From mountains to buildings

Manila may not be the coziest place to live and work in, but it feels good to be back in this great urban jungle.

Nine months ago, I relocated to Baguio City following a directive from my former company’s management due to the need of having someone to oversee the operations in the area. I was directed to handle sales, marketing, training and administrative tasks–responsibilities I never thought or dreamed of performing. Why would I in the first place? They were never in line with my passion!
Moreover, like what I wrote on my blog in April, I never considered living, or working in Baguio City. I saw the place only as a tourist destination–a place I would always love to visit, but would never desire to be my permanent residence.

But I set my personal issues aside for a while and accepted the new role. I thought to myself that maybe, it was God’s way of telling me that I needed that break to learn more about the world outside the passion that I have for writing and discover more of my capabilities other than the craft I have been honing through the years, thereby leading to my career growth. Maybe, it was God’s plan for me to get relocated, so I could interact more and build relationships with the people I would be working with, and help them in their concerns.
So, I told myself, “Okay, let’s give it a try.”
And that decision opened my eyes to a bucket of realities. Some of them were good, others were bad, still others were far worse than the other realities I faced and I would rather not talk about them. But, one reality I like to share is that I never fell in love with the job I had back there. Reviewing and compiling documents, dealing with sales, doing administrative tasks such as overseeing the office’s operations–they were not my thing.
But, I am very thankful to the management for trusting me with such a big responsibility. I learned a lot from that experience. I learned a lot about the company’s processes in terms of sales, marketing, recruitment and training. I got my hands on how to run the office and manage its day-to-day operations. I learned how to properly handle problems involving the project.
I learned how to deal with demanding salespeople, how to address their concerns and grievances, and how to adapt to a whole new environment inhabited by people outside the age group I belong to.
With all these learning and a promise of a bigger break coming my way in the future, why then did I choose to leave? I may have excelled in my role in Baguio City, but the point is I did not enjoy it. I did what I had to do, because it was my responsibility. I participated in the undertakings of the company, but somewhere in the middle, it hit me that I could never enjoy the role I had in it because it was never the one I had always wanted in the first place. Simply put, it is not where my heart is, or where it will ever be.
So I told myself, “It’s time to leave.” And I did.
Now, that decision has led me to where I am right now. I am starting anew, adapting again to a new environment, interacting with a new batch of workmates and adjusting to their culture. There will be times that the whole process will be hard, but it does not matter, because one thing that I have recently learned is that I am too young to get comfortable and play the game safe. I am too young to decide not to pursue what I had always wanted to do. This is not about being idealistic as some people think. This is about being realistic–acknowledging the fact that results would only suffer if I totally lost the drive.

I am grateful to God for giving me another opportunity to continue pursuing my dreams in a career path where my passion is, and for letting my needs and wants meet halfway.
As I embark on this new journey, I also aim to savor the view from the window in front my work station which has recently changed…from mountains to buildings.

Bucket list in blissful Boracay

That exactly was the first word I interjected when I saw Boracay’s enticing blue water. The island is such a beauty no one can ever resist and a destination no one can ever ignore. It boasts of pristine water and powdery white sand—it’s no wonder why people keep going back to this paradise.

It was my first time on the island last month. Before, I could only see it in photos and read about the place over the internet, and it took really long before I got to visit the island, so when I was there, all I did was focus on my precious vacation.

I want your Boracay getaway to be perfect just as mine was, so I prepared this Boracay bucket list for you.

1. Travel as a group.

Plan your vacation with your family, or your friends. Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it a lot. Activities on Boracay are not meant to be done alone, so don’t go there alone (unless you’re King/Queen Congeniality, or the Master of PR who has a knack on making new friends anywhere you go). Spend your vacation with the most precious people in your life and you’ll surely have one of the best travels ever. Moreover, it helps a lot in cutting down costs, as you can bargain for lower rates for activities and food.

