swimming pool is well-maintained and chlorinated, there is no risk of swimmer's itch. For further information on protecting yourself from recreational water illnesses, please visit CDC Healthy Swimming.
I just got back from a vacation and this isn't supposed to happen. The only sickness allowed every after vacation is psychological. Vacations are meant to energize and recharge you from the grueling city life, but for me, it ended up doing the opposite. Last Tuesday I was about to go to work as expected, but my allergies attacked me in full blast. My legs were itching hard and red spots erupted all over. It was a massive inconvenience as it was disgusting.
At that time I was starting to feel light headed, but it was overwhelmed by the skin malfunction. After putting expensive creams, ointments and steroids, my skin felt a little better. I decided to go to work on Wednesday instead.
I know for some reason I missed work. I missed seeing my workstation and I knew I should miss it soon because I needed to clean up emails and attend to various deliverable fast. God knows the amount of issues I have to resolve and study. Also in this line of work, it isn't really advisable to be missing for days. It's a social and operational suicide.
But come Wednesday, my first work day of the week, it was a pain in the nasal. I was sneezing like hell and my condition took for a worse turn. My eyes have become watery, my cold intensified and my strength instantly vanished replaced by strong headaches and signs of fever. Some of my office mates were wary to go near me since flu-like symptoms are very common at this season. They even advised me to go home, but I had conference calls that I have to attend and various reports to submit. I decided to stay at the office for 14 hours to weigh things, but it still got worse. Mitch picked me up from work, the first time I would see him after my vacation. I knew I missed him terribly and had been so excited to see him, but I wasn't able to maximize his company. I couldn't converse properly and I just wanted to go home leaving him eager to take me home as well.
Last night, I did my medications on both my allergies and sickness and began to sleep early only to be awaken by sneezing and constant dehydration from time to time. So now here I am at home wearing my pajamas trying to be productive and sane while my body is battling various sickness. I honestly feel I'm falling apart, but there is one more strength I could hold on to. One more strategy I could use. The mind over matter strategy. I hope if all else fails, this would work.
brilliant artwork by: http://fineartamerica.com/images-medium/deterioration-of-mind-over-matter-otto-rapp.jpg
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
It's closest neighbors are Iloilo and Aklan. For people living in Roxas City it's easy to get to these two provinces via land. The roads are smooth and very manageable with available signage and stop over points. Whether you have your own car or commuting via trusted bus liners and van shuttles, it only takes up an average of 2 hours to get to the cities of Iloilo and Aklan.
Being in Roxas, it was an advantage and a possibility for my friends and I to go to Boracay. When I told them the estimated travel time, the cost and the convenience of traveling, it was immediately put to our list of things to do. So, in our first night in Roxas, we still pushed through with our drinking session only now with a conscious effort to mind the time as we were arranged to go to the station at 6 am.
To get to Boracay from Roxas City, one must go to the central bus/shuttle station. It's located in the main road of the city, the only place where shuttle franchises are to be found. These shuttles directly bring you to the main city of Iloilo, Aklan or Antique and some can even accommodate dropping passengers at the main shuttle stations of those cities. To get to the station, one can just ask a local where they could be found. Everyone there knows this place.
The best time to travel to Boracay is early in the morning to avoid intense heat and to maximize the entire day. At around 6 am, we went to Shuttle station in Roxas City, paid 100 bucks each to directly take us to Kalibo Aklan shuttle station to take another van to Caticlan. The travel time from Roxas to Kalibo Aklan is 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
Going to Kalibo is a breeze. The roads are brilliant. Though expect the driver to maximize his trip. He might stop and accommodate passengers in certain towns he passes by so prepare to secure the seats farthest from the door.
At around 8:30 am, we were directly dropped at the vacant lot in Kalibo city which showcases vans going to Caticlan, a small town of Aklan, which is the gateway to Boracay. We got to an air-onditioned shuttle, paid a 100 bucks each and traveled 1 1/2 hours from Kalibo to Caticlan. Like our trip from Roxas to Kalibo, the travel was smooth except for the occasional stop overs to pick up passengers on the side. By 10 am, we were already in Caticlan Pier.
