December 30, 2010

The SISIG of Intramuros, Manila

Manila, I miss the city during this Christmas vacation so I was bored inside my house. I needed to see the city because I miss the fast Jeepneys, the different and lively sounds of their horns! A kind of symphony no other city can imitate! I live an hour and thirty minutes away from Manila so while I travel, I observe a lot things. I like "People Watching" as to what celebrity Bianca Gonzales would call it, watching other souls without disturbing them.

Last December 28, I found out that a couple of my Advertising major friends (I am a Journalism major) were re-shooting a commercial for their upcoming annual event for Advertising enthusiasts called the "AdSpeak". I contacted them and said that I will go whether they like it or not because I miss Manila and I want to bug their trip. So they had no choice but to accommodate me! The meeting was 1PM and yes I was the first one to arrive at 12:50PM.

Then poof! everyone was there and so they quickly set up and started to shoot the scenes while I go around bug them, piss them off or something to delay things.

Here's the group inside Letran College on a Christmas vacation. So quiet and spooky.
Here's a Talent being video shot by a Nikon D90 DSLR, the first DSLR to have HD video.
They only shot 2 scenes but because of their passion to make the best out of those scenes, the shoot took 2 hours. After that everybody was hungry! Even me! I almost lost my appetite because it was already 3PM! What else was on our mind? To eat the best Sisig the walls of Intramuros has to offer!

Introducing "Alyssa's Sisig" (Clap!Clap!Clap!)

Origin of name: Pampanga
Description from Wikipedia: a Filipino dish made from parts of pig’s head and liver, usually seasoned with kalamansi and chili peppers.

Alyssa's Sizzling Sisig has been a favorite to the residents of Intramuros, college students flock to this small place which can handle up to 30 persons at a time. A lot, let me repeat that, a lot of customers would wait for their turns to eat because they would want to eat the best in town!

I discovered this place back in 2008, I was and still am studying inside the fortified city when a classmate of mine brought us here and said freshmen were talking about this place, so we went there and ate and from that day on; Whew! I listed Alyssa's Sisig as the number one sisig I've tasted.

Here are my friends waiting for our Sisig.
Going back to December 28, 2010 - We were there and luckily! There were a lot of seats to accommodate all 15 hungry students! 13 of which ordered the Sizzling Sisig! It's also advisable to eat here with your friends! Because waiting for your order could bore you, it takes quite a while to prepare the food because they make your Sisig at its best quality.

Sizzling Pork Sisig with Egg
What puts Alyssa's Sisig on top among others is that the meat is crispy, I know the pork is fresh (I have this weird ability to taste and know if a Pork and Chicken meat is too old to be cooked) and affordable. So the next time you get hungry around Intramuros, just ask where the Wallem building is and from there ask where Alyssa's Sisig is located. 

Oh and one more thing, I'll make you a bet, go here when you're really hungry and order this one. I bet you $5 you'll get at least 2 cups of rice and there's still Sisig left on the plate. Cheers!

December 26, 2010

Italian holy dish for hungry Filipinos - Amici Di Don Bosco

From a small space and humble beginnings inside a canteen to support themselves, an Italian Salesian missionary; Fr. Gianluigi Colombo established in 2001 what would be known as "AMICI DI DON BOSCO" or in english translation "FRIENDS OF DON BOSCO". Amici's first wave of success was their home-made Italian gelato which became popular around town. In 2003, pastas and wood fire oven-cooked pizzas were added to the line-up of their menu. Soon enough it became a popular choice of the general public around the Makati area.

Realizing that "Amici di Don Bosco" was not in its full competitive level, the salesians agreed to sell the franchise to Mr. Danny Moran and Mr. Iboy Pinga. In 2007, the entity was relaunched as simply "Amici".


The dancing lights in Ayala

I was in Makati for a Christmas night out, with my family we watched the "Dancing Lights" in a garden in Ayala. After watching lights go on and off they decided to eat dinner there. My brother suggested "Amici" and quickly in my mind popped something and I said to myself "oh, this was the place someone told me about". We went inside and the place was full! We were 7 and a table of 5 was the only one available but that didn't stop us, Dad told us to get a table for 2 so that me and my brother can eat in a separate table.

We found one at last, awkward as it looks like to the other people, a table for two in a Christmas night in Makati. Since my brother ate in the establishment before, I let him decide which to order.

As an appetizer, he ordered Mozarella Fritto. Golden fried sticks served with tangy pomorodo sauce.

Mozarella Fritto
The Fritto was crispy outside and soft inside because of the Mozarella inside it. If you have eaten the "Cheesy Crust" of Pizza Hut, this is comparable to that one except that this one was fully dedicated to be a cheese stick.

