Category Archives: I Heart RP

The Tide Is High But I’m Holding On*

I’m trying this new thing called Putting My Phone Down.

I remember my former supervisor saying how I am a ‘social media expert’ because ‘she’s always on her phone non-stop’. I took that as a compliment, actually. It wasn’t one.

So when the last leg of the research project my Mom and I are involved in was scheduled to cross the Pacific Ocean to Polillo Islands in Quezon Province–maybe, just maybe, I could test myself and see if I can survive two days without my iPhone, Internet/wifi/3G, my DSLR and my other gadgets that I don’t leave home without. That is if I don’t get thrown out of the ferry because of the massive tides and get attacked by sharks (which they have, btw).

Day 1 01:28

The team picked me up from home because it’s on the way to the pier, where we are going to board a ferry (or lantsa in Tagalog) to Brgy. Polillo. Nothing but an old flip-phone with me, an old mp3 player to get me by, and a paperback (instead of iPad). Another reason I didn’t want to bring gadgets is because the sea and I are sworn enemies. I can’t swim and for some reason, I always always seem to accidentally drop something valuable in the water. Every.single.time.

I wasn’t able to sleep during the drive from Los Banos to Real, Quezon. We arrived at around 4AM, slept in the car while we waited for the next trip. At last it was 7AM and it’s time to step on that narrow platform to get to the lantsa. It was a cold and rainy morning. Windy and dark for 7AM. “It’s going to be okay, Cole, you’re good, you’re good.” I fell asleep with my earphones on and thanked the heavens that it was all smooth-sailing. Until the ferry jolted so hard, I thought it was going to tip over. It was only the beginning of an hour-long ride against the tide, apparently.

The team and I could only pretend we’re ‘screaming cos of the thrill’ but deep inside, I know we were all praying for our safety. After around half-hour of trying to fight the waves, we were exhausted and just fell asleep. We were close to the docks when I woke up. Oh God I’m alive, I thought. I was ready to fish for my phone from my purse and tweet what has just happened. Or take my camera out and capture the tides. But there’s nothing from my backpack. My fingers shook, my heart sank. *sighs* It was only 11:00.

My one photo by Ali Ibanez

My one photo by Ali Ibanez

Day 2 07:00

Early start for our data gathering. I couldn’t believe I haven’t held my phone for more than 24 hours already. No Facebook or Twitter. No anything. Just my Mom checking in. It was like back in college when life was so much simpler. For a moment there I forgot what it was like to be just me. Not expecting any message, not obsessing over notifications and mentions. Not being under the influence of Internet and all that. Not being held back by gadgets. I felt…lighter.

The rest of the day went by FGD after FGD. Until we were all done and headed towards the beach that was beside our hosts’ place.

Since it was the rainy season, everything felt gloomy and grey. But then again, it was just the perfect background for introspection. The team and I took turns in taking photos and just had fun by the beach. Night fell and we were beat. Morning came and it was time to go home.

Day 3 13:00

Our hosts are the most wonderful people you’ll ever meet. I couldn’t even begin to describe the degree of generosity and hospitality they have shown us. It’s pretty refreshing not having to check my phone every 10 minutes. I was able to listen to stories more, was able to understand silence. I was able to engage and interact more with the people around me and have more room for introspection. It was also a relief not having to worry about my camera at all times. I can just leave the house without checking if my gear is complete and unscathed. I was carefree, if that’d be the only word to describe it.

The ocean was pretty calm this time. There were not a lot of people in the ferry so we pretty much just loitered around. We sat in front of the ferry (you know like Rose-Jack style) and watched the waves and scream accordingly when a huge one comes in. Total amateurs, we felt the other passengers saying to us.

19:00

The team and I had dinner at home, home-cooked with love by my Mom (thank God she didn’t join, she’d hate me LOL). We relived experiences and stories of the past two days and had so much fun doing so. We were going crazy laughing but I know it was more of relief that it was all over and we were back home in one piece.

Polillo is a beautiful island and I want to visit again. Summer, preferably. When it’s all sunshine, blue skies and tides are more lenient. When I’m all calm and collected. When I have finally come to terms that life, just like the sail to Polillo, could as well be rough seas. You just have to learn how to ride with it and keep the faith that everything is going to be okay.

All this by going unplugged. Try it sometime.

*Title from the song with same name version by Atomic Kitten, in my head at least.

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If You Can’t Stand the Heat–Build Your Own Kitchen

If you’re wondering why I haven’t purchased a ticket to fly somewhere and get on my Cole Walks action, don’t worry, I’m not suffering from any serious illness of some sort: 1) Since I arrived from Singapore, I was hunting here, there and everywhere for a job; 2) If I’m not showing up at interviews, I’m at home completing my courses–oh, my academic life; and 3) I’m trying to learn the basics of one aspect of my life that I haven’t really cultivated, that is cooking.

Yes, who would have thought, right? Princess Cole, can’t do the dishes, can’t do her own laundry, can’t cook to save her life, is now her household’s Pasta Chef, or at least because her family has no choice but to eat what their Princess has prepared for them–whether it’s relatively edible or utterly repulsive. But I have to say, I’m not that prissy. I can handle things on my own, only that I haven’t mastered the chores part yet. Although, when I moved to Laos and had acquired my own place for a while, I was the one cleaning my flat even if I lived in a guesthouse. I managed my own finances, and above all, I looked after my own health and safety.

