"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Sunday, May 28, 2006


today, caterpillar talk is officially two years old. thank you readers for all the comments and for the interactions (virtual and otherwise). you make blogging fun and rewarding.

smorgasbord: some selected lines...

may 2004: what i really long for right now is a lengthy and meaty conversation, and not this task of typing down words as if i’m talking to the monitor.

june 2004: this attempt at blogging is doing wonders for me. i’m beginning to understand a little bit (according to my own reckoning) of html coding. yehey! i’m learning!

july 2004: my mind is old, but my senses are young...

august 2004: letting go is more painful yet more rewarding than holding on.

september 2004: my life, it seems, is literally a blur.

october 2004: i don’t like airports!!! they always make me feel miserable.

november 2004: i’ll not lose anything if my wishes don’t come true, but i have something to gain if they do come true... and that’s the comforting thought with wishing.

december 2004: you see, when you have many sets of friends, it’s so difficult to make them come together. for my case, it’s so complicated. i think spending time with all of them together in one go would only bring out my almost-always-hidden multiple personalities, hahaha! it’s too dangerous, i think.

january 2005: i have to keep going, if not for myself, then at least for someone else...

february 2005: speed got me when i was just a kid. i wasn’t 5 years old then when i got dragged by a fast-moving motorcycle. why? because i thought i could run as fast as the motorcycle!

march 2005: i don’t wanna pursue one dream, give up the other and, in the end, be haunted by the dream i did not choose. if only i can have my cake and eat it, too...

april 2005: ah, i would love to find myself in caleruega again! the comforting silence, the breath-taking scenery, the sweet scent of the air, the beauty... my soul found a new home there.

may 2005: a thousand heartwarming moments are treasures that all the money in the world can’t buy, but i can have them. you can have them, too.

june 2005: the girl that i am today is already years and leaps apart from the little girl that i was, yet there are things far better than my childhood memories with papang that continue to stay with me... his time, his unconditional love, his passion for providing for the family and giving us what money cannot buy, his showing us what things in life are truly important, his good values, the freedom that he gave me and my brother, his support and guidance through his sound decision-making skills, his genes, his name.

july 2005: i know... i ought to stop whining. i shouldn’t drown the world with my troubles for the problems out there are far greater than whatever ails me...

august 2005: when i was in grade one, i belonged to the end of the spectrum. i was in the last section...

september 2005: i cannot go on deceiving myself that i’m still okay because no matter what, i still know that for every moment of happiness that i find here, really being home could make me feel so much more...

october 2005: be ready with screwdrivers and derring-do. computers need r and r, too. r and r as in re-seating of modular devices and reinstallation.

november 2005: my heart broke so perfectly into a million and one pieces — had the wind fiercely blown the tiny pieces away, they would have scattered like bloodied rose petals on the ground and become puzzle pieces that would never again fit...

december 2005: to hell with suckers. ha ha.

january 2006: my parents regard me as secretive. they’re familiar with my tendency to hold back talking about certain things. they know that i have the tendency to wait for the last crazy minute before i share anything too personal. they know that i don’t tell them a lot of things. they know that despite my being such an incessant talker, i still keep a lot to myself.

february 2006: i’m such an incurable romantic, i don’t really buy the valentine crap. love is sacred and should not be commercialized. you can make me feel giddy on other days… with sweet gestures that have nothing to do with flowers, chocolates, jewelry or dinners in fancy restaurants.

march 2006: maybe what i've been told is true: the answer will just come to me when the universe knows i'm ready. when my right time comes, i'll fall freely into what i'm destined to be and i'll truly, madly, deeply be happy.

april 2006: sometimes i think it's just my pride still holding me together. haha, i wanted that to be funny... but it's heartbreakingly funny.

may 2006: play in the rain up there in benguet, I DID!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

bisaya bloggers' "amazing" saturday

dragon boat rowing. selling ice candy in front of malate church. trip to thailand manila zoo. selling bottled water in the streets of makati. ice skating in megamall. relay in mandaluyong. all that during one fine saturday!

it all started with gail asking the manila-based bisaya bloggers to block-out their may 20 schedule for her. her group, the YUPPeace (young upbeat professional for peace), was organizing an amazing race-inspired activity and she wanted the bisaya bloggers to participate. fun-loving people and adventurers that we are, zimm, kuya toto, jory, sealdi and i said yes. we committed ourselves to join the one-day activity eventhough we had no idea of the tasks that will be assigned to us. the mere mention of "amazing race" was interesting enough... nice bait so we bit!