Spaghetti ala Carbonara
For my main dish, "Spaghetti ala Carbonara"! It's my favorite pasta, so it has become my tradition that whenever I'm in a restaurant that fronts its pastas in the menu, I order Carbonara. When it arrived, I was like "woah" because the serving was good enough for two. The bread wasn't toasted nicely and the sauce wasn't really tasty so I still rate the best Carbonara to "The Hobbit House" in Boracay. Then again, this is only my perception.

Me with the "Al Quattro Formaggi"
At last! Time for the pizza, to finally seal the deal and for me to find out if the rumors are true. Brother ordered the "Al Quattro Formaggi" which is a mix of 4 kinds of cheese. The first bite I took I said to myself "hmmmm...the rumors are true", Amici pizzas have made their mark on the pizza industry in the country.

Mozarella Frito - P170 ($4)
Spaghetti ala Carbonara - P198 ($4)
Al Quattro Formaggi - P400 ($8)
Bottomless Mug Rootbeer - P80 ($2)
+ 12 VAT(Value Added Tax)

=PHP949.76 ($20)

All in all if I was to rate Amici according to categories:

Ambiance: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Budget Value: 10/10
Food: 8/10

So if you're looking for authentic Italian food that looks fancy but on the budget and would really satisfy your hunger and value the money you spend, go out and eat at "Amici's". Till next time! Now I'll try to finish the pasta we took out because we were so full!

December 21, 2010

Sanctuary in the heart of a city.

Today, in this fast paced World where time is ultimately precious and being late in a meeting could cost you a fortune, people are forgetting the simplest ways to relax. They either go out eat in fancy restaurants, go shopping or just watch with their wide screen LCD TVs. Yes I do agree material things do make you happy, but once your gadget's outdated; You're not contented and satisfied once again! Agree? I know you do.

Stressed out, too many school works and a ton of personal issues can really drag yourself to the ground. Working all day and it's just not worth it? Yes I do feel the same way too sometimes but hey, I know what makes me happy. I know how to rejuvenated my body and unwind myself by only spending a few hours in a sanctuary without even going away from the city, because the sanctuary is in the heart of the city!

Last December 11, I was in a middle of two travel choices. One was Tagaytay which was a 2-3 hour drive from Manila and the other one was the Parks and Wildlife center in Quezon City which was like 30 minutes away if I ride the train. Tagaytay would be an awesome trip but I was lacking budget for the expenses going there and I also went there a couple of times when I was younger so I wasn't really considering it, so I said yes to the center in Quezon City.

In the morning of the 11th of December, there I was, inside a Taxi with 3 others going to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife center. I kept on saying "this better be good" because I don't really like waking up early in the morning to see crap. We got in and since it was a Government owned park, payment was less than $1 (PHP8.00) . 

Once you entered the gates, it takes you to a different world which I called that time as a "Shire" referring to the village of the Hobbits. A sea of greenery swallows you and gives a feeling of being in a concrete forest. Balete trees welcome you, it's a bunch of creepy trees but what gives beauty to it are the rays of the sun that hits the holes of the tree.

A pen for a kind of Deer.
Around the park are pens of some animals that they are taking care of. Based on my research prior to going here, I thought that the place was a rescue center and so I thought why would they keep animals captive? When the animal heals they should return it to the wildlife but I was wrong, the place was a park.

What was abundant were the species of birds and I guess this is the main attraction aside from the exotic and weird looking species of fishes they had. I wasn't able to take photos of the Birds because first of all, the cage was huge and all of them were so high the lens of my camera just couldn't reach them.

Happy family taking a walk around the park, follow the leader!
I love nature, what more can I say? I love how trees grow, how flowers bloom, how animals live in abundance with Earth's resources. It takes away the stress when I see nature at its best, when it thrives and nourishes others depending on it.

My friend Joshua, taking a picture of the "Lagoon" which I prefer calling as a "Swamp"
In the Heart of the park lies a swamp called as a "Lagoon". There was also a sign of "No Fishing" which I really didn't think of going Fishing on a body of water that doesn't move. The place is really quiet and you wouldn't notice that you were still in a city.

This is my favorite spot, I call it "Kanlungan"
I like this place where a big tree is beside the lagoon and there's a small lover's table where one couple can really have a private spot for talking or just admiring each other. Reminds me of the song "Kanlungan" by Noel Cabangon.

Shhh. Be Quiet, they're in the middle of a love discussion
Many couples really flock this place, that really amazed me because I didn't know that the park could be a romantic venue for some.

Overall, I find the park really relaxing except for the itching I suffered but it was a cool place. If you plan a safe urban picnic or a photo walk or a photo-shoot, it's one of the best places to set up and practice shots.

December 18, 2010

A day within the walls

Manila, the Pearl of the Orient back in the days of prosperity of the beautiful country. The Pre-World War II city was a favorite destination of the western countries, it was the Queen City of the East. The Philippines was put into the map of destinations for the westerners.

