I was up last night thinking about Anthony Bourdain’s death. It has been a series of suicide, depression and mental health condition events that caused these personalities to took their own lives. I lost a loved one due to a heart condition. I witnessed how she fought hard to live. She would have done anything and everything to extend her life to be with us. I will never condemn or question those people with depression on why they did what they did. But I can’t help but to wonder, how does this condition affect one’s thinking? What’s going through their mind? What are they feeling?
I may not be able to answer all these questions on my mind, but for now, all I know is that its a battle. A battle that must be taken seriously. I pray fervently to those who are still suffering this battle, that they will find the courage to suppress it, win over it and wake up to another day.
New Year’s Day while on our way back to Manila after the holidays, I asked a loved one why he doesn’t make a list of goals for the New Year. His answer was simple “I don’t want to set expectations and disappoint myself when I fail to achieve it”. Curiously, I asked again, “Then how do you make things happen in your life without planning?” And he immediately answered, “As long as I know what I’m doing and it will take me to what I want to be, I’m good with it, no need to write it down.”
On the contrary, it has been a tradition for me marking down my plans to kick-off the year. My progress stimulates a sense of excitement as I tick-off my lists every year-end. The regulars usually are my travel goals to as many places as I can, saving up PhpXXX amount, career leap, losing weight and learning something new. My 2017 didn’t fail me except for the losing weight part (LOL). After that conversation, I contemplated for a while. Do I want to change how I do things this year and try doing it spontaneously? Will I ditch listing down my goals/plans for 2018? Eleven days after New Year, I finally decided to stick to what I got used to. Not because I don’t want to take chances and do something new. I do, actually. It’s just that, it works for me so why get rid of it?
In the era of social media, everything is public, fast-paced, #Goals posted everywhere, associating our lives and achievements from that of others and the end-products are pressure and stress. I too experienced it at some point. More often my goals were patterned after the clamor of the society. Sometimes the intent and purpose doesn’t define me. At that moment, I paused to think what really makes me happy? Who do I really want to become? Then flashes of things that I love doing crossed my mind – fulfillment after reading a good book, writing a blog, going back to running, visiting more heritage houses and museums and as plain as enjoying a cup of coffee during friends meet-up. With that thought, there’s no point in pushing myself too hard. I want to recourse to conventional activities which are less stressful and will make me feel better. I will still navigate but with a purpose of fulfilling the old soul in me and not just for the show-off bucketlist. I will work not for the heck of getting that “title” but because I don’t want an idle mind. I will still spend prudently but scrap setting a specific amount, instead I will save to buy more books and to build a shelf for my stuff. This year, I will take things on my own pace as modestly as I can. With my own definition of contentment.
And for the greater things, I’ll leave it up to 2018 to surprise me!
It was 4th of November 2017 when I came by to see you. Before I get to your place, I decided to pass by a store to buy you flowers. I realized I have never done that since you left. With just a few minutes, I will get to see you again. On our way to finding your place, a familiar feeling that I forgot existed suddenly came over me. I tried to ignore it and kept myself composed. Then I saw you, in the same place where we left you. I walked towards you while dragging my feet along the ground. I got fidgety, shaky. I handed over the flowers and stared at you. “Hi Mommy ‘La, I miss you”, I said. In my head, a lot of things I wanted to tell you. It was supposed to be a happy one-sided conversation. I want to tell you that we’re doing fine, I want to update you on what I’m up to. But none of them came out. Instead, all I could ever think of is how much I miss you.
Tears started flowing. I cried like it was just yesterday when you left us. The feeling that I had been containing abruptly took over me. I struggled to talk, words won’t come out. It has been 18 years and still the pain lingers just the same. Too many what-ifs, so many times I longed for your presence – my sister’s wedding, your great grandson’s birth, our birthdays, our graduations, every New Year. How I needed your comfort when I was down. How I wished I could get the chance to travel with you. But all those were just wishful thinking. The least I can do is to ask you to visit me again in my dreams. It has been years since the last time you did. You used to talk to me in my dreams, whenever I’m troubled or to simply tell me you’re happy for me. Probably, those were just my illusions, but I will give up anything to experience it again.
