Picture of the Week | Unspeakably Mundane

Hi everyone! How's your day? Did you do anything fun? or just another plain, boring, workday?

The stillness of this day made me think to share another photo taken at Aloha Beach in Panglao, Bohol - A shot I took several years ago when we were just sitting on the beach, people watching while waiting for our dinner to be served at the nearby seafood restaurant.

We were appreciating the pale sun slowly setting on the horizon, admiring the last touch of spectacular golden sun rays around us on a gloaming twilight when this rare and beautiful moment happened ...when the sea seems so silent for few seconds and everything around us were slowly turning from golden to kinda sad shades of blue and gray. The moment I knew was short and it will be dark anytime soon so I took some few snaps from my old Canon EOS 550D. With minor enhancement from PicMonkey, I’m pleased to share you the best one from more than 50 shots.

Reflection to Life: The world is changing at a great rate everyday and no matter how we try to cope-up, we always know less. There are someone who will always be ahead of us in terms of career, business, knowledge, money, relationships or anything you would consider as basis for a competition. 

If you feel you failed at something in your life or maybe disappointed towards something, there's no harm in taking time to stop for a moment. Try to do nothing for one day because sometimes, according to the movie I watched last weekend, Christopher Robin, “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.”

Maybe it does, I’ll try to do this sometime but if this didn’t work, I’ll take another break to reconsider another option,  re-calibrate strategy, have a chance to regroup and figure-out my next steps. 

Five Ways Technology Transformed Our Travel Experience

It’s been twenty years since the world joined the internet bandwagon. Ever since, it has started transforming our personal and professional lives in almost every aspect possible. But one sector that has seen a dramatic change as a result of changes brought about by the technology is the travel sector. The world has become a global village and more and more people are traveling around the world. The barriers are almost abolished. Travel sites, blogs, language apps, and location tracking app have made travel easier for us.

Technology is the sole reason why tourism is one of the leading industries and passion in the world. Here are five ways technology has fundamentally transformed the travel pattern.

1. Technology has made traveling eco-friendly 

Though many of you may not agree to this but if you look at the smaller details around you, you would realize how eco-friendlier has the travel become. Do you see any printed tickets in your hands anymore? Do you hold your boarding pass in your hands or keep your hotel reservation with you? The answer is no because technology has made it possible for anyone to book their ticket online. Websites offer online tickets and major airlines have e-ticket booths at every airport. Similarly, hotel reservations are also made online and services like Airbnb have made it cheaper to travel. All this has not only saved our time but saved us a good amount of paper that would otherwise require a number of trees to be chopped down. Now you don’t need to keep those travel documents with you and save the hassle of staying in the line for hours.

2. Travel tracking in real time

What used to happen in the past was that if someone was travelling, they could only write letters to their loved ones. Then came the landline and travelers made calls to their loved ones when they reached their destinations. But with the arrival of location tracking apps like Xnspy, people can now track their loved ones without worrying about them. A location tracking app uses the GPS of the user’s smartphone to record its locations and makes a log of these locations. Let’s say your daughter on some Island for a vacation and you want to know about her whereabouts, you can simply install Xnspy location tracking app which will keep you apprised about all the location she visits. What’s good about the app is that even if there is no internet connectivity, it will keep recording the location information and upload it to your account once the phone is connected to the internet. 

3. Language is no more a barrier

Imagine how would it feel if you have to carry a phrasebook with you on your foreign tour? Every time you have to talk to a local you have to bring that book out and look for the words to convey your message. Thanks to smartphones, you can download language apps that can translate everything for you in real time. Google Pixel has its Google Assistant that can translate in more than 40 international languages. Another app iTranslate can translate in more than 60 international languages. Now you don’t need to learn the language for interacting with the locals. Google’s assistant is loaded with artificial intelligence that it can even translate signs with the help of a smartphone camera. Duolingo is an app that has interactive language lessons which can be used to learn or improve a new language. And remember you are doing all this without spending a dime in most cases!

4. Keeping the data secure 

When you use a smartphone, the most important or precious thing on your phone is the data. The only fear during the travel is that you don’t lose it. Even if you keep a backup of your data, your luggage can be misplaced and you can lose your important photos. Another concern would be that since smartphones are also our wallets that store our personal and financial information, a thief can make a lot of our device if he gets his hands onto them. In such cases, a location tracking app can also help to locate your phone. Though the phones also have built-in apps like “Find My iPhone” and “Find My Phone,” they cannot be useful at times if the thief knows how to deal with them. In such cases, Xnspy location tracking app can remotely lock your device to keep your data safe. Similarly, it can keep a record of your phone in its cloud account so that you do not miss out on your important data. And if there is a fear that you don’t want the burglar to access your data, then the phone can be wiped using Xnspy. 