the details we got from gail via SMS were: may 20, 2006. meeting place: CCP parking lot, manila bay. be there 7am. wear blue shirt. bring swim wear and goggles. medicines, if you need any. extra money. extra clothes.

ulk... swim wear. goggles... and what?! manila bay?!

when i saw the words "swim wear", "goggles" and "manila bay" i think my eyes popped out, my head spun, and i quickly reconsidered taking back my "yes". there was just no way i was going to take a dip in manila bay... not even with the promise of a million pesos. nooooooooooo.... sure i can get crazy enough to walk on very fine broken pieces of glass, burning coals and tightrope but dip in manila bay?? no way!

gail's reply to my request for "no manila bay dip" assurance wasn't quite assuring: part of the game. not sure if there will really be swimming. bring swim wear and goggles, just in case. be there on saturday, 8am (not 7am as originally scheduled). wear blue shirt.

since i was looking for adventure and after some summer fun, i forgot about backing out and found myself and my backpack in the manila bay area on the morning of may 20, saturday. zimm, kuya toto, jory, gail and the YUPPeace were already there when i arrived and the activity was just about to kick off. ahh, i admire my timing! (let's just forget that i was actually late and gail somehow worried that i got lost in the manila jungle. hehehe.)

bisaya bloggers + YUPPeace = amazing race

amazing race YUPPeace edition 2006. 3 teams, 3 colors: yellow. red. blue.

bisaya bloggers in blue!

1st challenge: dragon boat race in manila bay

i thought i'd never get around to being part of a dragon boat rowing team. what do you know? the opportunity came to me last saturday and i grabbed it with much excitement. yes!!! i'll no longer wonder what it's like to be on a dragon boat, rowing. i've experienced it!!!

after a warm-up session, all of us participants had a crash course on dragon boat rowing courtesy of one of the key people of the national team (read: 2005 SEAGames dragon boat race champion). we were shown how to hold the quite expensive oars (PhP3K each and imported from canada) properly: one hand should firmly hold the "T" and the other should be on the "shaft" to control the angle of the "blade". we were told that "stroke" means right and "bow" means left. the other terms we kept track of were "backwater", "standby position" and "entry".

yes, we're eager learners... but somebody got distracted by the "barako" bodies of the SEAG rowers, hehehe.

then, it was time for the real thing... the dragon boat could hold twenty rowers but for our challenge, only ten rowers were needed: five on the "bow" side and five on the "stroke" side. the experience was great!!! i loved it!

we, members of the blue team, learned things so fast. we're so proud of our performance! when we were already out there in the middle, our instructor and "drum beater" asked four of us in the "bow" side to change positions to maximize the team's potential. the act of standing up and walking on the boat was quite exciting (and scary, too). gail and i had to let out our ear-piercing shrieks because, at one point, we thought the boat would overturn (and you could just imagine what's next!) due to all the motion of people standing up. fortunately, my much feared dip in manila bay didn't happen. all of us had our share of very minor splashes of manila bay water on our arms and thighs though courtesy of how we moved our oars in the water when we were told to row hard. it was such a grand experience to row as a team. every merciless ray of the late morning sun and every drop of water on our skin was worth it! gail, who got kissed by the water (hahaha...), could attest to this.

the dragon boat experience of the yellow team and the red team captured on cam.

the rowing team to beat

after the dragon boat race (what race? the blue team had so much edge, i said so. hehehe), all teams got the 1st clue and raced towards the next stop: fountain area beside aristocrat restaurant, in front of malate church.

leading the pack: happily making our way to the grand fountain

agile and addicted to winning (gail says we have major issues on rejection and losing, that's why -- and i agree with her), our team got to the fountain area ahead of teams yellow and red. in fact, zimm and kuya toto were able to rush to the venue ahead of the game marshalls who're to give the task and the next clue! talk about agility and ability!

task: sell 20 pcs. of ice candy (PhP5 each) in the bay area

hehehe... imagine us (read: people in blue, sweaty from the walking/running we had to do in order to get from the CPP parking lot area to that grand fountain in baywalk) selling ice candy to people we don't know and convincing them to shell out PhP5 for ice candy that actually costs only PhP2! we're quite good, we completed the task in no time and got the next clue for the next stop.

