Tuesday, July 01, 2014

All Roads Lead To Fun In The Philippines

Once again, it’s been a long while since I last blogged. I feel like I have to say that with each entry I write. Inspiration to blog like I used to doesn't hit me that often but I do think about it. Be that as it may, this is yet again another entry about a recent trip to the Philippines. A trip filled with a whole lot of fun and experience. Traveling can be slightly stressful when it comes to planes, airports, and dealing with various personnel, not to mention those moments in the air when the plane ride is way too bumpy for my liking. My love can somehow sleep through it all but I have a hard time doing that. The plane ride to the Philippines is typically pretty smooth. Sometimes you might have one or two moments of turbulence but it’s pretty cool. It’s that ride back to the US when you really encounter the severe turbulence. Not sure why that is but despite all of that, being in the Philippines is always pure heaven and the anticipation of arriving there makes you feel like applauding once the plane lands.

On this trip, I truly couldn’t wait to arrive in Manila. I looked forward to this time spent with my love, Lorna. We would end up spending our one year wedding anniversary and also my birthday. Both celebrations were wonderful and on my birthday we had what has become an annual event for us. We fed many of the local children and families near the house in Pangasinan. I don’t believe we entertained as many children as last year but we still had close to one hundred show up for pancakes, eggs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and spaghetti. Can’t beat that combination of goodness. Great time and always interesting to see the kids one year later. Many of them have grown taller. Some have changed as only children do to where you’ll see them take on new attitudes and personalities. Some that were outspoken and playful last year have become quiet, reserved, guarded. Some that wanted to be photographed constantly had become camera shy and didn’t want the attention. It was interesting to observe. Of course these children; the ones that couldn’t get enough of being photographed made it a challenge for me to actually get some good shots in. They were a little too anxious, running into every shot they could. It was all in good fun and I enjoyed every minute though I wished for moments when I could focus upon one or two. It's cool to compare shots from the last few years with the ones from this trip. Children grow fast.

This trip, I seemed to capture less moments with the camera. Instead, I wanted to enjoy the moments more by walking and visiting with the local people while in Pangasinan. I also struggled with capturing great shots because we have a driver that drives super fast. Makes me always wonder why we’re in such a hurry, especially when it’s not necessary and we don’t need to be anywhere at a certain time. One of these days I plan to do some driving or perhaps ride via bicycle or motorcycle so I can really explore and capture the images I see with my eyes but miss out on with the camera. With my eyes I probably captured thousands of images. With the camera it was something like three or four hundred…

As always, food is a huge part of our journey in the Philippines. Funny thing, hamburgers seemed to dominate this trip. Whether it was the HUGE burger I ate on our anniversary or the many delicious burgers cooked by our caretaker, Efren. He has mastered the little burger with cheese. What gives the burger extra goodness is the little buns we find at small bakeries along the way.

We enjoyed a few side trips and special return visits to places like Manaoag, Agoo, Calasiao, etc. I visited with a fried of mine this huge cemetery in Manila called the North Cemetery where you'll find people actually living in tombs where people are buried. It's a strange sight to see for someone coming from the US where you know they would never allow this to exist. People raise families there in the cemetery. There's even a "good side" and a "bad side" where you'll find happy families on one end and drug dealing and dangerous situations on the other. I saw this one kid who kept smiling at me. There was something about him to where I felt like I had to take his picture. I asked him when normally I would just try to capture the moment without asking. He said yes and continued smiling, which he kept doing whenever my eyes met his. They later told me that he had been abandoned by his parents, one of which I imagine is african american.

My love and I visited Cebu and Bohol for the first time. We never have enough time to explore and enjoy these places but its still a lot of fun. Despite the occasional rain we encountered, the scenery was still amazing. I loved the countryside in Bohol and later on, I really enjoyed the Crimson Resort. Talk about a relaxing environment. I wished we could've stayed there much longer but time is so short when you're on a three week vacation. 

Shoutout to the beautiful children near the Crimson Resort who noticed me in the distance. I pointed my camera at them even though I knew I couldn't get a good shot and still they smiled and waved in my direction. The kindness for the camera always blows my mind in the Philippines. 

These are only half of the highlights of our trip that we managed to squeeze into three weeks time. I should've written about it sooner but no matter how much times passes, the memories remain fresh in my mind and heart. I'll close with a few more images from what was a magical trip. Thanks again to my love for spoiling me not only on my birthday but also it was really cool to spend our one year anniversary in paradise. It's a true blessing to be able to think of paradise as home… I look forward to next time…

#Philippines #Pangasinan #More fun in the Philippines #Travel

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Philippines (More and even more fun!)

