Petra | Jordan. A rose-red city half as old as time
San Vicente | Palawan. Counting solitary strides.
Taj Mahal | India. A teardrop on the cheek of time
Catanduanes Island. Postcard-pretty slideshow.
Keep Kalm (at Kalanggaman Island | Leyte).
Nikko | Japan. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil in this UNESCO heritage town.
Counting temples in Bagan | Myanmar.
Chasing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.
Where to Stay? | Luxury, Backpacking & Glamping
Inaul Festival | Maguindanao. In homage of a weaving tradition
Rishikesh | India. a morning walk inside the Beatle's Ashram
Cairo | Egypt. a surreal moment at the great pyramids of giza

Growing a Three-Day Moustache at Lake Apo | Bukidnon

Time is like frozen ice in this tranquil place overran by green grass fronting a circular lake enveloped by heaps of towering trees. We must have stayed here for a couple of hours tops, but it seems like long enough to clear my mind of big city worries. I only heard and read about Lake Apo prior to our trip here. I expect it to be larger where you won't hear the exuberant yells of kids from the other end. It turned out to be smaller and a whole lot charming in reality. I heard the kids playing from the other side where a few nipa huts dots the fringes of the lake. The kind of tiny homes I dream about having as my retirement abode. I could retire here, I thought to myself. A small wooden cabin and the peaceful atmosphere of the place would would serve me well.

The scenic Lake Apo

I separated myself from our group and to sit on a small jetty by a tree house. I savored the caressing wind, while I stare at the reflection of the trees and the sky at the glassy waters of Lake Apo. I was just a couple of months removed from a conventional job that guarantee myself a bi-monthly salary–but rids myself of freedom to do what I want. It's that moment of uncertainty that lies ahead that blocks myself from looking ahead in the future. As the picturesque scenery of Lake Apo gaze back at me, I feel it slowly unlocking my mind and ushering answers I badly needed. 

Marky Ramone Go

To say that I experienced an epiphany of sorts is an understatement. Instantly, I realized I could never see places such as this if I'm more concerned about occupying that office room with a city view of the Makati traffic. Not that I don't appreciate moving cars and city scenes, its just that time often goes to waste being consumed by chasing something while neglecting to live. You need to balance both. While deeply engrossed at my thoughts, I suddenly realized that I've been taking this contemplation thing too far, so I stretched my legs and lied down facing the sky. This isn't the place to worry about life's big decisions, as tomorrow will present itself in its finest form, I try assuring myself.

Marky Ramone Go

But the peace reigning all over the place got me back to self rationalization. This is the kind of scenery that ran through my mind when my boss told me the company is letting me go. Five and a half years has met its dead end. I spent a few weeks after that racking up my brain trying to decide if I should go out and look for another office job or just live the kind of life I always wanted to have. Simplified, but has robust opportunities not only to see more of my country but other countries as well. There won't be any guarantee of a twice a month salary, rather relying only on an online freelancing gig that operates like the weather, raining one time to dry and humid the next.

Mindanao Travel Guide

Earlier, en route to Lake Apo as I sat at the edge of the habal-habal where the driver sat up front, Ferdz next to him and Alex in the middle, we passed by a long stretch of rough road sandwiched between plantations of corns and sugarcane. Thousands of tiny flowers held up by each of the sugarcane's tassels stretched from beyond to a misty distant, and as the golden rays of nearby fields beams back to my eyes, each picture provided a pleasing scenery. The kind of visual feast that makes me grateful I now have the time to stop and enjoy such fine details of the world.

Levy Amosin

I remember sitting at the jetty and running my fingers over my mouth and felt my mustache almost scrapping the skin of my hand. Either it magically sprouted a three day growth rate over a few precious minutes or I just learned to cut the crap with the normalcy of shaving, dressing up and going to work. This was during a leg of the #TravelMindanao, an advocacy to promote tourism in the region and I just joined the group in the Bukidnon part. At that moment, I swear about finally feeling secured at what I wanted to do with my life. I decided to direct my future into the path to living the life I always wanted.

Shugah Pauline Gonzales with Ferdz Decena

My silent sit-down moment at Lake Apo wasn't an extreme life altering moment by any means. If any, it was part of a week-long incursion that allowed me to prioritize what I really desire in my life. I've sat on a cubicle for so long, my feet deserves its long and many a days of venturing to new places. 

The scenic Lake Apo

It was almost dark when we decided to leave Lake Apo. Afterward, we dropped by Shugah's house to say hello to her parents. Going back to our hotel a little later, we found ourselves standing at the side of the road when no buses are plying the route anymore. I didn't cared if we end up by midnight without a ride, all I care was we were enjoying the moment. We decided we should hitch a ride to the next passing vehicle. The thought of being stranded in the middle of a dark road never crossed my mind. It felt like I left the baggage of excess uncertainties in the deep and still-waters of Lake Apo. 

Shugah Pauline Gonzales

True enough, we saw a truck heading back to another city. We flagged it down by showing our hitchhiking thumbs and right away, the driver pulled over and motioned us to climb at the back of the truck. Passing by a pitch black highway illuminated by the bright moon, I hear my friends' laughter in the dark, the wind hissing behind my ears, as if whispering to me "worry no more", right there I thanked my boss for finally letting me go and setting me free from the cuffs of my office desk. Even if this shall last only a short phase of my life (ultimately I might find my way back to the corporate world), I'd always look forward to the day when I declared gratefulness to good karma to be handed such  a blessing in disguise.

                 In Memory of Shugah Pauline Gonzales (she joined our creator on December 3, 2018. Blonde-haired girl on the right)

Shugah Pauline Gonzales with the rest of Travel Mindanao team