(Dis)connected

Having grown up in a country where families are separated by the need to work abroad to earn more money, I love how technology makes this world a little smaller. It makes families today connect easier via social  media and other apps where all you need is an internet connection and you can talk for hours on  end.

On the flipside, people who are co-located seem to be farther apart because people have become virtually connected but physically disconnected. Ever been with friends during dinner and everyone is so busy taking pictures of food? And if you’re sharing and  start eating when the ‘photo op’ is not yet over, you actually have to put back that shrimp you took into its original place, otherwise you won’t hear the end of it. Seriously.

But wait there’s more! And so food photo op is finally over and you can actually start eating. Or so you thought. Now comes the part where people zone out and start uploading the photos to (anti)social media.That is what the hashtag ATM is all about. Back then, this only means Automated Teller Machine. In the 21st century, it means At The Moment; as though there is an unspoken urgency to post whatever it is we are doing or eating.

But people have data plans too! Photo courtesy of my brother. He snapped this photo from our favorite cheap gourmet resto, Kanto Freestyle Breakfast.

But people have data plans too! Photo courtesy of my brother. He snapped this photo from our favorite cheap gourmet resto, Kanto Freestyle Breakfast.

As if that is not enough, amidst all the conversation and laughter going around, there will be people who cannot seem to part with  their mobile phones even for a while. I understand checking your phone every so often, but to be on your phone more than you are actually engaged in the conversation, that is just rude.  I don’t know how doing this has become acceptable in this modern society.

Do not get me wrong. I love virtual connection as much as I love being physically connected. The internet has made it easy for me to talk to my sister and her family who lives in the UK and with relatives and friends who are living in various parts of the US, Europe and Asia. I love posting statuses and photos too! Of mundane things or some political issues that I feel strongly about. What I am driving at is: never be so busy capturing the moment that people actually lose you in the moment.

The same technology that has connected people from different continents has disconnected people who are just within few feet of each other. I just hope that people realize that it is blatant rudeness to be on your phone more than the company you’re with.  It’s like talking to someone but your eyes keep darting in different directions like you would rather be somewhere else. If that is how you feel, I think it’s more decent to excuse yourself entirely and be with those people you’re chatting with. Because it’s bad enough that you seem disinterested, it’s worse that you think this is the new norm; that this is acceptable behavior. It is not.

The best gifts are indeed free. Your time. Your undivided attention. Bear that in mind.

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Looking Back on Mother’s Day

We had a very simple childhood. The only place we’ve ever been to as children were Sunday lunches at Goldilocks and play time at Fiesta Carnival after. And the occasional trip to Luneta Park and lunch at the resto where the crew were deaf mute.

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We never had a birthday party like most kids do; but we grew up ok. Our birthdays are usually with our extended family at home with the usual pansit canton, cake, and other very simple food that were otherwise very special to us. Because cake is a luxury back then.

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It’s the same place every Sunday because our little salon will be slow on this day. So when customers actually walk in, we get really sad (that’s putting it mildly; we get really peeved! :) ) because it means we can’t go out or lesser time at the carnival.

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It’s the simplicity of our childhood that I appreciate the little comfort that we now enjoy. That’s because Nanay has the uncanny financial skills (a secondary school undergraduate as she is) that she (with my Tatay, of course) was able to send us to good schools no matter how hard up we were.

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If only for that, we are ever grateful. We are who we are because of you. So thank you. Ours is not a perfect relationship, but does one actually exist? We’re very proud of you and how you’ve managed to get us through rough times with your resilience and business sense. Happy Mother’s Day, Nanay! ❤

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Sunset: The Cliché I Love

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Sunsets are probably one of the most cliché subjects to photograph but it will always be my favorite. Sunsets have a way of giving things perspective.

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That no matter how good or bad your day has been, it’s bound to end. One can only hope that tomorrow will be just as good or a tad better.

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Just like anything in this world, sunset is fleeting. That no matter how much we want to hold on to it, we can only have it for as long. Maybe that is part of its charm; its fleetingness.

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As fleeting as the sunset is, timing is essential. You have to be at the right place to experience it, otherwise, you miss the chance.

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Sunset teaches us to cherish the simple things and be hopeful that tomorrow we’ll see it again.

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Exploring The City of Smiles (Day 1)

It has been weeks since my short trip to Bacolod, the City of Smiles, but the urge to go back and explore this quaint city again hasn’t died down.

The people here are just so nice and the places just as good. But what made me fall in love with Bacolod is the FOOD. We had to stop by museums and landmarks because these deterred us from trying all the restaurants we had on our list (thanks to dear friend, Nic for the fabulous tips! :) ). In a nutshell, our 3D/2N in Bacolod turned out to be three days of glorious food tripping around the city.

DAY 1

From the airport, you need not worry about catching a cab to your hotel as there are shuttles that charge Php150/pax. This is a good deal already because the new Bacolod-Silay International Airport is quite far from the city.