we all got on a jeepney in front of malate church and egged the driver on to go as fast as the streets would allow and head right away to manila zoo!

smiling faces: we're going to the zoo!

task: give the scientific names of hippopotamus, african lion, leopard, eagle owl, tiger, philippine cockatoo...

wanted: scientific names! ack!

only four of our teammates were allowed to go inside the zoo to look for the scientific names. the rest of us waited outside...

hay! this task took more time than what we were willing to spend. it's the marshalls' fault, not our teammates'! (hahaha, gotta blame others! *winks*) as a result, the yellow team caught up with us and we lost this round to them. what?! yellow team got our precious lead from us? we lost our preciousssssssssssss?

anyway, while we waited for our teammates to finish their task inside the zoo, we camped by the zoo's entrance and played a fun round of "shagidi shagidi shapopo". we followed jory's graceful movements while chanting. in no time, we were quite a sight! we shamelessly provided a short-lived entertainment showcase by the zoo's entrance with our cultural dance-inspired actions and "shagidi" chanting. oh, what fun!!!

at the zoo's entrance

our next stop was somewhere in filandia. we rode on a jeepney (taxi cab rides and hitch rides were not allowed by the marshalls) and got to this car shop...

task: car washing!

when we got to the shop, the yellow team was already there. three of their selected members were quite done with putting "shampoo" on the car they were tasked to clean. as for our team, we had to wait for a car to drive in...

...until finally, dzan dza raaaaaaaaan... fanfare and drum roll please: jory and gail found a new calling... car washing!

after they made the car look squeaky clean, we got our next clue and off we went to the next stop: don bosco - makati... to catch up with the yellow team.

as soon as we got off the jeepney that took us near don bosco, we immediately headed for the spot where the game marshalls were... to ask for our next task.

task: sell bottled water (15 bottles at PhP15 each)

this task made us realize how very difficult it is to convince people on jeepneys and on the sidewalks to buy bottled water. it's not easy to find yourself on the street calling out to people to buy something from you. moreover, it is quite disheartening when the people you're trying to sell to completely ignore you. lesson learned: at least acknowledge the presence of the vendor. even if you don't buy anything, be kind enough to at least make the other person feel that you're aware of his/her presence... it means a lot to a person who's making an honest living.

blue team eventually completed the task (after the yellow team did and before the red team got their share of bottled water to sell). we had our lunch and after a few minutes of rest, it was our time time to proceed to the megamall for the next task.

at this point, we were able to catch up with the yellow team as we managed to get on the same train with them. hehehe. when we got to our stop in ortigas, teams blue and yellow raced against each other to get to the skating rink.

task: ice skating

only 6 members of each participating group were allowed to do this part of the game. the 6 "skaters" of each team were required to make two complete trips around the rink without holding the sidebars. lucky for us, there are members of our team who really knew how to skate... blue team (our team!) was the first team to get the clue for the next and last stop. we were quite a sight as we (and the yellow team as well!) rushed out of the megamall. destination: don bosco - mandaluyong for the final showdown.

task: swimming relay

who won? blue team with the manila-based bisaya bloggers, of course!

the team, our team: where winners belong.

do i still have to say that we had a saturday that's so full of fun?

click here for more pictures.
photos included in this post are courtesy of val, zimm, and gail.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

from may to may

"What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment."
--Author Unknown

i tried to make a summary of my past 365 days and here is what i came up with...

medical mission in marilao, bulacan. hearing my godson kenj's version of ABC over the phone. about 50 trips to the movie houses. prince plaza ii. learning of my kuya's bye-bye to his bachelor days. meeting my then would-be sister-in-law for the first time. laboratory clean ups. bellevue hotel, alabang. baywalk nights with my papang and my kuya. TOSP meetings. yellow cab pizza sundays. trips to central bank. bisaya bloggers eyeball. unexpected photo op with junior kilat. fete de la musique. quality time with my cousins from US and singapore. the peninsula - manila. badminton in the zone.

