"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."

Monday, October 19, 2009

taal trek happiness!

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember,
and remember more than I have seen."
--Benjamin Disraeli

after i first set foot on tagaytay and got the feel of the place in 2002, there was never a year that i missed visiting the place. i've experienced the birth of many life-long bonds and heartwarming moments there -- intangible stuff which, aside from the uniquely tagaytay ambience, i look forward to in every visit.

i relish experiencing the beauty of tagaytay and the wonderful sights to see there and from there. from the numerous viewdecks (each one of them unique, i say) of tagaytay, one gets to see the taal lake and the islands in it -- one truly inspiring sight to behold, especially in the early mornings when the fogs let up and reveal the distant islands and during sunset when darkness slowly creeps and blends seemlessly with the mesmerizing scenery making it fade, but with the promise of being seen again along with the next rising of the sun.

with my yearly visits to tagaytay, those distant islands in the lake always caused me to wonder and to imagine a lot of great things. seeing them always reminded me of those times when i used to look into my sibika at kultura book in grade school and i'd be lost in those pages where pictures of the volcano in a lake are printed. for me, back in grade school, the sight was reachable and can be viewed only, at best, in full-colored postcards. needless to say, that changed and i got to see with my own eyes what i only used to see in pictures -- a lake and, in it, distant islands, beckoning.

taal lake as seen from the ridge

one of those distant islands in the lake and the most popular of them all -- by name, at least -- is the taal volcano, reputed to be the world's smallest active volcano. if that does not make taal volcano interesting enough, read what the travel guides say about it. it is believed to be a volcano within a lake within a volcano -- the ridges of tagaytay being remnants of a big, old crater of what used to be a big, big volcano in the biggest island (luzon) of this volcanic archipelago (the philippines) in this part of asia (southeast asia).

last october 11, 2009, which was a sunday -- and a sunshiny sunday to boot -- i laid my what-ifs and what's-in-that-island-thoughts to rest. i set foot on taal volcano and walked all the way to where i could get a full view of the crater, which is hidden when viewed from tagaytay.

setting foot on taal volcano | following the path to see the crater

it was a 4-kilometer uphill walk under the direct heat of the mighty sun with the awesome company of equally adventurous and travel-loving people, most of whom i first met and made friends with in el nido, palawan. for us, a trek is a trek is a trek is a trek...

taal trek buddies!

while most other tourists would opt to rent horses to reach the taal volcano viewpoint, we went for the old school alternative. we spared the horses and exercised our legs and lungs instead.

part of the 4-km regular path going to the crater of the taal volcano

we chose to walk the 4-kilometer regular path up and the 4-kilometer regular path down -- encountering earthworms, mountain snails, crows, malnourished papaya plants, one dead baby cobra, and lots of horse manure along the way. the volcano is gently sloping so the trek isn't really difficult. in fact, our tour coordinator walked with us on her wedge sandals. yes, wedge sandals! way to go.

the taal volcano crater

the sight of the crater is breathtaking. what's interesting about it? it has an island. imagine this: an island (vulcan point) within a crater (taal crater) within an active volcano (taal volcano) within a lake (taal lake) within an old volcano.

vulcan point in taal crater

apart from the sulfuric-smelling steam steadily coming out from some of the rocks we passed by, there's not much to see along the way that i haven't seen in other places. maybe, it's because it's the regular path, after all. i believe taal's secret trail (yes, there is a so-called secret trail which is not really so secret but so named because only a few people opt to take that less popular but more challenging path) would be something else and would reveal a lot of things that are really uniquely taal. there's always a next time, right?

two-hulled sailboats | taal lake yacht club

oh, i love, love, love the boat ride and the sight of colorful catamarans (two-hulled sailboats) in talisay's taal lake yacht club. the lake looked so big and blue and yet so calm; crossing it on our bright yellow boats felt so perfect.

crossing the taal lake on board the yellow boats from the yacht club in talisay

when our boatman lost control of our boat, dalag, and we hit the rear of pawikan (the other boat) even before we could reach taal volcano, i had the time of my life. it was one of those could-have-been very dangerous moments that i ended up enjoying because i had so much faith that the boats will hold together and the big, deep lake will not dare eat us up.

taal trek happiness!

(1) may tumalo sa tour coordinator namin... inakyat ang taal na naka-fishnet stockings and high heels! winner!
(2) na-dehydrate ako that day kasi nakalimutan kong uminom ng tubig during the uphill hike. ano ba? haha
(3) mabibilis kami maglakad pero tumagal lang kami sa trek path kasi picture kami ng picture.
(4) ok, ok, enough of this... next trip!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

forever october

hey, i miss you.

i can't tell you, of course. i gave you my word that i won't bother you anymore. here, in my little space, i dare write because i know you no longer come here.

when this month rolled in, my thoughts redirected back to you. you've become the character in my prevalent thoughts -- i can't help but think that, maybe, i'm starting to go crazy. wow. what is it with you that refuses to completely leave me? why can't my mind be totally free from remembering you? why do i have to miss you still?

it's been -- what? -- since the last time i saw you? four years? yet it now again feels like it was only last week when we spent time together for the first and last time.

