We aimlessly flee in circles and run towards the liberation of life only to stumble in the hard truth that it is a constant battle every single day. Just as you begin to break free from the shackles of whatever enslaves you, you find yourself all wound up on the same road again. In today’s worldly living, wherein things, pleasure and society have been our master, it is truly a difficult feat to master oneself. These thoughts are written with the hope of reminding myself that genuine liberation comes with the art of mastering oneself. And that although there may be beauty and energy in words but until you do them, they will all be just mere futile words that gradually fades in paper and memory. If there is one thing that I truly believe at this phase of life, it is that liberation and mastering ofoneself is not at all a passive act. It is conscious effort. And the simple doing makes all the difference. BE A DOER!  



Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope for wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God. (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou)
I felt sorry for myself for not having read this book at an earlier time. Just letting it sit around my tiny bookshelf, cobwebbed and covered with dust, for almost three years is a guilty crime I must admit. But reading it now is perhaps the most opportune time. It is a shame that I did not realize any sooner how I could certainly adore reading Maya Angelou’s written thoughts disguised as her books. I’m only on the first few pages and it seems to give me a good telling that there are unlikely chances of putting this book down for the rest of the day. (I tell you, while this might not be true for everybody but personally, the first few pages are a persuasive barometer for one of those good-and-worth-it-reading books). I missed this happy reader’s rush. The feeling of not reading the book for the sake of finishing it but because it actually grips and resonates your own thoughts, validates how you view people and the world or what’s even better is that it tries to stir up and question your own. It has been a long time I have finally said to myself with a smiling conviction, “At last, a good book!!!” This is one of the many books that you cannot just simply forget. This book is for keeps.

Of all the needs (there are none imaginary) a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope for wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God. (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou)

I felt sorry for myself for not having read this book at an earlier time. Just letting it sit around my tiny bookshelf, cobwebbed and covered with dust, for almost three years is a guilty crime I must admit. But reading it now is perhaps the most opportune time. It is a shame that I did not realize any sooner how I could certainly adore reading Maya Angelou’s written thoughts disguised as her books. I’m only on the first few pages and it seems to give me a good telling that there are unlikely chances of putting this book down for the rest of the day. (I tell you, while this might not be true for everybody but personally, the first few pages are a persuasive barometer for one of those good-and-worth-it-reading books). I missed this happy reader’s rush. The feeling of not reading the book for the sake of finishing it but because it actually grips and resonates your own thoughts, validates how you view people and the world or what’s even better is that it tries to stir up and question your own. It has been a long time I have finally said to myself with a smiling conviction, “At last, a good book!!!” This is one of the many books that you cannot just simply forget. This book is for keeps.



Don’t Tell My Mother: My Body as a Canvas of Whang-Od’s Art

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Top load nirvana! With my fellow top load buddies Mayan, Kathleen and Kuya Charlie (our guide sniffing my bamboo flute)

It is one of those unforgettable travels that begin by missing your evening bus in just barely five minutes. A major fiasco, it was! One could only assume, at this point, how this unfortunate beginning may possibly be the end of our most-awaited first adventure for the year 2014. But perhaps, hopeful as we were, we managed to summon all our luck and discovered that a different bus heading towards another nearby destination – the closest jump off point to where we were headed is departing an hour later. That was a tense near miss! Even with the seemingly unexpected turn of events, the start of our adventure up north did not fail to tease us with more excitement. To Kalinga, off we go!

Nestled at the top of the mountain almost kissing the clouds and surrounded by wonderful rice terraces, we were headed to the humble village of Buscalan in Kalinga. In the village lives the famous 94-year-old last Mambabatok of the Butbut tribe known as Whang – Od. Arriving at the village, our nervousness to be inked hidden in the facade of giddiness cannot be contained but rest assured, it was perfectly calmed by the beautiful backdrop that filled us with delight. One cannot help but admire how living seems to be simple in a village immersed with such abundance of nature’s beauty. It does not take a huge effort to be able to appreciate the surrounding mountains and breathe fresh air. Appreciating is effortless. It begs your attention to marvel at the creation of God. What better place do you plan to be inked than on this very mountain?

