Category Archives: awesome

Pinatubo—a hell of a trek to heaven

They say that the most beautiful places are the hardest to reach. I couldn’t agree more.
Last month, I visited one of the most awesome places I’ve gone to, and it really wasn’t an easy climb. It required strength, endurance, and sweatliterally.
Not everyone loves trekking, but one must try at least once every year especially if what awaits on the other end is an undeniably majestic site which answers the question, “Why would I ‘punish’ myself by doing that crazy thing?”
So, must you visit Mt. Pinatubo? Absolutely, because every ounce of energy, every bit of strength, and every drop of sweat you release will be replenished by the marvel and beauty that unfolds…that is the crater lake.

But if you think that it’s the sole reason why you must pack your bag, put on your trekking shoes, and conquer Pinatubo, you’re wrong. There are other reasons why you must do so.

1. The thrilling 4×4 ride.

You will need to ride on a 4×4 to the drop off point where the trek to the Pinatubo crater begins. Aboard the off road beast, you’ll traverse a vast open space with patches of greenery, but mostly covered with stones, rocks, streams, and laharthe result of the volcano’s massive eruption in 1991. Yes, it’s a bumpy ride, which is why it’s thrilling. Hold tight to the bars, because the ups and downs will surely throw you off your seat. And the flowing streams? Well, what streams? The 4×4 beasts cross them as though they were paved roads.

2. The meet and greet with the Aetas.
Aetasadults and children alikecome out of their village and wait for trekkers who get to interact with them. But I hope that the interaction isn’t just for the photos and selfies taken with them, but for something deeper and more sensible. To get to know more about the indigenous group, maybe?

3. The I-wish-I-were-lounging-on-my-bed trek.

It’s exhausting, energy-draining, maybe even dehydrating (that’s why it’s a must for you to bring at least 2 liters of drinking water). But however tiring the two-hour trek is, you must try it. Besides the majestic crater patiently waiting for you, trekking has other benefits. I won’t pretend to be some sort of a professional trekker or extreme sports expert here, but I know for one that trekking can test and improve your endurance. It can also encourage you to push yourself to the limit, become better at it, and turn it into a hobby.

And the clean, cold water from the spring that you get to partake along the trek? Simply refreshing.

4. The motivating self-fulfillment.
Seeing the crater for yourself, with your own eyes instead of through the eyes of other travelers who have gone there before you, gives a deep sense of fulfillment and it’s priceless. Then, once you reach the reference point after another two-hour trek, and a bumpy 4×4 ride, you’ll exclaim, “I have conquered Pinatubo!”

Care for a short back story?

Back in 2015, I joined Travel Factor, one of the leading adventure tour providers in the Philippines, to become a coordinator. After the screening process, I got in.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to volunteer for any trips during the rest of 2015 due to the new assignment from my previous employer.
Earlier this year though, I returned to Manila, now having the chance to participate in trips.
I was at the Summer Siren Festival 2016, the very first trip for which I rendered service. And then, Conquer Pinatubo, the first one I officially led all by myself.
Check out trips, itineraries, and prices through the Travel factor website, www.travelfactor.orgBelieve me, you’ll enjoy them as much as many previous participants did. Now, some of them have become travel coordinators, too. Don’t hesitate to join any trip because at Travel Factor, We Know Adventure.
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Threading the Pasig River for the first time

Sometimes, the best trips are unplanned–or aren’t well planned. I had one recently and it was indeed beyond great.

***
In Jose Rizal’s novel “El Filibusterismo,” the national hero talked about the Pasig River described as a transportation channel in the narrative. This body of water is not only a prominent setting of a story created by an imaginative mind; this is also a precious gem of the Philippines.

History tells us that the Pasig River was once clean and uncontaminated. Everybody loved and glorified it, and made it a part of their lives. Many years after, however, this wondrous description became quite the opposite, causing people to turn their backs on it.

But people who continue to care and appreciate its value as a historical treasure and gift from nature advocated its clean up. Massive rehabilitation ensued with the aim to resuscitate its former glory which it held for many years.
Now, the Pasig River continues to serve the public through the Pasig River ferry. Hopefully, though, the people don’t see it only as an alternative mode of transportation in avoiding grueling traffic on major roads, but really treat it as one of the main choices in reaching their destination.
That’s how I see it.
Two weeks ago, my friend and I decided to take the ferry in going to Intramuros, Manila. It was our first time, so our mission was just to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Many have said that even if clean up drives were conducted on the river, it still stinks, but we didn’t care. We threaded the river and got ourselves a cup of an electrifying new adventure.
The ferry can seat about 20 passengers. From the Guadalupe station, we paid P50 for our journey to Plaza Mexico in Intramuros, the last station.
As we zoomed away, we indulged in the panoramic view of skyscrapers towering on the horizon. The Pasig River has served as witness to numerous years of development and industrialization in the Philippine capital.