More Blessings In The Philippines

I just returned again from what always feels like pure heaven each year. A trip to the Philippines. It gets better each time and once again I remain so very grateful and blessed by my love(Lorna) who introduced me to her country, now four years ago. We've been back each year ever since. Check the pictures and you'll see how blessed I feel. How can one not feel like you want to extend your vacations for several months with experiences like these. Everything from the bustling excitement of Manila to the glorious simple life in the province of Pangasinan. That's my favorite. Being in the province takes me back to my childhood summers on my grandparents farm. Back then, life was simple and under-appreciated by yours truly because I was so young but I can definitely now feel what my grandfather felt. He had his special love in my grandmother and on top of that, surrounded by the natural wonders of country life. However, in Pangasinan where we stay at most of the time, its like the best of both worlds. Picture Malibu, California mixed with small town country living circa 1970's east Texas... I love it..  Of course you have to also throw in the culture and beauty of the philippines and you have pure heaven...  

On this trip, I developed more appreciation for Manila thanks to a good friend, Bong Cura who showed me around as many areas as we could squeeze in in one day. Mostly, I wanted to see and experience Quiapo and Chinatown. Bong took me deep in the heart of those areas. We set out early on a saturday morning and walked endlessly, enjoying great conversation, great scenery, an occasional delicious treat and all the smiles and warm, curious hellos along the way. This would turn out to be one of many highlights of the trip. We ended up walking for I believe, five or six hours. Incredible time, it was. Even the Dunkin Donuts near the Quiapo church was super delicious! One highlight that I haven't gotten over was this place in chinatown where we stopped to buy lumpia aka egg roll. The lady made it fresh right in front of us and this thing was the size of a large burrito. I can still remember the taste of it, especially the special sauce you pour over the top of it... wow!  Also, besides visiting the incredible church there in Quiapo, we also visited the Mosque. Bong was very good with talking and communicating with anyone and everyone along the way so he managed to get us inside for a nice tour. We met several gentlemen there and one who had a very detailed history, whether true or false(I dont know) about his kinship to President Obama by way of Indonesia and Kenya. I guess a very very very distant cousin. Nevertheless, the man was very kind to show us around and give some historic background to the mosque and its relationship to the area of Quiapo and sharing the area with the large catholic community...

Love and I went to Palawan. We stayed at an island resort called Dos Palmas. It was beautiful though we frowned at the fact that there were no TV's in the rooms and the internet rarely worked. Still the place was nice and the water that surrounded it was gorgeous. On our last day there, we awoke to one of those moments you hear about in movies. The kind where they say the water and sky appear to look the same and you dont know where each one ends or begins..I enjoyed that moment spent with my love. It was sort of our official honeymoon moment and it was very special and beautiful despite not having the luxuries of life that we enjoy so much. Note to Dos Palmas Resort, you really should get TV's in the room! And they could also use a greater supply of foods to offer their guests...

We saw the underground river. Definitely worth the title of being one of the seven wonders of the world. It is an amazing site to see and experience. Afterwards, you're treated to some very delicious food and that was a big plus considering the disappointment with the Dos Palmas menu. I was glad to get back to Manila and eventually the province of Pangasinan.  And just like last year, we were blessed to treat the local kids and families to some delicious spaghetti that love prepared along with the help of caretakers, Efren and Violi and our lovely niece, Mynar. We also had a generous donation of water and ice from the Calasiao Ice Plant. A good friend of love's owns the business and her contribution really helped alot. The kids enjoyed it and it was a very successful day...

One common theme in the Philippines whenever we go is food, food, food! I mean, everything from the usual Jollibee food to the street food, to the various discoveries in and around the areas we travel. I ate so much sisig on this trip and really enjoyed it. There was Tribu Grill in Pampanga, Victor's in Tarlac and Road Roaster's Grill in Dagupan City. All of these places made some incredible sisig, though I'd tip my hat to Tribu Grill for edging out the others in the flavor department. It was very good..  Then there was love buying a lot of furniture but as always, she has great taste and knows how to turn a not so good decor into a fabulous decor... 