5. Crowdsourcing travel tips

With bloggers putting up their travel experiences online, it saves a lot of avid travelers the time and money when they visit a new place. Video bloggers make short videos and upload them on their Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram account right away to educate hundreds of other travelers.

Similarly, you can avoid bad situations with the help of hundreds of reviews available on the internet. TripAdvisor is a site that has hundreds of reviews about the places so that you don’t need to rely on a brochure. The internet has leveled the playing field and people do not rely on individual recommendations anymore. 

The Ayala Triangle Project - Restaurant Reviews of Non-professional Critique

Re-launching and mixing all my blogs together has brought too many memories of more than 10 years. The best memories were my restaurant reviews around Ayala Triangle Gardens when I first moved to IBM nearly 8 years ago. Our office location was in Makati back then and Ayala Triangle was very convenient outlet to de-stress offering many food choices from Filipino to Western cuisines. 

"The Ayala Triangle Project"  I thought was completed after 2 years and put closure to it but some restaurants were closed already and I found out that four new restaurants that I've never reviewed at the time I was working in Makati City had opened. Its kinda enticing to try one of these days. Hmm.

Here's a compilation of my restaurant reviews with excerpts from the original posts while I'm trying to squeeze my time to try the new restos. I have scorecards of our experiences so just click the links and  find out more stories behind. The project's criteria are; Food Quality, Ambiance, Service, and Cost/Prices, where  Five (5)   indicates "Exceptional Experience", Four (4)  indicates a place "worth a comeback", three (3)  means "a casual place to eat", two (2)   means "acceptable", and one (1))   means "poor".

Address: Paseo De Roxas St Cor Makati Ave, Cor Ayala Ave, Makati, 1209 Metro Manila. Mostly, restaurants here occupy the best location in the park. From al fresco area and also inside, diners have a very good view of the lush garden; manicured green grass and towering trees. The atmosphere here is relaxed and young, with people catching up with old friends and its the Makati yuppie’s place for a casual post-work thirst-quencher.

Disclaimer: Please note that we are non-professional critiques and we are just doing this for fun. The views expressed and images used on every blog posts are all mine. Let's start with my utmost favorite, Poco Deli.

It was after my extended night shift on a Saturday morning when I came in alone because my officemates doesn't felt like having breakfast and wanted to go home instead. The approachable little store, Poco Deli  who make Artisinal sausages from fresh and all-natural prime meats appealed to my taste buds to give it a try. ..and I'm glad I did! I can't contain my drooling over the bacon's fat that glisten against the light while I was taking photo snaps. And when I had my first bite, I tasted heaven... and the seventh heaven on the last, lol! Restaurant Review, Click Here.

The connotation of Japanese food, for me, was looking good but tasting bad. That was before I tried to dine-in at Omakase in Ayala Triangle Gardens last month. There was a scary moment on my way to the restaurant as I compose myself to taste raw food. Honestly, I am not a fan of raw Japanese food but they say that the better way to appreciate food is eating it raw. I admire Japanese food presentation though. I've tried to eat sushi multiple times when I was working in Hotel Fleuris in Palawan where we have a Japanese restaurant (We Be Sushi) but I really didn't like it. Maybe today it would be different. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf which by the way, one of the restaurants in the park that opens as early as 7 AM was our choice for quick breakfast and caffeine fix. The restaurant occupies the best location in the park. From al fresco area and also inside, diners have a very good view of the lush garden; manicured green grass and towering trees. The atmosphere here is relaxed and young, with people catching up with old friends and its the Makati yuppie’s place for a casual post-work thirst-quencher. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

Dinning in Amici is like living la dolce vita where good food has that power. Mama Mia! Amici was sooo Italian. We felt like we were on Italian holiday when me and my two good old friends, Lady and Jim, dined here. And this is as good as it gets with our beautiful desserts from the dessert and Italian gelato extension of Amici, Caramia Gelateria. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

The corps d'elite of IBM Global Process Services, "The Canadians", went to the Ayala Triangle Gardens for our traditional Saturday brunch. Highly anticipated since Wednesday last week, we agreed to review a friendly bakery cafe that serves freshly-baked pies, cheesecakes and desserts, as well as delectable food and coffee, Banapple. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