At that moment, my mom hugged me. I looked at her and realized how much harder it was for my mom than on me. She lost her mother. She became a parent without her parents guiding her. But she pulled through, because you are in her, YOU are HER. Yes, I lost you but the empty space you left were filled greatly by my mom. From that thought, I found comfort.
Just like the song goes, “You were an angel in the shape of my mum, You got to see the person I have become. Spread your wings and I know. That when God took you back, He said “Hallelujah, you’re home”
Traveloka’s blog contest: “How Travel Changed My Life”
2010 when I had my first taste of this obsession called traveling. It was a 3-day trip with friends in Boracay. Back then, flights were still very limited and expensive, so we booked a one way flight and decided to go back to Manila via RoRo. It was my first trip without my family, first trip outside Luzon, first trip that I financed myself; a completely new experience for me. From then on, I make it a point to travel at least once or twice a year. I was so fixated in booking flights just to get that stamps on my passport, ride a plane, visit tourist spots and to mark off my vacation leaves. As it turns out, my idea of traveling was very shallow.
April 2014, I finished my post graduate studies. After surpassing all the challenges in school while working, I decided to reward myself with a vacation on Holy Week. I longed to experience that kind of traveling where you are on your own, commuting, just your feet and your adventure instinct. While watching television, a travel show featured Pampanga and its delicacies. Given the accessibility and its sophisticated culinary creations, Pampanga seemed to be a perfect weekend getaway. I was telling one of my good friends about it and later on found out that he too wanted to get a taste on what the province has to offer. Although it was supposed to be a solo adventure but a friend’s company is very much welcome. I made a deal with him that I will be on top of the planning. I did my homework pretty seriously – Google, maps, blogs and friends from Pampanga were of great help. On the day of our trip, we found ourselves off to an exciting adventure. We wandered around Pampanga riding jeeps, walked under the scorching heat, got lost, congratulate ourselves when we got the directions right, endured starvation because most of the stores were closed in observance of Holy Week and made us extend our stay for us to taste Gill’s Sherbet when it opened on Easter Sunday. I can go on and on to tell every bits and pieces of our travel but all I wanted to say is that, that trip changed my outlook in traveling.
Planning your own trips will require you to be on top of every detail. As you go through the process, you will find interesting facts about the place, you will uncover its rich history and customs, the curiosity about each destination will ignite. Traveling made me appreciate the beauty of the busy streets, dining in carinderia with that long line of local eaters, riding jeepneys, tricycles, habal-habal or buses, visiting museums and galleries, unfolding its antiquity and experiencing how the locals live.
As I discover Philippines and other countries, I also discover more about myself. Traveling helped me to gain control of my ability to plan my own trip. It challenged my patience, tolerance and fears. There were times when we got lost, rain poured hard, stomach ached, items misplaced and committed mistakes after mistakes. All these are there to test our judgment, our composure and our capabilities. Misunderstandings and disagreements are inevitable when traveling with companions, but you will be surprised on how at the same time, traveling will strengthen your relationships with them. While I have my own faith, travel has taught me to respect other’s traditions, religion and beliefs. Truly, a different perspective was unfolded in me.
Most importantly, traveling imparts gratitude and appreciation. Reading blogs from other travelers equipped me on how to organize my trips. It readied my expectations, what to try, where to go, and what to do and not do, etc. As a way of giving back, I decided to create my own blog site where I can talk about my travel experiences and share my discoveries and takeaways. I made my Instagram page a venue where I can post places I visited and the story that lies behind it. I owe it to other travelers like me, that I may contribute even modest information to their future travels. More so, to the locals of the places that I’ve been to, it’s my own little way to help them promote their tourism. I maybe an amateur blogger and yet to explore more places, but I will do my best to advocate history and culture of every place that I will visit.
How travel changed our lives may differ, whatever it maybe, we are one more of a person right after every travel. Each experience will add up to a person we’ve become. For me, traveling is a responsibility. It’s up to each one of us on how we will make use of our experiences in traveling.
