"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."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

wake up in the philippines, sleep in japan!

"Go ahead then; study, study, and meditate well what you study. Life is a very serious thing and only those with intelligence and heart go through it worthily. To live is to be among men and to be among men is to struggle. But this struggle is not a brutal and material struggle with men alone; it is a struggle with them and one's self, with their passions and one's own, with errors and preoccupations. It is an eternal struggle with a smile on the lips and tears in the heart. On this battlefield man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no other force but his heart.
Sharpen, perfect, polish then your mind and
fortify and educate your heart."

-- excerpt of a letter written by Jose Rizal for his nephew, Alfredo

26th of september 2013
my first update from japan :)

today marks the start of a super set of firsts -- more on this in the coming days, weeks, months...

for now: just this hastily-put-together collage of my trip today
from manila to kansai

i tried my best not to pull out a jacket from my backpack when i went out of the airport terminal but, after a few minutes, i gave in. my body just isn't used to the cold 20-degree C outdoor temperature (it was colder outside than inside the air-conditioned shuttle to the hotel.) i know this will only get colder when autumn is in full swing and will even be colderrr during winter. brrr... 

i encountered a lot of angels today and the events that led me here are worth writing about. my flight was good and going through immigration, locating the bus stop, and getting to the hotel went smoothly. great solo adventure and great day 1, i can really say. still, it's been a long day for me.

oyasuminasai! (good night!)

i have to sleep now because i still have miles to go before i reach my new place. this hotel stay is just for tonight. tomorrow, i will be in fukui.

Friday, September 20, 2013

mission accomplished in iligan city: six waterfalls in one day!

oh yes! it can be done. actually, the target was to go to 7 waterfalls and, if not for circumstances beyond our control, we could have been to 8.

mission impossible and ultimate daytrip experience:
six waterfalls in an eight-hour adventure
 in iligan city

the 8-hour adventure of pinas flashpackers in iligan: 
waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls
08.23.13 six key stops, multiple public transportation transfers, and LOTS of walking | 
iligan -- "the city of majestic waterfalls"

in sitio kalubihon, brgy. dalipuga: [1] pampam falls. [2] unknown photogenic cascade downstream of pampam falls. [3] another unknown falls further downstream of pampam with deeper and more photogenic all-natural pool (accessible from the top of the falls or sa bakilid; just choose your own thrill).

via sitio dodiongan, brgy. digkilaan: [4] dodiongan falls 

via brgy. buru-un and brgy. ditucalan: [5] tinago falls

in brgy. buru-un: [6] mimbalot falls

missed (not our fault): maria cristina falls due to temporary closure of NPC nature's park/MinGen facilities to the public (a security-related proactive measure), missed (time & energy constraints and confusion over the location): kalubihon falls>

before this, the last time i set out to see some of iligan's more than twenty waterfalls was in december 2009.

kalubihon falls | february 2000

13 years ago, this was kalubihon falls -- we climbed above the cave instead of going inside it to eventually get to the foot of the falls. once we made our way down to the foot, we explored the cave. we went back upways and explored the upstream, too.

[watch out for the complete story; this post will be updated in the coming days.]

related posts:
In Focus: Iligan City, Her Lures, and More
destination: tinago falls

Monday, September 16, 2013

breathtaking tawi-tawi, truly breathtaking tawi-tawi

"It is a nature sanctuary with extensive rain and mangrove forests, rich culture, majestic mountains, primeval caves, coral reefs with some of the world’s rarest marine life, outstanding dive sites,
and pristine white sand beaches."

-- from Tawi-tawi, Close Encounters of a Natural Kind

tawi-tawi: what more can i say?
this is part 8 and the conclusion of a series entitled breathtaking tawi-tawi: our journey to the philippines' southernmost frontier.

picture perfect panglima sugala, tawi-tawi

tawi-tawi is THE destination you should not miss. the tawi-tawi travel experience is a priceless gift for the senses and this is not an overstatement.

it is true that tawi-tawi is "the backdoor gateway of the philippines to the rest of southeast asia," but this is only a simplified description of the country's southernmost melting pot that has so much in terms of culture, history, natural resources, and paradise spots.

