Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kwentong Kaladkarin #06: Tales from Tarak Ridge

Da Where: Mt. Mariveles (Tarak Ridge), Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines
Da When: Nov. 27-28, 2010
Da Who: me, Vin, Archie, Joey, Isabel, Doie, Dhoobie, Gboi and the Jamboree Mountaineers and United Trekkers
Da Trivia: My first climb-for-a-cause and my 2nd akyatniversary climb. Can you believe it? Two years of this crazy pastime/passion!
Da Quotes for the Day: "Papaya River na ba to?" in every stream and trickling mini-falls we reach; "Mahangin ba sa labas?" at camp; "Di makatarungan ang tarik na to!" during the cardiac trail assault

"Sigurado ka? (Are you sure?)" was the initial reaction I get from the folks I dared mention to that I'd be on another climb just this past weekend after some bad-ass physical activity the other weekend in Sagada. Marvin also blurted out the same thing when I said it's going to be at Tarak Ridge in Mariveles, Bataan. Indeed I was crazy, Tarak Ridge is classified as a major climb after all. And we haven't clocked in much conditioning for the past months.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 05: Savoring Sagada (Day 3)

Da Where: Sagada, Mountain Province
Da When: Nov. 20-22, 2010
Da Who: me, Larry, Ice, Paolo and Joy
Da Trivia: a.k.a. 1st Arvato Training Team Building
Da Quotes for the Day: "If you're not hiking, you're not in Sagada anymore."

We pretty much chilled on Day 3 coz this is our last day in Sagada. We woke up at around 6:00 MNL and cleaned and packed up before heading to the poblacion for some breakfast and additional activities.

The bus for Baguio didn't leave until 13:00 MNL so we decided to just lounge around and enjoy the fresh, clean air while we can before we get back to the hustle and bustle of the metro. :)

Getting my Sagada adventure completion cert from Kuya Apz! Weeeh! :D

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 05: Savoring Sagada (Day 2)

Da Where: Sagada, Mountain Province
Da When: Nov. 20-22, 2010
Da Who: me, Larry, Ice, Paolo and Joy
Da Trivia: a.k.a. 1st Arvato Training Team Building
Da Quotes for the Day: "If you're not hiking, you're not in Sagada anymore."

Okay, so we had a jampacked Day 2 itinerary during our Sagada stay but didn't get the chance to do the first one on the list: witness the sunrise at Kiltepan peak over a sea of clouds. We were out cold from the previous day's activities and barely had 4 hours of sleep that we decided to forego the sunrise viewing. Instead, we woke up at 07:00 MNL and prepared for breakfast and orange-picking instead. :)

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 05: Savoring Sagada (Day 1)

Da Where: Sagada, Mountain Province
Da When: Nov. 20-22, 2010
Da Who: me, Larry, Ice, Paolo and Joy
Da Trivia: a.k.a. 1st Arvato Training Team Building
Da Quotes for the Day: "If you're not hiking, you're not in Sagada anymore."

They say love is lovelier the second time around. Whoever said this must've fallen in love with Sagada and made sure to come back, like what I did a couple weekends ago. My first was August 2009 with Marvin. This time, I enticed my teammates at work with stories of adventure - gastronomical, physical and emotional. I have an extraordinary team so I thought they deserved more than the run-of-the-mill, typical teambuilding activities. *wink*

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My City. My Pride.

Having lived in Manila for almost 6 years, I only get to see my hometown for brief periods of time.
And I can't believe I've missed to witness the past 5 Dinagyang Festivals. I hope I get to go next year in January. *fingers crossed*

But I am, and will always be, proud to be born and raised an Ilongga. :)


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Punk. Genius. Billionaire.

If we're Facebook friends, you would have known I've been rambling about The Social Network movie for a few weeks now. If we're friends even before Facebook, you would also know that I didn't jump into the this hype until only about a year ago, when I finally (finally!) created an account, much to the amazement of pals and acquaintances.