If you're not a native of AKLAN, one has to pay 50 bucks for environmental fee, 50 bucks for the port fee and 30 bucks for the fastcraft ticket one way. So all in all that's 130 each to get to Boracay island. If you are a resident of Aklan by telling them your exact residence, you only have to pay for the fastcraft. Actually, when I first heard the word fastcraft, I didn't actually believe the term's usage. Ever since going to Boracay via the Caticlan Port, we all rode motored bancas that are open, bumpier and smaller than outrigger boats going to Puerto Galera. I have never ridden a fast craft. Little did I know that we were directed to the farthest point of the pier where a Montenegro fast craft was waiting for us. The fastcraft unlike the ones I've ridden to Bohol and Cebu, is relatively smaller, more cramped and older. Despite the negative observations, it's still air-conditioned and constantly manned by staff, but the presence of lifejackets was missing and there were no brief orientations of some sort. The cross to Boracay island from Caticlan port may be short, but I'd prefer a safety first attitude in things.
We got to Boracay port and it was becoming gloomy then. We rode a tricycle to take us to D'Talipapa for a hundred bucks. Khae, who was in Boracay a couple of weeks ago, prepared us for what we were about to see. According to her, there are man-made bamboo walls erected on the beach. To swim, one has to enter into a small door to get to the main shore. Frankly, I found it hard to envision it in my mind.
When we got to D'Talipapa we went to various hotels to check the best deal we could get without compromising our needs. We checked in at De Paris in Station 2, a beachfront resort with a large air-conditioned room, a large clean bathroom, a veranda, tv, and mini-ref for only 1,500 bucks. It was also during our search that we saw the bamboo walls and we were just completely weirded out. Aside from it looks weird, there were small boxed doors where people could go in an out if they want to swim. This was done to prevent sand flying to al fresco dining areas and to be an inconvenience to strolling people. The wind was that strong and the tide was high, it was a precaution they couldn't live without. It was understandable though since it's the rainy season.
During our stay, it was gloomy and it rained, but nothing that we couldn't handle at least there's no lumot so despite my expected allergic reaction, I braved the waters. There were times when we feared of not being able to leave the island due to the gusts of the wind accompanied by rain, but the locals kept on reassuring us that we were not seeing anything abnormal. We had lunch at Smoke and the usual afternoon trip to Jonah's was fulfilled.
After having 2 hours of power nap, we woke up for dinner and walked around. While walking, the gust of wind became intense and grains of sand kept on hitting us like little ants. It was a challenge to walk and most people are dining inside restaurants with temporary barricades. We understood now. Nobody was dining al fresco. WE immediately saw a closed restaurant just after Starbucks where they offer buffet dinner with live performance by a local singing group. With the sand attacking us, one look of the closed space, we immediately grabbed it. The food may not be great, but we filled ours shells and got away from the so-called "Boracay-sandstorm."
By around 9:30 pm, we went to Guilly's for a simple night out. Unlike summer, Guilly's and other neighboring bars aren't packed at all. Waiters were everywhere to attend to our every needs, spoken or not. Personally, I found it more relaxing than summer crowds. Our orders arrived on time and we were attended to like royalty. By 12 am, we ran from Station one to our hotel in station 2 because it was already drizzling and preparing to pour.
The morning after at 9 am, one of us was sick and all of us were hungry. We walked towards Station 3 to find a good breakfast spot, but couldn't find one. I suggested Real Coffee in Station 1 so we headed back. Jim decided to just have soup at the hotel instead as Khae and I braved through the gloomy shores of Boracay each having umbrellas in tow. As usual, Real coffee didn't disappoint us.
By 11:00 am we were scrambling to check out. By this time it was already raining hard. It was a struggle for us to walk from our hotel towards D'Talipapa to get a ride to the port. We were soaked and we walked towards filthy wet streets in mere slippers, but we even managed to buy shirt pasalubongs.