the legend villas. tagaytay days. balai taal. carrying out "angel duties" for the TOSP formation program. research proposal submission. powerpoint presentations and technical reports for the lab. p6peeps get-togethers. billiards and ping pong and wallclimbing. kuya's wedding. experiments, experiments, experiments. laguna trips: cabuyao, pacita, calamba. walking around intramuros. brownman revival in 70's bistro. stalkers. TOSP community's tribute to roco. r&d entry submission. going back to my art. footloose the musical in meralco theatre. going crazy over oh-so-cute and colorful socks. photo ops and chikahan with high school classmates, especially the beautiful gal pals. "marathon-testing" the scents. scientific write-ups and paper submissions. washing my hair with ariel detergent.

business letters, research line-item budgets, quotes, and research project outlines. padi's point araneta center. major laptop troubles. losses, frustrations and blues. boat trip to iloilo. dinners with labmates: batchoy and seafoods. community exposure. scientific conference. group presentation: shamelessly dancing to the rhythm of vhong navarro's don romantiko. island-hopping adventure in guimaras. overnight stay in bacolod. roadtrip around negros island.

setting foot on dapitan, followed by a trip to ozamiz and then to lanao. being home in my iligan. visiting my grandpas and grandmas and being reunited with my titas, titos, cousins and cousins-in-law, their sons/daughters. going home to everything familiar -- including lechon roasted by my "mang-lechonay" uncles and cousins. first meeting with my cousin b-boy, our new instik baby boy. videoke session with high school batchmates 'til the wee hours. heartbreak. officially becoming a tita (and to an uber cute and charming chinita baby girl at that!).

drinking session and overnight with the gal pals in malate. painstakingly looking out for the precious dots, dots, dots. lone trips to bicutan, taguig and alabang. seeing the interiors of medical city. having my first bite of the fruit called persimmon. the watering hole. trips to gilmore and e. rodriguez. countless train rides. books!!! bouts with depression and nostalgia. our r&d win! thesis proposal. oblation run. UP lantern parade.

becoming 23. losing my research logbook. painting in starmall. reunion with friends from college. "emceeing" for jerk and tiff's wedding reception. dips in timoga pools. high school reunion. unforgettable december inuman session in manticao with pals from high school. three hair-trimming sessions. weight loss. hair loss. trips to and fro my mindanao. finding comfort in my family. reunion with best friend. equipment problems. only you a.k.a. "tj and jillian" craze. getting sick. lab parties and food fests: pa-ice cream, pa-pizza, etc. lab days and nights, runs, and very stressful moments with fluctuating power supplies. trouble-shooting.

binondo adventure with friends. food trip at a gal pal's place in makati. my very memorable and funny but painful and embarrassing ikot ride dive-off. sta. mesa brickhouse. wine tasting. getting new contact lenses and eyeglasses. sleeplessness. postcard from weng. thesis deadlines. week-long UP fair and eraserfest event with friends from high school. first ever henna tattoo. bisaya bloggers picnic. super jigsaw craze. buying a childhood dream: RC race car. phd comics. eastwood, metro walk, rockwell, greenbelt 3. exploring the south and the north. reunion with favorite roommate in the world. trip to baguio. playing in the rain up there in benguet. biking. very disturbing stalker's emails and amusing fan mails. thesis my quest to follow that star. fruitshakes and the threat of homelessness.

dine-outs and food trips with friends and family: gilligan's island, chowking, tokyo tokyo, old spaghetti house, pancake house, ihaw-one, jollibee, mcdonalds, pizza hut, shakey's, thai canteen, beach house, mang jimmy's, chocolate kiss, cafe donatello, max's, greenwich, kfc, dencio's, big ben, dear manok, tita fannie's, barbecue inn, burger king, goldilocks, super bowl, hotshots, ice monster, starbucks, breadtalk, green tomato, bubble gang toppings, krocodile grille, cravings, almon marina, yellow cab pizza co.!!!

here is the bottom line: let's just say that, in the past 365 days, i've been through and i've been up to -- as usual -- uhm, nothing much. *winks*

Sunday, May 14, 2006

random twenty - another round!

"We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered."
--Tom Stoppard

1. drats. i should stop listening to love songs. sad love songs.

2. aha, diving! i want to try scuba diving. i will try scuba diving. i am interested in sky diving. i am willing to try sky diving. oh, can you picture the thrill?! if it weren't for air resistance, sky diving wouldn't be a sport. it would only be plain suicide... and quite an expensive one at that. plus... plus... as they say, when it comes to sky diving, if at first you don't succeed, there's no next time. wehehehe.