Conquered by the Spaniards in the 1571 until 1898, Spain introduces Christianity to the Filipinos who were were worshiping idols. 1899, the Americans came and introduced the western culture to the country. This was the period when the Philippines prospered and was a famous place. Under the Commonwealth period, The US Government and the Philippine Republic was preparing for its freedom.

December 8, 1941. Planes hover above the aerial space of the Archipelago. Bombs fell out of the sky, explosions and panic amongst the Filipinos. The men of the Rising Sun has arrived! The Japanese Imperial Army had invaded the country.

Today, much of the history of the invasions remained and has become part of the Filipino culture. One of which is Intramuros or "The walled city". Built by the Spaniards in the 16th Century and it would be one of the bloodiest urban warfare of WW2 during the battle of Manila where civilians were targeted by the Japanese and 100,000 other Filipino Civilians died during the retaking of Manila in 1945.

Intramuros, it was the little Vatican of the East. It had more than 7 Churches inside its walls, it is where I study now. The school I'm attending to was established in 1620 and is the oldest institution still on its original location.

Street Children are rampant around the walls
The once beautiful Intramuros has been a shelter for informal Settlers, the cobbled stone roads are few and ruins have been victims of defacing and vandalism. Although some of the important ruins are being taken care of, I still get frustrated of what Intramuros looks like today.

The Manila Cathedral

Last December 8, me and my classmates were tasked to take photos of historical places around especially the past and present places of the Churches (Because the project was for Theology course) and we, have been studying inside the walls for 3 years already hasn't really walked around much. So we did!

Jairus here looking at the historical landmark of the old Ateneo
What's really funny about the trip was that we were holding a past and present map of Intramuros because the legends were different. We were comparing a 2010 map to a 16th century sketch of Intramuros. Tour guides and Kalesa coaches were quite convinced that we were tourists.

The old Ateneo de Manila Municipal.
Walking around town doesn't tire you out, as long as you wear socks. Intramuros is only less than a kilometer       

A beggar sleeping at the sidewalk.
Poverty is seen around. Beggars, children and sometimes people who talk to themselves. I get really sad when I see them because I don't know what to do, I want to help but how? I just refuse to look at them because it really hurts me.

Walk the walls with your friends, it never hurts to have some company unless you wanna be alone.

After 4 hours of solid walking, map comparing, mistakes in navigation and lots of shared laughter. We ate at our favorite place. "Allysa's Sisig" which is definitely a must try!

This is called the "Kantunan Alley" or "Alley of Canton Noodles" because all the stalls there serve 1 main dish, the Instant Pancit Canton
I hope the preservation of Intramuros strengthens and gets support from the Government. This place is historical foot by foot and a symbol of the mixed culture of the Filipinos.

December 8, 2010

Boracay Part 5: The Last Day: Island's Black out and the race to Manila

6:30PM - I was in my cottage at Boracay Dream Resort relaxing on the bed, just staring up at the celing fan while it moves in the same way as others before me had stared at it. This was my last night in Boracay and I've planned myself to go Bar Hopping on my own. I've set my eyes on at least 4 bars around station 2, order a couple of beers at each stop just to get the feeling of each Bar. 

Then the dark clouds got together and formed a threat that made other tourists outside looked up and at the horizon. The sky was getting dark and oh my golly I haven't seen a setting Sun so big before, I literally blinked and wiped my eyes if what I was seeing was true. It was true! The Sun was as large as a basketball inches away from your face.

Sorry for the blurred picture, the orange color at the horizon is the big setting sun but was blocked by the dark clouds.
7:30PM - First on my list was the famous "HOBBIT HOUSE" which was a shocker when I got to Boracay because the Hobbit House in Malate, Manila was my long dream place to go to but I never had the time because of my busy schedule as a student in Manila. So when I saw this place I quickly noted that it is a "Must" place to go. 

They are the "Hobbits" and they are the wait staff AND SUPERSTARS of the restaurant. 
Around that time while I was eating my Carbonara when the sky opened its eyes and release massive amounts of rainfall in the island! I texted my brother to check the weather and they said it was alright, but in my case with a few thousands left in my pocket, I started worrying because the coconut trees started dancing like oompa lumpas!

I have a panic syndrome where when something's not right I think of the worst case scenario, in this setting that I might be stuck for a few days, I took out and calculated my budget and I remembered how I can skip meals and eat every 12 hours when I'm in school and this might be the moment where it will be most useful. 

Boracay might be a paradise but it gets rough too, it's scary especially if you are alone like me! I'm thinking of a lot of survival plans but this is the point where I wished to be just at home. It took me an hour to finish my plate!

I went back to my hotel, I tried to outrun the rain but it was too strong, I got wet and it was really cold. I stayed at my cottage and watched for the news and there was nothing in it! I waited and waited, constantly checking the weather outside.