We stayed at <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g298464-d1822204-r256418167-The_Suites_at_Calle_Nueva-Bacolod_Negros_Occidental_Negros_Island_Visayas.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT">The Suites at Calle Nueva</a>. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they're just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip.

We stayed at The Suites at Calle Nueva. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they’re just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip. 

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob's. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117!  Namit gid!

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob’s. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117! Namit gid! 

Once you get here proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Once you get here, proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Tip: How To Get Here-

From Bacolod City ride the jeepney bound for BATA, or ride the jeepney with the route Libertad-BATA. Tell the driver to drop you off at the nearest trike terminal going to The Ruins (there are at least two terminals there). They charge between Php25-30. 

Proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero (he’s the funny tour guide at The Ruins).

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

We had to drag ourselves from the magnificence of The Ruins to have dinner at another place on our list: Manokan Country.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida's because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida’s because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch. 

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It's spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It’s spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Manokan Country is within walking distance to the hotel so we just walked home and capped the night off with some sweets we bought from Calea.

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Day Hike at Pico De Loro

Scaling a mountain was something that I’ve always wanted to do but never really put enough fuel on that thought to get it going. Good thing a dear friend was very keen on doing it and we soon found ourselves booked for a day hike at Pico de Loro with Trailadventours.

It was uneventful ride to Ternate, Cavite. Only because I’ve slept through most of the 2-hour ride, which began at 4AM. Scroll through the photos and I’ll let you in on tips along the way.

Your shoes will define your trek.

Your shoes will define your trek.

You always have the option to wear trekking sandals but on a hot summer day, the ground is dry and little rocks can creep between your sandals and your soles and that will hurt. DO NOT wear sneakers and flip flops as those will make you slip and slide… or worse.

I wore a pair of good running shoes with ridges on the sole and it worked for me. ;)

Yes, they have halo-halo on the mountain!

Yes, they have halo-halo on the mountain!

After an hour or so of trekking, I was surprised to see a little sari-sari store selling halo-halo! A tad weird and expensive too. Well, transporting ingredients from the base is really difficult so that accounts for the price.

Sneak peak of the gorgeous landscape after some two hours of trekking.

Sneak peak of the gorgeous landscape after some two hours of trekking.

From the Trailadventours site, the hike to Mount Pico de Loro has a difficulty of 4/10. But for a first time hiker, it could very well be a 6. Though the trail is very defined, there are a lot of steep ascents that newbies like me will find a bit daunting but still manageable.

Coby, one of the lead guides imparted some bits of trekking wisdom: take small but sure steps and when in doubt, use your ass. Very helpful tips I must say. Your goal is to reach the summit and go back to base in one piece.

We reached the campsite around 10AM.  On the photo   are Shie,a solo traveler from Mindoro and Kaye, a blogger and good friend who managed to keep in touch long after she left the company I'm still in.

We reached the campsite around 10AM. On the photo are Shie,a solo traveler from Mindoro and Kaye, a blogger and a good friend who managed to keep in touch long after she left the company I’m still in.

I have expectations of a campsite is and what I saw was a let down. There was too much litter and waste segregation bins are nowhere to be found either. It’s supposed to be a protected landscape, yet it looks as though it’s in dire need of protection. It made me wonder what the Php25 fee that hikers pay at the DENR registration. I’m thinking they should just charge Php50 so hikers don’t pay Php5 every time they use the restroom to pee or wash up.

I’m not very prissy but let’s just say that I need to be desperate to use the restroom there. It’s that bad. Putting up decent restrooms doesn’t mean defacing the mountain (maybe put up nipa huts to make it blend with the surroundings?). If makeshift stores are built there, then they can build these restrooms too, right? It doesn’t have to be hotel grade but it sure needs to be clean.

From the campsite, another half an hour and you'll reach the summit.

From the campsite, another half an hour and you’ll reach the summit.

The monolith is a challenge I will conquer on my next trip. I think the mere fact that I returned to Manila in one piece is already an achievement for me. :)

Tips:

  • Eat heavy breakfast and bring energy bars. This is your best excuse for carb-loading and chocolates. The energy bars really helped us as we didn’t bring lunch; we decided to grab lunch at Manong Wilson’s carinderia. Food is really good!
  • Bring just enough water. I brought along a liter because two liters is too heavy for me.
  • Wear comfy shoes and bring extra slippers.
  • Bring a complete change of clothes (including underwear) and toiletries; you’ll need this when you go back to the base.

From experience, this is something you can do on your own; you don’t need to sign up on a group tour. Being on an organized trek has its advantages as they guarantee your safety, you meet new people and the Trailadventour guides are really a fun bunch. But honestly, the Php1800 fee is quite steep given that it just includes transportation and tour guide fee. Should you ever do a DIY trek, I overheard a group that they paid Php600 for their tour guide. Not a bad deal! :)

 

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