3. can feel, can tell. can hear, can see. can live, can thrive. i swear, i'll bear. can't hurt, can't risk. can't want, can't have. too numb, too tired. i commit, i surrender. hmpf! noooooooo... that's it! i believe i have low EQ. i think i am emotionally unstable. duh, so much for trying to be rational.

4. i am determined to reach batanes before i turn 24. uhm, we'll see what happens to this determination.

5. i am still confused -- very, very confused -- and somewhat depressed. it doesn't show in my everyday though. see, i am h.a.p.p.y. (and my fingers are crossed behind my back. bleh.)

6. this blog will turn two years old on may 28. weeeeeeeeee... happy birthday, my bloggy! mwah.

7. i am going to watch the movie version of dan brown's the da vinci code. i've read the book a long time ago and i am interested to see tom hanks as robert langdon and audrey tautou as sophie.

8. i think i wanna be clarice starling, if only to get the chance of being face to face with (and earning the favor of) the brilliant and very cunning dr. hannibal lecter.

9. OMG, it's may! yes, i am aware that it's may.

10. i ought to eat yellow cab pizza again soon. i think i'm already suffering from withdrawal syndrome. my trips to sbarro didn't help. ack! patay, adik na talaga.

11. i need another vacation. as in. sun, sea, sand, and open air here i come! waaaaaaa, teka... ba't bumabagyo na?

12. what's up with the philippine political scene lately? same picture? same people? same problems?

13. i almost forgot that it was just last night when i watched mission: impossible iii. i didn't have expectations when i entered the movie house, so i did not have disappointments. i agree that the lamborghini's such a nice car.

14. no day but today. i still hear it in my head: RENT's roger is singing, who do you think you are? barging in on me and my guitar? little girl - hey, the door is that way... and mimi sings out her heart-tugging reply. whew! were you able to watch RENT?

15. i still have to learn how to drive a car on a busy road. bump cars and karts are different. i want to drive the real thing. i want speeeeeeeeeeeed. aws, busy road and speed don't really go together. ha ha.

16. i just learned a few hours ago that my campus in iligan is already a wifi zone. in fact, it has been since mid-march. whoa, how come i found out late?

17. i am currently craving for fruitshakes. i haven't eaten halo-halo nor ice cream this month, and that is quite unusual.

18. how are you doing, people? i'm curious.

19. i want to read another work of carl sagan. i gotta find another sagan book.

20. who me? no, not me. i break but i won't fall apart.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

i got mail

"The only interesting answers are
those which destroy the questions."

--Susan Sontag

i get mails. i always get mails. i get mails everyday. i get mails from my e-groups, from my friends in this and in that, and from my friends here, there and everywhere. i get mails from spammers, too. it has come to a point that i somehow worry if i happen to open any of my email accounts and there's no new mail to either read, read and reply to, or simply delete. (wait a minute, is it just me or something's really not quite right with the last sentence? bah.) i'm so used to getting new mails every day, it's not normal at all if, in a day, i don't have new mail. okay, enough of this. now, let me talk about friendster.

i'm well aware that friendster (yes, that friendster network) is quite a stalker's haven. nah, don't tell me that it's not because i know that it is. if not for my friends and the number of testimonials i already have in my account, i would have long given up on staying as a member -- i'm wary of being stalked (with those creepy val--- stalkers out there, who wouldn't be?). for quite a long time now, i've set the restrictions of my friendster account to the highest, that is, only my friends can view my full profile and pictures. anyone in the network can send me messages though. then, too, i've limited my log ons to the network. i only log in when i have new messages, new testimonial notifications, new friend requests, and/or alerts for submitted photos from friends.

the only friendster action i take on new testimonials and new friend requests is approval. if i don't like a submitted testimonial to appear in my profile, i don't press the reject button. i simply leave the testimonial as is and allow it to take its space in the new testimonials section for as long as friendster allows it. the same holds true for new friend requests: if i choose not to approve an 'add as a friend' request, i don't hit the reject button. i simply ignore the request and, like the 'cannot be approved' testimonial, it is allowed its space in the new friend requests section for as long as friendster allows it. in this way, i don't become guilty of rejecting testimonials or people. :P bwehehe.