9:30PM - The rain stopped and I rejoiced! grabbed my jacket and went outside to drink at Pat's Bar. I didn't go bar hopping anymore because I was still watching my budget in case something bad happens. 

Pat's Bar's French Fries with one of the best Filipino beers "Red Horse"
10:00PM - ....whooo! Oh yeah! Party!party!party! I laaaaabbbb Buuuurrraaaaakkaaaayyy!!! - Those were some of the best reactions I heard around the bar when the Island went totally dark! Yes, my last night was turning into some kind of a misadventure! There was a power outrage in around Boracay and Pat's Bar doesn't have a generator, too bad! I wanted to spend the last night with the bar and it's live Reggae jives!

What to do? What to do! I billed out and went back to check out The Hobbit House and eureka! It has a generator, I went inside again and the 3 Hobbits were surprised to see me and I said to them "I told you I'll be back!" So I ordered Red Horse again and started chatting with the Hobbits and even I was surprised with their life stories. They all hail from the capital of the Philippines, Manila! They were hired and brought to the paradise. One said that it was "Boring", the other one said it was "Lonely" but the other one said that it was "Awesome" - We now can guess who the guy Hobbit was.

I was touched by how they handled themselves and their confidence made me think that I'm a smaller man than they are. I liked them and they were friendly and it made me feel that I wasn't alone. Then I ended the conversation and went straight back to my cottage, good thing my cottage have generators too.


8:00AM - I woke up and you know what that is. It's breakfast at "REAL COFFEE" once again! I went there and ordered "Jack's Omelette" I waited patiently for Nadine because I wanna say goodbye before I leave her lovely place. I waited...and waited....and waited... I thought she wasn't coming so I asked the cook to give me a pen and paper and I wrote a note in case I couldn't wait for her any longer. It said in the letter how great the food was and how I was excited to eat breakfast ( I don't eat breakfast in Manila ) 

Presenting: Jack's Omellete!

9:30AM - She finally showed up, she looked a little stressed but it was rinsed away quickly by the barrage of good mornings from her regular customers. We had a little chat and I gave her the letter because sometimes I just can't say things because I'm too shy to admit that I'm such a fan of her place so I gave her the note I wrote earlier. 

Just one more picture as souvenir!
REAL COFFEE was the best breakfast I had in my life hands down, it was the place I missed the most.

*********THE RACE TO MANILA*********

1:45PM - Inside the restaurant across Caticlan Airport, I ordered Tapsilog (Beef Jerky strips, Fried Rice and Egg) worth $4. I was the only one in the restaurant, hearing the roar of the planes taking off and landing at the small airstrip. I haven't even touched my food when I heard on the speaker that my flight was cancelled. I paid the bill and I said that I'll be back for my food.

I ran across the street and inside the airport to settle things, they moved me to a 4:55PM flight instead of my original 5:15PM. After things were put to place I went back to the restaurant to feast on the food I ordered, my order was good but it leans on the expensive side.

3:00PM - Looking at the field of Caticlan airport, I remember the good times I've had, Pat's bar and the Reggae beats, the Hobbit House with their great life stories both the boring and interesting ones and of course, Real Coffee Cafe and their fleet of breakfast meals!

3:17PM - I heard my name over the speaker to present myself at the ticketing counter. The first thing that came in my mind was that "Shit! I didn't pack illegal things inside my bag, or did I?!" So I hurried and got there in no time, well that's because it's only 10 steps away from where I was seated. They told me that my flight's plane can't touch down at the airport due to the strong winds and so they have to transfer my flight to Kalibo airport which was 2 hours away from where I was!

I mean what the hell?! They moved my flight 2 times! Even if they'll be bringing us there by their service van along with some foreigners, I was pissed off with the Airline. But I can't do anything about it because of course, "SAFETY FIRST" policy always comes up!


5:37PM - It's a rainy flight, the plane's wings are shaking. The sky, painted with midnight blue and the blinking lights. What a bumpy ride! It's rough! The plane goes up, down, up, down, left, down, right, down!

5:53PM - I took a shaky piss inside the lavatory, the mood and ambiance of the passengers are quite obvious! Eerie quiet, everyone was just not comfortable and the crew were also seated but tried their best to smile. That's one thing you should know, if the crew is seated; it's going to be a tough flight!

5:57PM - Turbulence again. The crew threw a contest, guess the title of the movie line.

6:02PM - Now in the middle of the ocean, I'm looking at a fire red horizon! Magnificent!

6:10PM - I'm seeing thunder and lightning just across the left wing, I bet it's about at least a kilometer away.

6:14PM - At last! I saw land! It's the might island of Corregidor if I'm not mistaken.

6:35PM - Finally! We landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, we took a 10 minute aerial tour of Manila.