bongao, tawi-tawi
as seen from the sea
on april 22, 2011
a kite eagle flying over brgy. pasiagan | tawi-tawi
on april 23, 2011

i dare share here a few pictures out of the hundreds that i took during our 3-day adventure but know that none of these can ever come close to making you experience the real deal.

bring yourself there, traveler. your tawi-tawi story is waiting to be told. allow your own tawi-tawi journey to unfold.

tawi-tawi: glimpses and tidbits in random order

tawi-tawi is an archipelago composed of 107 islands and islets located at the southwestern tip of the philippines. it is an island province with rich marine borders. a significant part of the tawi-tawi population rely on what they can have from the sea and it is logical that they stay close to it, if not on it -- either in houses built on stilts or on board boats.

when in tawi-tawi, expect to see lots of houses and outbuildings on stilts!

a lovely sight of stilthouses 
seen from sanga-sanga bridge
on april 24, 2011
stilts and a tropical hut in sangasiapu island | tawi-tawi
on april 23, 2011
a house on stilts in simunul island | tawi-tawi
on april 22, 2011
stilthouses and footbridges in brgy. tubig indangan, simunul, tawi-tawi
on april 22, 2011

the tawi-tawi provincial capitol, with its prominent dome and white walls, looks like a magnificent mosque.  it sits on a hill in bongao and provides an overlooking view of the town and the sea.

the tawi-tawi provincial capitol
as seen from the roofdeck of hotel juana
on the night of april 22, 2011

kat and i with the official seal of tawi-tawi
at the site of the provincial capitol
on april 23, 2011
(kat owns this picture)

black saturday sunset colors
as seen from the site of the tawi-tawi provincial capitol
on april 23, 2011

the venice of the south and the southernmost municipality of the philippines is sitangkai, a real deal waterworld where the known highway is a marine waterway. sitangkai is also the seaweed capital of the philippines.

 a smiling boatman taking the highway in sitangkai
on april 22, 2011

the island of sibutu is the nearest neighbor of sitangkai within philippine territory. sibutu is the island home of skilled seafarers, expert boat-builders, and master woodcarvers. aside from having white sand coastline with direct access to the celebes sea, sibutu also has the makhdum memorial and the kaban-kaban, a deep natural swimming hole with clear freshwater.

glimpses of sibutu island
on april 22, 2011

a known local mecca and pilgrimage site of filipino muslims is simunul, the recognized cradle of islam in the philippines. in simunul's brgy. tubig indangan, where the first mosque in the philippines was built, there is a commemorative arch to mark the 630th anniversary of the introduction of islam in the philippines.

the commemorative arch in simunul | tawi-tawi
on april 22, 2011

the pier in tubig indangan is not just a picture of open invitation. it is a good spot for watching inspiring sunsets, too.

once upon an awesome sunset
seen from tubig indangan, simunul, tawi-tawi
on april 22, 2011

among the many rewarding joys of island hopping in tawi-tawi is seeing the horizon disappear from view. because the sea can be so calm, the surface appears glassy, making it an efficient mirror of the sky.

the case of the disappearing horizon :)
while island hopping in tawi-tawi
on april 23, 2011

clear seawater, glassy water surface, and the vanishing horizon
just off sangasiapu island
on april 23, 2011

the seawater remains very clear, too, allowing you to see natural underwater gardens even though you're looking at them from a good distance.

view of the coastline, the sea, and underwater wonders
from sanga-sanga bridge
on april 24, 2011

the seawater in tawi-tawi is so clean and clear. there is no need for scuba nor snorkel-and-mask to see healthy corals. believe it or not, the colorful coral colonies are visible from the water surface!

a natural coral garden
just off tawi-tawi's tango island
on april 23, 2011

there are underwater areas that are all-sand, too, and very ideal for swimming.

part of sangasiapu island, tawi-tawi
on april 23, 2011

laa island, tawi-tawi
on april 23, 2011

this is a glimpse of how clean and clear tawi-tawi seawater is
photogenic sangasiapu island
on april 23, 2011

there is no exaggeration at all in saying this: breathtaking tawi-tawi, truly breathtaking tawi-tawi! :)

breathtaking tawi-tawi: our journey to the philippines' southernmost frontier | the series
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