now, having said that i'm wary of being stalked (in fact, i'm "allergic" to stalkers), it is not to be expected of me to approve new friend requests from friendster people whom i don't personally know. i have to see first how i'm connected to the person and i have to be somewhat assured that the same person is not of suspicious character. yes, i'm quite praning! naturally, if i cannot appreciate our connection in the network or if my gut feel tells me that i ought to be suspicious, i ignore the person's request.

recently, i received a new friend request in friendster. it came with a message and here it is:

From: ********
Date: Saturday, May 06, 2006 10:26:00 PM
Subject: please be my friend


hi val---!

my name is ******** and i want to add you to my
friends...please accept...

by the way, i'm an avid fan of yours...from IIT
CSM...your younger sister xx knows about me...

thanks in advance..

ahhhh... fan mail. i must be living an interesting life, i actually have fans. ha ha. ayyyyyy! sheeez. honestly, it's a little bit scary. it somehow makes me worry.

paranoid and ever suspicious being that i am, i checked ********'s friendster account and searched for my sister's 'footprints' on the profile page. based on the testimonial that my sister gave, they're good friends, ******** is not a suspicious character, and blah. so, uhm, okay, that bit relieved me.

******** is now my friend... in friendster.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

b is for...

biyahe tayo!
bakasyon time means biyahe time. last saturday, april 29, 2006, yoni and i went to victory liner's cubao terminal to catch our 7am ride to baguio city.

biyahe tayo!
7-eleven. cubao terminal. inside the bus.
background: cubao terminal scene

we were supposed to be on an earlier bus ride, however, when we got to the terminal the night before, we were told that all seats were taken. the earliest victory bus bound for baguio that could accommodate us was the 6am ride... but yoni and i wouldn't be seatmates for the said trip. hence, we opted for the next best sked on the list, the 7am ride! we spent the rest of the night comfortably sleeping in yoni's boarding house and returned to the very busy terminal the morning after...

bus ride
the road from metro manila to baguio is quite long. in between catching more sleep, we whiled away the time by abusing the camera and taking pictures of ourselves...

"anti-boredom" pictures: our self-portraits

everytime the bus stopped, i also took pictures of whatever was right outside our bus window: (1) somewhere just before pampanga. (2) paniqui, tarlac. (3) paniqui, tarlac. (4) paniqui, tarlac. (5) paniqui, tarlac. (6) binalongan, pangasinan. (7) urdaneta city, pangasinan.

along the road
"anti-boredom" pictures, too: the sights outside our bus window

our bus got caught in tarlac traffic for some reason. instead of getting pissed by the traffic, i just took more pictures of whatever without much regard for my camera's batteries.

after so many hours of sitting on the bus, taking pictures, trying to sleep, and waiting for baguio's rows and rows of pine trees to loom before my eyes, lo! our bus finally arrived in baguio city...

when yoni and i got off the bus, we were greeted by the amazing combo of warm afternoon sun and cool baguio breeze. we allowed this "baguio feel" to "sink in" as we took our seats under a shade and waited 'til my tita yenyen came to fetch us.

little boys
tita yenyen brought us to their home in ambiong, la trinidad, benguet -- a place of higher elevation. there, i got reunited with my favorite twins in the world: my three-year old cousins, raymart and raymond!

we of similar blood look cute together.
you better agree with me.

the last time i spent time with my tita yenyen's family back in may 2004, i knew raymart from raymond. however, when i saw them again, i found it difficult to tell them apart! they're so... identical! martmart and monmon are cute identical little boys. it's hard not to be fascinated by their mere presence. they're very adorable.

burnham park
yoni and i had a little adventure when saturday's very late afternoon finally came. we took a jeepney ride from la trinidad, benguet and went back to baguio city. we asked around for directions and reached burnham park.

boating in burnham park

we spent an hour boating on burnham lake. yoni did most of the rowing, i got busy capturing the moments by taking pictures. actually, i wanted to row and row. however, i got frustrated with my own rowing abilities, so i gave up trying to be good at it. just as well. yoni was so into it and she was doing a good job steering our boat on the lake. methinks she's quite a natural at manning the oars -- maybe she should be part of the national rowing team. hehehe.

it was already getting dark when we finally docked our rented boat and bade farewell to the boat station caretakers. then, yoni and i explored one side of the park and took turns posing for the camera.

burnham at night
burnham park at night

when we finally got tired of "camera whoring", yoni and i made our way back to my tita's house in benguet.