The ink day has arrived!

I was sitting on a green monobloc chair, still freezing from the ice cold water I used to wash my body, waiting for Whang-Od to finish outlining my tattoo pattern with soot. I was silently praying that it won’t be as painful as I think it to be. Then suddenly, a flashback of our trip the day before surges in. How the detour of our trip was really a blessing in disguise in many ways. Without the unexpected turn of events, we could have not been able to meet fellow local and even foreign travelers like Lucy from UK who is backpacking across Southeast Asia. She and I discovered how we share the same love for children’s literature and Shel Silverstein’s The Gruffalo; or we could not have experienced being greeted by the cold January winds piercing through our skin; or how magically visible air comes out of your mouth and nostrils as you breathe and speak…

or see the locals of Banaue 

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and hear a local play the bamboo flute

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or see the wonderful landscapes and rice terraces of Banaue and Mountain Province 

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yes kiddo, I know how cold it is. So better drink your hot choco fast before it turns cold!

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or perchance get to meet in a local bakery, a nun who is also a curator at the local museum. Who would have thought that the small town of Bontoc has a museum! She invited us to visit the museum which highlights the outdoor interactive exhibit of the original Bontoc houses decades ago. You also get to see vast collection of interesting photos of headhunting practices and tribal wars which helps you understand more of their culture. Arming yourself with such information is a great way to start one’s adventure to Buscalan! Cool museum, they have!

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but really, the highlight of our museum tour was this pig having a siesta under the sun. I miss my pet pig Peachy! :(

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And before we knew it…

We were already riding the top load of another jeepney going to Buscalan. Kathleen who is afraid of heights took a leap of faith. She conquered her fear which rewarded her just like us with breathtaking majestic views of the mountains. (forgive me if I ran out of adjectives and really sound so mushy) The top load experience going to Buscalan is surely a must-do! You get to see the mountains up close without riding in a limiting enclosed airplane. Instead, you can feel the cool mountain winds rush in your face and breeze through your hair. It was like you can touch the mountains with the palms of your hands and trace them with the tips of your fingers. This top load experience definitely overwhelmed me with great joy. 

Although riding the top load can really be dangerous, you just got to trust the muscle engine of the jeepneys, the hardcore driving skills of the driver and have a little faith just like Kathleen. Or else you will miss…

seeing the famous Chico river gracefully flowing through the feet of such beautiful mountains…

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or the brown colored mountains

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or the endless mountain ranges over the horizons and many, many more!

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Biyaheng langit! The two-hour top load ride was an absolute feast of nature. And it is one of the many special moments that you feel surrounded by God’s presence.

We are almost there! Finally arriving at the hill of Buscalan, we are now ready to do the 30-minutes trekking (but we did it almost an hour). The locals who were carrying heavy goods from the town were climbing the steps without breaking a sweat and they all passed by over us one by one. Dear us! 

Mayan reaches for the sky! Piso na lang, langit na! 

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I was sitting in a green monobloc chair, snapped out of my flashback memory, back to the present and was instantly surprised that without warning, Whang-Od has already started rhythmically tapping my skin with the pomelo thorn attached on a piece of bamboo. It was happening! Was it painful? Yes, but nothing that cannot be endured by a willing heart. 

Kathleen covers her face with her own hands as Grace, the granddaughter of Whang-Od who could be the successor of her art, is doing her traveler tattoo. Whang-Od busily does the tattoo of Mayan in the third photo below.

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I must admit that this trip involved mustering a lot of courage and a handful of unlearning coupled with great convictions. Brought up in a slightly conservative family, I grew up with notions that having a tattoo is a taboo. I never fully understood before why people find pleasure in this apparently painful kind of activity. However at some point, a sudden rush of light hits you and makes you mull over those seemingly incontrovertible truths you hold dear as a child. You begin to question and ask. You find answers or create answers on your own. And this is where I realized that living does not only involve a lot of learning but also of unlearning. I have come at a phase wherein I no longer mindlessly embrace conventional norms but make it a habit to actively think about them and constantly re-evaluate my worldviews. Let us liberate ourselves from the common thinking that what is popular or what is believed by the majority to be true is necessarily right. Maybe, just maybe, you might have been viewing things for the wrong reasons. What I am simply saying is…

I got a tattoo. 