Things had leveled up though, when I got domesticated while in-between jobs here in my hometown. I started doing my own laundry (my parents drop off theirs at a shop somewhere), and that was also my first time to use the washer. My good friend for a decade now was shocked about this tidbit. Poor her, she’s friends with a priss. I didn’t exactly plan on messing with our kitchen because I really wanted to get back to playing the piano. Plus, I seriously thought I won’t be able to do anything right in the kitchen because I am a firm believer that there are some things one just can’t do. The thought of slicing, dicing, mincing, sautéing, burning/slicing my finger just freaked me out. I keep hearing my mom’s shrieks when she accidentally cuts her finger whenever I see our knives. But as it turns out, my hand-eye-coordination worked better in the kitchen than tapping the keys of our old piano. I got hungry one afternoon, spotted some cheap-az pasta sitting in the cupboard, and leftover ready-made pesto sauce in the fridge. What else am I supposed to do?

My first try was, of course, a tragedy. Pasta was overcooked. The whole thing upset me that I just had to accept the challenge of the culinary arts. In the following weeks: 1) My mom shared some secrets of the trade; 2) I studied Giada de Laurentiis’ and Rachael Ray’s recipes on Food Network; and 3) Forced my family to be my guinea pigs for my cooking HAH! And well, whaddyaknow, one Sunday morning (or okay that was almost noon, I slept real late–insomnia attacks), my brother was kicking my foot saying “Hoy, Pigrolac, gumising ka na!” (Hey, Pigrolac, get up!) If you’re wondering what Pigrolac is, it’s a brand of pig feeds. I know, I have the sweetest brothers in the whole friggin world. So I got up, my mom was in the kitchen, I asked her why all of a sudden my brother was so eager to wake me up because the last time that that happened was back when we were in college–and that was a loooong time ago. My mom just answered “Magluto ka na daw,” (It’s time for you to cook). I didn’t know if I was going to be pissed off with the Pigrolac comment or actually be proud that, at least, my brother requested for me to cook. For real or not, I was happy.

And so, there goes my story, enjoy my pasta creations. Hit me up for some collaborations HAH!

So what’s next–Filipino food? Mexican? Lao? 😉

All photos were taken using Hipstamatic for iPhone.

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Destination: Palawan

Filipino by blood and by heart, but haven’t even been around the beautiful provinces her country can offer. After my Palawan-Halloween-Weekend, I promised myself that as much as I love crossing borders, island-hopping in the Philippines should be part of my itinerary in my quest of exploring culture, one country at a time. And BECAUSE it is just as fun –and hurts my wallet less.

A random night-out with my friends, Kamille and Angela, gave me another reason to be impulsive. Gela booked me a ticket to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, under five minutes. What can I say, it was one of the best (impulsive) decisions I’ve ever made.

It was Todos Los Santos weekend, which means everyone will be battling it out to vacation spots and cemeteries. I never been a fan of Halloween or going out-of-town during this time of the year but since I put up this site, I figured it’s time for  a change and embrace every opportunity to travel.  It was given that traveling during the weekend would entail heavy traffic. So, if you want to avoid the excruciating traffic jam, you can stay at home and watch what’s scary on TV. Otherwise, you can beat cars (or not) with your patience. Gela and I left Los Banos at 1PM, and uhh, our flight was at 5.35PM. Paranoid much?

Hello, Puerto Princesa City (PPS)

The capital of Palawan, PPS is home to various tourist attractions and protected areas. Does Underground River ring a bell? Although we didn’t visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, we explored Honda Bay aka Island-Hopping and an emerging tourist destination, Brgy Simpocan. Out of the ordinary? Oh yeah.

We arrived at PPS around 7PM and the first thing we did was to have a nice Filipino dinner with Gela’s good friends from the United States, who are in PPS for their internship. And what’s a weekend without nightlife? After dinner, we chilled at a reggae bar called Katabom. If you’re looking for laidback environment but all alcohol requisites are met, Katabom is the place to be. PPS has a long strip of bars and restaurants with live bands and good food –the nights are never boring in PPS.

The next day was dedicated to Honda Bay, famous for its island-hopping and activities such as snorkelling. Five islands in a day? That can be pretty tiring, but it was all good. Jumped, floated, burnt our skin, picture-taking with a bunch of starfish, became beach bums, spent less than PHP1500… it’s the perfect weekend getaway.

I can’t swim but after our island-hopping madness and I got home in one piece, breathing normally, I was up for anything. For our last two days in PPS, we had a camping trip by the beach in Brgy Simpocan. It’s around a 2-hour rough-road ride up and down the mountains, so a 4×4 vehicle is crucial. Serene, peaceful and relaxing –you literally own the beach. Brgy Capt Boy Macasaet expresses his plans of developing this area into one tourist attraction. By the beach and hidden, hmm, anyone who’s into camping and soul-searching together with the sound of the big waves will definitely fall in love with Simpocan.

Enough of the chit-chat… Here’s Palawan for your eyes only!

 

So you see, this is my first Philippine entry. I’ve been to provinces but my blogging life hasn’t even started back then. I would love to explore more and perhaps revisit some of my favorite places like Sagada up North and Cebu City down south and Camiguin in Mindanao. The thing with traveling within the country that I appreciate is  we discover more of our own roots –with friends to find the coolest places and getting lost in the way and ultimately, helping the country’s tourism business. Oh well, in time. My career as a travel writer has just begun.

PS A big THANK YOU to Matt, Justin, Ginelle, Billy, Cory, Elyse, Kat and Ray for an adventure-filled weekend! 🙂

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