T&J Travels #6: Cebu 2016 (Part 5)

Ever since I lived near my work, I have, for the past years haven't stood in a bus for 3 hours straight. Not only were our legs exerted enough effort already earlier at the hike, but we have to endure the ride back standing! We should have gotten that open air one that came before :-(


Other than the unfortunate, we were able to purchase a few delicacies that we came there for other than the peak. We tried the tostado (flower shaped biscuits), torta (mamon-like but with a smokey flavor), chicharon (so many of them around Carcar I think) and the banana meat (meat with giniling filling).


+ Tabo-an Market +


After getting off South bus terminal, we thought of looking for the market. This was not a part of the plan for tonight but thought that to make another stop here the next day would be harder to squeeze in. Since I haven't researched from here I have no idea where Tabo-an is. We got two things that time: 1. The only taxi driver we got refused to take us there since we're already near (we're already in front of Emall) and 2. We didn't know that the street was just where the jeeps are going to--- hence we walked from Emall to there.


If I was alone I would have gone back, not knowing that this dark street with all the trimmings of a turn gone wrong is actually leading us to the famed Tabo-an market. There were still a few stalls open (it was just 8am, where is the action?!) which not only had all the dried seafood anyone could ever buy, there are also other pasalubong delicacies your friends expect you to buy for them.


Maybe it was a Saturday but taxis are so hard to come by at this time that after all our purchases it took us a long walk back to Emall just to hail one that would take us back to the hotel. This was also the culmination of the entire trip's dialect-deaf blunders. On the way back we saw someone selling hotdogs. I asked her twice how much was it and she kept on saying CHEESE. Not until she motioned with her hands did I realize she was actually saying DIYES (10). Her patience saved my skin from getting drenched with that scalding oil she's cooking that hotdog with!


+ Parkmall  and City Time Square+


Seeing the other night that they have a night market, we decided to also have our dinner here so we don't need to travel to and fro just to go back to the hotel. I'm assuming that whatever bbq they have here are the same as Larsian, only with lesser people and hopefully less stressful. I was told that it had the ambiance of Dampa where you get lost in all the sellers calling you to try their stalls.


It wasn't even 9PM and the crowd is already thin. The food, seeing that there's not much to choose from was just OK, nothing out of the ordinary. We should have just went to that shrimp buffet place after all. The only consolation is that now I know what this puso tastes like that I kept on seeing everywhere. Just your regular sticky rice.


+ Mactan Shrine +


It felt like we were duped by a taxi driver in paying him 500 from Big Hotel - Mactan Shrine - Airport. We should have told him to stop the meter while he let us roam around the park which was on top of what he asked to give him. Another life lesson there.


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But, it was exactly the place that I needed, some place where I could get my hands on a ref magnet for my collection. It would have also been nice if the water haven't dried up (probably the only park I know of where most of it should be in water) when we were there and it would look really colorful too, if they had boats on them.


Just like Rizal at Luneta, it's a good thing to pay homage to Lapu-Lapu who is synonymous to Cebu. Would have been nicer if at this point they did offer a guide to talk us through since the park only had a few points of interest and stories from well informed locals are always a treat listening to. Plus, it would have been nicer not listening to J. Lo's dance song blaring at their sound system.


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+ Going Home +


I am still at awe at their airport especially with their food section at the departure area. It's far better to stay here with all the choices other than the ones at the Domestic terminal back in Manila where the place is too cramped and the ceilings are too low.


Oslob and the resorts at Dalaguete are some of the places I would like to come back to once I get myself sold to being in the water finally. The driver that we got told us of two places to get to the next time as well: Temple of Leah and Sirao Garden. I also wanted to go to this Simala Shrine but we never had a chance to since most of our time that Sunday was spent on a bus.


While it is true that Cebu is not huge landmass in the first place, I highly doubt that what the regular stuff you see on your normal Google search is all that there is. I highly anticipate what we can do out of the city for next time we're in town.