2. Cook
Nothing’s more delicious than the food cooked with love by your family, or your friends. You can do other things while preparing food like talking about funny stories, cracking jokes and planning your itinerary for the next day. And it’s less expensive than dining out.

3. Scream while riding the flying fish…

…so the operators will know when to slow down. I must admit, it was more nerve wracking than Star City’s Star Flyer. The sharp turns and the speed will surely throw you off the ride if your grip is not strong enough…and yeah, if you don’t cry out, “Kuya, slow down!” My legs and arms were aching after that and I’m not sure if I’ll do it again when I go back. There was only one thing I had in mind during the entire ride: I must not get thrown into the water. It was extreme, but I still recommend it because it’s something you don’t get to experience every day. And with that, here goes the next one.
4. Do something crazy.
Yes, something crazy—anything like exclaiming, “GOOD MORNING, BORACAY!” from the veranda of your hotel.

5. Ride the banana boat.

After the exhausting flying fish experience, we went for something a little less extreme—banana boat. We just sat, relaxed, enjoyed the view and savored the wind touching our skin. But (SPOILER ALERT), be prepared for the unexpected sharp turn towards the end, because you will inevitably get thrown off the boat. That’s the climax.

6. Spend three hours on Puka Beach.

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll surely enjoy this area a lot, because of the few establishments—a great place to commune with nature. There are sheds where you can lie under while listening to the melodic sound of the waves rushing to the shore.

7. Close your mouth while sailing on paraw.

Don’t forget that, because the waves will hit you straight in the face and you’ll get wet all over. Salt water is the last thing that you ever want to drink. But, it was definitely an exhilarating experience, sailing on paraw—it was like riding the waves while the wind carries you.

8. Go on a night out.

Don’t leave Boracay without hitting the bars and the clubs. You can drink till you drop, or just chill out with a bottle or two of beer. Listen to an acoustic band, or groove to the DJ’s reverberating music. Watch the fire dancers and have your photos taken with them. Dance. Some of you may not be party goers, but don’t worry. There are a lot of options to choose from.

9. Enjoy.

You went on a vacation to enjoy and get replenishment of energy, so focus on that. Forget about work. Forget about the people and the things that stress you out. Forget about the hassles of life. You’ll have enough time for all of those things when your vacation ends. Just indulge in the activities on the island, savor the luscious food, revel in the exciting night life. You’re not living a fantasy; you’re living your life, so don’t waste your getaway by worrying around. Just enjoy.

Final reminder:

Please bear in mind that it’s our responsibility to protect and care for the environment. You don’t need to be a part of a big cause to do that. By simply disposing of your trash properly, you’ve contributed a lot to the environment. Do not litter. Be a responsible traveler. The Earth is your home. You surely don’t want an untidy one, right?

Credits to Jesus Espiritu for some of the photos used in this blog.

One-day feast in Baguio City

One of the interesting things that draw people towards a place is the food it offers. Treating your eyes to all things wonderful is a great experience. But the food we eat in a particular place creates a delicious memory that sticks to our palates.
A tour around Baguio City isn’t about sightseeing alone; it’s also about tasting good food offered by the best diners around.
Have you ever wondered then what your one-day menu in Baguio would look and taste like?

Kiwi Bread and Pastry Shop
Mines View

Start your day with a hearty combination of sausages, steak, bacon, egg (sunny side up or scrambled), bread and beans in tomato sauce complemented by a cup of coffee, or hot chocolate with a refill. Good for two to three persons, you can enjoy this authentic breakfast at P420.

Porta Vaga, Session Rd.

Your craving for pasta will surely be satisfied by this small diner at Porta Vaga located along Session Rd. Try their Full Combo meal which gives you your choice of pasta, grilled chicken or sausage and garlic basil toast. For only P90 (add P10 to upgrade your pasta), you can complement this meal with honey mint ice priced at P25. Indeed, big things come from small beginnings.
Chicken ala King
Moran St., cor. Arellano, Gibraltar
Treat yourself to a sumptuous lunch and a cozy place at C Boutique Hotel Baguio. One of their best main course meals is Chicken ala King (diced chicken in cream sauce with minced bell peppers and red onions) served with fresh slices of orange. Order this delicious dish for a reasonable price of P190.
Chocolate de Batirol
Camp John Hay
Grab a cup of flavorful hot chocolate while enjoying the cool weather of Baguio City. You can savor this delectable drink for P95 a cup at Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay and partner it with suman sa lihia (P64), bibingka (P105), or turon de langka (P85). Now what you get is a tongue tickling sweet fix.