Along the way, I not only found purpose in traveling but I also found someone to do it together with, my good friend who accompanied me in Pampanga. It has been three years that we have been navigating together and we are just getting started.
Sharing with you a good deal that I bought in Metrodeal.
Affordable, relaxing and accesible, these spells out Tagaytay. With just an hour and half drive from Manila, surely it is a sweet escape. It was my first time to purchase an accommodation voucher from Metrodeal for an overnight stay in Tagaytay Country Hotel for Php2899. Expensive as it may seem, read over and discover what else does it offer.
You may proceed to bus terminals in Buendia Taft or Cubao and choose from any bus line going to Nasugbu, Batangas like DLTB, Ceres or you may also consider Erjohn and Almark bus passing along Ayala avenue going to Olivarez, Tagaytay. The hotel is accessible, located along Aguinaldo Highway. You have to alight at Olivarez bus terminal/stop. The hotel is located across Olivarez Collage. In case you get lost or need assistance, hotel receptionists are very helpful. You may call them and they will guide you through. The deal I got was for a superior room (twin-sharing) good for 2 persons. The room is spacious with its own bathroom, cabinet, refrigerator and cable TV. Towels, toiletries and slippers are readily available.
What’s so hot with the deal? It comes with a 45-minute body massage or 45-minute body scrub at La Costa Spa. The spa is located within the compound of the hotel. At the entrance, the masseuse will welcome you cheerfully. About five rooms were located in the second floor and can accommodate just the same number of individuals. We both opted for body massage. The staff were courteous and will ask you each time if the pressure is ok. I usually go for soft massage and I had a relaxing experience with La Costa Spa. What is missing though is the sound of soothing music, no complimentary hot towel or tea. But then, that might just be what the deal offers.
After a relaxing massage, our tummies were enraged and craved for a sumptuous food. Another catch of the deal? It includes dinner at Kubo Resto-Bar and breakfast at Country Cafe.
With 5 big kubos or nipa hut, Kubo Resto-Bar has 4 sets of meal to choose from. Each consists of 2 cups of soup, 2 main courses, 2 drinks and a platter of rice. For the main course we had Inihaw na Pusit (Grilled Pusit) and Ensaladang Talong (Eggplant Salad). Not included in the set meal, we added Sizzling Tofu. The eggplant doesn’t delighted my taste as I enjoyed eating it with bagoong (fermented fish). Darwin loved the Pusit (squid). I had a blast with the Sizzling Crispy Tofu, as usual. For dessert, we had Halo-Halo. Tagaytay is known as one of the coldest place in the Philippines, but who can resist Halo-Halo? Well, we can’t.
To pump up our day, a healthy breakfast is a must. Country Cafe offers the usual American and Filipino breakfast. It has a cozy ambience that will make you feel like you are in a fine dining restaurant. I ordered American breakfast (omelet, bacon, bread with butter and jam) while Darwin had Filipino meal (tocino, omelet and garlic rice). Both meals come with a cup of brewed coffee. The meal is very satisfying and I commend the good service.
Oops the deal doesn’t end here..
The Php2,899 voucher carries with it a whole lot more. Guests can enjoy free use of wifi, swimming pool and other amenities. Just ask the receptionist. Since, we have to check-out at 12noon and the day we were in Tagaytay is Manny Pacquiao’s last fight, we had to stay longer for lunch to watch. We had our lunch at Country Cafe and voucher also comes with 10% discount on food and beverages. We weren’t able to make use of the discount because I forgot that we do have it. So for those who’ll purchase this deal, keep that in mind.
Before leaving, the receptionist asks us to rate our stay, you might probably have an idea on how it went for me. For improvements, I suggested for a water dispenser and stable wi-fi connection. I often hear complaints on buying vouchers from various online deals, some say it is not what they paid for, some had a hard time transacting with the seller, but for me, I might had a beginner’s luck. Then again, I owe it to the management of Tagaytay Country Hotel for exceeding our expectations.