T&J Travels #6: Cebu 2016 (Part 4)

Most of my friends who've been to Cebu were all about Oslob and whale watching. Me, being the boring landlubber I am would not hear the end of it so in my own way found ourselves an activity le boyfriend could not resist. Our first "hike". I also find it charming that none of my officemates (who are much more travelled than I am) haven't been, not as much as heard of the place. I love it already.


+ Osmena's Peak +


The peak is situated in Dalaguete, a province 3 hours away from the city. Luckily most of the blogs I read about it speaks of only one bus to take and 2 max rides of habal-habal (motorcycle) depending on your preference. But in one of my research I found another way which would involve a convenient option. And because of that we ended up going around in circles for a good enough time before we managed to get it right. As we were on the trail that day Reagan and I were fooling around on this idea and here I am writing about it:


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 The Ultimate Time Consuming, Budget Depleting Guide to Dalaguete


1. Hail a cab to go to Carbon Market (as said by one of the blogs, figured this was faster)

2. Talk to the cab driver if there really are Dalaguete buses there and be convinced that there is none

3. Agree to be taken to a shuttle terminal that won't look like they do go there at all

4. Talk to one of the barkers and be convinced again that you got the wrong terminal

5. Take the jeep that would eventually take you to South Terminal

6. Not knowing where to drop off and realizing you passed it at the crossing, walk back to the pedestrian crossing.

7. Look for the bus going to "Bato" which differs each time you talk to a different conductor/driver.

8. FINALLY getting the bus right, but deliberately speaking Dalaguete as DA LA GE TE instead of how the locals call it DA LA GIT to let them know you don't speak their dialect.

9. Sit for 3 hours, sleep while you're at it and get off at the junction. It is the first stop after a string of resorts which looks like a market and had too many of a motorcycle parking at the left.

10. Speak of Osmena's Peak and be ushered to said parking lot of motors to anyone who is available and never asked how much they are pricing you.

11. Be convinced that you are not stepping foot at the market even at your request (sad face!)

12. Pay 500 for the round trip and be dropped off to a bulalohan you have no craving for.


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Mantalongon Junction


 

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So anyway, we managed to hike to a peak that's a bit far from where everyone else. We decided to go to one that had people on it already (to make sure that that is really hikeable) and lingered there for a while. It is really cold, the view is so pretty up here as well all that walking made it worth it. My lungs are totally digging this.


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Most of the bloggers who have been there were all up for getting a guide "to help" the students who do it for you.What they don't say is how everyone is practically tolerating it, and that the peak is littered with them at every turn making you feel guilty of not giving them an allowance because you don't get them as a guide. They even have the same lines!! The fact that there is no need for one other than the promise that they know how to take photos of you at the best angles is not exactly what most tourists prefer, e.g. us. I get it, really but we want this time for ourselves. I don't want someone lingering over "our moment"especially for this one that's almost impossible to get lost, nor needing any help for. Not everyone's interested in getting a new FB profile photo at an angle I seriously doubt only their guides can offer. The thing is they have the peak for free, there are no maintenance involved (even the toilet is to pay for) and they are already charging us for entrance. Why not give that money to those kids first hand so they can play, instead of tolerating tourists who just want an artsy photo, right?**


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When we came back to the Mantalongon Junction, we decided to walk some bit first. We ended up at a baywalk, which was at the area where the University of Dalaguete is as well. It looks like they're improving the area by now. Maybe in 2-3 years stops this area would be unrecognizable, filled with commercial spots since the area is quite barren. Hope they keep the water clean though!


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**Before you go hating on me we did give a random kid some money just for the sake of it. But this is after we were done and we're already hiking down.


WP: Blue Gardens: Chef Moms, Bernos (11.26.2016)

This is officially our First Food Tasting event. Reagan and I have already stopped going to Bridal Fairs mostly because I don't want to anymore. Going at those events only keep my hopes up that we are going to get married soon but is so far from the truth. We don't have a date, I don't even have a ring (why did I even tell him I don't need one?) to even validate that this is indeed happening and not just "one of those talks". My heart sinks a little at those bridal fairs whenever I get the question of "when" so might as well not go altogether.