By 12:30 we arrived at the packed Boracay Pier where we found ourselves with numerous eager tourists waiting for the only fast craft that is allowed to cross the turbulent and murky seas. We had to squish ourselves to get to that trip because waiting might seem forever and all of us were not feeling great at that time. We all just wanted to cross the island.
The fastcraft ride may be smoother than most people had imagined, but getting inside the fast craft and getting off may be more challenging to some. Everyone just had to walk the makeshift wooden ladder while the whole ship was swaying like a child in tantrums. It wasn't very easy.
In Caticlan pier, we did our bathroom businesses and rode a shuttle going to Kalibo, Aklan. From Kalibo Aklan, we rode a shuttle, the exact same shuttle that took us from Roxas to Kalibo. By 6:30 pm we were already in Roxas City where I met my aunt and my other aunt from Jeddah who just arrived last weekend. Together all of us went to my dad's beach house and had dinner at 7 pm.
Going to Boracay via Roxas was exciting, tiring, but fun. Adding the weird weather and travel inconveniences, it could be stressful sometimes. But it felt like a healthy accomplishment with a taste of what hardcore traveling is all about. Good thing none of us was squirmish and posh enough to whine or chronically complain or else the entire trip would've been painful.
1. Take a shuttle from Roxas City to Kalibo Aklan= 100 pesos, 2 hours, open air van (sometimes)
2. Take a shuttle from Kalibo Aklan to Caticlan Port = 100 pesos 1 1/2 hours (airconditioned)
Vans are there as long as there are trips from Boracay port to Caticlan. Although, I'm not sure for Kalibo to Roxas City. It's better to leave before lunch or just a little after lunch in Boracay just to be on the safe side.
Where: Roxas City, Capiz
When: July 24 - July 27, 2009
With: Khae Vina and Jim Landrito
The day before I left for Cebu last May 2009, I was browsing through airline websites searching for promo fares, unconsciously planning my next vacation. I chanced upon a cheap promo fare to Roxas City, Capiz, my father's hometown, which also became my second province aside from Cebu. Flights in Roxas City occurs once a day per airline, at most would be two. The fare for Roxas is not something that is easily manipulated given the frequency of flights. Also, Roxas City Capiz is not one of the major provinces in the Philippines. Few Filipinos know that this place even exists and what the province stands for.
For few people like me who are blessed enough to know are proud to say that Roxas City, Capiz, contrary to popular belief is not home for monsters or "aswangs." Call it culture and folklore, but to me I already realized the truth very early. When we still had no power to decline, every year, my father would bring us back to Roxas for a summer vacation. As far as I'm concerned, we haven't encountered anything freaky yet. We'd roam around the city, visit relatives and busy ourselves with fishing and swimming in the beach. Unlike Cebu of course, Roxas is more provincial. There aren't any choices of malls (except for simple Gaisano) or posh places to hang out. People hang out in beaches, local pubs or with other people's houses. It's quieter and simpler there. It's a place to relax, to write and to disappear. It's also not a province for everyone.
I am also proud to say that people there are very helpful, comic and frank. They don't beat around the bush and the melodic tone of their dialect says everything. The usual loud shrill isn't mistaken for a tantrum. People there are simple and unpretentious and they can speak Tagalog, at least they try their very best.
Lastly, Roxas City, Capiz is known to be the seafood capital of the Philippines. This is the original of the Dampa by the beach. Seashells from crabs to scallops are cheap and fresh. Although, there are already established restaurants in place, one should really search for the authentic market-dampa driven restaurants to experience the best seafood prices Roxas is known for.
Aside from the fresh and relatively cheap seafood, Roxas City has a small but scenic capitol area, grand churches, friendly neighborhood, cheap and simple fishing areas, yummy delicacies (Biscocho), grand relics and a great access to other provinces in Panay.
It's been almost two years since the last time I've been in Roxas, less frequent than my visits to Cebu. It wouldn't be hard to adapt to the changes though. Aside from the Roxas Park in Bay-Bay area, Roxas is still pretty much the same.
