To “you”

To the person who took these pictures,

I know you wanted me to post these pictures in my instagran but I know it deserves more.

Why? Simple: this is one of my best memories in the Myanmar and Laos trip we had.

It is not because this is the first time I rode a bicycle in a main road.

It is not because of the relief I felt after doing it.

It is because of “you.” You were encouraging, patient and never gave up on me.

There was always this belief in you that knew I could do it. And you made me believe I could do it.

So, I was able to do it.

Thank you.

So more than my instagram, I am keeping it in my cyber pensieve as my heart swells with joy whenever I see these.

Again, thank you for this memory.

Life has its twist and turns but I hope our friendship survives. I need more people like “you” in my life.


The person in the pictures

Note: I learned to ride a bicycle only in early 2016. I have not ridden one for a long time, so this was quite a challenge.


Quick Notes: Oriental Mindoro

Travel date: 10 to 11 February 2018

This is not my first time in Oriental Mindoro as my bestfriend from college is from this province and it is usual for me to get invites to the province. And, the invites are usually accompanied with tours around the province. Yet, this place for me is still a truly hidden gem and never fails to surprise me. People usually associate Oriental Mindoro with Puerto Galera but this province definitely has a lot more places and spots to be discovered.

My stops this time were:

Day 1:

  • Sights – Aras Cave, Aras Falls, Calapan City Hall, Capitol Building
  • Eats – Chipping’s, Cafe Bernita, Cafe Meow

Just sad to see the graffiti on the stones but this was very remote. We were actually the only ones that were doing the trek. It is a short challenging trek with river crossings but the view was worth it. Definitely something different.

Day 2:

  • Sights – Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco Park, Public Beach, Overlooking – Christ the Redeemer
  • Eats – Marhabten, Anahaw

I became a fan of kayaks ever since I learned how to do it properly. My main concern is though was that there are really no directional signs on where to go so we felt lost after a time. We had to retrace our steps just to get back.

I have to thank my sister for arranging the itinerary and contacting the local tourism offices. I guess, for the most part, the sites visited were not yet ready for tourists. But, that is part of its charm, how rustic the province is. For guides, best to contact the local tourism offices.

I will never get tired of visiting this province, especially since it is easily accessible by buses and ferries.

Quick Notes: Coron

Welcome from Barracuda Lake

I visited Coron last 27 October to 02 November 2017, primarily to see the Dugong and the wrecks, which are two of the main attractions the province is known for.

It is not actually my first time in Coron. My first time was way back in 2013 with my friends from the office. We did the island hopping, hot springs and climb to Mt. Tapyas back then. But, this trip is different as it is more focused on dives and the other side of Busuanga island.

Dugong infographic from Cashew Grove Resort

Best to start that I was quite unfortunate with the Dugong. I  was part of the group that did not see the Dugong.. the first in almost two months (based on the the resort owner and the guides)!

Main factor was the poor visibility. Prior to the trip, the guides were quite optimistic and confident since there is a friendly Dugong that regularly feeds in a specific area. But, due to a number of factors, visibility was not good that day. Our group was advised not to proceed either with snorkeling or diving.

Ou group was then transferred to a reef (note: a beautiful reef with diverse marine life) where there is a chance of seeing one since it is also a feeding ground; but, luck was still not on our side. I guess it was not yet in my cards to see the Dugong (that is mother nature for you). But, I do hope I get the chance to see them in the future in their habitat. I do pray that the surrounding community really moves towards saving the Dugong.

Coron Wrecks from Reggae Dive Center

For the wrecks, this was quite an experience. First off, let me say that I am not really a fan of wrecks, especially when there is penetration involved. My main fear is getting disoriented and lost inside the wreck.

After this trip, I could say that wrecks are really not my cup of tea. I love the history behind the wrecks but the experience being in one is totally different.

My fear was not baseless after all; but, the risk of getting lost and disoriented can be managed if you get competent dive masters to accompany you (slow clap to our guide Arjay from the Reggae Dive Center). I tried to be real focused during dive orientations but the dark seems to erase everything I tried processing and remembering. I ended up being completely reliant on my dive master (well, and my dive computer) inside the wrecks.