It wasn't just an ordinary comeback because it was also my birthday treat with The Canadians at the Filipino inspired restaurant - Kanin Club. Its eclectic mix of Philippine interiors are inspired by intricate wood carvings complete with translucent shell capiz windows. We gathered around a long wooden table in the corner, and get acquainted with the rough wooden seats, which thankfully are more comfortable than they look. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

Real foodies or even health conscious people think of a plate of greasy goodness twice a week. This statement isn't a fact to everyone but to me. And for me, it means a plate of Roasted Pork, Crispy Pata, or sometimes, Wee Nam Kee's steamed or roasted Hainanese Chicken served with chicken rice - cooked in chicken broth, rich with chicken flavor and glistening with chicken fat. Yes, it's a simple dish, done well, and reaches heavenly heights. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

BonChon Chicken is a contemporary Asian/Korean-American QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) cuisine that highlights the Korean–style crispy fried chicken claimed to be super crispy yet light and not greasy, with hot moist juicy meat, sauced with its classic soy garlic or spicy glazes. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

Although expensive, procuring nothing more sinister than healthy frozen yoghurt is something that I never do everyday unless there are odds to beat and inner demons to whipped. For me, froyo is one of my stress relievers. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

The ambiance was great, we dine al fresco, surrounded by the most prestigious office towers in the Philippines. Restaurant Review, Click Here.

"Saraotan sa Dalan" (Street Dancing) Pasinggatan Festival - Taytay, Palawan

       Destination: Municipality of Taytay, Palawan
  • The street dance is a competition between clusters of different Barangays showcasing Taytay's culture and rich history.
  • Taytay's culture and rich history in the form of dance and live music in the streets of Taytay.
  • Participants are dressed in ethnic costumes re-enacting scenes when the town was under Spanish colonial rule with history that date back to approximately 16th century.

Saraotan sa Dalan (Street Dancing in Cuyonon language) - This event marks the end of 10 days of festivities in Municipality of Taytay's Pasinggatan Festival. Came from the Filipino root word "Singgat" or dazzle, Pasinggatan Festival is a celebration of the cultural heritage of the Taytay people, it involves gastronomic festival - Paguetekan, a Cuyono term which means to indulge in eating, Bituin ng Taytay - pageant presenting the candidates of every cultural group, sports days, festival of traditional dances and music among other activities. The whole town stops completely for more than a week for these intense festivities.

May 4, 2014 is THE big day at this time of the year. Participants were flaunting colorful outfits flood the streets of Taytay passing through my cousin's house. I have never seen my hometown as excited about Saraotan sa Dalan as this is my first time to witness it. It was hot summertime, an absolutely electric time here, and the whole town is riding the crest of an incredible wave of emotion, glee and, of course, good times.

The street dance according to my cousin Aida, "are set to be bigger and bigger every year." It's hard to believe, but the first Pasinggatan festival celebrated in Taytay, Palawan was maybe 10 years ago and although the event has changed somewhat since then, locals are determined to preserve the tradition. I’ve never been and I’m not sure what to expect but I definitely didn’t expect it to be as huge as it was.  I thought a couple of streets in Taytay would be closed to cars, but I didn’t realize that the whole of central Taytay would be shut off to vehicles to make way for the parade and a huge street dance.

The street dance is a competition between clusters of different Barangays showcasing Taytay's culture and rich history in the form of dance and live music. Participants were dressed in ethnic costumes and dramatize old stories of our town while dancing at the designated performance area. Each cluster has their own concept and stories to tell, re-enacting scenes when the town was under Spanish colonial rule with history that date back to approximately 16th century.

Sea of colors: The first performance of Saraotan sa Dalan at the main street of the town started at around 10 AM draw people to watch the street dance from their balconies and front houses with beautiful and loud music. I have enjoyed myself as spectator because we were positioned at the front of performance. Tribu Cinopalob showcased the tensions and disorders which culminated during Spanish colonization bridging to acceptance of Catholicism of the native Taytayanos. The group has exhibited a dazzling performance.

The temperature raised further as the street dance moves closer to its noontime. With colorful costumes reflecting the town's strong connections to Spain, the second group presented colorful fight between Taytayanos, Muslims and Spaniards. 