Khae Vina, a colleague of mine from Accenture and Jim Landrito, her relative, a current office colleague of mine, joined me in revisiting my father's hometown. We arrived at the new Naia Terminal 3 bound for Roxas looking sleepy and harassed as expected in the early morning. I told them our initial agenda of settling in the house and handling out the pasalubongs my father had for my relatives including the two precious shades my father brought for my lolo.
We left Manila on time and the flight was smooth. We arrived at the Roxas City airport at 10:30 in the morning. Unlike other provincial airports, Roxas airport may be small and a little outdated, but it's clean, air-conditioned and sufficient to accommodate the expected number of passengers. The weather at that time was fine and we were picked up by my aunt, the younger sister of my father, who has lived there all her life. We found the reliable old Mitsubishi Space Wagon at the parking lot, and knowing that it's on Manual Transmission, I immediately turned over the keys to Jim for safety and convenience reasons.
Jim drove us from the airport to my father's beachhouse in Cogon in around 15 minutes. While there, we settled our things, inhaled the mothball infused master bedroom and had an early lunch of succulent pusit, sugpo and shrimps we happily consumed with unlimited rice. Upon finishing our meal, we decided to drop my aunt at their house in Punta Tabuc and do our groceries in Gaisano.
Going around Roxas City is a breeze. One could pretty much roam around the city by asking people and following obvious paths that the capitol, the market, the school and the establishments show. The capitol may be alive, but it's not bustling to the point of being stressful.
After a quick hi's and hello's to my relatives in Punta Tabuc, Jim, Khae and I drove to Gaisano mall on our way home. We did our groceries of Juice drinks, water, condiments, meats, liquor, snacks for the duration of our stay there. Since all of us were craving ice cream, we bought two pints. IN an hour we headed back home to the beach house.
It was at around 4 in the afternoon when we were eating our ice cream that we felt we were at peace in a windy day, hearing the calming waves of the beach and chilling at the pseudo-kubo was priceless. We wanted to take the afternoon slow. As we planned our Boracay adventure the following day, we took power naps until it was time for dinner.
For dinner, we went to the Coco Veranda restaurant, one of the restaurants by the Baybay beach to sample the fresh seafood. We got scallops, lechong kawali, yangchow fried rice and steamed fish. We all paid 700 for it. The food was yummy and has generous servings, but it was a disappointment for me because when I took Je and Ingko there a couple of years back, we only paid for 300 bucks with takeout. It was bad judgment for us to try a restaurant with uniformed waiters. I thought they have already put down those authentic dampa restaurants when my aunt, upon knowing this, laughed and told us that we should've driven farther. We thought there was no use crying over spilled milk, so we just relished our dinner and enjoyed the rest of the night.
Jim initially wanted to try the local bars in Roxas after dinner. I personally have no idea which ones are okay, so after driving around, we just ended up buying ice in a local water refilling station to have our own drinking session at home. After spilling facts of our lives over drinks, munching on chips while listening to Queen, we forced ourselves to sleep for an early morning adventure to Boracay.
Pix Sources of first three photos:
When I was in Boracay last summer, my first trip ever since he was given to me, there were times I imagined Harvey frolicking in the sand. He could have filled in the boring gaps there. Mitch would often get irritated whenever I let him imagine Harvey with us. He sarcastically laughed as if I was a total nutcase when I suggested that we should bring him to our trips. I understood the apprehension. Harvey may be cute and lovable, but he's so active verging towards being naughty. I would inevitably sacrifice one quality time over the other.
When I went to Cebu and Bohol with my family, the longest time away from him so far, as soon as we all arrived, he zoomed out of the kitchen door, jumped and licked me till his tongue was dry. And he kept on pulling my brother's shorts and jumping like crazy.
Aside from Mitch of course, Harvey's the second one that always anchors me back home.
For at least four days I haven't read newspapers. That to me is pure disconnection to the world. It's always uneasy when you don't inject facts on what's happening to the world on a daily basis. When you're tucked in a place that is utterly provincial, you get zapped into a different thinking. "What to eat for lunch" "What to do on an afternoon" "To swim or not to swim" Trivial and simple as they may, these questions equally weigh so much that you wonder how different your problems were back at home that involve a lot of decision making and technicalities.