And my mother upon knowing this will pretty much be shaking her head in complete disbelief! But I know that she knows that I did this for all the right reasons. So I say, Hi, Mother!

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greetings with Whang-Od (do not be deceived by the photo, she is very charming and smiling as seen in the photo below)

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now this how I remember Whang-Od. A very smiling mambabatok. 

An hour after we got our tattoos, we are now heading home and guess what?

imageHow classic of us that we missed our bus again! Hahaha! But it matters not because the bus that we waited for has a good country soundtrack! I really loved it! Particularly, the Don Williams’ Turn The Lights Out song. 

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Fast forward at this moment of writing, I drink my coffee from the Kalinga highlands and say to myself over again that life does not only comprise a lot of learning but also of unlearning. My Himuliab tattoo which depicts a person in a prayer position means to accept, to bless, and to be given strength by the elders. It also means a fire that is flaring up. This tattoo serves as a personal lifelong reminder that living in this world cannot be done on one’s own. And that more importantly, the life that I am blessed to have is not only for myself but also for others and for God. 

P.S. Don’t tell my mother. (just not yet, hihi)

P.P.S. Visit Kathleen’s version of our trip and see my tat! Click here. She is also known as the girl behind Da Social Climber

P.P.P.S. The only thing I regret in this trip is bringing only one roll of film. :( Photos taken with Canon AV-1. 



I also live for this.

Photo credits: STAND/LFS



The Great Oblation Run
The Ritual Dance of the Brave

Today, we run as men of the Oblation  stripped of pretense, bared for the nation to see. And we are calling on all who witness us to live the ideals of the Oblation  selflessness, openness, and bravery in serving the people.



PAG-ASA 
This ice cream cart which stopped by at the GK’s Command Center at DAR Gym earlier this morning timely speaks in bold red letters for what I’ve been praying for all the Yolanda survivors - PAG-ASA. May you all never cease to hope because hope is for the living. 
Today, I met some cheerful volunteers from Telus who adopted me in their group and treated me with an ice cream of Pag-asa and a volunteer from France named Bruno. For conversation sake (or sheer curiosity perhaps), I grabbed the chance to ask Bruno if it’s true that Quarter Pounder burgers of Mcdonalds in Paris are called Royale burgers due to their metric system (the trivia I got from Pulp Fiction) but he said that he has never tried any of it. Hence, I decided to reserve that question for my next French man encounter. Haha!
On a more serious note, reaching out to others always brings a good feeling. The act itself is liberating. It is wonderful to be able to connect yourself with other people even to strangers especially in times of great causes and when we are needed the most. Reach out! Walang Iwanan dahil ito ay Pilipinas Natin. 
Volunteer. Donate. Pray. 
P.S. Click for more information on how to help: http://gk1world.com/typhoon-yolanda-ncr
P.P.S. Spread the HOPE!

PAG-ASA 

This ice cream cart which stopped by at the GK’s Command Center at DAR Gym earlier this morning timely speaks in bold red letters for what I’ve been praying for all the Yolanda survivors - PAG-ASA. May you all never cease to hope because hope is for the living. 

Today, I met some cheerful volunteers from Telus who adopted me in their group and treated me with an ice cream of Pag-asa and a volunteer from France named Bruno. For conversation sake (or sheer curiosity perhaps), I grabbed the chance to ask Bruno if it’s true that Quarter Pounder burgers of Mcdonalds in Paris are called Royale burgers due to their metric system (the trivia I got from Pulp Fiction) but he said that he has never tried any of it. Hence, I decided to reserve that question for my next French man encounter. Haha!

On a more serious note, reaching out to others always brings a good feeling. The act itself is liberating. It is wonderful to be able to connect yourself with other people even to strangers especially in times of great causes and when we are needed the most. Reach out! Walang Iwanan dahil ito ay Pilipinas Natin. 

Volunteer. Donate. Pray. 

P.S. Click for more information on how to help: http://gk1world.com/typhoon-yolanda-ncr

P.P.S. Spread the HOPE!



