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2nd Week at Austin

It’s now my 2nd week at Austin, Texas. So far it’s been great. I’m just not used to the chilly and cold weather but I’m doing fine. There’s no snow here but it’s still cold and the winds could send chills down your spine. Today the temperature is at 49F or 9C. I spend most of the time indoors and whenever I go out, I go running towards the car. Hehe. I’m soo not used to this weather.
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Anyway, my Filipino officemates have been very hospitable and welcoming. They helped me and the newcomers settle down and get comfortable with our new home. We eat together a lot at home or in different Asian restos (where there’s rice) and just hang out watching TV/movies during the weekends.

I didn’t feel homesick during Christmas because we all gathered in one apartment and shared food, played Pinoy Henyo and exchanged gifts. Well, actually I just watched them exchange gifts because I wasn’t able to buy a gift. I especially enjoyed watching the kids open their gifts. They received very nice toys.. I wished I was a kid again. ๐Ÿ˜€
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But New Year’s was a little lonely. We just went out to eat at Cheesecake Factory – where we waited for more than an hour (I think) because a lot of people went there ahead of us and we all waited for our turn to get seated. Because our dinner was delayed, we weren’t able to catch the fireworks display at the park and we all just went home 30 minutes before New Year. It was a little lonely. I could only hear a very faint noise of fireworks. Unlike in the Philippines where I could see the sky light up everywhere. I’m really not a big fan of firecrackers but I missed the noise and the lively celebration of New Year back home. I even used to get really mad at Papa and my brothers and sister for using firecrackers because I’m afraid that they might get hurt but I also looked forward to all the noise and colorful display during New Year. Papa and I used to love watching our neighbors’ fireworks displays every New Year… Oh well.. there are still lots of New Year’s in the Philippines that I’ll get to witness and enjoy. At least I also experienced a different way of celebrating New Year.

Life is very convenient here. Almost everything can be done with a touch of a button like the laundry, dish washing, etc.ย I still need to get used to lots of things here at my temporary home. I’m enjoying the journey and I’m looking forward to making beautiful memories here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sunset at Outlet

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Samal Island

Samal Island is just a few minutes ferry ride from Davao mainland.
There are lots of choices of beautiful resorts hereย  – from affordable cottages to luxury resorts. To give you an idea, I would like to share to you 3 beach resorts that I’ve stayed in during my visits to the island.

Punta del Solpunta del sol

Kaputian Beach
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Maxima
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Birthday trip day 5: Camiguin Island

Whoa, it’s my nth birthday! (Note: This post was written on April 10) ๐Ÿ˜€

I woke up with a smile on my face. My family is with me (although we’re missing my brother Jong and his family) and I’m on Camiguin Island! Yey!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a terrific day yesterday. The expense for the tour around some of Camiguin’s tourist spots was really worth it. I woke them up at around 5:30 so that we can go to White Island and enjoy the sandbar before it gets too hot. We rented a pumpboat for 400 pesos and 2 pairs of goggles and life vests so we could enjoy swimming and catching a glimpse of some fish.
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We had a very simple breakfast of camote, banana (saba), pansit bihon (for long life), pork barbecue, and milo/coffee. Hmm.. I am sooo grateful to the Lord for this very wonderful day! ๐Ÿ™‚

We ate toyom (sea urchin meat), which was sold on the island for 20 pesos. It was Mama’s favorite and she really couldn’t resist eating it. It looked yummy so I gave it a try.. It’s not thatย  yummy for my taste, but it’s not bad either. ๐Ÿ˜€

with_loved_onessolo_camiguinL-R: At White Island, Highway overlooking sea, Old Church ruins, Walkway, Ardent Hot Spring

I didn’t want to leave Camiguin and be away from my family again but Mama had to get her PRC licence from Butuan. So at 10am, we left the beautiful island. It only took us about an hour and a half to reach Balingoan port. My siblings and the other passengers caught a glimpse of a dolphin! Oh, lucky them. I only saw the dolphin when it was already submerged in water and it quickly disappeared.