It's a blur on how last weekend (Nov 26) we ended up at Blue Gardens (Commonwealth). We got the easiest way to go there: MRT up to Centris, hailed a taxi there and whoala, we've already arrived.


My initial impression going there is not too good, the road is just too cramped for comfort. It is absolutely far from being a subdivision at all. When we arrived there was a bride posing for photos at the fountain and a huge ass truck of M Catering in front of her-- who needed a trophy on how he got it there in the first place.


Before the actual food tasting we were showed around by one of their staff and from there we realized that while we are food tasting downstairs, their Chateau upstairs have an event going on. We both were surprised that they were able to have 180 people inside! The area is just too tight even if the ceiling is far way up. They do have a 2nd floor overlooking the event downstairs, said can hold 60-80 people (but with a different charge). It does seem that it is possible to have both to accommodate more people, or to even distribute them a bit but it's like you need to put your least liked people upstairs since not all of them can watch the program when they're sitting.


Their Garden is also at the process of being decorated. We assume that it must be for the bride we saw earlier. It was also a bit tight like Chateau (there was even a chair that was right next to a plant who won't be able to see anything AT ALL), the electric fan is not enough (it has to be an evening event, an afternoon like this would be a torture to guests) and you could hear traffic outside as well. Not sure if they have a bridal room like the Chateau which is at the 3rd flight of stairs.


They have another garden area, which is at the other lot. It has it's own parking space, venue and bridal makeup room. It can also accommodate 300 (?) people, more than what we need. I don't want to spend too much on the feeling of "this is it" like most brides (haha, am I one now?) want to, I simply wanted to know if this is something I would not regret of having. The answer is yes. That is at the hopes that a good combination of weather and air coolers and electric fans would fix the humidity issue of holding an event outdoors. Although this area is much more expensive (like +15k if you wanted this one) I would rather be here for exclusivity. And that parking is a huge plus.


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Mushroom Soup, 4 Seasons and Buko Salad not in photo


+ Bernos +


Food: The food is delicious in spite of being cold which is understandable, they are probably here a long time already. Their juice though needs more sugar because it tasted too bland. The chicken they served us is our favorite.


Decoration: They have themes and are good enough. They allow mix and match for as long as the same items on their current book is used.


Rep: Friendly, we like her.


Price: Cheapest. Probably because they only offer either beef or pork and not both in their packages and very simple styling too.


+ Chef Moms +


*They were a bit late, even the rep got to us late. Must have forgotten us :-(

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Food: Reagan likes them better (although I liked Bernos' Carbonara better, and to think I don't eat it). Their sampler plate is also filled to the brim. Their beef looked dry but it was unexpectedly tender. For 200 guests they could provide you with a dessert bar (around 10k additional for Bernos) and a salad bar.


Decoration: Much more detailed than Bernos and they can help you if you have some items in mind.


Rep: Also friendly, she could talk to your for hours I'm sure of it.


+ Blue Gardens +


Their people are very nice. Their CRs are clean and pretty, perfect for your guests. Parking could pose a challenge if all three venues are booked and all your visitors have cars. But one huge pro for those who are on budget is for 200k++ for 100 guests you can have almost everything you need here in one comprehensive package-- if you can overcome going there, that is. And don't be too harsh on them as well, their place is really pretty at the evenings. It really transforms when the lights are on. I noticed myself smiling especially when we visited that wedding on the venue next door (the one with the parking which we both liked).


Not closing any doors, but seeing that our target (giggles) is July of next year (he said it when asked! I would be lying if I didn't feel kilig at this new development), we'll see.

T&J Travels #6: Cebu 2016 (Part 3)

After a few hours of shut eye we are now back in the streets for the ff: to eat dinner and to find that choco mango I kept on talking about ever since I found it online:

+ Cebu Besto Pasalubong Atbp +

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Found at Salinas St. it is easy to miss. It's a huge store with barely anything on it that if it weren't for the huge colorful mural on one of it's walls it would definitely pass as a bodega. There are a lot of chocolate mangoes in different stores (even at the airport) but it looks like this brand is not found elsewhere. Got great reviews from those who we gave it to. A bit expensive but every bite of that dark chocolate with the chewy mango is irresistible at best.