I bet before the movie's marketing hit mainstream media and it being released on Oct. 1st (Oct. 27th here in the Philippines), not a lot of folks knew much about Facebook's founders. I was one of them. I only knew that a couple guys from Harvard started this worldwide social phenomenon. After seeing the very interesting movie trailers, I started posting the clips on my Wall until my boss noticed and promised free tickets! The power of Facebook, right there! *wink*

And he did make good on that promise this past Wednesday by treating me to an LFS screening of The Social Network at the sleek Ultra 7 cinema at Eastwood Mall. Movie-watching is as luxurious as it gets, with spacious reclining seats and a butler taking your popcorn and drinks preference. This is the life! Haha!

I read a few great critiques on this movie online since it was shown earlier in the US and the UK but I didn't want to raise my expectations especially after Avatar last year. I know I'd probably get stoned by saying I didn't like James Cameron's movie that much. :)

Well, Fincher and Sorkin didn't disappoint me this time around. Sorkin's take on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich was snappy, witty and so sharp, it can cut through diamond. Fincher's direction was impeccably done, it felt like a suspense thriller with pumped-up scenes every 30 seconds when in fact, once broken down, the scenes were really just a series of legal settlement negotiations and some flashbacks on the characters' college experience. Although I had to keep in mind that probably a lot of those scenes were exaggeration of what happened in real life, just to make the story apt for Hollywood.

I also thought Jesse Eisenberg did a thorough job in portraying Mark Zuckerberg as a smart-alecky genius who is 'trying so hard to be an assh*le'. And excuse me Justin Timberlake's fans out there but I thought his performance was just a little too N*Sync-y for my taste. I also did fall in love with the soundtrack and yeah, maybe a little bit of Andrew Garfield. Haha!

So in my own words, the movie rocked and I would probably watch it again the next time I get the chance. Two thumbs-up here so go and see it! You'll leave the theater with a smile on your face, guaranteed.

And probably a couple daydreams of what you'll do if you were the one with $6.9 billion at the age of 26. LOL! ;D

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Gimme A Massage! : Pearlsacho Massage and Wellness Center

Tired. Body aches. On and off colds. Those were my unrelenting rants this week that Vin finally decided to go and get some stress-relief with me.

Vin and I are suckers for cheap but relaxing massages. We always find ourselves on the hunt for 24/7 places (due to our crazy work schedules) that offer great massages but won't hurt our pockets. Nothing beats an honest-to-goodness full body massage after a crazy week at work.

When I was still working and living in the Makati CBD area, I have been a huge fan of Mont Albo Massage Hut ( It was right next door to where I work and a couple blocks away from where I lived and were open 24/7. Unfortunately, they moved their spa and training center just right across the street but changed up their operation hours and only stayed open until 12:00 am.

We had no choice but try and look for a place that's still open in the wee hours of the morning (it was around 3:00am, right off work for me). Vin mentioned passing by a place that is usually open on his way home.

We found Pearlsacho Massage and Wellness Center in Pasong Tamo that's still open. We stepped inside and were welcomed by a friendly receptionist who immediately took our preferences. The rates were good, Php350.00 for a one-hour full-body Combination massage. We decided to make it 1.5hrs (yes, we were extra-stressed. Haha!) for Php525.00 and were directed by 2 female therapists to the second floor.

I was a little dubious at first because I think the facilities could use some further improvements. The couple's room we were delegated to consisted of an airconditioned bare room with 2 massage tables. The poor soundproofing sent streets noises of cars and jeepneys passing by through the closed windows. I thought to myself then, 'the massage better be good'.

Well, I was not disappointed. Ate Marlyn , my therapist, started off with slow, sure strokes and asked for my pressure preference. And in the next one hour and a half, I was treated to a relaxing and calming massage that loosened my tired muscles. Halfway into our massages, they placed heating pads (or maybe those were heated towels) to lie on, which felt very soothing. I found myself drifting off towards the end of the massage, during my shoulder and head rub. I rarely fall asleep during massages and this is an indication that it indeed was good, I was lulled to doze off! :) Needless to say, we tipped very generously on our way out. We were offered hot and cold tea upon paying for the services too.