We have nothing to compare the trip with since it was our maiden voyage aboard a ferry, but it was a thrilling ride that sent ounces of unparalleled gladness and satisfaction to an adventurous heart. The captain made it more exciting as he tilted the ferry to its side on every turn.
The trip lasted 45 minutes, making brief stops at the stations to unload and fetch passengers.
 ***
I am a Filipino. The Pasig River is part of my country’s history and it will still figure in the future of the nation. It’s a heritage we must treasure; it’s a treasure we must care for.
These are things I realized during the ride–the most memorable 45 minutes of my life as a traveler so far.
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Pangasinan Food Tour 2014: Alcala

When noodles become a healthy option

Innovations in technology have been prominent these past years. Everyone has always been enlightened on their benefits and the cool features these innovations entail.

What we sometimes miss are innovations being done on food.

We’ve always known noodles are unhealthythat’s a fact. Despite this, however, we still eat noodles during snack time. Sometimes, we even substitute a pack or cup of noodles to our lunch and dinner. This leads to the conclusion that noodles have been a part of our lives and removing it from our diet, though unhealthy, is a hard thing to do.

But, why do we have to quit eating noodles if something can be done to make it a healthy option?


The answer is we don’t. We just pick the one which contains the nutrients our body needs and which doesn’t have preservatives.

On Jan. 10, day one of the Pangasinan Food Tour, we learned about Alcala’s Veggie Noodles processed at the Alcala Livelihood Center and Veggie Noodle Production. A team of women from the locality work together to produce the healthy noodles which contain—yes, you’re right—vegetables.

Here are some of the ingredients…

…to produce this:

The livelihood center produces squash canton and mikilunggay. Whichever you choose, you can be sure that you’re putting something healthy in your body in a form which is not difficult to eat.

Composed of bloggers and mediamen, our team was given the opportunity to taste test this wonderful find. They prepared spaghetti—my favoriteand pancit using their very own product.

Veggie spaghetti.
The flavorful sauce of spaghetti made it very exciting to eat. The usual taste of Pinoy spaghetti—sweet with just a hint of sourness—was there, so there was nothing much new about it.
Being a lover of the dish, I finished two helpings and wanted to swallow another, but stopped on my tracks knowing that we still had to do a series of food tasting for the rest of the day.
Pancit

Pancit  is a regular find in Filipino celebrations, but a very healthy preparation is something to look forward to. We tasted their take on this very famous food and concluded: It was yummy!

Visiting the Alcala Livelihhod Center and Veggie Noodle Production was a great way to kick off the Pangasinan Food Tour. When you visit Pangasinan, never forget to visit the place and get your veggie noodles to complement your healthy diet.


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Blessed year of savory mix

Whoa! Time is indeed quick! Year 2013 is over and we’re now greeted by 2014—another year of happiness and laughter, of sadness and pain, of excitement and energy.
When 2013 started, I wrote an entry on my previous blog about words describing each month of 2012. Now, I’m listing down 13 of the most significant and unforgettable events and experiences I went through and dealt with last year. We’re now more than halfway through January, but I hope this post isn’t late yet.

Undeniably, it was a year of ups and downs (well, which year wasn’t), of joy and sorrow, of laughter and tears. But, guess what, even though 2013 was a roller coaster ride, and even though there were instances I thought of giving up on some things, I survived. I stand with my hopes high and my dreams getting fulfilled every step of the way.

Oh, about the list, here it goes:
With or without a grand celebration, my birthday (January7) will always be memorable for me. Last year, unlike the one that I had in 2012 (an escapade in a resort in Pampanga, although that wasn’t for my birthday primarily), we just had a small get together at a friend’s house. I feel guilty, though, for I didn’t reserve that special day for my family.