Korean Palace Restaurant
South Drive

Just for once, forget about your diet and dig into the flavors of Korea at the Korean Palace Restaurant where they offer an eat-all-you-can buffet for P399. You’ll definitely give in to its heavenly goodness, as the first thing to greet you upon entering is the buffet table overflowing with delightful treats.
Ayala Technohub
Another good choice for your dinner is Lechon Cubano with Crab Fat Sauce and Laing served at Melt in Ayala Technohub for only P180. Let the meat, vegetable and seafood combination party in your mouth.

Enjoying your food trip so far? Don’t think that the feast is over. If there’s still space for more, then the fun continues well into the night. Drop by Baguio Craft Brewery located along Marcos Highway and start treating yourself to different flavors of beer with varying alcohol content levels, brewed and mixed right in that place.

Some of these may be a bit pricey, but as long as they meet your expectations, satiate your cravings and give you the best tasting experience in Baguio, I don’t think the price matters.

C Boutique Hotel: Where your dream staycation comes true

If you’re looking for the pefect hotel in Baguio City, read this and be captivated by the beauty and coziness of C Boutique Hotel

At about 5,000 feet above sea level, you can find a jewel that promises an indulgent staycation treat, providing you with the modern comforts of home sans the boring feeling of staying at your own address. C Boutique Hotel in Baguio City is the perfect location for this kind of adventure.

Situated on Arellano St., cor. Moran near Mines View Park, C is not just another hotel; it is the epitome of a rewarding coziness that you’ve always been searching for which is way too evident in their room choices. Once you enter the place, you’ll feel the successful fusion of a modern home’s ambiance and an old Baguio house’s rural tranquility—something that you don’t usually see in the places you visit.

Studio Suite

C’s Studio Suite is a perfect sanctuary for a lone traveler, or for an enthusiastic duo. It is equipped with a queen size bed, inviting enough for a good slumber. Wood accents adorn the interiors, giving it a more relaxing impression.

Enjoy Baguio’s cool weather on the balcony with an outdoor table-for-two set up where you can enjoy conversations with a beer in hand. If you’re not a drinker, order a soothing cup of espresso, or hot chocolate from the hotel barCharley’s Barwhere an array of sumptuous food selections are also available for you to devour.

Family Suite

C values the importance of family bonding that’s why they also offer a special place for them to stay in—The Family Suite complete with a loft. Measuring 50 sq. m. in total, the room is spacious enough for family members to move around. With a single-sized and a double-sized bed on the room’s first floor, and another double-sized bed on the loft, it can accommodate a family of five. It also comes with a balcony that affords occupants views of pine trees and foggy environment.

All rooms of C are equipped with a cable network, wireless internet connectivity, hot-and-cold water facility, mini bar and a safety deposit box.

On the hotel’s second level, the warmth of the fireplace will embrace you amid Baguio’s natural cool climate coupled with the pouring rain. Called The Foyer, the area is not a boring space to lounge at. It is where you can enjoy a game or two of Tic-Tac-Toe and other board games. It is also embellished with paintings that will make an art lover a happy kid.