Anyway, there's too many stories to mention here or to remember but needless to say, its beyond more fun in the Philippines and every trip seems to surpass the last one. This one out did them all and I can't wait as usual to go back. The life and times we experience there puts things in perspective for me because whenever I come back to the states, I see a whole lot of energy and time put forth in the wrong direction by others. In the Philippines, I never wonder about anything.. I just enjoy, experience, appreciate and feel completely spoiled and blessed.... And speaking of blessing, I became a Godfather aka "Ninong." That's an honor I take very seriously and am very grateful for that privilege..  God Bless baby Dylan and also God bless all those happy kids we fed and enjoyed.. I believe it was around 130 or possibly a little bit more... Love fed a parrot in Palawan. Haha..  That was a treat too! *smile*

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Luckiest Man On Earth

I usually hate it when I'm watching news programs and the people talking begin their sentences with the word, "so.." and I know there's a lot of men somewhere out there in the world who feel the same cliche' in my title that I do but I don't think enough men actually say it. I'm gonna use that word...  Soooooo.... I got MARRIED yesterday! Wow! It feels like its been a forever journey to get to this point in my life and how I wish so much that my mom was still alive to witness this moment. I also wish that my love's father was here to see this as well and so many others that have passed on including my own father. It was pretty special in that yesterday was love's father's birthday so I felt really happy to do it on that day, March 18, 2013. We almost had a last minute scare with someone working at the counter trying to say we didn't follow the proper procedure with setting up the ceremony but alas, she was wrong and I was simply following what was told to me by the person over the phone. And the day went perfect! Can't stop this kind of love! The commissioner was impressed by us as a couple and I guess because of the traditional 'Barong' that I was wearing; it probably brought back memories of his homeland, the Philippines. He was also impressed by all of the bling-bling in the room.

My love looked absolutely beautiful and I was proud to enjoy this day with her. It ended up being a long day because of the other things we had on our calendar to do but despite all of that, wow! what a blessing. It took a long time to find and be apart of what I always dreamed of but in the end, struggles, ups and downs and everything in between just allows you to appreciate more that blessing when it comes. We haven't had our official honeymoon yet but that's just around the corner as every day has felt like a honeymoon since we found each other... Thanks my love.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Wonderful Christmas...

Normally I can't stand Air Supply, the group or perhaps I secretly enjoy some of their songs. Thing is, many times when I think about how blessed I am to have the love that I have and have had for I believe six years now, I can't help but hear the same song floating thru my head.
"Your every woman in the world, to me.."
If you've heard Air Supply before, you probably now can't get that tune out of your head too. I don't even know the rest of the words, but that part stays on repeat inside my head. I'm still and forever will be grateful for the love that was discovered mutually by myself and my love, Lorna. That mutual thing is both a blessing and a dream come true. Its what I believe and always knew I could find but something this incredible I guess needs to be earned. You have to journey thru other experiences in order to achieve the very best; a test of worthiness perhaps? Either way, life has become one big pot of love in a sea of surrounding craziness. The world can be strange and you still have people who get off on simply being mean. I often wonder why..  I mean, whether its some grumpy lady in an Old Navy store, a doctor making selfish demands, or someone driving recklessly fast inside a parking structure knowing full well they're not going anywhere special. This was my experience last week, by the way.  Anyway, that's why I like to say that real true unselfish, mutual love is the best way to escape from the world. It's an island you never want to leave and shouldn't need to...  Merry Christmas Love....

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Just some thoughts to share...

Wow.. I haven't blogged in a long while.. Even an angel reminded me of this the other day. It's mostly due to writer's laziness.. Thinking more than writing but actually thinking about writing... *smile* Nevertheless, it's like this...Sometimes I use this space to workout problems, issues, thoughts that seem to flood my mind. Lately, I haven’t had a lot of issues. I’ve been more focused on just simply enjoying each day as it comes and capturing each moment as it comes, either with camera or in memory with a smile. I’ve had a lot of reasons to smile in recent years because of my love. Though of course, sometimes there’s those unexplainable moody moments that are like trip wires. You stumble head first into frustation wondering “what happened now?” and/or “what can be done to instantly make this better?” I just always feel like life is too short.  Why not spend time on what is real and trying to achieve the best that life has to offer- together. Five years goes by so fast that it feels like one year. Ten years? Twelve years?? I can remember when it was 2000 and we worried so much about world issues and it feels like so much of my life passed me by. Right now is a great time personally and I want to keep building what is the love I've been looking for since I became an adult and dreamed of love. I think about the future now in more important ways. I research and plan so that WE can do amazing things together. I never think as "I" or "me." This journey is about us/we and I've got plans that I hope to achieve. Money is a worry because the work place at times can be strange but nevertheless, I feel like when your heart is in the right place, things will workout in your favor. I learned that thru experience when I used to give so much to situations that weren't good for me. Situations where nothing was ever given back, materially or otherwise. I mean, this is both funny and pathetic to me now but I can remember when I was asked to buy the card that someone wanted to give to me so that they could write something "nice in it." I was dumb enough to buy it but still never received it. That moment was typical of the kind of give and take that I got used to from about three different situations. But my heart was in the right place, so I was told and because of that, one day I'd be blessed, just because.. Thing is, I never did anything with the intention of being blessed.. I simply do what's in my heart... and my heart is full now so I wish to do a lot! That’s what I always want and strive for…. and have wanted to strive for during the last 20 years or so... again, life is short and this journey is going fast....faster. That's why I love and look forward to saying I do, I will, always and forever... I miss the days apart so when the days are here, I wish them to be perfect in every way, without allowing outside pressures and influence to cloud the moment.. That's why one tries to find a special place to escape from the world because today's world is so unkind. People get behind the wheel and become angry. People look so angry as they walk to get where they're going. That's why you look to the heavens and thank God for what you have and for who you are blessed with..  This is no easy journey but it's still been fun... and definitely more fun to have in the future for as long as you're blessed with life...