 Postcard Hunter!

The hunt begins.

I went to a local Chinese bookstore last weekend bearing high hopes of finding these ever elusive old postcards and greeting cards. My heart stopped a beating when I asked the saleslady if they still keep their old postcards/greeting cards and when she said no and that only those displayed on the racks are the available ones, a quick disappointment fell on me. But then by reflex, I flashed a sad face and that might just did the trick! Because the saleslady then added you can check also on that box ma’am while pointing towards it. My eyes followed the direction of her pointing finger… and voila! A box full of old greeting cards like a treasure chest is within arms reach. Yay!

The hunt for old postcards and greeting cards was born out of a happy accident months ago. I was aimlessly wandering around a bookstore killing the time for reasons I forgot when my feet guided me to that postcard/greeting card section. I was even judgmental at first how they never update their postcards/greeting card section but lo and behold when I opened one greeting card which was apparently dusty by the way, I was just tugged by the message of the card and then I opened another and then another until without knowing I have killed the time whilst experiencing enjoyment at its best. The mistake was I did not buy any of it. I promised myself to come by next time because I felt that people will rarely bother to buy them anyway. But when I came back the opposite happened. They renovated the place. No more old postcards/greeting cards. All new. And ever since that day, it made me crave to hunt for old postcards/greeting cards like a treasure chest to a pirate. 

There is something about them that is special. The old humor and brevity of the messages not to mention the lovely old-timey designs are really something to cherish if not zealously preserve. 

P.S.  I have to honestly thank the Chinese culture or business philosophy of not disposing anything be it old for as long as it is still sellable (of course at a price down rate)

P.P.S. Sa Lilim Ng Mangga (aka fourhappypeas) turned THREE last Monday!!! As a token of gratitude and if you want to receive my special old finds of postcard/greeting card then just drop your mailing address in my ask box! (I promise you dear that I’m not a stalker. Haha!) The first three lucky persons win! Thank you for tagging along with me all throughout my 1095 blogging days! Daghang Salamat! 



National Museum

There is a great mad brilliance that perfectly hangs on the walls of the museum. In the silence of the galleries one could not help but be in awe with the sheer artistry and exceptional talent manifested by the valued artworks of our dear national artists. Jumping from one gallery to another, I never felt more excited like a kid opening Christmas presents. It was like entering a new world. Fascinated by all the things my eyes set upon, I was profoundly in one of my most delightful states. You don’t need to be a virtuoso in the art world or know the difference between Impressionism or Surrealism (although a little knowledge would be no harm) in order for you to appreciate the abundance of creativity and beauty that is set right in front of you. With an open eyes and mind, it freely connects straight to you. Simple as that. 

It affords to get you a firsthand glimpse of the creative genius that lies in the artists that you probably only heard from your teachers or perhaps read in your elementary books. For example, Spolarium by Juan Luna which I only have read in my fifth grade Araling Panlipunan books and a song I love from my favorite band Eraserheads is really ENORMOUSLY beautiful! And I think that might be an understatement. 

National Museum is set in the heart of Manila and is very accessible to other landmarks such as the Luneta Park and Intramuros. Our itinerary for the afternoon was to visit the National Museum, Intramuros, Quiapo Church and then Chinatown in Binondo but take my word of advice, you need the whole afternoon for full appreciation of the entire galleries. So we just slashed off Intramuros and Quiapo in our list and went to Binondo to have dinner after a kalesa ride in the streets of Luneta. 

The lady in the photos above is my favorite northern foster parent Erika of helloooctober! I actually took a lot of photos of the different paintings and sculptures but I’d like to leave a sense of mystery to you so that when you get there, the magic that once filled us will also fill you greatly as well. But an exception would be is the last photo.

The last photo is the controversial painting by Juan Luna named as Parisian Life (1892) which portrayed various interpretations according to different researchers, historians and professors. But my favorite interpretation is that the lady herself is a representation of the Philippines under the Spanish rule. If you would look closely, a rope is subtly tied around her neck. The painting is now worth 220 million pesos. Look for Kuya RJ for a complete and more interesting stories behind Parisian Life. 