at this point, we've only been in baguio/benguet country for less than 24 hours... and we felt we've already accomplished a lot! ha ha ha.

the next morning, we woke up slightly shivering due to extreme cold... and to think we were fully covered by our respective thick blankets! sobrang lamig, ang sarap-sarap matulog. nakakatamad bumangon.

due to being on vacation mode and also due to the very conducive sleeping conditions, yoni and i slept beyond what should have been our waking time. i can't believe that we had the gall to ignore the benguet sunrise. hahaha.

bumangon na ang mga twins at naglalaro na sa labas, kami ni yoni himbing na himbing pa rin. buti na lang mabait ang tita ko at hinintay lang kaming magising at bumangon.

bumangon naman talaga kami

strawberry fields
at the strawberry farm

our first stop for the day was the strawberry farm in la trinidad, benguet. my tita yenyen and the twins went with us. our visit to the farm made me see for myself that it's not really "strawberry fields forever". the vast farm also has beds and beds of very pretty flowers, different varieties of lettuce, spring onions, etcetera. despite the presence of many people, i was still awed by the scenery.

baguio, baguio!
after our sight-seeing trip to the strawberry farm, we rode on a jeepney and headed for mines view park. when we got there, i had the feeling that all the people in baguio were there. it was difficult to get from one part of the park to another without bumping into people. there were just too many people, it was congested! we were quite lucky that we managed to have a bench all to ourselves. it was relieving that our bench was in a good corner, so all five of us were able to eat our lunch -- picnic style -- without people bumping into us.

mines view park
mines view park picnic

after we finished our lunch, we made our way out of mines view park and went to the philippine president's official summer retreat, the mansion! the twins loved it there. monmon got so hyper and kept running around, we had a hard time convincing him to stay put and pose for the camera. when he didn't pose with the military guards when we asked him to (thereby making martmart not wanting to pose, too -- *twins!*), yoni and i grabbed our own opportunity. hence, our picture with one of the guards.

the mansion
picture-taking outside the mansion

after we got out of the gates of the mansion, we walked towards nearby wright park. it began to rain a little and i silently prayed that the light rain would let up. the twins were with us and the day can't be over too soon because of rain...

wright park
baguio city's wright park

we spent sometime having our picture taken in front of the horses as the raindrops fell. after that, we hailed a taxi and headed for camp gen. gregorio del pilar, which is better known to you and me as PMA compound.

on our way to PMA, we passed through camp john hay. my jaw sort of dropped when i saw the place. it's so vast and it looked very beautiful even through the rain, with all the natural greens and the pine trees! i instantly got convinced that i would love it there!!! then, too, when we saw the liquor shop and the nearby establishments, the place looked very posh and ultra expensive! then, i got the sinking feeling that the place was not for me... after all.

the rest of the road to PMA compound was quite long and winding. there were rows and rows of pine trees and more blessings of natural greens. my eyes did not run out of beautiful things to see and i did not run out of things to think and feel about. when we got inside the compound, the sun beamingly shone for us and there was no sign of rain. that warm "afternoon feel" was just right for us... yoni and i went on a "picture-taking galore" trip once again.

inside the PMA compound

the place is well-maintained and breathtaking. it seemed to me as if everything there was meant to be put into pictures. even the flowers in their beds and planters are worth admiring.

pma, too
inside the PMA compound, too

...and the philippine flag! i already forgot what it's like to see our national flag flying so unfurled and really ace high in the open air... but when i saw the flagpole inside the PMA compound, i instantly remembered what a very good feeling's like when one has a sense of respect for and pride in our national symbol. from where i stood on the ground, i could still clearly see that the flag at the high end of the pole was made of nice fabric... it was far from being shabby and cheap. both yoni and i were able to get good pictures of the flag -- with nice-looking clouds and beautiful rays for background!

after our trip to PMA, we went to victory liner's baguio terminal to buy our tickets for the way back to metro manila. there was a long queue leading to the ticket booth. yoni and i had to stretch our very limited patience until we got our turn to pay for our "12mn-may1-may2" tickets. my tita yenyen and the twins waited for us (and with us). we were supposed to go to SM baguio after our business at the terminal but it began to rain again. that time, it seemed as if the rain was about to pour heavily. instead of walking to SM baguio as initially planned, we hailed a cab and went straight to my tita's house in benguet.