There are some truly inventive and some might say bizarre costumes and rituals - with mixed costumes and figures running riot and fights, scenes depicting some of the harrowing experiences of colonization are the favorite theme. Despite some aspects of the festival remembering some of the harsher part of our history, there's still opportunities for us to celebrate our culture. The group represented how Taytayanos identify themselves in different ways, adapting to different cultures and traditions as they throw their own unique chants to the crowds.

What a spectacle: The presentation includes dancers dressed in colorful clothes covered their faces with white face paint portraying Spanish colonization dancing gracefully with stories of Taytayano's strength, honor, and optimism.

Other performances were also war dances complete with weapons. Young and old performers have joined the line to re-enact some of our culture and tradition, our way of living before and after colonization. 

Taytay has developed their own exotic celebrations for the "Fiesta" season showcasing our own cultures and traditions. 

The festival originally started off as a showcase of the culture and traditions of the Taytay people, but now it is an important municipal event every year. While Saraotan sa Dalan may not be the most well-attended street dance in the country but it will surely put Taytay on the tourism map of joyful festivities and hopefully included in the likes of Sinulog, Masskara, and Dinagyang in the future.

When People are the Tourist Attraction | Daredevil

This is the astonishing moment when my adventurous niece, Sophia, attempted to jump into Maoyon River  - and survived, lol!

With the weather proving unseasonally warm over the last week, I'd love to dedicate this post to encourage you guys to domestic holidays and rediscover the glee of traveling in a river near you to take the plunge. 

Put away glitz, glamour and gadgets. Let’s go!

Heights are not really my thing, although I'd always dreamt of flying like a bird, free from anything. With my little persuasion and her desire for thrill, my adrenaline junkie niece, Sophia, decided to take the plunge into Maoyon River after numerous peek few feet from the bar of Love and Peace Resort. It brought excitement and ecstatic scream when her mom, Ate Cherry, agreed when she asked for permission. 

Sophia was first in our group to jump. After settling into free-fall position, she flew like Tinkerbell and propelled up into the heavens suspended in air. My heart skipped a beat when I took the shoot. With her eyes closed, she let go of the rope and took a leap of faith into the river. Tensions are high after she jumped and plummeted into the river until her wide-faced smile surfaced above the water yelling "Oh my God, I did it!". "It wasn't easy at first, but the experience of being suspended above anything was another rewarding thrill-seeking adventure", she said. Moments later, her brother Kristian, followed. And they do it over and over again.

Kids, they are the ones who never fear from taking risk because fear is the key of failure. May this blog post remind me to be braver and never lose my kid-at-heart spirit to slowly take the plunge of blogging again. To slowly get back on track, to tell you many tales of adventures or misadventures to places I've been 5 years ago (yes, 5 years of backlog) This is to remind me to somersault 5 summers, 122 places, 548 people and countless experiences.

Photo of the Week | Starry, Starry Night

My inspiration for photography has always been a desire to capture something spectacular, something unusual and something unique because I wanted to share pieces of my travels that my followers will experience in a special way, hence this weekly sharing was born. I hope you do.

BTW, I’ve added “Reflection to Life” portion whenever I post “Picture of the Week” – Please take time to read it and share your views on the comment section.

Here's another favorite picture from my Bohol travel long time ago when we’re sitting on the sand staring at the night sky while waiting for dinner to be served in a restaurant nearby. It was an incredibly still, clear night. Dark skies and no wind, the stars reflected like scattered diamonds dancing across the sky against deep blue backdrop, while the shy moon trying to hide from my sight. The moment was perfectly synced to Norah Jones music playing from my phone, the Nearness of You.

It's not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me
Oh no, it's just the nearness of you
It isn't your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
Oh no, it's just the nearness of you
When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams came true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you will only grant me
The right to hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night
The nearness of you…

From my vantage point, I let my imagination free. Silhouette of coconut trees lined in the foreground seemed like protecting the moon, pushing away the beauty of dazzling array of twinkling stars. I was in awe, what a beautiful world we live in! The universe is amazing, so spectacular and magnificent, makes me want to cry for some reason as I enjoyed the display of power and beauty of nature. I am reminded that there is still peace and solitude to be found in this angry, lonely world of ours. 

Reflection to Life: The crescent moon represents us, ordinary people, who tend to shy away beautiful opportunities in life because were not full enough or maybe afraid to reciprocate the beauty life is offering. So, we tend to hide and choose to be unknown in our own universes not knowing that our own incredible light beacons, attracting that opportunity. Imagine the light from that distant stars and galaxies trying to attract us. It takes hundreds, thousands, even millions of years to reach us. What a disappointment to lose it in the last millisecond of its journey.

