Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 4 and the Aftermath]

Look at that face!

The last day was sad, man. I always felt like that when I leave somewhere I really enjoyed. I felt the same way when I was leaving Hong Kong the last two times I went. After a while of getting used to everything, I didn’t want to leave. And why would I want to? I was living in a hotel with an awesome breakfast buffet and the climate was so niiiiiice. Seriously, I didn’t want to leave.

Our spot!

I already miss the sights! The climate that was so perfect I wanted to take it back home with me! The biscuits and mushroom gravy! I got those feelings where I wanted to stay there and actually live and work there. Manila is just so polluted. Manila is just so hot! I didn’t want to go home, okay?!

Ah, but it must be done. I had to come home and experience going back to the daily grind. My days in Baguio will be well remembered and I already am looking forward to going back hopefully sometime soon. I hope Le Monet has promos again, haha.

One more Twilight scenery pic for the FEELS!

Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 3]

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

– We didn’t wake up early today. We decided to sleep in for a bit before heading down to breakfast. I think I ate too much for breakfast, but I guess it couldn’t be helped. Breakfast buffets tended to do that to people who are helpless in avoiding their lure.

– Le Monet has a beautiful garden to the side. It has a stone path, ponds and gazebo-like spaces where you can sit and just take in the peacefulness of the place. I wanted to take the time to sit there and read, but alas, it was open air and the sun and I were not friends. I took the time to take some pictures and after a while of capturing the scenery, I felt that was something was missing. Sometimes, places like this needed to be photographed with people, so after a while, I got Mama to come down and take pictures with me. The pictures came out better after that.

– Some of the morning and afternoon were spent watching one of Mama’s Korean dramas, The Rooftop Prince. It’s about a Prince who gets sent to modern day Korea along with his retainers. They have to solve a mystery before they are able to get back to their time. And of course a Korean drama won’t be complete if it doesn’t have a romance on the side. It’s cute, hahaha. I like it better than my favorite Korean actor, Jan Geun Seuk’s, Love Rain. It’s just more fun.

– At around 3pm, we set off to Mile High to find pasalubong for Kuya Arnel and Yla, Noel’s girlfriend, but to no avail. Nothing just seems right to give to them. In the end, we left with nothing.

– We headed back into the city proper to go to the Cafe By the Ruins. It’s a well-known cafe built around the remains of the old Civil Governor’s home. It has become a hotspot for the local arts scene and live performances and exhibits are often scheduled for viewing there. I read somewhere that the place offered the best native hot chocolate so of course we ordered one of their chocolate drinks, Rizal’s Tsokolate-e. Cafe By the Ruins was also known for the bread that they make in-house, so of course we ordered one of the breads: Ernie’s Camote Bread which came with a small tab of liver pate. Mama has been craving vegetable soup so she ordered this soup with spinach and mushrooms. I loved the rustic feel of the restaurant and I enjoyed being there, feeling like I have become a part of something historical, artsy and awesome. The camote bread was delicious, very soft and chewy and it went well with the pate. Mama’s soup was perfect for the rainy afternoon that we were having. The vegetables were very fresh and the soup was flavorful without being salty. As for the chocolate, I was a bit underwhelmed. It was made of native tablea as they said, but maybe the carabao’s milk robbed it of the thickness that I came to associat with my native hot chocolate. I felt like I had better hot chocolate back in Calaca, Batangas, hometown of my father, and it was definitely cheaper than that one I had in Cafe By the Ruins. Despite that disappointment, I thought the trip was well worth it. The ambiance was perfect for a rainy day and so was the soup and bread. Plus the table beside us had Angel Aquino. It made for a pretty different experience than I expected.

– We went home after that for a good night’s rest for tomorrow’s 6-hour trip back home to Manila. We watched more of The Rooftop Prince. I didn’t want to go home tomorrow. I’ve fallen in love with Baguio and what it had to offer. Alas, but we must. This was just a vacation and unfortunately it must come to an end. At least I have memories of my visit and the possibility that I could come back sometime in the future.

Baguio June 22-25, 2012 [Day 2]

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

– We woke up early to take a walk around. We finally hied ourselves out of the hotel at around 6:30am and by then, the sun was already out. Still, it was cool and it was wonderful to be able to walk around even if it was so early. Walking around Camp John Hay can be quite exhausting, though. I guess it comes with the fact that most of the time, you’re walking up and not on a flat road like I’m used to. The scenery was worth it, however. It was green everywhere and the trees were really, really tall. I couldn’t help the Twilight flashbacks because of the scenery, but that was okay. It made it much more memorable, also funny in a way.