basa sa ulan!!!
when we got back to benguet, the rain poured oh so heavily... i found it very tempting to play in the rain.

well, play in the rain up there in benguet, I DID!!!

i hurriedly changed into the house clothes which my tita yenyen gamely allowed me to borrow and i ran outside to let the rain pour all over me!!!

i ran like crazy around my tita's front- and backyards. i loved the raindrops that fell on me that day. they were cold to the skin and they felt very clean, too. it was a great feeling being up there in benguet, getting soaked by the rain, running like a very delighted child under the benguet sky and being surrounded by the breathtaking sights of trees and nearby mountains.

yoni frolicked in the rain, too! when the rain suddenly stopped -- as in, it was weird that it just suddenly stopped -- we both said, "bitin!!! wala na'y ulan?!"

we both felt like carefree little children, jumping and walking around the "hillside", wet and shivering... wishing for more rain...

the next day, tita yenyen's husband, my tito ramon, accompanied us (tita yenyen, the twins, yoni and i) to burnham park. we had lunch -- picnic style, again -- at the children's area. i bought two balloons for the twins (because i promised them that i would and i know from experience that it's bad to break promises made to children). i also made the balloon vendor blow bubbles for them. then, yoni and i got what we wanted from burnham park that day: the opportunity to ride a bike again!!!

burnham park biking
let's ride!

we rented a bike and a trike for one hour. the bike that we got had good brakes and nice gears. the trike had a tropical umbrella and was quite dainty-looking -- we all agreed that it looked like a "float" especially with the twins' balloons!!!

yoni said she reacquired her "biking with speed and steering control" skills. as far as she could remember, the last time she rode a bike was way back in 1999, during one of our last few days in high school. for our part, i and my tita got to re-live those days in the early 1990's when we would go to places using the family-owned trike. *memories, memories!*

balloons and lourdes grotto

lourdes grotto
blue balloons, yoni and i at the lourdes grotto

from burnham park, we went to the lourdes grotto. on our way up, the twins asked for taho. we had to stop temporarily and take a breather while our cute little boys ate their taho. i used up the time by taking pictures with the twins' blue balloons as part of the background. feeling nag-ce-celebrate ng birthday, itsurang harassed naman. hahaha!

baguio city public market
after making our way down from the top of the lourdes grotto, we hied off to the "ever busy" baguio city public market to buy pasalubong and whatnots. then, we made our way back to benguet -- back to where you would find the sceneries shown in the following pics...

view from the backyard
the sights to behold from my tita's backyard

view from the frontyard
the sights to behold from (and near) my tita's frontyard

back to manila
then the time came for yoni and i to find our way back to metro manila. on monday, may 1, 2006, at almost 9pm, we got a taxi and left our refuge in benguet for baguio city. we stopped by SM baguio. yoni wanted to feel for herself what it's like to be in the veranda of the only SM mall we know that does not use aircon to keep the place cool. yoni had to satisfy herself with her view of the mall's veranda through the taxi's clear windows. as much as i wanted to be in that place again (forget that i lost a cellphone there almost two years ago, hehehe) and grant yoni's "i want to be inside SM baguio" goal, i was too tired to get off our cab and carry my bags around. we spent the rest of the night at victory liner's baguio terminal, talking, reviewing the pictures that we took and complaining about the cold... until it was time for us to board our manila-bound bus.

except for a near mishap (some of our fellow female passengers actually reacted by shrieking, wehehehe), our bus ride back to manila was very cold, boring and uneventful. it was dark outside our window so taking pictures of the places that we passed by was not an "anti-boredom" option. during the 5 hours of travel, we endured the extreme cold inside the bus. we also tried to get some sleep while a whole album of air supply songs blared in the background. anti-climactic? not really.

additional info on our baguio/benguet trip:
(1) it was yoni's first time in baguio.

(2) because we stayed with my tita's family in benguet, we did not waste money on accommodation.

(3) for this trip, we took 89 pics using my cameraphone, 25 pics using yoni's cameraphone, and 88 pics using my digital camera. go figure: 2 travellers, 3 cameras, 202 pictures (excluded in the count're the pictures that we decided to delete). no, no, no... we're not camera whores, we just love taking pictures, hehehe...

p.s. most of the pics included in this post're from my cameraphone. i actually have good rapport with it. thank you, sony ericsson!

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