My elder sister, Lauren, was generous enough to order a pizza for my pre-birthday bash last year.
That was the last press conference I attended in college as a staff of our student publication, The Students’ Herald. In a few months’ time, I’d be leaving the university. And so it felt like I received the grandest gift in my life so far as my colleagues and I went to Albay for the Luzonwide Higher Education Press Conference. All my life, I wanted to see Mt. Mayon and last February, it stood in front of my very own eyes, screaming its heart-warming welcome to this traveller. What made it more special was that it was my first time to ride on a plane!

I was really looking forward to our Albay tour. Unfortunately, we were left by the bus at the hotel. Not that we were late. Coordination was not done properly, that was why.

3. My application for graduation got approved.
With all the pressure and heap of tasks in college, it would sometimes feel that you would fail to graduate on time. But, after I wrote on the blank spaces and filled the boxes on the form, I filed my application for graduation. When it got approved, I knew in my heart—and I was sure about it—that 2013 would definitely be the year I would finish my course.
4. Four years after, I finished my course.
And so, it did happen. In April 2013, after going onstage and bumping fists with the university president, I got my diploma. (Well, not my diploma; only the case. I received the real deal a few months after.) I even recited our pledge in front of my fellow graduates. After four years of many sleepless nights and stressful days, I earned my college degree…without spending a single centavo on tuition as I had a scholarship. That was a great help to my parents, a blessing I would forever be thankful for.

Definitely, after graduation, a person faces bigger challenges in the bigger world. And with that, I mean looking for a job. While others chose to take a rest, I got to my feet and made a career move by submitting my resume to the company I used to render my service at as an intern. Guess what, I got hired right away. Well, it actually happened four days before graduation, so rest was alien to me.

Bloggers’ at Talk, one of the productions we worked  at Talk TV Global on one month after I got my job.

6. This is something I’m absolutely not supposed to talk about. So, let’s move on to the next one…
7. The beginning of a relationship.
I’m not really the type of guy who talks a lot about my relationship with my girl, but I just would like to acknowledge how significant it was for me when our relationship started in summer. Exchanges of sweet messages made the ants go gaga, although we were still on the courtship stage back then. Before it all happened, we were two happy individuals with separate lives, minding our own business and contented with our single status. And then it hit us. Cupid’s arrow struck us at the time we both least expected it.

8. …and on June 5, our relationship became official about two months after courtship. That day she said yes to me was one of the happiest days of my life.

Fast forward to November. My credibility as a blogger (that’s how it felt, at least) was recognized as I attended the annual gathering of bloggers, Blogapalooza, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier in Taguig City. It was a business-to-blogger meet up where companies offering diverse brands participated and presented their products to bloggers who gladly received freebies and gift certificates. Hopping from booth to booth made me immensely ecstatic especially that it was the first blogging event I’ve ever attended.

Photo op with Bogart the Explorer.

10. I was at the Mobile Festival 2013.
True enough, learning doesn’t stop at finishing a degree. It continues even at work. On Nov. 25 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, I’ve been enlightened on the growing trend among companies—international and local—of going mobile, thereby reaching their target market anytime, anywhere, without having to place commercials on TV, or put their ads on billboards. Creating a mobile app for your company and product is one remarkable innovation.
Remember my plan to go to Hundred Islands on my birthday last year which didn’t push through? Well, I’m quite grateful that before 2013 ended, I finally got the chance to marvel at the world-renowned tourist destination. It wasn’t purely leisure, though. It was part of my job as co-manager of GBG Pangasinan. We were there on Dec. 17 for the inaugural meet up of the group.
12. That very special Bolinao getaway.
Now, this is a travel that was not work-related. The level of enjoyment reached the sky as I got the chance to explore Bolinao, a place where you can enjoy the clear water of its beach and the marvellous seascape on the view deck of the Bolinao Lighthouse.

13. And yes, I was overjoyed to end the year and welcome 2014 with my family. My aunts and cousins came home from abroad, and the celebration at my grandmother’s house in Novaliches was a happy get together with them, a prelude to our grand reunion.

You might think that my 2013 was all leisure and enjoyment because of the things listed here. Well, no. There were lots of sadness and pain, just like the previous years I went through, which I won’t write about because there’s no use in doing that and focusing on the negative side of things.

It was a rough year, but one that I truly savored and enjoyed nevertheless. It marked memories and etched another set of principles on my being.
God blessed me with a load of wonderful gifts that I’m quite thankful for. And I’m certain that 2014 will be grander and more alive as God continues to bless me and my family.

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