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”

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”

Nostalgie de la Boue

12837728_1320755307940073_1636248642_oI grew up in a house where tuyô was a breakfast staple.

That salty bastard of a fish, along with a relish of tomatoes and onions, a vinegar-calamansi dipping sauce and god-knows-how-many-platefuls of freshly steamed white rice.

Back in the days, tuyô was an ubiquitous symbol of the great unwashed– after all, it was being sold at 50 cents each. While a breakfast of tuyô isn’t so bad, eating it every single day would still be considered a gastronomical torture. Continue reading “Nostalgie de la Boue”

Biri, Northern Samar: Alien Topography

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The otherworldy shapes and colors of Biri’s rock formations readily evoke a phantasmagorical scene, like something out of a Starcraft map. Tidepools display a mesmerizing gradient of turquoise fading into a subtle seafoam green; oddly-shaped metamorphic rock sculptures blanketed with a verdant carpet of grass, jutting out of the waters of the mighty San Bernardino Strait– whose elements, the wind and the waves, continue to shape, mold, twist, break and build even the grandest megalith in its unforgiving territory through the years– and maybe even through countless eons to come. Continue reading “Biri, Northern Samar: Alien Topography”

Tawi-Tawi: Heavenly Hinterlands

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So, Tawi-Tawi happened.

It was not really my most unnerving feat to date, as I’ve been to Basilan not just once, but twice. You see, Basilan is dubbed as one of the most dangerous provinces of the Philippines, along with Sulu. The province of Tawi-Tawi bookends the southernmost chain of the Sulu archipelago, earning an uncalled-for stigma of compromised peace and order situation that its neighbors are infamous for.

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