After having our lunch at one of the carinderias in the port, we bid each other goodbye at Balingoan bus terminal. Amazingly, the van from Balingoan to CDO cost only 100 pesos and it only took 2 hours for me to reach CDO! At 2pm, I was back in CDOโ€ฆ and since Dianne was still busy at work, I had to stay at D Morvie inn for 200 pesos (12-hr stay). The room was really tiny but since it was airconditioned, had a cable TV, and Wifi connection, it really wasn’t bad at all.

I had dinner with my friend Dianne and her friend at Loreto’s. They serve good food and there was a live band – we even asked them to sing Happy birthday for me. Hehe.. Yey! ๐Ÿ™‚ After our dinner, we went to a Class A seaside restaurant just to feel its ambience. It was beautiful and romantic. Perfect for a date. Haha. Dianne and I reminisced about our high school experiences and crushes. We even sang our first year high school Science class song..

The time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here. And the way to be happy, is to make others happy and to have a little heaven down here! room29

Haha. We were like two giggling high schoolers once again. Note: The first 3 pics were taken on April 8, on Ferl’s birthday at their home in CDO. The last pic with Dianne was taken at Loreto’s during my birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I was back at the inn, I felt a little sad to be alone in the tiny room. Luckily, there was Wifi and I was so happy when I found a lot of birthday messages from my friends and family in my Facebook inbox! Laiza and Ems even had a video greeting for me. Awwwโ€ฆ so sweet! A perfect way to end my birthday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Birthday trip day 4: Camiguin tour

I woke up after about only 4 hours of sleep. I’m so excited to meet my family in Balingoan. I had breakfast with my pretty hostess, Dianne. She’s my roommate, classmate, groupmate, and friend from high school. Of course, a sleepover isn’t enough to catch up with each other’s lives.

She instructed me to take a tricycle and then a jeepney to Agorra terminal, where I can find a van that will take me to Balingoan port. Luckily, when I arrived at Agorra, I immediately spotted the van. It wasn’t full yet but after about 5 minutes, we were off to Balingoan.
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However there was a loooong and slow caravan that was campaigning for some politicians that blocked our way. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So the supposedly 1 hour trip from Cagayan de Oro to Balingoan became 3 hours! My family arrived at Balingoan port sooner than me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But it’s okay, we were reunited at Balingoan port at last!

Fare (van) CDO to Balingoan port: 120
Ferry to Camiguin: 170 (plus environment fee: 5 + terminal fee: 25)

We had a quick lunch before we got on the ferry. It was a bit cloudy and the waves were a little scary but overall, it was a fine day. Yey!!! We were finally on our way to Camiguin Island! The ferry trip took us 2 hours.

Upon arriving at Camiguin port, we rode another van to Mambajao, which was about 15 minutes. And then a tricycle took us to Pabua’s Cottage.

Van to Mambajao: 30 pesos
Tricycle: 20 pesos

Finally, we checked in at Pabua’s cottage, which costs 1,200 for an overnight stay. It was pretty comfortable, air-conditioned with 3 twin sized beds, a bathroom, cable TV, and Wifi connection. Hmm.. Value for my money! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I allowed my family to take some rest because they came from a gruelling 10 hour trip from Mangagoy. At around 4pm, we rented a multicab for 1,000. It took us to the Walkway, Sunken Cemetery, Old Church Ruins, and Ardent Hot Spring.

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Oh, by the way, Ardent Hot Spring had an entrance fee of 30 pesos each and table rental of 70 pesos. Pretty affordable and tourist-friendly. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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After which we had a sumptuous (advanced birthday) dinner at a restaurant. The bulalo and lechon manok were really, really yummy! It’s one of the tastiest lechon manoks I’ve ever tasted. Yum!

We went back to Pabua’s Cottage after dinner and got reconnected with the rest of the world through Wifi connection. If you wanna visit Camiguin and you are on a tight budget, I highly recommend Pabua’s Cottage. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy trip!
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Birthday trip day 3: Jessa’s Wedding

I left Salawagan, Quezon with a heavy heart because my niece, Nycah wanted to tag along with me. Of course, that’s not possible. She cried her heart out and held on to my hand as she begged us to let her ride the bus with me. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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I didn’t want to leave but I had to attend Jessa’s wedding at Cagayan de oro city. It’s actually the primary reason why I bought my Cebu Pacific tickets.