+ Rico's Lechon +

Found 7 minutes from our hotel, my officemates were in love with this lechon in particular when a week ago one of them brought it to the office. Initially we were going to Larsian for dinner as well but went here instead since it's closer to home. And as far as I know it's just some type of hawker's area, I don't think we would miss anything if we didn't went.

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That is half kilo. They serve it with bones and all. No Sauce here!

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Our arrival was just in time when after a few minutes of seating more came in groups. We ordered half kilo of lechon (good for 2), sinigang, chopsuey, 3 cups of rice (comes in a mini kaldero each) and two glasses of cucumansi.

Orders came by, our drinks forgotten. Even water wasn't served not until our 2nd or 3rd followup. Overall the food was good, the cucumansi my favorite. Reagan and I are officially cucumber drink lovers ever since we got a good one from Bohol and this one is a good twist. The calamansi jived amazingly with cucumber. As for the lechon, well, one good thing with it is that when I gave it to my boss noon of that Monday (when we flew back to Manila, we picked up our orders from Rico's around 8am, I got it to my office 4pm) and was told that the skin is still crunchy. For me the taste seems fresh, but definitely not life changing. Sadly, I have yet to find my favorite lechon. Will have to try CNT and Zubuchon next time around.

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T&J Travels #6: Cebu 2016 (Part 2)

Our last meal was still from the airport (5am I think) and we haven't had any meal after. We went in La Fortuna bakery that although they serve meals, the advertised buffet was at their hotel. We wandered inside for a while looking for pasalubong (this early!) but wasn't tempted enough to get any after.


The food at the bakery looked promising and because we are greedy, we thought we'd get more of that in their buffet. So we got directions from the guard-- it sounded near but actually walking there is a different story. We arrived there a few minutes before 11 but they allowed us to dig in anyway.


+ Hotel Fortuna +


The buffet was at the 2nd floor and we were the first ones to arrive. I was half expecting they'd serve shrimps and crab but none of them were present. The food is nothing to be raved about and we were left kind of disappointed. Even the OJ lacked taste (as told by Reagan). We did love their fruit salad though.


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+ Taoist Temple +


My first temple of such caliber is the Ma-cho Temple in Ilocos of 2012 that although that looks larger, this was a bit higher being on an elevated lot in the first place. Many blogs would tell you how much the temple is picturesque, but you would rarely hear how the view on the topmost part of the temple is a beauty on it's own.


There is no entrance fee but you are requested to limit your photos on where you are allowed and obviously, observe silence while you're at it. There's free tea and we would have loved to try but there were no unused glasses left.


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+ Big Hotel +


After all that walking (and lack of sleep) we decided to retire at our hotel in Mandaue for a bit. One of the things that I loved about our hotel is that no taxi driver so far in our trips asked us where it is. A big advantage was probably because it was right infront of Parkmall.


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I cannot fully remember why we got the Executive room but my best guess is that because we opted for one bed instead of two single ones. We are overjoyed by the space provided, complete with a balcony that overlooks Parkmall. There is an abundance of hangers (fully utilized by Reagan, he kept on hanging his clothes), the aircon is cold, tv has cable and the heater works.


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Breakfast buffet is provided which is fulfilling and delicious. The choices are a bit limited but enough to satiate one's appetite. Reagan and I loved the chocolate pudding (Sunday) and the unlimited sausages (next day). By Monday there was an egg bar where you can order egg dishes. I enjoyed my omelette even if at some bites there where some egg shells.

T&J Travels #6: Cebu 2016 (Part 1)

Our flight was right on time so as soon as we dropped off our bags at the hotel we set out to find the nearest tourist spot in our IT. I didn't bother learning the routes so we had to rely on whatever we find out along the way.


At the reception we were told that we should take the 01K at the terminal right in front. We don't know which of the jeeps, there are just too many  but they were friendly enough to help. The jeep took us a block off from where Plaza Independencia where we needed to walk a bit to reach it.


