Tinglayan, Kalinga: Shambhala of the Painted Ones

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Alas, my poor, dear life dangled by a thread as our cranky jeep skidded through the narrow mountainside road of Buscalan. While my friends were reveling in the novel experience that is top-loading, I was mumbling incantations inside my head dedicated to the bululs guarding the stretch of rice terraces right before our eyes. I felt like the rice gods were scoffing at me, chuckling like mad emperors overseeing a wretched gladiator immured within an amphitheatre, as I tightened my grip on the rooftop railing whilst our ride rocked and rolled along what seemed to be a sorry excuse for a road — my sweating hands weren’t helping at all.

Continue reading “Tinglayan, Kalinga: Shambhala of the Painted Ones”

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

Taal Cathedral.jpgAfter a looooong hiatus, I’m finally back in the blogosphere. Yay!

I’m sparing you the details, the why’s and the how’s (the juicy part, I know) but in a nutshell — 2016 was one helluva year. It literally drove me nuts, up to a point where I had to regularly see a psychiatrist. True story.

If there’s one page that I would tear off my life book, that’s it —  the year 2016. It’s worth drinking a glassful of water from the river of Lethe. I’d be real blunt and honest about it — I hate it to the bone. 2016 was the dark night of my soul. Continue reading “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis”

Sea Gypsies, Social Standing and the Rat Race

DSCF6912I took this photo during our most recent trip to Basilan.

If you’re not too familiar with these floating cottages, they’re traditional Bajau houses— abodes on stilts, made almost entirely out of driftwood. These houses forthrightly reflect the lifestyle of the nomadic people who live in them: simple, close-knit and pretty much wedded to the ever-changing whims of the ocean. Bajau communities of old were even more noteworthy; families lived in small boats called lepa-lepa. Traveling in a flotilla, they traded with strangers from lands faraway and bartered their bounty of fish for fruits, trepang for cloth, pearls for sacks of rice. Continue reading “Sea Gypsies, Social Standing and the Rat Race”

Calayan, Cagayan: Arcadia of the North

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An overnight bus ride to the upper fringes of Luzon. Then, a grueling, five-hour lampitaw ride further north, to the haziest verges of the Philippine territory, all the while battling the tumultuous waves of the Babuyan Channel. This is how Calayan, the Arcadia of the North, tests its curious visitors. It makes sure that only the bravest, starry-eyed wanderers, those with the true heart of an adventurer, will ever tread its verdant pastures and wade in its turquoise waters. Continue reading “Calayan, Cagayan: Arcadia of the North”