For reservations:

Landline: (074) 619 – 0158
Mobile: (0917) 534 3818 (Globe)
(0999) 886 2755 (Smart)
(0932) 886 2340 (Sun)

Sungyan Grill: Happiness on a river

A calm river is an irresistible place to many. In its enchanting serenity, one finds peace of mind and a sanctuary to regain inner strength.
Hal Boyle once said, “What makes a river so restful to people is it doesn’t have any doubt—it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”
But aside from all the metaphors related to a river that feed the soul and replenish lost energy, one can also indulge in an abundant feast that makes the tummy happy. Eating on a scenic river is an idea which sparked the business of Sungayan Grill Floating Restaurant. Opened in 2013, the restaurant embarked on its maiden cruise along the Balingasay River and has become the go-to seafood diner in Bolinao, Pangasinan since then.
How to get there
Once you are in Bolinao, never forget to give this place a try. Before reaching the town proper, turn left on the street located before Carmak. Stay alert and read the signage on either side of the road, which also leads to Patar White Sand Beach, the most frequented spot in the small town.

Entrance to the restaurant is situated a few meters before the bridge over the river.
The pathway made of bamboo will make you appreciate the picturesque view bordering the water.

What to expect
Staying idle on the riverside is the main dining area which is a floating restaurant in itself, but four wooden structures tied to plastic drums that make them float are being launched to the river.  Pulled by boats during a cruise, they can accommodate varying numbers of people.
Credits to CommAsia

Their menu offers various seafood choices, but their main hit is sungayan or unicorn fish; thus, the restaurant. Study the picture and you’ll know exactly the reason behind the fish’s name. Its natural salty taste is all over, and its meaty goodness is similar to that of hito or catfish
Credits to CommAsia
A platter good for three to four contains either grilled sungayan, or bangus (milkfish), crabs, shrimp, grilled liempo, seaweeds, and mangoes with onions and tomatoes. Just add P1,000 for the river cruise and your eyes will feast on the majestic site filled with all things green while devouring your sumptuous lunch.
A big group, on the other hand, can enjoy an assisted buffet at P250 per person for grilled bangus as main dish, or P300 for sungayan. Both prices are inclusive of river cruise.

The activity lasts for about an hour, which is enough time to enjoy your meal and take in all the wonders of nature transpiring around you. Don’t forget though to document the experience by pressing the shutter or recording the whole scene. Sure, you can enjoy your seafood anywhere else, but doing that while cruising on the river makes much of a difference.
Sungayan Grill Floating Restaurant is located in Balingasay, Bolinao, Pangasinan. For reservations, contact Maan Ria Celeste at 0912-3534433.

Finding joy in relocating

“I think we’re going to the moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It’s by the nature of his deep inner soul… we’re required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.”

-Neil Armstrong
No one can impede the influx of changes. After all, it’s been said over and over that it’s “the only permanent thing in the world.” Who doesn’t know that statement anyway? So often it’s been repeated that it’s now a cliche.
We can’t escape change either. True enough, I myself have become its prisoner. But a happy one at that.
About two months before, the change had been announced. To many, it was a surprise. To a few, it came as a relief. To me, it was some sort of an uncertainty, surfing on the waves of the why’s and the what ifs.

I’ve been relocated to Baguio. I don’t know exactly what got into God’s mind why He allowed that to happen (not that I question Him for his will), but I obliged, bent my will and proceeded with His plan. At first (maybe even up to now), I saw the situation’s ironies. First, even though I love Baguio and its cool weather, view decks and mountains, I didn’t consider living in the city. It was only a tourist destination for me that I would visit from time to time; not a home, not a work place.