Again, I won't recommend this if you're used to a place with spa facilities like a jacuzzi, a sauna, or a reliable hot shower. I suggest you just get home service, which they offer too. But for affordable, really-need-a-great-massage-now situations, I'd definitely bring you there. :) They're currently open at 4:00pm-4:00am but we were told that they're planning to be open 24/7 soon.

You can visit Pearlsacho Massage Center at Davila St. cor. Pasong Tamo, Makati City. It's near Shopwise, just right before you get to the PD Inquirer's head office. They can be contacted at 895-6205 and 0907-3251530. I believe they also have a Vito Cruz branch but you can just inquire. ;)

Happy stress-free week ahead!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Despicable (Me) Date

There's been tons of buzz on the new Steve Carrell movie, Despicable Me, even before it hit the Philippine theaters. Carrell had me chortling in 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' in 2005 and 'Evan Almighty' in 2007 so I was pretty excited to watch how he'd lend his comedic chops to an animated character.

Dragging my bodyguard-slash-bestfriend-slash-pakner late Saturday night, we caught the last full show in the 3D theater at Power Plant Mall. It was a little bit pricey especially for me who is not a big fan of watching animated movies in cinemas but in the end, I thought it was money well-spent.

With some time on our hands, we hunkered down on some Chinese food at Mongkok Dimsum and Noodles. There goes my diet after cleaning our plates. LOL! :D

We brisk-walked our way back to the cinemas coz I wanted to catch the previews before the movie started. I think I'm the only person I know who enjoys the previews as much as the movie I paid for. I actually shriek and be giddy with happiness when a new Harry Potter movie trailer comes on. Haha!

We grabbed some FIC ice cream before going inside the theater. Vin had our favorite Pistachio while I opted for something new and had Raspberry Rapture. Sigh. Happiness in a cone. :)
FIC's Raspberry Rapture
Putting on the 3D glasses had me dizzy for a moment but eventually got the hang of it.

Me and my bodyguard with the 3D glasses on. Camera-shy yung bodyguard ko eh. Haha! :D
Lights dimmed and out came Mr. Gru in the screen. Five minutes into the movie, we were laughing like hyenas. The movie was hilarious, heartwarming and had a solid, funny plot. Carrell's take on Mr. Gru's character is damn amusing; he practically had me gasping for air after laughing so hard.

Agnes is soooo adorable; I could hug a little tyke like her to pieces. :) I'm not going to give away the plot here for the sake of the folks who're still planning to watch it. *wink*

Does this count as annoying? :D
Overall verdict – definitely a must-see. And watching it on 3D isn't so bad either, since there are outer space scenes that made me really appreciate seeing it on 3D. I'd recommend experiencing that for yourself. :)

A Despicable (Me) weekend date with my lovable pakner. It's so good I'm gonna die!!! :D

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 04: Anilao Adventures

Da Where: Mt. Gulugod Baboy and Philpan Resort in Anilao, Mabini, Batangas
Da When: Sept. 4-5, 2010
Da Who: me, Vin, Archie, Vince, Paolo, Lene, Wesley, Germaine, Ferdie, Mico, Lynn, Lem and Kuya Emil, the van driver
Da Trivia: a.k.a. Inter-Company Training Team Friendship Climb ;D
Da Word for the Day: Like! :)

View from the top of Mt. Gulugod Baboy

Friday, September 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Decisions, decisions.

Today, I just passed up a really good opportunity and stuck with what I felt would be also be a great break for me.

I've asked my mentors in the past how does one decide when it comes to career choices? Is it where you'd enjoy more? Is it the compensation and perks? Is it the people you will work with? How would you know exactly?

Never-ending questions and no definite answers. But the one brilliant tip given to me from someone I look up to: 'Go with your gut'.

And I just did. *fingers-crossed*

PS: Yehey! May leave credits at HMO na ko! :D

Stitch grinning on top of my work desktop PC (Thanks, Alan Hackett!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Swim and some Spam

Wow, I can't believe it has been a little over a year since I moved out of Kingswood Makati.