For at least four days, I haven't touched any computer, which means disconnected from the world. No Facebook, no blogs, no websites and online news. Nothing. I didn't bring Harriet with me because aside from the expected unreliable internet connection, there was no way I could write anyways. I was gladly joined by two colleagues and we had an agenda planned for the entire duration of those four short days. We found ourselves on the road with nature, most often budgeting our meager pocket money, and deciding on simple things that involve eating, sleeping and traveling. I was also the host so I had more things to consider. Writing anything and staying online were virtually impossible, which is a welcome change from time to time.
Four days I was also disconnected from gastronomic control. In usual days I follow a certain routine (don't we all?), a certain schedule. I find myself in very familiar places every day that I have become manageable of my own time and at least I know where and how to fulfill my agenda. When it's lunch time, I have more or less an idea where to go. The schedule and collective consciousness allow me to be in control. But when I'm on a vacation, I let loose. I am not bound by whatever schedules brought to me, but I end up creating my own. I go for whatever pleases me and control is something I could easily forget just to satisfy my cravings. If there's an excuse to eat more then sleep afterward, this is it. I cannot do it on usual days. Period. And I'd be bogged by immense guilt when most people who are in control do notice, but vacation gives us a license to be free from these chains. If I may have gained a lot of peace and comfort, rest assured I have gained on other things as well. Disconnection from the good and bad always comes in handy.
Now that I'm back there are a lot of things to breathe in. The familiar corners of my house remind me of my responsibilities. Seeing city friends reminds me of relationships left behind. Seeing malls and buildings in the metropolis reminds me of work. Experiencing traffic reminds me of stress. I've written a couple of blogs right after a certain series of vacations I've had where I poured out my frustrations and difficulty in gradually going back to the usual. Sometimes I force myself into it, but there are times that I allot at least a day to rekindle the modern machinery in me. Getting connected again takes effort from a much needed disconnection. But it's easier to just surrender to the inevitable.
*Khae Vina by the living room in Roxas, Capiz.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I need a break. This calls for a vacation.
Fast forward to Friday please.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
But I still wanted to go out. It's a mood I sometimes harbor when it rains. Rain could either make me a hermit or force me to make a nomad out of myself. So I ended up calling a few friends, but most of them can't be reached, some weren't answering and few had other plans. There was also an option to follow Mitch at the Greenbelt photo walk, have coffee there and write, but it seemed pointless going there on separate cars. I wanted to do something productive, something relaxing and something that I really want, until I thought of planning for Harvey's upcoming birthday party.
I quickly got my pad and wrote a few stuff when the initial desire to cook possessed me. I wanted to invent a new dish that I could possibly serve up for the party. With a positive and creative mood, I decided I was going to shop for ingredients and cook for the rest of the afternoon. Cook what? I have a couple in mind, but I didn't have any specifics.
When I got to the supermarket it was crowd galore. Was it especially crowded because it's a weekend or because of something else, like panic buying? I might even find my father there, always famous for panic buying. Maybe I got that from him because I am famous for panic buying as well without the proper reason for panicking. I buy stuff I don't really need at the moment. People say I'm wasteful. I say it's thinking long term. Hence, panic buying. But when spending on my own money now I look at labels and size. I've learned to think twice and budget.
So I found myself buying ground beef, four cans of sauces, cheese of different kinds, seasoning, mushrooms, pepper, cream, milk and initially put cans of fruit cocktails and packs of graham crackers for my ref cake dessert. But eventually I had to put it back because I estimated my bill had ended up to be more than a thousand bucks. It was simply too much for experimentation on a single dish.
With the possibility of financially ailing me further, I forced myself to line up at the counter after which I bought Goldilocks Polvoron (my current fixation), my brother's churros, Cafe Latte Zagu and Mitch's sugarfree mamon at Red Ribbon. In 15 minutes, I met the driver at the other building and decided to pass by Pan De Manila to buy pandesal and cream cheese before going home. I was on a rampage.