Second, a fragment of my being which I’ve already learned to let go and move on from resides in Baguio. A thought crossed my mind: What happens if our paths cross? The city is not as big as Manila, so it’s bound to happen–an inevitable encounter if fate finds joy in it and decides to revel in its awful awkwardness.
And third, speaking of Manila, I was re-establishing my life in the big urban jungle. Suddenly, the endeavor came to an abrupt pause and had been edited to change the scene. I was enjoying the lights, tall buildings and the social encounters despite the traffic, pollution and daily rush. I got to know a bunch of crazy people whom I made friends with. I listened to their life stories, issues and struggles, and shared pieces of me with them along the way. All of a sudden, change took me to a place where I can’t eat lunch, watch movies, or spend the rest of Saturday afternoon with them by lounging in their cozy condo unit.
Bigger than all of these, though, is the added responsibility handed over to me. Despite the uncertainties it entails, however, I stood and accepted the challenge. Not because I didn’t have a choice, but because I also got interested and wanted to know what going out of my comfort zone really means.
Nearly a month since relocating to Baguio, here I am, indulging in the challenging new stint and reveling in the opportunity to develop new skills. Just like what Armstrong said, I went to Baguio City because it’s my nature to face challenges, no matter how rough the road may be, no matter how uncertain my daily undertakings may be.
Sure, job becomes more difficult since it’s not exactly the field where I’d been trained for four years, but it’s a welcome opportunity to test my ability to adapt. Socializing skills are being used more, multitasking is being practiced more often, and the thinking speed is being increased.
And yes, I’m enjoying the picturesque views, breezy mornings, cool summer, and the refreshing greens on the way to work…every day.

Just a few steps from the office, this landscape seen from the view deck of Mines View Park awaits.

Even from the office, eyes can feast on an awesome view–a stress buster.

And who would not be inspired and energized every day if daily commute is like this? Fresh air, no traffic and with lines of trees saying “good morning” along the way.

Or, if wandering at night gives you this sight?

Beauty and the Beast: An enchanting retelling of a familiar love story

Once upon a time, there was a self-centered, haughty prince living in a majestic castle in the middle of the dark woods.

One night, an old woman knocked on the castle’s gargantuan door, begging to be accommodated for the night. The prince, selfish as he was, refused to let the old woman stay despite the cold and harsh environment of the forest.
She begged a second time, telling him not to make judgments based on one’s appearance, but the prince rejected and banished her. Little did he know that the old woman was an enchantress putting him to test. A few moments later, she transformed to reveal her true self.
Realizing his mistake, the prince knelt before her and begged for her forgiveness. But it was too late. She cast a spell on him and turned him into a hideous beast. The spell would be undone only if he would learn to love and someone would love him in return before the last petal of the rose from the enchantress falls.

Many miles beyond the woods, there was a beautiful lady living with her genius old man in a provincial town. She was so lovable that a muscular over-confident hunter named Gaston was allured by her beauty. But she always turned him down.
One night, as her father was traveling to an invention fair, he got lost in the forest upon getting attacked by a pack of wolves. He found the castle and knocked on the door for shelter. He found himself talking to a human clock and human candelabra. When the Beast found out, he was so enraged he made the old man a prisoner, believing that he was an intruder intending to reveal his secret.
When the young lady knew of his father’s disappearance, she searched for him in the woods where she chanced upon the castle. She entered it and found her father locked away in a corner.
Realizing there was another intruder, the Beast got angry and attempted to banish the lady. But the lady begged the beast to release her father and take her in his stead. Upon hearing this, the Beast commanded his servants to send the old man out of the castle without letting the lady say goodbye to him.
Having heard this fairy tale many times, we know what happened next.
There was a thick barrier between the main characters at first, but it eventually broke down, giving way to a love that conquered everything. And just like other fairy tales, the Beast and the lady lived happily ever after.
This is the story of Belle and the prince. This is the story of Beauty and the Beast.
For the first time, the original Broadway stage musical adaptation of this ever famous love story has come to the Philippines to create a spectacular world of romance for the Filipino audience at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater.
Indeed, the musical is fascinating from start to finish, but I’d like to zero in on several elements that stood out.
Stage design
Sure, it’s a Broadway musical. They’ve got the budget to afford a majestic stage design. But it definitely takes craftsmanship, creativity and imagination to yield a masterful output that will make the audience imagine that they are physically in the story. Alongside this, skillfully carrying out the director’s precise instructions is essential in achieving a seamless transition of scenes onstage. And they’ve achieved it.
The enchantress
The musical opened with a short narration of how the haughty prince turned into a hideous beast. The old woman who later revealed herself as an enchantress was an essential character. Onstage, there was a hunched woman begging the prince for temporary shelter. With a few flicker of lights, the hunched woman was replaced by an approximately 10-feet tall enchantress in a gown that extended to the stage’s floor. Putting this scene at the beginning was a total turn on.
‘Be Our Guest’ number
The story was about the unexpected romance that sprouted between Belle and the Beast. But among all the scenes that unfolded, my personal favorite is the “Be Our Guest” number where in all the house servants gleefully sang and gracefully danced as they welcomed Belle to the castle. It was a magnificent showcasing of the performers’ dancing prowess as well as of the designer’s craftsmanship. Towards the end of the performance, two huge bottles blew out smoke akin to champagne bottles spewing their contents. It concluded with party poppers (?) shooting out glimmering strips into the audience who applauded the performance.