Random rails underwater

Again, it is just not my cup of tea but I can sense that there are divers that prefer this, probably those that knows about ships. Still, a great experience. In some ways, I felt like an austronaut floating into unchartered territory researching for something.

Coron definitely has a lot to offer – both wrecks and marine life. For the latter, even if I was not able to see the Dugong, Coron still has a lot to offer – first time to see an electric clam, cuttlefish, blue dragon nudibranch, second time to see an octopus, ray and leaf fish, school of jacks, and lots of scorpion fishes.

Will I go back? Yes, hopefully when there is better visibility. After all, I have not yet dived Siete Picados and seen a Dugong.

Credits: Dugong infographic as posted in Cashew Grove Resort and Coron Wreck Summary as posted in Reggae Dive Center

Quick Notes: Tubbataha Dive Experience

Related to my previous post, I am posting a brief summary of my experience.  I made notes on all our dives with side comments in my phone and now inputting it here for safekeeping.

1st day

  • 2 dives on Jessie Beazley Reef – 1st multiple shark experience, really awesome to see them in their natural habitat
  • 2 dives on Shark Airport – 1st dive saw multiple sharks again (with some resting on the reef); 2nd dive was a night dive wherein we saw multiple large colourful  lobsters

2nd day

  • 1 dive on Shark Airport – failed hammerhead search
  • 1 dive on Seafan Alley – beautiful corals and sea of fishes; as if trapped in an aquarium
  • 1 dive on Black Rock – Manta (saw it first)!; strong current though and almost ran out of air; I have to thank Richard (our dive master) for keeping me calm and collected on this one
  • 1 dive on T Wreck – chill dive; beautiful corals with a random small turtle

3rd day

  • 1 dive on Delsan Wreck – saw a Whale Shark for the first time… it was more than 40 meters deep though so I did not get that close; I wished the photographers did not swarm it as much, it may have swam higher
  • 1 dive on Triggerfish City – only saw one triggerfish (so I was wondering about the name); mountain of corals and loads of turtles (one turtle though looked like it was either sick or sleeping); Bonus:  upside down shark near the boat right after we surfaced — thought it was trapped but it was not.  My co-divers said it must have been a wild night
  • 1 dive on South West Wall – sharks were swimming far away but still beautiful corals; corals were not as beautiful as the other sites but all alive and well; nice to see
  • 1 dive on a site near Amos Rock – felt like we were swimming in a coral maze; few shadows of sharks; Bonus:  swam with dolphins for a few seconds/minutes prior to the official dive starting point
  • Side trip:  Visited the ranger station after the last dive; amazing people and may they continue to protect the Tubbataha Reefs

4th day

  • 1 dive on Amos Rock – not so good visibility (by Tubbataha standards), which may be due to the rain during the night; school of shark and barracudas; beautiful corals with small fish (common in Tubbataha — wonderful)
  • 1 dive on Malayan Wreck – small wreck but saw a blue spotted ray; school of jacks
  • 1 dive on Wall Street – chill dive; Tubbataha standard of beautiful wall and corals; Sea fan pictorial with Alice at 90ft

All in all, Tubbataha was the best dive site I have been to so far – good visibility, wonderful corals and marine life.  For first timers, be prepared for mostly deep and drift dives.  Generally, the drift is not that strong, though this depends on weather and sea conditions.  Visibility is great.  Though from what one of my co-divers said, there are times when it was even better.


Quick Notes: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Palawan

I visited Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park from May 29 to June 3 via M/Y Sakura liveaboard (my first one).  I flew to Palawan morning of the 29th then in the afternoon embarked on a 10 to 14 hours boat ride to Tubbataha.

As stated in the handout I received during the orientation, “The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is the only purely marine World Heritage Site in Southeast Asia.  The Park contains roughly 10,000 hectares of coral reefs and lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the global center for marine biodiversity. 