+ Plaza Independencia +

The park is peppered with a few monuments and sculptures, but not much to look at. It is mostly space, probably for city events that can be held here. As for taking photos, it would be quite tricky since there are a lot of commercial buildings surrounding the park and the electricity lines are hard to evade.


 

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+ Fort San Pedro +

Like the park, Fort San Pedro is like a mini version of Fort Santiago but is well kept. If you're not into artsy fartsy poses you would be able to roam the grounds for 20 minutes tops. If memory serves, entrance fee is 30 php per adult.


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Based on Google maps, we only need to walk along Osmena to reach Basilica Sto. Nino. Along the way we saw this humble marker:


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It would have been better if they had a dedicated museum on site. This is disheartening that it was just regulated to a slab of rock and cheap wood painted to look like brick.


+ Basilica de Sto. Nino +


It was a Saturday morning and although the number of people is good from the looks of it most of us were just tourists. We get to see the gold laden altar that I needed to adjust the colors of my photo just so it won't look too saturated. I can't find an article to explain what I'm supposed to be seeing but I'm kind of freaked out seeing too many saints statues in black.


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We stayed there for a while, as much as waiting at the long line for the Sto. Nino that had it's own special place. At first we're not sure where the line is supposed to go and we were too shy to ask so we just waited. It seems that the cause of the long line is for the devout who looked like they were wishing for something because it takes time for them to finish. I was already panicking on what to do (I'm not a Catholic) and I was looking at my boyfriend for help. He just motioned us to pass by to let other patrons have their time.


Back at the line the hall was filled with stories related to the church, or the Sto. Nino. One of the things I learned was how the Sto. Nino was submerged in water until it answered their prayers of rain.


When we were done at the Church we exited on the other side we assumed to be where the Magellan's Cross is.


+ Magellan's Cross +


It really was just like what most photos show! I was even controlling myself not to post the cross at the middle because I know everyone had that exact photo and there's no way you could photograph it differently. We did saw someone who had to almost lie down on the floor, but I'm not that desperate to attempt the same.


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TLC Festival (11.5.16)

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My boss told me about the event for today and was really excited in going because of the free workshops! My sisters and I registered as soon as able. We arrived around a few minutes after 11 (official start time) and the line had already snaked to the whole block. What added to the feat is how hot it was. The only consolation is the line is actually moving.


Initially we wanted to go straight to the workshops but unfortunately we have no idea that there were separate online registrations for it so we weren't allowed to participate. We roamed around instead, and participated on a few activities we can join in but not enough to be able to qualify for loot bag redemption. I think I only have 1 point :-(


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Since there are tons of prepared activities that are either "fully booked" or have too long of a line, we went to watch a movie instead; so imagine our surprise when we were right on time for Buddy's appearance and the rest of the TLC guests on the main stage. It was really cute, he requested to sing My Way where everyone of us joined in as he finished the chorus.


To most it must have been a wonderful event, but to us it was a bit of a downer. It was hot, the activities were not enough for the number of audience turn over. I see no point in having walk-ins if they are not eligible for anything; let alone have separate registrations for each workshop even after you have already registered for the actual event. I understand that "there is a chance" to join in even without your name on their list, but the scouts don't even have any idea how many they expect to even allow excess participants. That's what happens when everything is free.


Anyway next year we now know what to do and we would register on each workshop so we won't miss anything anymore. (Plus, my piece would be longer don't you think?) Can't wait!

Papa (5.8.1958-10.1.2016)

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It was a Friday. It was supposed to be like my everydays of sitting at the couch, playing mobile games, watching series on tv. But before I was even home I received a call from the hospital where my father works. It wasn't really a distress call so my sisters and I weren't too alarmed. Being the irresponsible eldest I don't really know how to commute there because our Father always brought me there. My sisters and I planned to wait for each other at the condo but the next call was so alarming that I immediately thrown stuff things at my bag of what I might need and went out as fast as I can, tears already rolling down my face in stress. I was muttering to myself that everything will be alright. And as if the universe have carefully timed that Friday, my sisters and I all converged at MoA almost at the same time, fetched by his co workers with our Papa's car.