for the first and last time. will there never be another? come to think of it. we never had real time together except for that afternoon we had on your 25th birthday. everything else we shared only existed in our minds, in virtual compartments with elements that neither you nor i could touch. despite that, i could say that our times together -- whether real or imagined -- brought my heart so much joy. i began to believe things were gonna go uphill from there. i ended up having to accept that i was wrong. so wrong.

i was badly hurt when you told me you already left. i didn't think you were leaving -- i assumed you'd stay. worse, i had to find out the hard way. i wasn't ready for pain when my heart started breaking. it made me sick but i went on with my life. in mind, body, and spirit, i was shaken but there was no other option but to move on. so, i did -- at first, with feeble steps. then, in big leaps.

i'm sorry if i couldn't accommodate your invitation for that adventure which, in my heart of hearts, i also wanted. i wasn't playing hard to get. i wasn't deliberately trying to avoid seeing you again. it's just that you extended the invitation rather late. i also have my own adventure plans and although i would consider re-charting them (or dropping them, for that matter) so i could spend time with you again -- even for just a little while, that time when you asked was that one time when i could not change paths. i wanted to see you then like i've been wanting to see you all this time. but. but. but... i did not feel that you really wanted to see me. you merely wanted an adventure partner but not really me.

you've allowed more than four years to pass. gone where the buzzes that i used to get, gone were the times when you initiated our conversations, and the butterflies in my stomach have all fallen asleep.

do i still dare to hope? right now, i wish i matter to you. i wish you care. i wish you would seek me to see me and make the butterflies fly again. i miss the way you made me feel.

it was also october when you first sought me and deliberately made your path cross mine. it was nine years ago. it's already so many years ago.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

puerto princesa and el nido, palawan adventure

last august 27-31, 2009, i was in palawan for a 5-day fun, fun, fun adventure in puerto princesa and el nido.

puerto princesa is about an hour (by plane) from manila. el nido is 7 hours away (by van) from puerto princesa.

glimpses of puerto princesa and el nido

puerto princesa and el nido adventure

27th of august 2009
thursday in puerto princesa
first day of a five-day adventure in palawan

from puerto princesa airport to sabang to the subterranean national river park...

una muna, puerto princesa!

into the big, dark cave -- to experience the subterranean river national park adventure -- and out again

the puerto princesa subterranean national river park is a UNESCO world
heritage site. the underground river tour requires tolerance for the smell of bat dung, ounces of imagination, and respect for nature's ways.

puerto princesa subterranean national river park

28th of august 2009
thank God it's friday in el nido
second day of a five-day adventure in palawan

day 2 in palawan: island hopping adventure day 1 in el nido

starts and stops: marina garden beach resort. small lagoon. big lagoon. island
where we had lunch (what's the name of that island?). island and snorkeling spot where a strong gust of wind sent us back to marina garden beach resort (i missed getting the name of that snorkeling spot in el nido, too).

el nido friday adventure

after our island hopping adventure, we walked around el nido town to get glimpses of the local life in this neat place.

walking around el nido

29th of august 2009
cloudy saturday in el nido
third day of a five-day adventure in palawan
day 3 in palawan: island hopping adventure day 2 in el nido

one, two, el nido!


starts and stops: marina garden beach resort. snake island. cudugnon island and cudugnon cave. cathedral cave. lagen island (we merely passed by). our coconut island.


coco el nido!

in this album:
~ how to do jumpshots and be not successful (laughtrip!)
~ how to compensate for unsuccessful jumpshots
~ how to optimize the usefulness of a resilient coconut tree
~ how to have fun with the tripod and the remote control: "thank you, tripod and remote control" shots


after our 2nd day of island hopping adventure in el nido, we explored el nido town again to get to know more about the place.

30th of august 2009
sunday in el nido
fourth day of a five-day adventure in palawan

day 4 in palawan: island hopping adventure day 3 in el nido

starts and stops: marina garden beach resort. miniloc island. snorkeling cove
(i forgot the name, tsk). matinloc island. helicopter island. 7 commandos.

woohoo, el nido!

helicopter island fun

why helicopter? from afar, the island looks like a helicopter!

after our 3rd day of island hopping adventure in el nido, we explored el nido town again -- we went to marber's resto along brgy. masagana's
beachfront to celebrate our last night in el nido.

our last night out in el nido

31st of august 2009
holiday monday in puerto princesa
fifth day of a five-day adventure in palawan

day 5 in palawan: back to puerto princesa after 3 days of el nido adventure

we moved out of el nido so early in the morning -- a little past after 2am
-- and braved the dark, bumpy, long stretch that led us back to puerto princesa.

we had some tire trouble shortly after we started our dawntime trip. we stopped over for breakfast at tawnsayt.

we were finally back in puerto princesa at around 9am and we had enough time to experience and see more of puerto princesa: the public market, ka lui, iwahig prison and penal farm, and the crocodile farm and nature park.

memories of a holiday monday spent in puerto princesa

personally recommended musts when in puerto princesa: (1) experience dining in ka lui and (2) visit iwahig!

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