I missed the crunchy-fried Spam meals the most. Madz, Lala and I can live off a Spam diet for weeks. Hehe.

Saturday afternoon found me in a cab on my way to Bonifacio Heights for some catch-up with Lala.

Under the rays of the setting sun, we took a refreshing dip in the clubhouse pool and let the chlorinated water lap away at my stress. I missed swimming too; can't recall the last time I went swimming. If you can call submerging myself in water while holding my breath swimming, then there you go. LOL! :D

Then off to Lala's unit for some Spam and rice and Valentine's Day on DVD with River chewing off my slippers and playfully snapping at my toes.

This is how friends hanging out should be. No-frills fun.

We want to eat Potato Corner fries and FIC pistachio ice cream. XD

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 03: Back in Batulao's Arms

Da Where: Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas

Da When: July 31-August 1, 2010
Da Who: me, Vin, Archie, Jac, Germaine, Ferdie and Mico

Da Trivia: May nataga ng Gran Matador sa climb na to. Guess who? hahaha!
Da Word/s for the Day: "Ate", the Business Tycoon (I still can't stop laughing whenever I think about this. LOL!)

Mt. Batulao holds a special spot in my heart. This mountain is my first climb with Vin back in October 2008. My second climb was with VEAT, and the third was my first anniversary climb. This past weekend, I was with an awesome group of people, familiar and new. And I knew I was in for another rockin' good climb.

I have been wishing for a good-weather weekend ever since my birthday so I'd get to climb again but it wasn't granted for the longest time. So when Vin said that he and his team from work confirmed the climb, I just resigned to the fact that I will experience another wet climb; which I hate, after almost freezing to death in Mt. Cristobal.

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 02: Domo-holic Day!

Da Where: Domo Coffee Express at BF Resort Village, Las Piñas
Da When: June 19-20,2010
Da Who: me, Gineau, Madz and Ivy
Da Trivia: This is the coffee date we've planned for 3 years now. At last it pushed through! :)
Da Word/s for the Day: traffic!!!!!, McDonald's sa tapat ng St. Luke's, si Jay (hahaha!)

It was a coffee date three-years-in-the making and no amount of rain, wind or bad traffic could stop us from meeting up with Ivy and finally visiting their family-owned coffee shop in Las Piñas.

Saturday night, June 19th, found the three of us (Madz, Gino and I) battling our way through the heavy downpour to Fort Bonifacio where Ivy will pick us up. After some mishaps in finding the right McDonald's as our meeting place (how would I know there are numerous McDonald's that are near St. Luke's inside the Fort, for Pete's sake?!); Ivy finally found us and we're safely cocooned in her car going to Las Piñas. The traffic that met us at Coastal Road was a nightmare but I'm in good company, so it wasn't half bad.

The rain was still going at it when we got to BF Resort Village but the warm coffee smells that welcomed us as we walked into the homey, little store melted the stress away. According to Ivy, they wanted an Oriental theme for the coffee shop and brainstormed for a name to go with it. The name Domo was coined. Domo in Japanese is the informal way of saying thank you or hello. And like from the term itself, the place felt just that – cozy and comfortable. The store’s catchphrase is “Experience life within…” I think it’s attainable when you’re in Domo. :)

 We started placing our orders while Ivy ordered pizza from Yellow Cab to supplement the coffee and pasta! :)

Gino had an iced White Choco Mocha while Madz, as always, opted for the hot Caramel Macchiato. Not in the mood for caffeine myself, I opted for a smoothie and had the Strawberry Vanilla. Their drinks come in 3 sizes - Petito, Choko and Sumo. I usually have this bad habit of not being able to finish my drink so I decided to get my smoothie in Petito. Bad move. The smoothie was exquisitely good – velvety and a perfect balance of sweet and tangy – that I finished my drink in a matter of minutes. It kinda left me wanting for more. haha!
 As recommended by Ivy, we tried the lasagna too. It tasted like gold in my mouth, or maybe I was just hungry. :)

Next came the desserts! Slices of New York cheesecake and chocolate cake were met with smiles. I especially enjoyed the cheesecake; it melted in my mouth with each bite. We enjoyed our drinks and cakes ‘til the store closed, all the while playing sungka with Gino.