I don't have much experience in hospitals since we rarely have anything to do there anyway, but my worry wasn't too great that time. Yes he was at the ICU but although I can't understand what the numbers at the monitor means, anything but zero looks fine by me. Also, the staff looked like they’re in control. Later on, we met the doctor who have relayed to us some bad news.


We were told how our father's heart stopped beating for full 15 minutes causing his brain to shutdown. We were given 48 hours and he should recover within that time period before it was called off. My head was already swimming in different possibilities and I cried in despair, all graces of not doing it in front of a stranger or my sisters thrown out of the window.  Spreading the sorrow wasn't my intention but this I have to let out. It wasn't fair to be told to be the strong one, we are all equally his daughters, we all need our father. And how can you stay strong at this situation?


It wasn't the last of our cries. We were called so many times at the ICU only to see him be revived again, much harder than the next. There was a time when we were told he woke up only to be sedated as he has become restless. He must have heard we were there and knowing him he wouldn't let us know that he is not alright. Looking back it might have helped if he saw us, he might have fought harder knowing that his daughters are there hoping for their Papa to wake up. He was always hiding his ailments and later on I overheard that this was too late of a call. His only chance would have been the first blackout he never told a peep to anyone of us.


Over time his once warm body started to grow cold. I can see a bit of gray on his fingers creeping up towards the rest of his hands which my sister put in his green rosary to hold. He was able to survive ordeals with his rosary and this act gave me such hope. Immediate family members came by one by one, equally hurt in seeing our Papa in that state. He was really close with our cousins who live around the Metro, his closest connection back home in their province.


In one of our ICU visits I wailed a little when my hands touched his socked feet, it was harder than usual, colder than usual. All three of us were muttering his name, calling him in hopes that he might hear. We told him of our sorrys, our iloveyous, our missed plans, travels, food trips, weddings, grand kids. I was glad that a priest was able to pray over him as the day went on, closing in on his last minutes. Only him and God knows if he heard anything, but I would like to believe that he did.


At his last moments I was still hoping for a miracle that he would eventually find his heart and beat at a pace that we could all go back to before. But his ailing kidneys started to add to his burden, those years of smoke and liquor just can't handle the meds that was supposed to help his heart. I kept on looking at the monitor hoping the numbers would improve until it was called at last, his chest failed to raise on its own. My family isn't exactly your TV version of one, we never hug, we never say our I love yous out loud. But at that moment it was necessary, maybe this act would aid us in sharing the pain, the grief, most especially the loss. And as we broke our embrace and moved away from our papa I can see his friends crying along with us. It was surreal, knowing that he was loved, and that it "was".


Going out of the room we were hugged by people we don't know; we were told of the stories that never reached home. All were beautiful, and painted him in a light that explained why their grief is beyond friendship. I am humbled on how he boasted off our achievements, on how he used us a good example of kids that went right. I am guilty of not being as perfect as he might have described but he still told them nonetheless. He told them how his daughters would take him places, treat him wherever we could. But it was far from spoiling him believe me and that I most certainly regret. I have yet to take him off of the country and let him see what's out there. Make him taste different types of noodles he have not yet tasted. I have yet to give him new shoes. I have yet to make him walk me down the aisle...


But alas, life is a bitch. My father was a perfect candidate for internal organ failure that any doctor would raise their brows if anyone bought the idea that he was at the pink of health. His lifestyle has consumed his body early. There were so many what ifs, none of them mattered now.


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After my moment of looking at his hospital gown staring at it in case he breathes on his own, I was shocked that a death in a civilized manner involved obligations on what to do with the body. I caught myself calling my father a corpse when I was explaining something to my mother and I had to pause of the guilt on calling him such. But being a fool as I am I shrugged it off, hoping to be given a pause button. Because every step, every signed paper is an acknowledgment that he is really dead. I even shed tears over buying a barong when asked for what occasion. Saying it out loud to someone else was too real that I've made a complete stranger complement what I was feeling. It was a bittersweet moment that I would never forget, and a symbol that maybe, like her, I can smile over my tragedy and still hold that feeling of loss without grief.