The ceremony was held at Xavier Estates, which is probably the best location for a garden wedding in the city. The couple was blessed with a beautiful weather. And they were surrounded by friends and family who truly wish them all the best.

I love the black-and-red inspired garden wedding. The bride was really extra beautiful in her long red dress and the groom was equally handsome in his black suit. Their little boy Zeke looked like a real little gentleman too. So cute!!!

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Weddings always make me emotional, esp if I personally know their story. I am always super touched with the part wherein the groom will kiss the parents of the bride, take her hand, and together they march towards the altar. I’m so happy for the couple!

wedding_jessaI have been a flower girl in almost all of my aunts’ weddings so this role in the entourage is my personal favorite. Below is the collage of the very cute flower girls of Jessa:
flowergirlsAwww…weddings! I wish I could also have my own happily ever after..someday! ๐Ÿ˜‰

After the wedding I had a fun reunion with my 2nd yr high school roommates at Pisay Davao. I really had a super great time. It was also Ferl’s birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚
room29Thank you Lord for the beautiful day!

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An overly excited /anxious (to be left by d plane) me+ very humid weather = sleepless traveler. Despite my lack of sleep, my energy was still at its all-time high because I’ll be ‘home’ with my loved ones.

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I had a great time catching up with my family in Davao. James, my cousin, has recently arrived from Doha, Qatar. And he got chocolategr and lotion for me. Yey! I was supposed to leave for bukidnon right after the delicious lunch prepared by Mommy(my beloved aunt) but she wanted to watch ‘It takes a man and a woman’ at Gaisano Mall of Davao. I’ve been planning to watch the movie too so it would be great to watch it with them. The movie was indeed fun to watch. Just a chillax, light, funny movie.

I was supposed to leave right after the movie but because my cellphone was so careless and got left behind at Mommy’s house, I had to ask James to meet me at SM Lanang to give my phone. Grr.. me and my carelessness!

Because of that, I didn’t catch the last 4-stop aircon bus bound to cdo (last trip: 6pm). Whew! It’s the only glitch to my otherwise perfect Davao stop. But wait, I saved 80 pesos and traveling at night to Buda is pleasant coz it’s cold there. Sort of Tagaytay of Mindanao. Plus my seatmate will also stop at Salawagan (it’s my first time to visit my sis n law’s place), so it’s really a blessing in disguise. ๐Ÿ™‚

One thing I don’t like about being with my loved ones is the immediate feeling of loneliness and ‘missing-them’ feelings right after. Sigh.. but this is my reality. Just gotta live with it and deal with it. All in all, it’s a beautiful day in my ‘2nd’ city-Davao. Till next visit!

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Where to go this Summer?: Hagonoy Island

Hagonoy Island is one of my city’s tourist attractions (along with Tinuy-an Falls and Enchanted River). It is a very small island – you can actually walk from end to end within 15 minutes. It was my beach paradise ever since I was young because I always get to spend my birthday on it with my family and friends.

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Hagonoy Island

I have always loved its white sand and clear blue waters. We also like getting some fresh seafood like seashells, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers during low tide. When I was 9 years old, my cousins and I used to pick beautiful sea shells at the shores so we could use it for our “sungka” ๐Ÿ™‚ DSC06801

Starfish at Hagonoy

Starfish at Hagonoy

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With my brothers

My brothers Gringo and Jong

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Delayed!

Morning flights are always better – lesser risks of delayed flights. The aircraft should have left Davao by this time but it hasn’t landed on Davao yet. The turnaround aircraft is expected to arrive at about 10:15 tonight. Oh… I’m so disappointed. I’m really, really tired!!!

I am sooooo sleepy and tired from my loooong holiday vacation. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I miss my bed already!

Going home for Christmas!