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

It's More Fun In The Philippines- TFC Connect

I forsee so much fun coming ahead when that day comes that love and I return to the Philippines. Not sure when that will be. Sometimes I find myself wishing, praying and imagining something incredible happening so that she and I would be able to visit not just once a year but maybe two or three times a year and stay much longer whenever we do go. I'm already enjoying the fact that time goes so fast because perhaps we're closer to that next visit. It's March already! Scary how fast time flies but that scariness turns into blessings when you have something you look forward to. Then when you have someone who means the world to you, any and all blessings are multiplied by 100. That's how I feel with my love. She's my shield that keeps me protected from the world, basically. There will always be bad days and challenges that come forth in life to knock you down for a moment but when you share in something so magical, so special and very real.... I mean, solid... the downtimes become like dust that you can quickly brush off your shoulders. Time moves too fast and life is too short to wallow in what takes away your smile, I've come to learn. That's definitely why I never allow one day to go by without celebrating my love, be it in quiet reflection of just thinking about her or doing something like what I did about a month ago when I wrote to the filipino channel for what they called "Love Month." One morning I heard the request for anyone to write in with a love story and attach pictures along with it. There was no way I could let that opportunity slip away without trying. And what a wonderful surprise it was to see and hear what I'd sent in being played on worldwide television on the TFC Connect program... Very cool... *smile* Here it is below..

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's More Fun In The Philippines... yep.. :-)

My yearly blessing has come once again for the third time. Three times- in the Philippines. They have a campaign going on right now to attract tourists called “More Fun In The Philippines.” I agree 100 percent with that idea though my reason may differ in depth. I mean, there are some gorgeous and stunningly beautiful scenery there but give me the hidden beauty of the small villages, the provinces with farmlands, the trees, the crowded town propers, and most of all, the people and you’ll find me having that fun they speak of. I went to Makati for the first time and it was beautiful. I could definitely see the growth and potential for more growth but hopefully not at the expense of the people... The SM mall, Glorietta, etc are enormous in size and have every store and restaurant you could wish for or imagine. A place of pure heaven for my love... Her eyes widened with excitement. But where do I truly get excited? In love's home province of Pangasinan! Let me eat some Lechon Manok, Rellenong Bangus and drink Sparkle or Royal soda. Puto in Calasiao. Hang with the beautiful children in the Rabon area of San Fabian, Pangasinan. More fun, yes! That’s where heaven is for me, especially since I get to enjoy all of this together with love. She’s my reason for this blessing in the first place... I'm so grateful. And what a blessing it was when she came up with the idea to feed the local kids after noticing how each day when I walked back to the house after visiting with them, I'd always have a few kids following me home. "Why not invite 25 or so and we can feed them.." she suggested. That 25 turned into 100 kids and a few mom's but that just made the experience so much more fun and they were all so kind and appreciative... We also gave away slippers for the children but we only had 37 pair after giving three pair to children standing outside the store that we purchased the slippers at. Maybe next time.. *smile* This trip was so special and it was capped off by the great 75th birthday celebration for love's mom and not to mention all the friends, classmates, and especially family that were there along with us... Bringing in the New Year in the Philippines. What an incredible way to start the year off... Thanks to love and thanks to the people we encountered each moment. Every hello meant something special.... Can't wait to go back!!