On that same day I chose to post a photo of my father giggly over something that has amazed him. If that much small has given him that big of a smile I hope we were able to give him some. We were’nt too close on his last days, maybe because I don’t live at Cavite anymore and the last thing I told him was ingat when he dropped me off at MoA after our youngest treat us to a buffet. It was my sister’s first treat from her job that was postponed a few times just because all four of us weren’t complete. It is nice that she was given that chance. I am, after all, the weakest of us three that seeing our youngest cry is another pain on it's own. They have been each other's company these past few years, her regular checkups to the hospital where he works entailing to be with each other mostly.


I was able to look a bit at our Papa in his casket but I didn’t lingered there for too long, and only up to the last day. I recalled forcing myself not to overthink it or I might lose it again, the tears that about to come out. Till now, my brain filters that image and retains the ones where he was alive, our photos as good reminders. I don’t want see him in makeup and I don’t want to pretend that he was just sleeping. Even now in the columbary, in my head I still have the tiniest of hopes that he would show up anytime I whisper his name in places we’ve been and otherwise. 


Papa was 2 years short of reaching pensioner status. I was actually thinking of getting him a post at the wet and dry market near our house where he could sell vegetables we import from Divi. It would be a good distraction for him I thought since there would be nothing to do every day anyway. I also thought that maybe at that time I have saved enough for us to get a farm for him to spend his days without the hassle of city life. Maybe I would have had kids by then. So many maybes...


During those final weeks the three of us sisters were planning for a trip to Mt. Purro Reserve. I was really close in booking one for the next holiday hoping that Papa would be available that time. What a grim joke for the future me with the knowledge that in a few days he would be but ash in an urn.


It gives me much comfort in knowing that there are a lot of people who loves our Papa who were able to aid us in going through all of this. The support we got is overwhelming and I am happy to learn that he was able to touch a lot of lives even in that short time. The cries and pain we all endure were from the loss of someone who we have all loved here on earth and sharing this experience is therapeutic in a way. I know that I can’t even recall when was the last time I told him that I loved him but I hope that he was able to know that I do even if I failed to say it out loud. His love language to us was replacing our Mama who is currently overseas. He cooked for us, washed our clothes and drove us when need be. I hope that he was able to read ours which was to take him places any chance we can. We weren't raised on a model family who said their endearments out loud, we don't even hug! But I hope that now that his soul could watch over us, I hope he knows that our love for him is real and was shown in ways that weren't so typical.


Maybe he's already reached our grandparents up in heaven. I want to believe it to be true. And for that I would not say goodbye. I would be looking forward to the day that I would meet all of those we have lost, including our Papa.


Till we meet again Pa!


Renewal of Philippine Passport!

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My passport is not yet due but I have a few plans in my head that involved me getting a new one before we go on our next travel. I've been reading the same site about the requirements of securing an ID and 3 documents. I have no problems with IDs but documents I do. I only have a birth certificate and I cannot afford the time it would take for me to get a Barangay, NBI and police clearances. I asked around and got a good answer from a neighbor who just got hers renewed. Truly enough it's the same set I was asked:




  1. 1 Government ID (+ photocopy. It seems like they preferred my SSS over my driver's)

  2. 1 Document (NSO birth certificate (and photocopy) BUT this is just to ensure that if I was asked a document I came prepared. I didn't have to submit it at all, it was returned to me with the photocopy BUT I can still overhear some of age being asked for it especially the original NSO copy)

  3. Old Passport (+ photocopy of 2nd page and last page)

  4. Printout of your appointment and form. This should have been sent to you when you made your appointment online.


Things that are good to know (at Megamall branch anyway!):




  1. Don't be too early especially on a weekend (let's say an hour before your appointment) when the lines are long. They would only accommodate a certain number of people in.

  2. Even if you don't have a photocopy with you of any of your documents, they have a to pay service inside the premises. However this would only do you good if you have people who would save you in line, else you would have to do 2 queues instead of one since the line at the photocopy area is different from Step 1.