As soon as I unloaded the stuff, I immediately got to work. I sliced off onions, enlisted the help of our two helpers who cook better than I do and played with Harvey in between (washing my hands of course). Instead of making the usual Pasta Lasagna, I invented a Soft Tortilla Lasagna, a much healthier and mexican-tasting version. Unlike Lasagna which is heavy, tortilla is lighter and it's easier to do. You don't have to cook the lasagna and the tortilla wrapper costs cheaper. A pack of 12 pcs of Tortilla Wrapper could amount to filling 1 square of Pyrex dish and it woud only cost 80 bucks. It's more organized and composed than the usual lasagna.
After cooking all the meat, the sauce, adding the mushroom, cheese and mexican seasoning, I did my art work in piling up the tortilla in the dish. Aside from just putting cheese on top, I cooked a white creamy, milky sauce to smother the top of the lasagna. I put it on the microwave for 5 minutes and letting it cool down for more than 30 minutes. In an hour, I have my Tortilla Lasagna Dish ready for consumption.
Ideally, I should have let the dish cool down overnight to thicken and absorb the sauce, but I wanted my housemates to try and tell me if it's any good. I served it up to everyone in the house piping hot and thankfully verdict was heavenly. They all loved it. Aside from the side dish of pandesal with herbed cream cheese, they all loved the Tortilla Lasagna. For them it has a more distinct meaty taste and the dish isn't that heavy. The consistency is doughy and soft. Plus they love the garlicky and milky contrast to that of the Italian-Mexican flavor. My sister, who is more of a pasta expert than I am, loved the dish and bowed down to it. Mitch also dropped by from the photo walk and loved it as well. After he had his helping, he asked me to save some for him when he gets back in a day or two.
It was a good decision to stay at home. Well....shop then stay at home. I achieved my thirst for creativity and made people happy. I also applied my planning stages for Harvey's upcoming birthday party. Nevermind the expense and the effort, because everything was worth it. When canceling a plan, we shouldn't fret because plans Bs are sometimes funner and more productive.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I sincerely wish Gotham City is true, without the crime of course, with Christian Bale as my neighbor and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in every main corner.
I'm not a summer type of person. I don't like blue skies and sun that much. So whenever there are mild storms and low pressure areas looming, I get immediately happy. I find more reason to dress up in comfortable clothes. I find more comfort in eating. I get calmer and content with the coldness and darkness.
Before I left for work this morning, I knew from the sky that it was going to rain. I got my comfy long sleeved shirt, my wool vest and a jacket with a smile. I even happily assisted my brother in walking towards his school, listening to the sweet fall of raindrops kissing the pavement. The rare sight of me walking with an umbrella takes me back to my dream of walking in the 1800's streets of London out to the Opera. I feel more poetic.
As I arrived at the office early, I finished my comforting Cream Cheese with Bagel and coffee. As I burped and finished my breakfast at exactly 9:10 am, I looked outside my office window and I am faced with one of the of the darkest mornings I can ever cherish. It was so dark that it looked like a day about to break into the evening. The 9 AM looked like 7 PM. It could have fooled anyone without a strong sense of time.
Thinking of being nestled in the commercial district, in a cold room with all my tasks laid out on me, I wonder if I would ever get through the day, without sleeping, without sneaking out to go home. It's too early to tell. For the life of me, I could be at home watching cartoons in my pajamas. But for the meantime, one of the things I want to do in this weather, is to eat HOT TAHO, double the sago, double the sugar. Beats any shake in the beach for me.
Monday, July 13, 2009
My dad's car was near the gutter and preparing for the turn when he stopped and honked his horn because he estimated that the car on his left was making a sharp right turn, somehow oblivious of our position. My dad stopped, honked his horn to let the imbecile be aware of our presence. But it's as if the driver's gone deaf, she made that turn and her junk of a car inevitably hit ours. We were stunned at the stupidity and waited for any reaction. After roughly 6 seconds, the brilliant driver even managed to move forward as if trying to get free from her mess making her bump worse, and my dad flaring mad.