Forgive me for the Blurry picture once again, that's the plane I took.
I was so happy to step on land once again! The flight was fast but I felt it was the longest day!

Boracay was "A beautiful ride"

At first I didn't think that the Boracay trip wouldn't be good but the Paradise proved me wrong. It's not the beach that I'm missing, not the white milky sand although it was really impressive. What I miss about the island is not the island, but the people who are in the island. The culture, the nightlife, the feeling of "Hakuna Matata" and the experience made me want to stay just one more night. But fantasies are only short lived, well for now.

November 29, 2010

Boracay Part 4: The Real Coffee Experience

8:00AM - The alarm goes off to start the day after an awesome night at the sanded bars of Boracay. Barely having 5 hours of sleep, the first thing I did was going to the bathroom and did my morning glory. Take a shower  and I was so slow as a stalking Chameleon, my eyes were still half closed.

Then I remembered, I remembered something! A sign that made me jump off the Tricycle the other day, I was looking for it for 2 days already since I arrived on the island but I could not find it. It was after the Paraw sailing when I saw the sign, so I followed the directions and I saw a small Kubo Hut with people eating but I wasn't sure if that was it so I didn't go inside.

This was not the sign I saw but this is another one I saw after passing through the Cafe.
I got ready and told my Brother and his girlfriend to come and eat breakfast with me, they said yes and so I waited for them at my room until they came after 20minutes.

We went there and I was excited because I knew that this would be a great experience, I researched in the internet about the popular places to go indulge the monsters in my stomach and REAL COFFEE was always in the "Breakfast" category, everyone kept saying on reviews that it was a perfect place to start the day, that the ingredients are fresh and satisfaction is guaranteed. After reading all the reviews I included the Cafe in my Itinerary and so far, it's the first one in the schedule that I actually went to.

You can see my excitement after seeing the big sign!
9:30AM - We went inside like dumbfounded tourists and I quickly recognized the "organized" kitchen the folks in the internet were talking about, you can actually see what they are doing to make your order a delicious one!

While your sitting down you are being entertained by the cooks until you are drooling
We sat down directly to the center facing the kitchen and looked around, my eyes were rotating 360 degrees without moving my head. For some reason, I've got a smile on my face that I can't remove. I was so happy that I was there where the buzz was going on.

Admiring all the details of the kitchen I noticed that the windows were full of pictures, the early customers from local to tourists and even celebrities such as Anne Curtis and Aga Mulach (Trivia: Real Coffee Cafe was used in the movie "WHEN LOVE BEGINS") and more celebrities were in it. I wanted to post my photo but it was full.

Real Coffee's original "Calamansi Muffin" definitely a must try, and yes I believed in Magic after eating one.
We placed our orders, I had the "American Pancake" and boy it was a meal for an appetite of an American. The Pancake was big and thick! My Brother had "Jack's Omelette with Pesto" which is definitely a must try also. While waiting for our orders to come  we tasted the Calamansi Muffin and oh mama was it really good. We also played with the "quotes" in front of us, there were a lot of funny-but-true quotes right there.

The quotes, I love the "Mama Lee says" series the most
The cook got a little shocked at what we were doing with the cards, we were laughing at one minute and in another minute discussing the quote and then another minute saying the word "True, true!" and "ohhh nice!". I can really be happy even in the shallowest of reasons, I'm an average guy on a budgeted trip and what better way to enjoy Boracay? Enjoy the free things there, the view, the beach, the people, the happenings and by just bumming around can really be relaxing.

The American Pancake with egg and coffee, looks small in the picture but no, it's big as my ass
Waiting for the orders could take a while but it's not a bad thing because you can see the kitchen and see that they are not rushing to cook the food and therefore they are not sacrificing quality for faster service. They have their own pace and I'm good with that because I'd rather wait for the perfect meal than a burned Pancake.

We munched on our orders once it gets in front of us and all they can hear from us this time was "om nom nom nom nom nom nom, gulp gulp gulp!" We were eating like Hamsters. I only ate 3/4 of the Pancake because I was so full, I've never eaten so much pancakes in my life.

As we were in the middle of our "pig-out" session, an American-Italian came in the kitchen and started playing  Italian classic songs and I knew that she was the owner of the place so I asked for her name through the cook and before I could start a conversation with her, she turned to me and said.

"You know what, I shouldn't have dressed in all white today. Look at me it's early in the morning and I've got mud on my pants, it was Dude's fault. That's my Dog, I call him Dude so when I was about to leave he jumped over me and I said "Dude? C'mon" ahhh!"