The Park is a major source of coral and fish larvae, enriching fisheries in surrounding areas.  Its islets are one of the last intact seabird habitats in the Philippines.


It has seventeen (17) dive sites tagged in the map.  Eight (8) in the North Atoll, seven (7) in the South Atoll and two (2) in the Jessie Beazley reef.

On average, we did four (4) dives per day except for the last day wherein we only did three (3).  I personally decided not to skip any of the fifteen (15) dives to maximize the experience.  We were blessed with generally fair weather with scattered rain especially during the evening.

It was like a dream.  Though some of my co-divers said it was not the best visibility, every dive was a great dive.  The corals are pristine with the reef wall full of large sea fans.




Marine life is diverse.  And most of all, lots of colors abound.  It was everything I envisioned it to be.  So beautiful.



We were also blessed with sightings of sharks (loads of different varieties), whale shark, turtles and manta.



imageYes, there is a whale shark there somewhere. Taken at 100ft deep.


To keep it short and simple, it was the best site I have been to. The ocean is alive and wonderful.

I did take some photos but mostly I just spent most of my time admiring and absorbing everything my eyes could land on. It is not everyday I get to see majestic beauty.  It also helped that I knew I was with a group of diver photographers so I know they will have loads of photos.

All I can say is that we have been so blessed.  I hope we all strive to preserve it.  God is wonderful; what a beautiful world.  Hopefully I can return some time in the future.

To learn more about Tubbataha, you can visit

Quick Notes: Seoul, South Korea

I visited Seoul last 07 to 12 April 2016 primarily for the cherry blossoms and it did not disappoint.


Luckily, we were still able to catch the last few days of the cherry blossoms festival in Jinhae…


… with trees scattered in Seoul also still in full bloom.



As a bonus, we were also just in time for the Tulip festival in Everland.


It was a successful trip overall and here are my additional notes and thoughts:

Favorite place among those visited: Nami Island


Favorite food I tasted: Street foods, especially the fresh strawberries with chocolate (runner-up: banana chocolate crepe with cereals)


Favorite experience: T-Express ride in Everland


Pleasant surprise:
– Streetfoods in Myeongdong
– Yeouido park

Other notes:
– Efficient transportation system
– They love to walk (trip involved lots of walking)
– Loads of beauty products

I think we still missed a lot of stops so might visit Seoul again. After all, Nami deserves a return trip.

First Time: Painting (without numbers)

Last Saturday (March 5), I was at Sip and Gogh Kapitolyo to try out painting.  I do not know much about painting but curious enough to experience it.

Since it was an open session, we (me, my mom and sisters) were asked to select a painting that we would try to replicate.  I thought it would be a painting by numbers type of lesson but I guessed wrong.  The staff would really teach you how to mix colors and paint (my mind went blank and heart started beating fast).

But, I have to say the dedicated staff of Sip and Gogh to our group was very encouraging.  By the end of our two-hour session, I did have something presentable.

Fireflies - Sip and Gogh.jpg

My version of a Night filled with Fireflies

I chose this painting because I remembered two things:

(a) my fireflies watching experience in Loboc River, Bohol – a magical experience that I was not able to capture on camera; and,

(b) Fireflies by Owl City – one of my favorite songs of all time.

My brain went to overdrive upon seeing it and started day dreaming for a few seconds with the following thought bubble:

I know fireflies are not fairies or pixies that come from far faraway lands.  There is nothing magic about how they produce light given that is more on biology.

But, from time to time, I allow myself to experience a bit of magic through imagination.  A night filled with fireflies is definitely my kind of whimsy..  I could just close my eyes and let my imagination do the rest (cue Fireflies by Owl City).

So there… I am happy with the experience and my output.  Thank you Sip and Gogh since I can now enjoy a night filled with fireflies at the comfort of my home.

I also realized I am not that bad at arts after all. Still a lot to learn but something not to be afraid of.  As one of the Van Gogh quotes posted in the wall says:

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.