It doesn’t hurt to know and appreciate these various wonderful works of art. Believe me that as you leave the portals of the galleries, an empty part of you will be filled with feelings and ideas that would linger longer than you imagined. 

P.S. Do yourself a favor, visit our National Museum! In celebration of the Museums and Galleries Month, a free entrance will be offered for the whole month of October. You got no excuses dear. For more information click here.

P.P.S. Also, you can have a 360 virtual tour of some of the places of the museum. Click here.



The Waterfall Chasers
Exactly a week and three days ago, during the Waterfalling Adventure Tour 2.0 organized by our dear Iligan Bloggers Society, I met some good bunch of new people from different parts of the country who are equally passionate about what they do - traveling and blogging! It’s good to be surrounded once in a while with these sorts of people. Their jovial company, adventurous spirits and silent but evident passion is somehow contagious. And for that, I am truly thankful to be given the chance to chase waterfalls with them in our humble city.
The photo above shows our way down after exploring Kalubihon Falls which has a beautiful cave pool entry. I wished to have stayed there a little longer though but I will definitely blog more about this year’s WAT 2.0 in my next post. Off to the next waterfalls!
Photo by: Lisa Marie Mirasol of www.pinaytravelista.com

The Waterfall Chasers

Exactly a week and three days ago, during the Waterfalling Adventure Tour 2.0 organized by our dear Iligan Bloggers Society, I met some good bunch of new people from different parts of the country who are equally passionate about what they do - traveling and blogging! It’s good to be surrounded once in a while with these sorts of people. Their jovial company, adventurous spirits and silent but evident passion is somehow contagious. And for that, I am truly thankful to be given the chance to chase waterfalls with them in our humble city.

The photo above shows our way down after exploring Kalubihon Falls which has a beautiful cave pool entry. I wished to have stayed there a little longer though but I will definitely blog more about this year’s WAT 2.0 in my next post. Off to the next waterfalls!

Photo by: Lisa Marie Mirasol of www.pinaytravelista.com



Cloudporn 2013

You wish that you could carelessly tiptoe in your heels like you are magically suspended on a high wire without your knees quivering or you know just roll over graceless as you can be but in happy contented spirits. But no. It is just a whim and will always remain a whim. 



Street Snaps || Unknown month of 2010
Hurriedly late for an afternoon class, I surprisingly came across this old lady that radiates an unexplained degree of stillness midst hastiness of beings.
Slowly she takes a step,right then left, Holding on to dear wooden staff,the wind blowingher skirt and silver hair,with cars oblivious to her existenceand shadows as her compass,her face down but not defeatedthe wind blowing herto a familiar place she knows notbut we willand she willthrough motions of stillnessright then left slowly 
and again…

Street Snaps || Unknown month of 2010

Hurriedly late for an afternoon class, I surprisingly came across this old lady that radiates an unexplained degree of stillness midst hastiness of beings.

Slowly she takes a step,
right then left, 
Holding on to dear wooden staff,
the wind blowing
her skirt and silver hair,
with cars oblivious to her existence
and shadows as her compass,
her face down 
but not defeated
the wind blowing her
to a familiar place she knows not
but we will
and she will
through motions of stillness
right then left 
slowly 


and again…



Mt. Agad Agad || 081413

Make your Saturday count!

We were summoned by the mountains. I received a little late last minute invitation from a travel blogger friend who told me they’ll be having a practice climb and that I could come if I want to. Of course I want to!

Situated in Iligan City, Mt. Agad Agad offers hikers and climbers an accessible mountain climb that gives you a breathtaking view of its host city. Overnight camps and mountain hiking are one of the must do’s! Depending on your pace, it usually takes 2-3 hours of hiking to reach Camp 1 and Camp 2. 

I believe the trail that we followed was not the main path/usual one where one would encounter the tiny waterfalls because we were trying to avoid the heat of the sun. Nevertheless, we found comfort in the shade of the trees and it honestly gave me more ‘feels’ of the serene nature. Climbing up is equally as challenging and exhausting as climbing all the way down. Once in a while, if you think you’re already tired and your legs are giving up, just take a pause and look at how far you’ve went up and you’ll be surprised to see a beautiful mountain and a city backdrop. There’s no need to rush dear. Take it all in or you’ll miss it! 