Her name is Nadine, the owner of Real Coffee Cafe. The store started way back in December 27, 1996. They were one of the first business settlers on the island. We were kinda surprised that she initiated the conversation and that made me happy because she tells things out of the Sun but it's entertaining, she also answered all our questions on how she does things and she's a hands on owner too. When she came in she actually asked one of her employees "What can I do?" and the cook answered "Cut the bread" and she said "oh, OK", that was amazing, mutual respect and I loved Nadine for that.

Here's me and Nadine, owner of the Real Coffee Cafe. I just have to have a photo with her!
After eating we stayed for a while to observe again the kitchen, Nadine and other customers. The place brings a certain atmosphere of being at home because it's not designed to be a restaurant, well it is but the mugs aren't the same designs and it looks like a home kitchen so I got the certain feeling of being at home and the friendliness of the staff and a conversation with Nadine would be the main spectacle while eating there. 

Before we got out of the Cafe I asked for a photo with her, well we all did and I'm sure all the other customers do and it looked like she's mastered the photo op category. She also said that I was cuddly and I felt I was Barney for the moment.

The famous rock in Boracay
After having pictures taken and laughs shared in, we took a stroll to the shorelines and I'm quite frustrated with seeing too much man made trash in it. Bottles, plastic and paper are just not helping and it's the fault of everyone who's in the island, everyone should be responsible by their actions. Development really destroys the beauty of Nature.

All in all, the Real Coffee Cafe experience was the best I've had. It was awesome and delicious, I had a great day because of them and besides the Cafe offers Breakfast meals from 7AM-7PM so no matter how wasted you were last night, you get to eat Breakfast even at night. Rock solid!

November 22, 2010

Boracay Part 3: Lazy Sunday and The Night Life

9 o'clock in the morning, The alarm blasts in my ear and my minds awake but my body's not. After the almost vacation ending accident that happened the day before, my shoulder was swollen and hurting too much. I couldn't move my right shoulder and the ball socket is too loose and I can't even carry a water bottle with my right hand.

Around 11AM I got a call from my brother and said that I should get myself ready because we would go Paraw Sailing. Me, even with an injury, got ready although getting ready was such a tough one, putting my shirt on was the hardest thing to do!

Paraw Sailing.The explanation of this sail boat came from here

                      -"The word paraw also parao is related to proa and may be used to denote a boat. However, the term for boats (with or without outriggers) in the Philippine islands without sails or layag are typically called vanca or bangka.  Paraws are known to sail between 11 to 17 knots (20~31 km/h) or approximate the speed of the wind. The outriggers (ama) or katig, made of wood or more commonly, bamboo, may be straight or curve upward much like skis and provide stability."

So we went to the boat got on and 2 people navigated the boat while we just lay flat on our backs enjoying the wind, the waves and the searing heat of the Sun. The constant pull of the pulleys and directing the boat of the 2 male navigators amused me because it was like we were pirates and the waves were coming at us, splashing me wet. 

The view from riding the Paraw is amazing, being in a constant movement right in the middle of the sea, the sound of the sail every time the wind blasts on it, the waves banging against the boat and the best of all, the serenity of the sea. It gave me the feeling of being so away from the world, leaving all the problems and mighty stress. 

That's the Paraw.
After Paraw sailing we had lunch together and then went back to our own cottages to rest for awhile. My shoulder was still in pain and I couldn't go on and I needed to take medicine because it was swollen.

My little notepad which I carried everywhere I went during my stay in Boracay.
Ever since I stepped into the Terminal of the airport in Manila, I wrote every observation, detail and thoughts about my experiences for the trip. Since my shoulder was hurting I decided to just go to the bar where I was staying and order something to cool down my body. I had 2 fresh mango shakes while I was "People-watching" and just being a keen observer while sitting down alone.

2:00PM - Written on my notepad:

"The winds of serenity blow away my stress and problems, my feet dipped into the sands of this paradise which can be compared with the powdered milk from a tin can. What a lazy afternoon."

I was merely moving, it was just my eyes that were in a 180 degree lookout for interesting things. While just taking a sip and listening to Cat Stevens music, I saw a Pancit vendor and bought one. It's the cheapest Pancit I found there! PHP20 (less than $1) I missed Manila when I took the first bite, it's one of those foods I missed eating, the cheap ones, I really am not a big spender. I don't have a luxurious life nor signature clothes, I live simple and not living beyond needs. I stayed at the bar until the Sun dived and the moon jumped to start the evening.

A small ferris wheel for the children at D' MALL
Boracay offers almost all types of nightlife for the tourists. There are quiet bars, live bands, clubs and stage performance bars; It's a sin if you stay in your room during Boracay nights. For a guy like me, who likes to sit down holding an ice cold bottle of Red Horse Beer, some peanuts on the table and listen to live acoustic performances. In short, I want to chill when we're talking about nightlife. But of course, before the drinking sessions you should have dinner first. Usually, tourists eat dinner around 7-9PM, but I eat around 9PM and then drink beer around 10PM.