Heavenly New York cheesecake

Melt in your mouth chocolate cake

Strawberry Vanilla smoothie

Saturdays are supposed to be Acoustic Nights at Domo but because of the weather, the performers had to cancel. The store also has free Wi-Fi access for patrons who'd like to be connected while getting their caffeine fix.

The night ended with us sleeping over at Ivy's place. Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Sison for graciously accommodating us. :)

Breakfast the next day was another Domo affair. Not used to waking up early on a Sunday, I opted for an iced Caramel Macchiato to jolt my senses awake. In all honesty, I liked their macchiato better than the usual one I have in Starbucks. I could taste the caramel in my drink but it didn't lose the coffee and steamed milk hints I was looking for. Needless to say, my Petito sized drink was still not enough. :) Too bad I didn't get to sample the pasta carbonara but I'm pretty sure it would have tasted good too coz Madz finished her plate clean. haha!

I bought some cookies and chocolate crinkles as pasalubong for my sisters and my niece. Needless to say, it didn't even last a day when I got home. They also have mugs and spill-proof containers for sale if you'd like some souvenirs.

Chocolate crinkles and cookies for pasalubong

Overall verdict: five stars! Great coffee, good food, laidback ambience and affordable prices. If you ever find yourself in Las Piñas, do drop by at Domo. They're located at Unit 1&2, Village Center, BF Resort Drive, BF Resort Village.

I hope the next text message I'd get would be from Ivy, inviting us back there and enjoy the coffee and food again. I would certainly brave through rain, bad traffic and getting lost at McDonald’s for a piece of cheesecake and some iced caramel macchiato at Domo. :)

Kwentong Kaladkarin # 01: Mt. Manabo

Da Where: Mt. Manabo in Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas

Da When: March 20-21, 2010

Da Who: me, Marvin, Bitz, Archie and Jack

Da Trivia: The first VEAT trip with smallest headcount. Tinuloy talaga! :)

Da Word/s for the Day: linoleum, adaFtor, Belo

The past week has been semi-hell at work and I took a break from climbing for quite some time so I was adamant and excited in making sure this trip pushes through. :)

This is the second time I've climbed Mt. Manabo, the first time was in January 2009, also with the VEAT folks. I remember the foggy morning we woke up to back then - the clouds still low even if it was near noontime. With all these cold, misty thoughts of Mt. Manabo, I was raring to go to escape the sweaty heat of Metro Manila. :)

And yay! I've finally convinced someone to join me in one of our climbs. Jack, whom I used to work with in NS, agreed to try climbing for the first time. I made her wait in MiniStop for over an hour, admittedly being really, really late for the 9:00am MNL call time. Sorry, Jack! :S

After much ado and stopovers, Kuya Jerry finally got us safely to Mt. Manabo's jumpoff in Brgy. Sta Cruz, Sto. Tomas, Batangas. The lush green peak of the mountain was beckoning all of us. :) I was happy to note that the poinsettia plants we took pictures of the last time were still there but not as vibrant red as before. Some were sadly wilted, probably due to the heat.

Alternately led by Bitz and Archie, the first part of the trek was uneventful, we got to the first rest stop in no time, and enjoyed a quick, refreshing buko. When we got to a small stream, I was expecting it was all dried up due to the El Niño phenomenon we're experiencing now but surprisingly, it was still gurgling chilly water! :)

Though we got lost for about 20 minutes and had to retrace our steps, we still got to the camp site early and was able to watch the sunset. In a way, getting lost was a good thing - it was the first time I did a traverse of Mt. Manabo. :) I'm happy to note that the white cross they have at the peak has been repainted. Last time we were there, some dim-wiited kids thought it was a cool thing to write their names on the cross in permanent marker. Tsk, tsk.

