Saturday, 17 August 2019

River Tubing and Kawa Hot Bathing in Tibiao | Antique

August 17, 2019

As my companion’s “ooohs” and “aaahs” synchronized with the sloshing sounds of the rapids of Tibiao River, I would raise my head and stare at the blue sky while my tube swirls me endlessly, letting the movement of the water send my consciousness to a Zen state of mind. Occasionally, I would look ahead to see the nearing rapids. Our guide would holler “hold on” up ahead the stream to let us know we were approaching what they call as “washing machine zone”. Every time we pass a rapid, I would again hear my friends Karla and Erica’s crescendo voices—this time in a chorus of joyous yell.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

One Fine Autumn Day in Nikko | Japan

August 15, 2019

As I stare at the carved maxim of the three wise monkeys pinned on an overhead panel at Tōshō-gū, the proverbial mantra it personifies was made apparent to me almost immediately; "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". Recognizing where I stood at that very moment, surrounded by temples—concealed under a canopy of autumn leaves—I couldn’t fathom how any of my senses can conjure a negative energy. 

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Into the Center of Jain Culture and History of Chanderi | India

August 11, 2019

From where I sit on a balcony of a hilltop hotel, I can see the many monuments built during the era of the Bundelas— a Rajput clan of Central India who lorded over this part of Madhya Pradesh beginning in the 16th century. In that moment I savored the solemnity of finding myself some quiet time in-between our busy media tour. Trailing my eyes from the top of an opposite hill into the rows of houses below, I became perplexed at the sight of jam-packed edifices below.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Developing a Liking to Tainan’s Street Art and a Fondness for Her | Taiwan

August 07, 2019

My memory of this vibrant neighborhood of Tainan revolves around the pleasing smile of Emily—the EVA Air manager who traveled with our small media group in Taiwan. Mirroring the captivating cobalt art installations at Blueprint Culture and Creative Park, her stares rapid fires into me with invisible arrows arresting my full attention. To save myself from (an expected) heartbreak, I remember ignoring her as we crossed the street by focusing my eyes on the vibrant wall paintings adorning the side of the buildings nearby.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Cebu Pacific Kicks-Off the 2019 Juan for Fun

August 01, 2019

It has been eight years since Cebu Pacific Air introduced “Juan For Fun”—a backpacker challenge participated by university students. Since then, Juan for Fun has evolved from an Amazing Race-like challenge, to a platform where one will not only discover the wonders of travel—but also use traveling as a springboard to spread one’s advocacy, understand different culture and broaden horizon.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Hiking to the Mist-Veiled Peak of Mount Pha Daeng | Nong Khiaw, Laos

July 05, 2019

At the foot of Mount Pha Daeng, a sign reads “Unexploded Bombs, Still in this Area. Dangerous!” remains a chilling reminder of the horrors of the Vietnam War. Collectively unmindful of the warning, we reckoned every bomb ordnance buried along the trail stretching to a radius of a few kilometers, were all swept clean already. Laos—by the way—is a vastly different nation now compared to what I first read in history books.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Dipping (sans Brooke Shields) in the Blue Lagoon of Datu Odin Sinsuat | Maguindanao

July 04, 2019

Despite expecting Maguindanao's blue lagoon to be concealed deep in the forest reachable by at least an hour or two of trekking, I still expected a good ole surprise. When I stepped out of our van and saw a few kids dripping wet, I simply figured they came frolicking from a nearby stream. Our friend Jeff told us “I think these kids came from the lagoon”. I was already standing at the mouth of a wide trail on the elbow of the Shariff Aguak Road when I heard him. “You mean, the lagoon is just nearby?” Claire asked. Jeff’s reply sounded like music to my ears—as I was in no mood for a lengthy hiking activity that day— “just less than 200 meters ahead”.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Calayan Island | When Coming Back Beckons a Sweet Hereafter Feels

July 02, 2019

Not missing the blustery 7-hour lampitaw ride of my first journey here, I stepped out of the plane—moments after it made a historic first landing on the island—buoyed by a feeling akin to rekindling a tryst with a former lover. Calayan Island has that effect on me. It could be because last time, the place served as a background to my memorable hilltop and beachside frolics with my then girlfriend.