This was my dinner, Big Mouth's Korean Braised Beef. Yum!
After eating and walking around town I went to "Pat's Bar" where I was the night before. The bar was reggae themed and there are performers every night. Although it is a reggae themed bar, other genres are still played, as long as it's converted to acoustic rendition. 

The singer and guitarist, Marv, was my favorite because of his husky voice, guitar skills and his awesome dreadlocks!

I was at Pat's Bar all 3 nights of my stay in the island, it is such a cool place to hang out because foreigners and locals get together and the low light and quiet ambiance is just amazing while watching the bands play. I requested "Buffalo Soldier" and Marv, the cool Rastafarian sang it really good. I always control my spending on drinking, keeping it to about 3-4 bottles per night because I don't want to crawl my way home or throw up and ruin somebody's night.

Fire Dancers.
On my way home, I saw a hotel offering a "Fire Dance" performance for PHP500 ($10). I got to watch by just peeking on one of the covers' holes. They dance around the fire, dance around with the guests and they can put the fire as close to your nose without hurting you. 

It was 3 o' clock in the morning when I went back to my cottage and BLAG! I slept and on my way to my 3rd day.

November 15, 2010

Boracay Part 2: Revenge of the Island

2:30PM - My brother and his buddies are drinking beer under the coconut shade while facing the milky sanded beach, it's a great way of resting after pigging out during the late lunch after I settled in. The sun shines and burns the skin of the vacationers around, some were walking, some jogging from end to end of the beach and others took a dip to the crystalline waters of the paradise.

Around that time while just bumming our asses under the shade we saw this boraboy(my term for a Local Boracay boy) playing with his skim board, which is relatively a new sport activity. So Mikki and JP, my brother's friend went to this kid and asked if they could borrow the board and try skim boarding. The kid told us we had to pay because that was his little business, PHP250 ($5) per hour. Us, being on a budget asked if we can have it for $4. He agreed after 20 minutes of negotiation.

We were at least 6 years younger than him, became our tutor and yep, sometimes kids know things that us "old timers" don't.

The kid started out by telling us how to pose, how to throw the board, the way to run after it, the jump and other things. They were enjoying the tutoring session while I was just taking pics with my brother and other stuffs like that, everybody wants to try out the cheaper way of surfing the beach!

The famous "Jump shot" that has got people crazy for years now.
After a good 20 minutes of trying the things the kid said, I couldn't wait any longer to get in the board so I went up to them and said "Let me try! It's my turn!" so I grabbed the board, the kid said he has to teach me but I was stubborn and just too excited. I said I was listening and I knew what to do, So there I was ready to go and jump on the board.

Epic photograph 
He threw the board after the wave and I ran as fast as I could, carrying 200 pounds of weight with a pair of old knees, I ran after it like a hamburger. I jumped! the next thing my eyes saw was the sky and I realized I was going to have a very bad fall, the only thing I said before my flabs hit the ground was "Oh shit!"


As you can see, I'm in quite pain
I fell, I heard a few laughs but inside my mind was "Tragedy". I felt it, again. It's the 7th time since 2008, I've dislocated my shoulder once again! I knew I was in fucking trouble because of my stupid act, I was in the island and the hospital is at least at the other island.

Good thing Mikki was there, who also dislocated his shoulder way back. he knew what to do and instruct me to do things, when that didn't work, he decided to use the most painful but the most effective and fastest way to bring my shoulder back to its place. I laid flat on the sand and he used the "Military" procedure, watch how it works here.


My shoulder was back again! It didn't hurt so much since it was the 7th time I dislocated my ailing shoulder. After that I just took a rest on the sand for at least 15 minutes just lying there thanking God that Mikki was there to save the trip for me.

A small crab he was playing with

The rest of the day continued as usual except for me, a lot has changed. I can't try any more extreme sports since I was injured, I spent the day just resting, looking at the beach and observing other people as what I always do.

This would be very memorable, Proposing while on vacation in another country. Just Sweet!

There were a lot of funny, sweet, awkward scenes on the beach that day, a proposal, a man jogging wearing only his brief, a very very large foreigner wearing bikinis and a man jogging while juggling some balls. It's amazing how people just seemed not to care about each other and just enjoy the beach.

As the Sun dived into the horizon, a chapter of Boracay life closes and opens another one. The Night Life.

November 5, 2010

Boracay Part 1: A day in the Sunlight

Kablag!!! brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!! shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeewwwwwwwuuuuuuuuuuuuu....

Pilot: Passengers, the time is 10:30 in the morning we have landed safely at Caticlan airport. Thank you for choosing to fly with us enjoy your stay.

Finally I'm standing on land again and not have to think about crash landing just like what I do whenever I'm up in the air. I have better chances surviving in water rather than be just like a comet heading straight into the sea or mountain.