One of the things that I’ve fervently prayed for this year is that I would be able to celebrate the Christmas season with my family and I’m so thankful that this prayer was answered. I see my beloved family only once or twice a year. That’s why it’s something that I really look forward to. It’s been a hectic journey to the airport. I had 4 bags with me and it was very hard to get a cab. I had to carry my luggage and cross the street to get a cab only to see it being taken by another passenger. I felt so pathetic and worried that I might not get any cab. My mind was already frantically searching for a solution when I saw the cab again! Apparently, the driver took a turn around the corner so he could go back to me. He refused the other passengers because he saw me fumbling with my bags and crossing the street. Awww.. Although he was asking for 300 pesos to take me to the airport – that’s double the usual fare – reasoning that the traffic was bad and I would have a really hard time getting another cab. I took the offer immediately. I was already very grateful that he chose me among all the other eager passengers who were desperately looking for a ride. Whew! Thank God for another answered prayer. I’m sooo excited to go home. The airport was so full of people excited to spend Christmas with their loved ones. Thank goodness it’s not doomsday yet. Haha.

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Jump in! Explore the Philippines: Boracay

Boracay has always been one of the favorite tourist destinations in our country, the Philippines. I wanted to know what charms locals and foreigners to this place. I was really excited to find out what treats are awaiting me on myย  first time on the beautiful island.

I had fun during my solo time on my first day on the island. I walked barefoot on the white, fine sand and enjoyed the views of the different beachfront resorts.

I even took a glimpse of Piolo Pascual and KC Montero who were guests of a beach wedding. But actually, I took the photo below to capture the happy moment of the groom and the bride, not knowing that Piolo and KC were there.

I got hungry from the long walk so I decided to taste Jonah’s taco. They are actually known for their delicious fruit shakes. But I decided to try this one out. Yummy!!!

The next day while waiting for my friends, I got a hair braid and foot massage while eating ice cream. Hmm… this is the life! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m glad I had my hair braided so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. Neat!

Aside from its pristine beaches, it also boasts of a lot of fun activities that can be enjoyed by friends, families, and couples.

When my friends arrived, we had lunch and we started on our Boracay adventure! First stop: ATV!

I was really scared because it was my first time to drive and operate an ATV! I was even more tensed because I signed a waiver that I would be charged if I’d cause any damage on the ATV. Waah! So I focused on getting the thing to work smoothly. Right hand +ย downward = accelerate. Left hand = brake. Whew!

My heart would skip everytime we’re about to go down on a steep part of the trail but I was careful and I kept focusing on the road ahead. I had a lot of realizations while I was driving the ATV. Just like my first time in riding a bicycle, I kept in mind that the secret was to focus on the road ahead and believe in myself that I can do it. It’s really one of the secrets of life. Keep your eyes on the goal, focus on success and don’t think about failure. Because when I was learning to ride the bicycle, everytime I worry about scratching the beautiful cars on the side of the street, I’d always end up going to that direction.

It was really thrilling and fun! We also saw the whole of the island from the restaurant on top of the hill. I even touched a bayawak! It was scary.. it looked like a snake/big lizard/crocodile. Hehe.

After the ATV ride, we went for a swim in the clear waters of Boracay. At last! There were fishes swimming with us and some even nibbled at our feet..giving us a fish spa.. ๐Ÿ™‚ So cute!

We went parasailing on my third day on the island. It was beautiful! ๐Ÿ™‚ At first I was hesitant and I was really thinking of backing out. But when we were already up there, it was not scary at all. It was relaxing. And I could see the deep sea below me!

After parasailing, we went boating and saw the beautiful resorts along the shores of Boracay.

We also snorkeled and saw only a few fish because we didn’t bring bread for them. We got hungry and ate all our biscuits on the boat. Haha.

We also went to Puka Beach to see the big waves and puka shells. It was also beautiful but I was scared of the waves. We met some Korean tourists and asked their guideย to take this photoย for us.

It was our last night on the island and we had a simple buffet dinner at a resto by the beach. After getting our tummies full, we strolled along the beach because we wanted to cross off one more item on Ate Doli’s to-do list: firedancing!

Luckily we saw some firedancers brightening up the shores of the island. We walked several miles to their direction.

The dancers were really hot! Haha. The gay dancers were even sexier than me! Argh! We were fortunate to have watched them before the rain poured heavily. We had to run a looong way to save our cameras from getting wet.

It was a really fun weekend getaway in Boracay. Hope you read this with Jump In by Jessica Sanchez and Apl de Ap playing in the background. ๐Ÿ™‚ Jump in! Explore the beauty of the Philippines! It’s more fun in the Philippines!