Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012!

The sound of firecrackers and torotots grow louder each day while as early as last week, several shows on TV are airing their special year-enders. Oh, and don't forget almost all malls are having their sale! As for me, my mom "contracted" me to a three-day general house cleaning and I also had dinner with my hs friends already. These scenarios are not new to me and in fact, I consider them as annual"rituals." Alam na, malapit na naman magpalit ang taon.

I had the luxury of time (translation: di ako tinamad manood) last night to watch New Year's Eve, well because it's kinda seasonal. How I wish I can witness the dropping of the giant ball at NY Times Square personally before the world comes to an end or at least see a similar ceremony here in the country. Anyway, my favorite part of the movie was Claire Morgan's very inspiring speech (played by Hilary Swank) when the ball was stuck.

"It's suspended there to remind us before we pop the champagne and celebrate the New Year, to stop and reflect on the year that has gone by. To remember both our triumphs and our missteps - our promises made, and broken. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures - or closed ourselves down, for fear of getting hurt. Because that's what New Year's is all about: getting another chance. A chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more. And stop worrying about 'what if' and start embracing what would be. So when that ball drops at midnight - and it will drop - let's remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other. And not just tonight but all year long." 

Beautiful, right? New Year's Eve is a perfect time to reminisce and remember all the things that happened to us especially the wonderful ones so that when we look back, we can proudly give ourselves a big tap on the back for a "great journey."  My 2011 was not the best nor the worst either. The negative vibes inside of me---hopelessness, frustrations, hurts, disappointments, depression, and the never-ending self-inflicted heartbreak---were perfectly complemented by God's wonderful blessings. 

So for whatever's worth it, here's a rundown of my "Best of 2011." I consider them as the "best" because they made my 2011 crazy but very memorable and meaningful.
11. Attending the UST Quadricentennial celebration. Not everyone is fortunate to survive 100 years here on earth and I was lucky that I was given the the chance to witness and take part on my alma mater's 400th founding anniversary this year. It's not every lifetime that you'll witness such historical event.  
Happy 400 UST!
10.Getting myself a netbook. It's a long time dream for me to own one so that I won't have to bargain with my brother and parents as regards the computer "usage time." Feeling ko kasi para akong nasa computer shop na inoorasan. So when I got my backpay from ABS, all my money went to this:
My red ASUS 1215T Netbook. Perfect for my everyday
9.Teacher, teacher. Teaching and handling kids is really a challenge. Nakakahiya pag yung advisory class mo ay may reputation na maingay at magulo, tapos yung mga co-teachers mo ieemphasize pa yung weakness ng class mo. Pag may umiiyak at may problema sa classroom, ikaw ang tatawagin kahit break. May reminders ka na ngang sinulat sa board, may nakakalimot pa din. Pag nawala yung wallet, relo, jacket, or kahit pencil case ay problema mo na naman.Yung lunchbox na hindi mabuksan, pati yung kelangan mo lutasin!But you know what's more challenging than that? It's when you  are 100% sure that you are a communications graduate but you're given the task to handle MATH 4 and SCIENCE 4 and 5! Ako na ang matalino, sige! Seriously, I appreciated Math during those times and cursed to death Science.
With my makukulit na 4-3 girls while signing their diaries
oha!Feeling ko may autograph signing ako ;p
8. Learned a new "sport."
The only card game I know to play by heart is solitaire.
This year, I learned how to play tong-its and is getting
luckier each time I play ;p
7. Had a "boom!boom" birthday. I had the "grandest" birthday celebration this year. How grand, you may ask? Well, let's just say that Australia and our very own Philippine Team prepared a very grand fireworks display just for me. Haha! I'm easily fascinated with fireworks display so when I saw this year's pyromusical schedule in the internet, I pleaded and begged just like a five-year-old girl to my parents to bring me to MOA. The show didn't fail me. And so is my family.
Boom, boom, boom!
6. Beach camping. It was my first time to experience beach camping this summer in Calaguas (see post here). While I really had a great time, I can say that beach camping is not really my thing due to the following reasons: sand (even gets mixed to our food, yay!) and lack of a clean comfort room. I won't complain if the place has no electricity or if there are big red ants marching in our tent or mosquitoes having a "bloody party" with us as their special guests but what I really don't like (I feel traumatized) was other people's insensitivity especially in using public toilets. People should know how to make buhos of their own vomit (c/o their inuman sessions) which was all over the bowl and floor. The smell is just...a double major eeeeew.
First time beach campers. Good thing the tent can fit us.
5. Snorkeling. I find it ironic and pathetic that a Piscean like me doesn't know how to swim T.T Good thing that snorkeling doesn't require the use of different swimming strokes haha! I was really afraid to try snorkeling since I don't know how to swim but after my snorkeling experience in Coron (see post here), I realized what I've been missing all these years! 
Fear no more, as long as I have my life vest with me :)
4. My own sponsored trips. Work hard to save more; save to travel. This always motivates me. With a very humble monthly income, I can proudly say that I successfully pulled-off two trips this year with my own hard-earned money. Hep hep hooray!
I fell in love with you. See you soon Calaguas
Read entry here 
Decemeber in Iloilo-Guimaras. Read here 
3. Maroon 5 Concert!!!! Got complimentary tickets for Maroon 5's concert here. Too bad I left the camera at home and I misplaced the ticket. No souvenir for me from their concert huhu. It was my first time to go on  a concert (excluding free concerts in school) and I really really really enjoyed the show. Fave part of the concert was when Adam Levine divided the crowd in to two as he led each group to sing She Will Be Loved. Ahhhhhh....
And they will be loved...and they will be
looooved. Photo credit here
2. Ni Hao, Shanghai! Another "Asian Exploration" for us this year. It was my first time to experience a below 10 degree Celsius temperature haha! I was impressed with the city's beauty :)
Feeling high in Shanghai! Read entry here
1. New jobSSSS. I finally beat my 2008 employment history which is three jobs in a span of 5 months. I'm back in my old job hopping attitude this 2011 which is really bad. I had four jobs with three companies this year: teacher and archivist in SPCP, company writer for Easy Pha-max, and writer for BUYanihan. Things get complicated to the point that I almost welcome 2012 without a job after passing my resignation letter last December 2 without any company to employ me. But God really is good to me because He gave me one of the best gifts this Christmas: A NEW JOB in 2012 :) Thank you Lord for this wonderful blessing.