Are you willing to quit your job to start a business or the thing that you really want to do?  Dare to take that one opportunity that sparkle your way today.

Dine with a View at Casa Rosa, Taytay, Palawan

Serving five-star view that captures the essence of a seductive oceanfront overlooking Taytay Bay and the historic Fort Santa Isabel, Casa Rosa is the best place to dine in the municipality of Taytay, Palawan after spending hours of photo-shooting at the nearby Santa Isabel Fort.  

The restaurant mostly caters to local clientele doesn't serve high-end cuisine but with uninterrupted views over endless azure waters of Taytay Bay, priceless! Look at how beautiful that sea is...

The hillside restaurant is open from mid-morning serving Filipino and American breakfast until diner offering conventional cuisine at very affordable prices including dishes such as Lomi, Chicken Cordon Bleu, and Pasta in cream and mushroom sauce. The uphill restaurant can be booked privately for breakfast, weddings or other special occasions. Casa Rosa also offers accommodation at their cliff-side cottages for just a minimum amount.

Filipino Breakfast Longganisa, Php 120

Wide range of Pizzas are favorite among locals with affordable price range of Php 200 (Margarita, Hawaiian, Ham and Cheese, Seafood , and Vegetarian) to Php 250 (Casa Rosa Special). They also serve Sandwiches, appetizers, and desserts. Pork Steak and Schnitzel are served with mashed potato or French fries are best serve at dinner for just Php 220.).

Pasta in Cream and Mushroom Sauce, Php 150

The dishes were cooked just beside the main restaurant. Pizza on the other occasion I went here, was served hot and fresh off the oven and highly recommended though we haven't tried this time around. The most appropriate thing to order at this place is of course, champagne. But with its absence from the menu, Mojitos (Php 80) or San Miguel Beer (Php 45) could be great a substitute.

Chicken Cordon Bleu, Php 220

Considering the prices, the dishes were all good. Lomi was hot and thick with lots of meat and can be shared by two. Pasta was creamy enough and Chicken Cordon Bleu is worth to try another round. Instant iced tea, freshly squeezed Calamansi juice, brewed coffee, and cold softdrins are also available. Desserts are inviting; Banana Flambe (Php, 80), Mixed Fruits (Php 60), and Crepe with Fruits (Php 130) but we skipped it because we're already full.

Lomi, Php 120

This is the perfect location for a romantic private dinner at night - It gets dark around 6pm in this part of the world and it would be nice to have dinner here, so you could take your time mesmerized with the view of the naval fortress slowly lighted during the night.

Overall, the spectacular uphill restaurant where loved-up couples can dine in a cliff-side gazebo with an ocean view is the best in town and worthy every penny to relax and dine. Not too bad a price to pay, it would be a one off experience.

Youtube Channel Re-launch

Hi Guys, Inviting y'all to follow my Youtube channel.  I've been on idle and used the channel as my back-up for videos I made but I'm hoping to create more videos to share. Thank you and enjoy the show 😊

When People are the Tourist Attraction | Solitude

Photo Taken during one of my trips in El Nido Palawan's great Big Lagoon passageway, watching a lone tourist mesmerized by the rugged limestone formations and landscape colored by the magnificent clarity and shades of blue seascape. A solo traveler commune with nature harvesting more than just happiness, I am sure. 

Have you tried traveling solo?

My favorite solo travels are the ones in El Nido and Coron, Palawan. I can't count in my hands how many times I've been to these places. Every year, when budget permits, I book a solo trip to escape the infernal Manila, the drama, and the stress – a break from reality, usually during off-season because prices are low, and I avoid crowds. As much as possible, I tried to get active and really immerse in a destination. Kayaking, snorkeling, and rafting are the things to do around islands of Bacuit Bay, El Nido while hiking along Mount Tapyas' trail is just a small escape to picturesque solo getaway other than exploring Coron's world renown lakes.

Forget about lavish escapes and insta-worthy dining, trips like these are ideal for soaking up the local culture and involvement that are truly personal and unique. Seeking out authentic local experiences in lesser known destinations are my goals in solo travels where I discovered some "secret" spots and truly submerge to total relaxation and deep thinking. Every experience taught me to hug life very firm and be thankful for everything.  It is liberating, and It’s always surprising to find my inspiration alive again.