P.S. Aside from the random conversations which made the experience more amusing than it already is, the fellow climber enthusiasts of my blogger friend Kathleen also cooked a delicious tinolang manok and tinunoang manok. They brought the alive chicken all the way up (I know sounds depressing for the chicken) and I got the chance to defeather the chicken!! Thank you new found climber enthusiasts! Visit Kathleen’s blog at http://www.dasocialclimber.com/ 

P.P.S. Also, we drank buko juice fresh from the trees and ate the coconut meat. Plus brought along wild flowers to plant in my garden patch. :)

Til the next climb!

Photos 2/3 courtesy of: Bethany Balolong



Latter part of August has been full of discoveries. 
On superficial matters, I have finally decided discovered how I like my coffee. I like it Americano. But with regards to matters of more importance I discovered how for the past few months I have been brave enough for silently clinging on to this dream and how I am surrounded with such wonderful people.
I refuse to think that I’m just treading on waters lately because it took a whole lot of courage to constantly fight for this dream (and prayers too). I don’t kid by the way. And whatever the results may be, I owe it to my understanding parents. Perhaps this is the path less traveled… (but this deserves a lengthier and more elaborate post given this topic is a sensitive one for dear self. Haha!) Until then, let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed.
For now, I have been truly lucky enough to realize how people specifically friends around me have been really kind. Come what may, I have an awesome support system to back me up! Thank God! Here’s to the friend who is always a foster parent to me whenever I need a home in the northern part of the country. You’ve been really gracious to accept me without hesitations in your lovely abode. Know that your wall full of words of positivism exudes in thyself. (I want to snatch your desiderata actually). Here’s to the friend who willingly stays with you to have a coffee overnight session just so you won’t be spending it all alone in the airport. Even lose a monopoly game for the consequence of posting shameful selfie. And here’s to the friend who’s never failed to bring stimulating conversations and topics out of nowhere (and might just intimidate you because he could be more knowledgeable of your undergrad course than you are) but nevertheless we honestly love some intellectual stimulation once in a while dear. Here’s to friends you haven’t seen for quite some time but feels like you never have been really apart. Here’s to friendship!
P.S. Superimposed the photos out of sheer laziness.

Latter part of August has been full of discoveries.

On superficial matters, I have finally decided discovered how I like my coffee. I like it Americano. But with regards to matters of more importance I discovered how for the past few months I have been brave enough for silently clinging on to this dream and how I am surrounded with such wonderful people.

I refuse to think that I’m just treading on waters lately because it took a whole lot of courage to constantly fight for this dream (and prayers too). I don’t kid by the way. And whatever the results may be, I owe it to my understanding parents. Perhaps this is the path less traveled… (but this deserves a lengthier and more elaborate post given this topic is a sensitive one for dear self. Haha!) Until then, let’s keep our fingers and toes crossed.

For now, I have been truly lucky enough to realize how people specifically friends around me have been really kind. Come what may, I have an awesome support system to back me up! Thank God! Here’s to the friend who is always a foster parent to me whenever I need a home in the northern part of the country. You’ve been really gracious to accept me without hesitations in your lovely abode. Know that your wall full of words of positivism exudes in thyself. (I want to snatch your desiderata actually). Here’s to the friend who willingly stays with you to have a coffee overnight session just so you won’t be spending it all alone in the airport. Even lose a monopoly game for the consequence of posting shameful selfie. And here’s to the friend who’s never failed to bring stimulating conversations and topics out of nowhere (and might just intimidate you because he could be more knowledgeable of your undergrad course than you are) but nevertheless we honestly love some intellectual stimulation once in a while dear. Here’s to friends you haven’t seen for quite some time but feels like you never have been really apart. Here’s to friendship!

P.S. Superimposed the photos out of sheer laziness.



January 2013 

Favorite spots. 



The Coconut Boy || July 2013

Son of the coconut vendor guarding their coconuts by sitting on them. I might try sitting using coconuts from now on. Never sat on one before. Well, this boy happily did! :)




 nagsisiesta sa lilim