– We were finally able to find Mile High, which is just a stone’s throw away from The Manor. Mile High is the place to go within Camp John Hay to go shopping. The shops weren’t open yet, but you’d probably be impressed at the selection of shops. A lot of brand names are there, including Mango, which probably says something. The only shops open were this souvenir store where we got Noel’s requested pasalubong of a necklace and this restaurant called …Everything Nice.

– Going back to the hotel meant it was time for breakfast. I love a hotel that has a “free” breakfast buffet. Le Monet has a good breakfast buffet and my favorite part of it was the biscuits with mushroom gravy. I don’t think I’ve had biscuits and gravy anywhere else, so I think that’s really a highlight and a plus of this hotel. If possible, I’d love to come back and stay here again.

– We ended up stuffing ourselves so much we had to take a while to rest. It was probably a bad idea to rest too long as I really felt lazy about going out again. I got over it eventually though and we headed down to the city proper to have mass at the Baguio Cathedral. I was so disappointed about the look of the Cathedral. It’s… Pink. I just don’t like the look of it. I like seeing the churches in places I visit and Baguio Cathedral is a letdown.

– The stairs leading down from the Cathedral was so high, I was really scared of slipping. Eventually, there weren’t any accidents and I managed to get down safely. Getting down from the stairs revealed Session Road, the place to be when you’re looking for places to eat or buy all sorts of things. Walking down Session Road with the crowd reminded me of Hong Kong, especially given the cool temperature. I kept expecting to hear people speak Chinese and was surprised every time when they spoke Filipino, haha. We passed by Star Rice, a classic Chinese restaurant that was very well known for its authentic Chinese offerings. Too bad we were still full, so we didn’t stop to eat. We did stop by a stall where they were selling DVDs, though. PFFFT.

– It’s really polluted in the city proper and so it didn’t take long for Mama to hail a taxi so we could go back to Camp John Hay. She found out that there was a way to see Wright Park and The Mansion while going back to the hotel. On the way, we were also able to see a bit of the Teacher’s Camp. I mentioned before that in the hotel, an AC isn’t used. It’s the same thing in taxis. A window was open as we were being driven around and it was enough to keep us cool through the whole scenic ride. Wright Park reminded me of Intramuros, with the long manmade “river”in the middle. The Mansion was the Baguio residence of the President, so obviously it was grand and stately. We were also fortunate that we got to pass the exclusive Baguio Country Club, the first ever country club in the Philippines. As we rode the taxi home through these sites, we were also able to see old American Colonial-style houses. When the Philippines was colonized by the United States, the Americans discovered Baguio and fell in love with it, probably because of the weather and the environment. A lot of them built houses there and so their legacy remained in the old Colonial houses seen most everywhere in Baguio.

 (Unfortunately, we didn’t get to take pictures along Session Road, Wright Park, The Mansion and the Baguio Country Club. Session Road had too many people walking around and we only passed by everything else very quickly. Our picture of Mile High didn’t really appeal to me. It had my face right smack on the side, lol. Too bad, really.)

Baguio – June 22-25, 2012 [Day 1]

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(Just came back from Baguio yesterday. I like to write diaries of my thoughts and experiences whenever I go somewhere for vacation, etc. so these entries were written while I was still there.)

– I hate waking up so early, but it seemed I don’t have a choice. Mom decided to take the regular bus to Baguio since it left earlier than the bus that didn’t make stops. I had to get up at 4am. That wasn’t fun, but it had to be done.

– I had an inner debate with the Steve Rogers in my head about bringing my laptop along. He was all, “You’re going on vacation. What would you need that computer for? Go out and take a walk–/old man nagging forever~” I think a Tony Stark appeared there for a minute to agree with him. He even had a martini glass. SO CLASSY. To then demand why I didn’t have a tablet LIKE A PERSON WHO’S NOT A CAPSICLE. He even flashed me the latest Stark tablet. If only Stark tablets actually existed. .__. Of course I ended up bringing my laptop along.

– We were able to get on the bus with time to spare despite leaving the house very late. That’s Filipino Time for you, haha.