Looking over the horizon... :D

 I really enjoyed our dinner and breakfast. We bought dried fish from the Sto. Tomas Public Market. It looks and tastes like danggit but I totally forgot the name (Note: The fish was called ayungin). We even bought some as pasalubong going home. Paired with salted egg, sliced tomatoes, some onions and white fluffy rice, its heaven in a plate! :)

We slept like logs that night - at least I did from all the GranMa shots I took from the Master Tanggero himself, Marvin. haha! And even if we had excitable (read: noisy) camp neighbors, it was a well-rested night. :) On our descent, of course we had to drop by at Tatang Pirying's house and sample a steaming cup of his kape barako. I'm not a huge fan of taking my coffee black but this local beans grown around his humble 'kubo' tasted and smelled so good, I couldn't say no. Tatang Pirying always has a ready cup for any mountaineer and visitor who stumbles into his house.

Walang binatbat ang Starbucks Americano sa Kapeng Barako ni Mang Pirying

Vin also got a couple native iguanas for sale from one of the rest stations. They look adorable but I still believe wild animals should be kept there - in the wild. Oh well, he has a good knack in taking care of animals of all sizes so I hope they thrive. :)

The Guy Up There heard our prayers because the surpising but welcome rain did not pour until we were safely back in the Barkada Van and on our way home. It would have made the steep slopes slippery and difficult to climb down but thankfully, we avoided that.

It feels good to be back climbing again, enjoying the tranquility only a mountain's peak can provide. And Jack's text message to me rings true: the mark of her first successful climb is her aching limbs and joints but it was something she definitely enjoyed. I guess that's mountain climbing's addictive ingredient - the physical pain is nothing compared to the high from reaching a summit and getting to see a view only the adventurous few get to enjoy.

'Till the next climb! :)

Mt. Maculot as seen from Mt. Manabo's peak

Reaching the Philippines' Rooftop

- as published on The Sutherlander, Vol. 5, September 2009

If there’s one thing that Sutherland prides itself on, it’s breaking new barriers and reaching new peaks. It came as no surprise when the Outdoor Club challenged all Sutherlanders to visit and conquer the highest point in the Philippines – Mt. Apo.

Overlooking the cities of Davao, Digos and Kidapawan and towering at 2, 594 meters above sea level – this majestic mountain is dubbed as the Grandfather of Philippines Mountains.
After a couple of months of planning and praying for good weather, the cool dawn of June 27th came and saw 11 brave souls take on the test – four participants from our Davao site and three from Makati. We were also joined by four other friends from other companies.

Led by our guides, Sir Bong and Sir Kenneth, we started our climb with much anticipation. The itinerary was set for 3 days with at least 8 hours of trek each day. The climb was long and arduous, the trail made more difficult by gigantic fallen trees made slippery by the unpredictable rain. We had to battle overgrown plants, insect bites, 90 degrees ascents, muscle pain, freezing rain, muddy trails and altitude sickness.

But despite all this – we all can’t help but be amazed of how breathtakingly beautiful Mt. Apo is.
The sheer magnificence of its forests covered in lush vegetation, gurgling streams of waters, the peculiar sounds of birds and insects, an occasional wild orchid, the sulfuric boulders before reaching the peak, the mirror image of the sky on its crater lake, and the serenity of waking up to a sunrise that is viewed above the clouds. All this is has made all the little sacrifices worth it.

We knew that experiencing this is once in a lifetime, reaching the rooftop of the Philippines.

Descending on the third day is bittersweet – when you look back and see where you’ve been and longing to go back. And from all of us – Gen, Mon, Paul, Tam-tam, Tyrone, Marvin, Mel, Edward, Ricky, Rene and Bernie – we know that we’d be back someday and still get astounded by the splendor of Mt. Apo.

"It need not be a summit – it can be a career, a project, a business or any endeavor but the same principle applies: a mountaineer will always have the passion to succeed!"

About Time.

Rats. I didn't win that blog contest for a free trip to Boracay.

Maybe because I don't actually have a blog. Stupid.

So here I am, creating one.

Feel free to wander. More ramblings from me soon.

Love lots,

Blog Virgin