My dad got out and ordered for me to walk my brother to school. My dad started to unleash harsh words and demanded the driver to face him. The driver turned out to be a Korean woman, a young mother, who looked distressed/hysterical with the accident as well. As soon as my brother and I started walking and listening as my dad keeps venting out his frustrations, the Korean woman kept on insinuating that we were the ones who bumped her and kept pointing on the massive damage on her car. Not initially planning to join the feud, I hurriedly walked my brother to school and went back to defend my dad who cannot for the life of him explain out of being too furious.
I quickly cut to the chase and explained to her furiously what she did and not WHAT WE DID to her car. I didn't care if I was shouting at the top of my lungs just to get the information into her twisted thick skull. I didn't care if people were watching a show of their lives and I didn't care if she cried. I have no patience, no sympathy and definitely no generosity in such liars like her. The hell we care if she is a natural liar, or her kind is, but the fact that there was a material assault on our part, was not something my dad and I could tolerate.
My dad left the screaming, the talking and the visual stress to me as he tried to examine the bump and talk to village officials. The woman was talking on the cellular phone and kept on insisting we look at her filthy scratch and admit that we were at fault. Naturally we didn't back down. I called her a liar a hundred times. I called her stupid just the same; and I could've called her lots of different things.
Just when she was already admitting and sensing my point, her two Korean women friends approached the scene. My dad was minding his own frustration when one of her friends attacked my dad and told him that it was his fault. My dad had reached his limit. No one is going to tell him that he was the one at fault, most especially a person who wasn't there in the accident to begin with, and be spared from his lashing.
Hurtful racial words were said to each other and the cretin Korean woman even uttered the words "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" Oh my gosh, we were so freaking scaaaared...knees shaking and all. My dad said "I don't care to know who you are. Do you know who I am?" And naturally the Korean said "NO. You FIlipino? Shit." And my dad retaliated, "I am a Filipino and you are in the Philippines. Who are you?!" And the winning statement the cretin said well, "I'm HER (the woman who bumped us) FRIEND." Honestly, I didn't know if I was going to laugh or smack her face for the thrill of it. Gosh, I didn't know that being pathetic losers are included in their race's attributes.
In short, the ending was not amicable. My dad was already far too stressed by the woman's stupidity, dishonesty and what you would call... a nice group of friends. He was more conversant with the Filipino driver of the Korean women who tried to appease him.
My dad has a point. We're Filipinos and no other race could impose themselves on us. If the woman would've tried to admit her faults and discussed the accident accordingly, my dad wouldn't have flared up and called their race stupid. I wouldn't have publicly scolded her and made her look stupid. It would have all ended just like a sorry mistake. But the Korean woman lied with full heart and conviction like living in her Korean fantasy. Also her friends have gone hysterical and they equally bashed Filipinos. Sorry to them, but they are in the Philippines and Filipinos will not back down most especially in their own country,
We Filipinos are very accommodating to the point of dealing with other nation's cultural faults and differences gracefully and respectfully. We deal with it as long as we can. But when lying, disrespect and stupidity are exercised at our expense, I think that's where we draw the line. No race has an excuse to do that; and certainly not Koreans.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Second, I was able to go through the net and watch videos in youtube that I missed. For one, I missed the Michael Jackson Concert...er...Memorial service. I missed Mariah Carey's backlash performance and Paris Katherine's, MJ's daughter, most valuable speech. I must admit that watching it made my eyes watery. It is a certified tearjerker. Just like what meaningful reports say, that it made Michael Jackson human. It quickly disregarded the fact that he is famous and a most brilliant artist who equally suffered public scrutiny all his life. From his daughter's speech it narrowed down to the goodness of his heart as a father that we can all possibly relate to.