We only have more or less 10 hours before we finally bid 2011 goodbye but before we turn another leaf, don't forget to pause for a moment and look back so you won't forget. Just make sure that when you look back, you don't dwell too much unless you want to stuck with 2011 forever. Life is about new chances and new beginning. We have 366 days (2012 is a leap year!) to make the best memories of our lives.

Let's welcome 2012 full of hopes, dreams, and only positive vibes. Keep dreaming, keep believing, and most importantly keep moving forward.  

Friday, December 30, 2011

Year End Trip: Goodbye Iloilo, Hello Manila

We woke up early morning of Sunday to hear mass at Molo Church. From Super Terminal, we boarded a jeepney with the Molo signboard and was dropped in front of the church, where an ongoing mass is being held at the moment. Since the mass is being said in Hiligaynon, we decided to have our breakfast first in the nearby Chowking.

At 8am, we're already inside the church waiting for the mass to start. An old man was actually leading the churchgoers in practicing the songs and even pleaded for everybody's participation. Moments after, we're surprised that he was the parish priest lol.

Molo Church is considered as the only feminist church in
the country because it's filled with statues of female saints.

Molo Church is one of the few baroque-inspired
church architecture in the province and in the country.
After the mass, we went back to our hotel to prepare for our 12:25 pm flight back to Manila. And since all our bags were packed already, we spent our free time for some photo ops.

Roomies part 1
Wacky shot daw

Roomies part 2:)
The girls
We arrived at the airport an hour earlier, only to find out that our flight was delayed...AGAIN. And AGAIN a delayed flight is better than a cancelled flight. Safe touchdown in Manila at 3pm :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Year End Trip: CPU's Festival of Lights

We were back in Iloilo at around 7pm and immediately put our things back in the hotel. It was dinner time already and we're already starving so we headed to Robinsons Mall which is just a stone's throw away from where we checked-in.  