The Caticlan airport (Sadly I didn't have a photo because I was in a hurry to catch up with people I'm supposed to meet at Boracay) is a very small airport, I would even just call it an airstrip because 2-3 planes are only allowed to land there and once the 3rd plane landed on the strip the 1st plane should be boarded and ready to leave. There are no baggage machines, manual porters put the bags and luggage in a window and it's crazy looking for your bag.

Once you're out of the "airstrip" people will start asking you if you have been booked in a hotel in Boracay. Believe me, if it's off-season (when tourists and vacationers are few) it's better not to book ahead of time because there are tons of hotels, cottages and all sorts of accommodation that offer promos so low you'll have a hard time choosing. Me, who booked 2 days before the flight and had no idea where to stay on the island was ignoring them because it's irritating. They followed me until I got inside the tricycle.

After I registered at the tourism office there's a booth where you will pay everything from tricycle transport to the seaport, the environmental fee and transport fee via boat to Boracay which totaled PHP205 ($5). I think that's really convenient because I won't get cheated on transport fees.

11:00AM - I arrived at the seaport which I'll get into a small boat that can carry 20 passengers to the paradise.

That was the boat that took me to the paradise
The ride was smooth and windy, people started putting out their cameras as well as me. I watched my co-passengers as they took photos and chatted about what to do there and where to go, the 15 minute boat ride felt eternity to me because I was trying to catch up with my brother and his friends who went "Helmet Diving" and I just have to make it to maximize my stay there. Earlier he asked me if they should wait for me but I said that they should follow their Itinerary and I'll catch up because in the first place I don't want to be the cause of delay so we were updating ourselves through text messages.

11:30AM - I made it to Bulabog beach (where extreme sports like para-sailing happens) by riding another tricycle worth PHP100($2). I asked "Amihan Helmet Diving Services" about the whereabouts of 14 people who went out the sea. She had great knowledge that I was coming and quickly arranged a special transport via boat to where my brother was. So I paid PHP350 ($7) to experience Helmet Diving and I was transported to the float of Amihan.

I was finally relieved when I heard "John!" and they were waving at me and I said "whew! I made it on my own!" and when I stepped into the float they said "get dressed, you're next"...that was a fast greeting and I'm not even settled yet but quickly I got dressed into my beach attire and waited a few minutes for my brother who was under the sea making friends with fishes.

Hello earthlings, this is helmet diving.
 The helmet was really heavy and it's hard to move. We fed the fishes around the corals and we didn't have to worry about documentation because pictures and videos are free! We were able to enjoy swimming with the fishes. Here's a video of us under the sea.

12:30PM - We were hungry but I still didn't have a place to stay, my brother and his girl helped me find one since the hotels I listed were too steep for my budget. We stumbled upon "The Boracay Dream house resort",  We asked how much was the accommodation each night. Here's the conversation between me and the receptionist:

Me: How much is it per night?
R: Sir it is PHP3500 ($70) per night
Me: How about this promo you have? it says PHP1500 ($25)per night only.
R: Sir that's only a promo if it's the off-peak season. it's Peak season this October to December.
Me: If you give me the promo price I'll take it.
Brother: They can't do that because it's a fixed rate
Me: It's worth a try.
R: How long will you stay?
Me: 3 Nights
R: Maam! (referring to the manager) Should I give the promo? He'll stay for 3 nights.
Manager: Alright.
Me: I told you we could get it.
Me: Miss! (speaking to the receptionist) Can a get a towel?
R: Of course sir.
Me: For freeeeeeeeeeeee?
R: yes of course!
-End of Conversation-

This is the cottage I stayed in for the next 3 nights of my stay. The small house is made of bamboo and other wood materials.
So there! I got the place for a bargain! I was so happy that I'll stay in a traditional cottage in front of the beach  for $25 per night in Station 1( Station 1 is where the expensive hotels can be found) in a peak-season! I felt great that I was hitting my budget on target.

We went for a little walk on the beach to look for the others who were eating lunch and guess what, my place was meters away to where they were eating.

My brother's friends, sharing laughs after a big meal.

A little walk around the beach was what I did, looking around and taking tips from them about where to go and what places to visit, which restaurants to eat without depleting the budget.

"A sandy proposal" .
After a while we went to where they were staying, the "Residencia Boracay Hotel" iwas where they were at. The  concrete building is at least 1 kilometer away from where I was staying so we had to take the tricycle. The beach was less populated compared to my part of the beach, It's quiet and more relaxing.
The Boracay beach, the view from "Residencia"

It was only 2PM and the day has just started for me, I had great deals, big meals and it felt so real. I wouldn't mind trying a lot of crazy stuffs to conquer boredom, but for the meantime,  I just looked at the horizon thinking nothing, just staring and watching other people enjoy, they've become my entertainment.