Another favorite scene of mine is Mrs. Potts (head of kitchen who turned into a tea pot) singing “Beauty and the Beast” while Belle and the Beast was enjoying their moment together. How can I ever forget one of the songs I grew up with? I just wish Belle and the Beast sang the song in a duet.
He learned to love. Belle reciprocated his love. But the last petal of the rose fell.
Just when Belle was about to lose hope because she thought she was losing the love of her life, an amazing thing occurred. The beast levitated and rotated while suspended in the air (yes, this happened onstage). With the flickering lights, the Beast returned to his true form–a handsome prince Belle didn’t recognize at first. It was one of the most amazing, most admirable, and most applause-worthy scenes of the two-hour musical.
True, Beauty and the Beast is a familiar fairy tale we grew up with. But the musical is an enchanting retelling of a love that conquers all. I’d say you must see it for yourself.

The musical stages until February 8, 2015 at 8 pm, with matinees at 2 pm every Saturday and Sunday. For ticket prices and reservations, visit

Hello, 2015!

Year 2014 was a year of extremes for me. It was a rocky ride on the marvelous path called life and a mixture of the best and the worst. But, as the previous year ended when the clock struck 12, I concluded with a smile that it had been a great year after all.
This year, I look forward to a new series of thrilling adventures and breath-taking discoveries. Continue joining me as I document and savor life bit by bit. Happy 2015!

4 activities you shouldn’t miss at Hundred Islands

I succumbed to limitless exhilaration at Hundred Islands national Park, Alaminos City.

View of the islands from the Governor’s Island View Deck.

It wasn’t my first time at the tourist destination, but since my recent trip to Hundred Islands with my office buddies wasn’t work-related, I surrendered to blissful adventures and felt like I was a newcomer. The mesmerizing islands still captured me in awe and the stunning view from the view deck of Governor’s Island still made my heart race.

All of the activities are must-tries, but the level of thrill varies. As for me, here’s how I rank the activities my friends and I tried out.

Rank 4: Snorkeling
Price: P150/head for goggles rental

Seeing the giant clams, corals and fish was supposedly exciting. But, I didn’t enjoy snorkeling that much, perhaps, because I’m not a good swimmer. Being a good swimmer is not a requirement, because there’s a life vest to help you float, but you’ll surely get the most out of it if you are. It gets boring if you’re just floating around on the surface. Plus, you’ll get to see more of the living things underneath if you can swim like a fish.

Rank 3: Helmet Diving
Price: P300/head

Before the trip, I didn’t do any research about helmet diving, so I was totally clueless about how it felt.

It was the first activity we did after our sumptuous lunch aboard the boat. After having our fill and taking some rest, we stepped onto the floating hut where the helmets and oxygen tanks sat waiting.

We were oriented about what to do and how to do it properly, and were taught hand signals, which were essential in our underwater adventure. As we stood and prepared for our descent, we tried lifting the helmets and whoa! It was surprisingly heavy! I was able to lift it up to only an inch.

The instructor told us that the pressure would get higher every two feet. To remove it, he advised us to shut our mouth tight, pinch our nose with one hand while the other holds the helmet’s handle (never loosen the grip on the helmet, or it would slip off the head), then blow through it, so the pressure would pop out. Jaw exercise could also be done.