Since me, Aizel, and Rei had La Paz Batchoy last night, we decided to just order our food in KFC while Faith and Luis enjoyed a bowl of hot and yummy La Paz Batchoy from Ted's. Now I know why people are ranting about Ted's :) After our dinner we bought some pasalubong at Bongbongs since there's a branch inside the mall. Then we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our next destination: Central Philippine University's Festival of Lights.

CPU is located in Jaro, Iloilo and is declared as the only school that's also a tourist spot. Woooow! The 106-year old university was founded by the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society in 1905 and sits on 24 hectare land. Every December, both locals and tourists visit CPU to witness a grand display of lightsinside the campus, so it was really a delight to see different colors of light in the campus. Unfortunately, the light display was until 10pm only.  By the way, there are also food stalls in case one gets hungry.This annual event is a project of the CPU Alumni Association.
This is the first building you'll see upon entering
the campus

Blurred picture na naman haha!This is the church inside
the campus.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year End Trip: The Guimaras Sidetrip

 We started our day a little bit early for our Guimaras sidetrip that day. We met Faith and Luis at Ortiz Port, which is the jump-off point for Guimaras. The weather was gloomy but the water was very calm. The motorized boat was quite big---can fit up to 20 people, I guess. It was a smooth 15-minute ferry ride from Ortiz to Jordan Port where our tour guide, Kuya Micmic is already waiting for our arrival.
It's all gloomy but the water remained calm, thank God.
Aside from Kuya Micmic, we’re also greeted by the drizzling rain....uh-oh. When I asked him if it rained the past few days in Guimaras, he told me, no. Uh—oh L Luckily, the drizzle stopped after some time. Yey!

Our first stop was the Balaan Bukid Shrine where a giant cross awaits us. Getting to the top wasn’t easy since we have to trek almost 30 minutes on a steep and rocky road. Maagang penitensya ito. We later found out from Kuya Micmic that it’s a fave destination during holy week and it makes sense because of the presence of the 14 Stations of The Cross which starts at the foot of the mountain until you reach the top. Aside from the giant cross, there’s also a small chapel there which holds mass every first Saturday of the month.
Rocky road ahead...
Finally, there's the cross! Wait for us.
The chapel on top of the mountain.
Masses are held every 1st sat of the
month for the residents.
The marker. Donations are most welcome here.
The cross is off-limits to the public
due to security reasons.
After Balaan Bukid, Kuya Micmic brought us to the Smallest Plaza for a quick photo op. It’s said to be the smallest plaza in the world before. 
The Smallest Plaza---Check!
Smallest Plaza from the outside
We were here :)
Next destination: head north to visit Buenavista town. We’re fortunate that Kuya Micmic agreed to bring us to Navalas Church and Roca Encatada.
Navalas Church is the oldest and the
only Heritage Church
in the province. It was built in 1880.
Luis, Faith, Moi, Aizel, and Rei at
the Navalas Church
On-going preparations for Christmas.
After saying our prayers, off we go to Roca Encatada which is the summer house of the famous Lopez clan. It was built in 1910 in honor of Dona Presentacion Lopez, who is the great grandmother of ABS-CBN's Sir Gabby. It was declared as a Heritage House by the National Historial Institute in 2002. 
There's a P50 entrance by the way.
Dream vacation house T_T

Feeling mayayaman lang ;p

We may have failed to visit ABS Iloilo but at least we still
paid tribute to the Lopezes by visiting their summer
house haha.
It was almost lunch time when we left Roca Encatada but since there's no restaurant or an eatery nearby, we had our lunch near the Guimaras Provincial Capitol. 

For lunch (no pictures), we ate at a random eatery just in front of the Capitol. I had fried shrimps and adobong pusit and a soup that I don't know what it's called but according to Faith, it's usually eaten by people with gout. One interesting thing that I learned is that their version of Pork Sarsiado is actually a Menudo. And I thought that anything with fish, tomatoes, and egg is sarsiado!

After our heavy lunch, we had a very quick tour at the Guimaras Provincial Monument and Museum. I was impressed by the museum's facade It's a one-storey building with sculpture of a man holding a fishing tool and plow. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get inside since renovation is still ongoing.
Guimaras Museum-Fail! 
Watch out for a better Guimaras Museum

This statue---a man with fishing tool and plow--
represents the common source of living of Guimaras
locals which is fishing and farming.