– Watched John Carter on the bus. It was pretty cool what they did about Mars, I mean Barsoom, and everything. Not bad for a sci-fi flick. Plus the heroine’s hot, lol. The second movie, The Wrath of the Titans, didn’t interest me much so I took a nap.

– The view from the bus once we got on the last leg of the trip (6 hours on a bus…) was amazing. Who knew mountains could be so awe-inspiring?

– The weather in Baguio is niiiiice. Despite the fact that it’s sunny, it’s not blistering hot unlike in Manila. It’s even better at night where I actually had to wear a jacket and a scarf, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

– Had lunch at one of the publicized food places as a must-eat at Baguio: Te Quiero Tapas Bar and Restaurant. I think they only wrote about it in that write up because they were promoting Victory Liner, whose drop off station is just across it. I had a Spanish Tortilla with a glass of wine. Saucy, haha. It was yummy! Mama had chocolate mousse and coffee because she ate in the bus. The place itself had a nice ambience. It could be an ideal place for a date. I found it funny that I had to go to Baguio to have tapas when there’s Barcino in Makati. But then again, Barcino is probably pricier. We didn’t spend as much as we could have, but it’s probably due to the fact that the restaurant didn’t use an AC. I observed later on that not a lot of establishments in Baguio used an AC.

– We stayed at the new Le Monet hotel in Camp John Hay. The rooms are pretty. The beds are big and comfy.The design reminded me so much of Novotel back in Hong Kong for some reason. The Internet kind of sucks, but I guess you can’t complain about that when it’s complimentary. I’ll tell you about the buffet breakfast tomorrow.

– We still had some time before dinner so Mama dragged me off to The Manor, the hotel which people actually think of when they think of Camp John Hay. I love the place. The grounds are so well maintained. Again, the place doesn’t seem to be using any ACs. We had dinner there (Brocolli soup with cream, Manor Club Sandwich and Blueberry Cheesecake) and enjoyed the place. We took a lot of pictures because really, the place is just so beautiful. We especially enjoyed it when the fog started to come down and it was starting to get really cold. We actually rushed out to take pictures with the fog. People probably thought we were crazy, lol.

– It was already dark by the time we headed home. We were supposed to go to the Filling Station, this place where you can buy souvenirs and more food, but the way was too dark. For some reason, they don’t have any lights along the road. We decided not to continue. It didn’t seem to be a good idea to wander around in the dark like that. It’s really cold by then, though, but I loved it. Why can’t the weather in Manila be like this?

On Best Friend Breakups and Going Back to Work

The past few weeks had been a whirlwind, both physically and emotionally, for me. I was feeling and doing so many things that I hadn’t had the courage to put fingers to keyboard in order to churn out an entry. I was afraid that I was going to be writing things that I would regret and while this was my blog, I would like to spare my readers unneeded melodrama.  Sometimes, things are so private or so painful that putting the experience down on a blog entry just seems like a new world of pain. Really, be glad that I didn’t decide to write about everything when I was still in the thick of it. Now you can all rest easy and so can I.

Earlier today, my friend Tina linked me to an article entitled How to survive best friend breakup and it was a huge reminder of what I had gone through the past few weeks. Break ups don’t just happen between couples in romantic relationships; they happen between friends too and I’m glad that that article was able to shed some light on a very sad and stressful situation that most everyone goes through. I almost lost a very close friend recently and the article was able to describe our situation rather well. I can’t give you a clear picture of what had happened, but there was a lot of pain and anxiety on both sides and I thought we were done for. It was really getting toxic and I was starting to get physically sick from all the stress and anxiety the situation was giving me. I was ready to step back, to let go, for my and her own good, but well… Things have a way of fixing themselves. True, we’re not yet perfect, there’s that niggling feeling that it’s still all too soon for us to be talking again, the situation had gone ugly and crazy before it got better, but both of us feel that our friendship is worth the risk of a an effort toward reconciliation. There’s no guarantee that we won’t end up getting into a bad situation again, but I think we’d both regret it too much if we didn’t try to give each other a chance.

It sounds like a romantic relationship, doesn’t it? But yes, that’s how friendships can be sometimes. A friendship is also a relationship that you have to work on. It doesn’t always work and there’s a possibility that it won’t last forever, but there are those relationships that are worth fighting for, worth giving a second chance.