Third I realized that my stress level is going high. I must have been absorbing Mitch's quota for this week because little things quickly annoy me and the effects aren't good. Aside from the psychological effects stress brings, I tend to find desserts or sugary food everytime I encounter a stressful occasion. When I do stop, my mind goes crazy. It must be a bad thing. Eating that succulent CHocolate Marshmallow Cake in Starbucks (which is a hit), and those Polvorons at the House of Polvoron, and that full supply of glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme as a token of my boss appreciation, can ease the nerves but gnaws the spirit. I have to strike that balance.
This week is not yet over, but I know that it's ending soon.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
*Pabst, a boxer mix, is a strong contender. (Time.com)
This dog is scary. But it immediately reminded me of a villain in one of my favorite 80's movies, the Goonies.
To see the full roster click of ugly dogs click here.
The tipsiness suddenly gave birth to another reaction upon hearing Lady Gaga's songs. I quickly hummed and slightly danced. I guess people were shocked to find me a fan of hers. A lady with strong visual image of wigged hair, funky dress and party looking fatale would have never attracted someone like me who is comfortable enjoying different kinds of music without drama and obsession. I'm not boxed to one genre, nor I seldom get hooked by a single artist. I have preferences, but I am not fanatic with any one of them. If I may be a fan, I do not overly proclaim it. But for some reason it's different with Lady Gaga. I instantly fell in love with her music. Her music and artistry caught me big time. The songs behind the beat are intelligent and she is a true artist beyond the marketing and intriguing images. She unleashed whatever 'party girl' in me I thought I never had.
So, I am so very excited to see her in concert here in the Philippines on August 11. Mark that date because I would definitely watch. I'm also in a quirky mood to buy a funky pair of sun glasses and white sleek wig just to extend my support. I know where to get those and if I'm lucky, I might find an origami inspired dress that could fit me. Now that's ga-ga.
I was wowed with visuals. Forget about the complexity and authenticity of the plot, but I was entertained. There were jaw dropping moments in the film and the scenes were something I have never seen before. The supporting actors especially John Turoturo and Ramon Rodriguez were phenomenal. The visual of seeing Megan Fox is a lady's pride and a lady's worst nightmare. The robotic transformations were brilliantly crafted to the point of feeling the intense effort of the production geniuses behind the scenes. The visuals and the endless chase throughout the movie made the hours slip and material sweet as candy. It's a perfect movie for people with attention span deficit.
Althought I had questions on my first Transformers experience, my excitement automatically shoved it at the back of my head. I had no time nor intention to reflect. But on the second time I watched it with Mitch on the following night, I had more room to entertain points that I might have missed thinking about on the first night.
Well, for one I didn't think Transformers could age. And what's with the small all-spark bringing electronics back to life? Couldn't they have just used that with Optimus Prime instead of looking for the matrix of leadership? And for the matrix of leadership, couldn't it just be used to recharge other Primes instead so that we could finally savor a more kick-ass fighting scene at the end? Bumblebee's antics on Isabel Lucas' character was hilarious, but isn't that too obvious to note that Bumblebee should've destroyed the evil robot there and then? They are robots, highly intelligent and receptive objects, they could have easily identified other camouflaged robots. Also I must admit I was expecting for a more intense robotic battle at the end of the movie with having Optimus fight the Fallen, Starscream and Megatron, practically outnumbered. But Optimus became too good for them. Even Devastator, the mamoth Constructicon just ended up to be a big lump of target that was easily killed during his pyramid-climb scene, which I find hilarious. And I must admit I was taken aback by the Transformers Heaven. Do they have robotic souls where they go to experience their own version of heaven just to cross over human's spiritual heaven and attempt at semi-divine intervention? These elements do not jive and it was it became an easy escape to explain things.
With all the loopholes and quirky take on things, Transformers is still one of those movies that you could shut a part of your brain and let yourself be taken for a ride. No matter what the critics are saying, this is the movie that should never be too deeply analyzed or it would loose its purpose. It's a movie that you could always forgive if some parts don't make sense. It's a movie in which adults can relive their childhood moments and not feel guilty about it. This isn't a movie that could purge your soul, but a feast for the senses.