Guimaras Provincial Capitol's facade

Luis, Me, Rei, and Aizel at the Capitol grounds
Not far from the museum was the Guimaras Provincial Capitol. I think the local government is holding a Christmas Tree-making contest since six Christmas trees made from different materials were displayed on the capital grounds.

 From the Provincial Capitol, we were brought to the Trappist Monastery. The monastery is run by monks of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance. The monks,  known for their extreme austerity or strictness, live according to the teachings of St. Benedict. 

The place is really quiet and peaceful, no wonder it's a favorite spot for retreats or recollection. After we said our prayers, we stayed a little bit longer for more photo ops.

Unfortunately, this is restricted to the
public :(
We also met Bro. Peter who is a monk there. He's very warm and accommodating and told us to write our prayer request in a sheet of paper in exchange of any monetary help we could give to support the monks' basic needs especially their medicines. He emphasized that we should write our specific prayer request.
Dear Bro. Peter, please pray for my .........
The monks also sell souvenir items and processed foods such as jams and jellies to support their financial needs. All their works can be seen and bought at the gift shop which can be found inside the monastery.
Pasalubong shopping time!
After our short trip at the Trappist Monastery, we boarded Kuya Micmic's tricycle for another long drive. It's almost 3pm that time and we still have 3 more places on our list. Go, go, go!Next stop: Valle Verde Resort.

The road leading to the resort was steep and rocky so we we're advised to walk. Huwaaaaaaah!Anyway, when we finally reached the resort, we were greeted by two dogs. Arf! Arf! The resort owner was very accommodating and encouraged us to take a dip on their pools or try their hotspring. We were really tempted with her offer but since we're running out of time, we told her about our dilemma. She thanked us for dropping by though and told us to come back and stay longer in Guimaras.
Okay guys, simulan nyo na ang

I was here!:)

Overlooking view from Valle Verde Resort
From Valle Verde Resort we travelled for another 20 to 30 minutes to reach Guisi Lighthouse. According to
It was built by the Spanish government in 1894 -1896 as part of the Master Plan for the lighting of the Maritime Coasts of the Philippine Archipelago. The plan was aimed at lighting the Philippine Seas and channels to guide ships in and through the most important sea channels to the ports of Manila, Iloilo, and Cebu. Known as Faro de Punta Luzaran, the lighthouse served as a navigational aid to the fishermen and sailors cruising Panay Gulf. While the original lighthouse is no longer operational a new one has been built by the Philippine Coast Guard.
This station is on Guimaras Island marking the southern entrance to Iloilo in Panay. The lighthouse, a 17.5 m (58 ft) octagonal cylindrical tower, was completed in 1896. It appears similar to the Cabo Bojeador and Cabo Engano lights. The entire light station is in ruins; the lantern is gone from the tower and the roof is gone from the 1-story stone keeper’s house.
At some time after 1920, the light was replaced by what the current list describes only as 38 ft (11.5m) hourglass-shaped metal tower. Painted white, focal plane 34 m (111 ft), white flash every 15 s. no lantern.
Add caption
Number 12 lighthouse is listed in the 27 major Spanish Lighthouses of the Philippines (in the order listed by Faros Espanoles de Ultramar). 
The very old and rusty lighthouse
New satellite
The newer lighthouse
Ruins part 1
Ruins part 2
Our last stop was the Raymen Beach. It was really crowded unlike the Guisi Beach which is more beautiful plus, there were no guests that time. Raymen Beach Resort is a white sand beach..just don't compare it with Boracay. I can only see from the shore several islands which were perfect for an island hopping. Since we're pressed for time, we just enjoyed the beach, the shoreline, the sand, and the water! Yes, we took a quick dip on the beach since we're all feeling sticky :)

 We were back at the Jordan Port at 6:30 pm. Whew! It was really a long and tiring day but definitely it's a fun, enjoyable, and SULIT na SULIT Guimaras daytrip. Thanks to our maalaga, maasikaso, at mabait na tour guide---Kuya Micmic. His rate is very affordable plus you can customize your trip, just inform him of your plans to further guide you on your itinerary. So if you have plans of visiting the place, please do contact him :)
Our grand "ride" throughout the
Kuya Micmic :)