So now, we’re okay. I like to think that we’re both healing. Hopefully, we won’t experience any of that pain ever again. It was hard, so very hard…

At the same time, I was also set to start working in an online ESL teaching school for Koreans, but not as a teacher as I originally applied. ‘Funny how things work out the way they do sometimes. I applied for a teaching position after hesitating on doing so for the longest time. I went there, I took the test, I got interviewed, I did two demo classes (after four years of not teaching! And this was a video class!) and then was told to wait for my results. I was contacted by the company a few days later and I found out that I passed the application process. They asked if they can speak to me and we ended up having a talk over Skype. I was offered the Office Admin position (with a chance to teach on the side when needed) and I took it.

Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous job in the world, especially given where I worked last. I mostly do clerical work that rarely requires neither thought or creativity. The office is located in Pasay Rotonda, this chaotic place in Manila where they made this indie movie last year about how crazy and violent it could get over there. It’s in this old building where the elevator feels like it would give, killing everyone who was unfortunately inside at the time. It’s small and there’s less than 20 people working at a time. The office has this weird smell, like the smell of cooking rice mixed with something else indistinguishable, and it wafts out into the hallway. The salary is half of what I was accustomed to receiving and that was just unfortunate.

However, I’m hardly stressed. The work is easy, but I feel accomplished each time I’m able to finish a task because I really feel like I’m contributing in some way. The people are simple and easy enough to get along with (so far). The dress code is just casual and decent. They offer free rice everyday and someone washes your dishes for you after you eat. I even get free coffee sometimes from our very own Ate Monica. 😀 Our boss isn’t cute (haha), but he’s nice and friendly. The salary is lower than what I’m used to, but I don’t really need to spend much anyway as I’m just an LRT ride away, I can bring food to work and I can wear t-shirts and jeans to work.

I really think I can work there for a while. True, I’m just doing it part-time for now, but once I’m doing it full time, I don’t think it would be that different. At least I hope so. I’m really looking forward to getting my first salary, even though I’m sure it’s still going to be quite small. It’s nice to just finally be earning again after so long.

Wish me luck, guys.

Hopefully things will be better for me from now on.

I Love My Philamlife Planner So Much

For Christmas last year, Philamlife (through my Tita who works there) gave me a 2012 planner since I was one of their plan holders. It’s this huge, thick, RED thing that looked far too big and bulky for me to bring anywhere. I keep notebooks in my bag when I go out, but nothing that big. It’s bigger than a normal notebook and as thick as a long novel. It’s also hardbound, the kind that anyone would think twice about annoying someone who is holding it. Also last Christmas, I was still pretty jobless and I was never really the type to write down appointments and reminders on a planner. I have just never done it before and back then when I wasn’t really doing anything, I didn’t feel like I needed it. And so thus it was set aside, like a lot of my other notebooks.

Ano nga bang plano ko? (What are my plans?)

Two months ago, I was still jobless and quite at the end of my wits and patience. Thank goodness Mama decided to take pity on me and had me help at her office. There’s hardly any pay, but at least I was doing something and learning some things so that was better than nothing. I at least also had some cash to live on so that I didn’t really need to touch my savings. I also got to go out of the house for office days and site visits. Suddenly, I was a lot busier than I have been in a long while. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating also sometimes frustrating and always tiring, but it was something. I also had to keep better track of my time to get things done properly.

I just wanted a small planner, something that I could bring around with me anywhere and could easily fit in my bag with no problems. I wanted to get one of those cute little planners made from recycled paper, like the ones made by Papermelroti, but I ended up getting a small notebook at National Bookstore. It’s still not a planner, though. I could list dates and events there, but it’s still not as organized as I wanted things to be. I really felt like I needed an actual planner and it’s then that I unearthed my tome of a Philamlife planner. It’s huge, it’s bulky, I still won’t be able to bring it most everywhere and I could probably use it as a murder weapon and bash someone’s brains out, but it does the job of arranging my schedule and I think it does the job well.

My schedule for June 2012 as of June 3, 2012.

I used different colored pens to write on my planner and I felt very accomplished after managing to put down my schedule for the month of June. I think I enjoyed doing that too much. Now I can’t stop writing where I’ve been, what I did, what I ate. This planner business is fun! Why have I not done this before? And you all probably think I’m weird for saying so, haha.