The diving area’s depth is 12-15 feet. The pressure was ringing in my ears as I descended. It was painful. But, it lasted for only a minute or two. Few more minutes and I was marveling at the scene unfolding before me.

Beneath the water’s surface, there were schools of fish that came rushing to us as the divers sprinkled rice grains. The divers took numerous photos of us touching the corals and the giant clams that would shut their shells upon detecting our proximity and presence.

That’s me touching the mushy membrane of a giant clam.

Helmet diving lasted for about 10-15 minutes.

Rank 2: Zipline
Price: P250/head

Zipline isn’t new to me, as I tried it twice before at the Balungao Hilltop Adventure. But zooming away from Governor’s Island towards another island, which was about half a kilometer away, was a whole new experience.

It was nerve-wracking before the flight, because of the fact that I would be flying over the deep sea. But it was enticing at the same time, because of the fulfillment waiting on the other side. We were eight, but only two of us took the challenge.

Nervousness came only before the release. But, the exhilaration and fun took over as I zipped away through the sturdy cable with the wind touching my sun-soaked skin. I savored the marvelous scene around me before reaching the other end in less than a minute. It was great and I’m craving for another ride.

Rank 1: Cliff Diving
Price: Free

I’ve been high above the sea, speeding with the wind, and way under it, interacting with its inhabitants. But, what tops my list is cliff diving. Nothing beats the thrill of a 20-foot drop into the 8 feet deep clear water on the Marcos Island.

The trail towards the cliff diving site.

Waiting for my turn. Photo by Kim Montano.

The nervousness I felt upon seeing the others jump off the edge was like an avalanche. But, I was certain I wanted to jump. When my turn came, I set myself in position, counted to three in my mind and jumped off the edge without allowing myself to have second thoughts. I let my hands fly in the air as I braced for the impact. A surge of relief flooded my mind upon touching the water’s surface after waiting for a full second.

Here’s a tip: Upon stepping on the edge, don’t stare too long at the water; it will only give you doubts. Just jump after counting to three without thinking about how it feels like when you reach the destination. Just jump and take in all the action.

To date, cliff diving is the most exhilarating adventure I experienced and the most unforgettable moment of my life as a traveler. Too bad, though, my friends didn’t catch it on video. But, the moment is on loop-play in my mind.

Budget Breakdown:
Tour package voucher purchased through Ensogo – P700/head
Van rental (Manila to Lucap Wharf and vice versa) – P8,000
Hotel Accommodation – Rooms start at P1,000. We got ours (Family room for 6 persons) for P2,600 at Island Tropic Hotel.
Food: Prices of viands at the Lucap Wharf range from P40 to P70 per order. Rice is priced at P15 per cup.

Other moments:

En route to the Hundred Islands National Park.
Quezon Island.
Quezon Island.
Quezon Island. Photo by Kim Montano.
Posing at the foot of Manuel L. Quezon’s statue on Quezon Island.

View from the Marcos Island.
Turtle Island.
Crocodile Island.
Taken at the Governor’s Island View Deck.

Still feels like the first time

I’m not sure how long I haven’t traveled, but my hiatus from adventure seeking will soon be over. Two days more and I’ll be marveling (again) at the scenic and mesmerizing Hundred Islands.

It’s been one full year after my first time at the national park and it was all for work that was why I didn’t get to fully enjoy the tourist site. The thought of riding the boat as we go from an island to another island comes to mind as the date comes near. What makes me ecstatic is the added fun that I’ll experience this time, that is helmet diving (getting up close and personal with scores of fish under the clear water…Woohoo!)

Last year’s trip to the Hundred Islands was all for work. I enjoyed the marvelous views towering around me while I was on the boat, but I really want to explore more of the islands.
Island hopping with a large group divided into several boats is another twist to the thrill.

My calendar is marked and the traveler in me has been reawakened. Hundred Islands, I give you the permission to take my breath away.

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