  3. Prepare 1200 php instead of 900+. Saturdays are supposed to be for rush applicants so in case you have the time to spare on a weekday and would save a few bucks, don't go on a weekend.

  4. While there is a long line, the process is quick and you'd be next in no time. I wasn't even able to use the reading material I've brought. I didn't even halved my end goal.

  5. Don't do what I did of sleeping late prior to appointment. My photo had so much eyebags on it :-(

  6. If you've brought your old passport a clear case, remove it before you approach the counter. I was also advised not to put the new one also.


 

Goodluck! I hope you get yours easy too!

 

T&J Travels #5: Antipolo 2016

Maybe the boyfriend wanted to make it up to me with my failed plan*, but I'm nowhere near complaining when he pitched going to Antipolo. We are to rely on public transpo for this day tour and what do you know, it could have never been better than expected!



+ The Exciting Time of Sitting Down +



There are 3 places near my place where we can attempt to catch a shuttle. What we tried first was at Megamall which unfortunately had only one seat left and it was eating our time sitting there waiting for another one to come. I was able to get a Growlithe though!


We gave that up after probably a good 30 minute wait and walked to Galleria. Lo and behold we're the first to be on queue that we even got the front seats yay! It was a bit of a long wait for more passengers thought but it was offset by the absence of heavy traffic. We arrived  quarter to 11.


+ Antipolo Cathedral +


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For first timers like us it was really convenient that our first stop for the day and the last stop of the shuttle was the Antipolo Cathedral. Initially we weren't too sure where it was, I think we've passed by a few churches that might pass off as one but then you see that huge dome in your view and you realize that THAT is the one.


I may not be a Catholic but I always enjoy going to Churches, especially Roman Catholic ones. What added to it's charm is how inspite of being at a busy street, it was clean and everything is in it's place, not blocking the beautiful building.


The terminal we got off is on a street at the left which made the Cathedral the best landmark you could tell someone who would commute for the first time to Antipolo. It made me comfortable knowing that I can go back to a place familiar when need be, not to mention no tricycle driver would not know where the Cathedral is. It was also nice that the ped xings are properly followed. If the guy who ushered us is to be believed, it's 5k for the offense.


The cathedral is not as huge inside, not too much decor, nor was it grandiose like other churches. But even so, the plain white dome interior is a refreshing take in lieu of paintings and chandeliers.



+ La Traviesa +


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A seafood buffet place, we got there via tricycle (30php). Our driver didn't know it (must be new), but he proactively asked his friends where to. We got there around lunch time so it's understandable that the place is truly packed. But then in my head I don't get why they have no people in front to seat nor entertain us. Reagan went in after a while of waiting because the waiters seemed like they're ignoring our presence (there's probably 2 tables left so we need to act quickly if we want to eat). He asked someone who gave us plates (tables have cutleries but no plates, it seems like it's something you have to request) and we're off to start. It's a sort of mini culture shock, this is the first time we've seen such system in getting yourself a table.


Truly as advertised there are lots of seafood dishes (probably 5-6), or so I think. Flavors don't differ much. The shrimp isn't as fresh as hoped (our gauge is that the shell of the shrimp is sticking too much to it's flesh). I had my full though because it wasn't bad for 300++ per head. I loved the veggies because they're not soggy and the fried rice had so much ingredients on it.


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What had truly surprised me was that being a seafood buffet, their bestseller was none of the main dishes (they are always fully stocked) but their appetizer: kamote chips. It's really funny that when you eat here in Manila the first to go are shrimps, while here the kamote chips don't stay long on the buffet table. I was lucky to get a first batch when I went back to get some and boy they are really tasty! You won't even taste that familiar earthy taste of kamote, you could actually fool anyone that it's just potato.


+ Pinto Art Gallery +


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There was already a light shower when we arrived (tricycle was probably 50php?) that the road is becoming muddy. I am not sure if you need to pay extra when you bring your own car to park or even enter (it is within a subdivision but near the guard) but tricycles don't need to.


Entrance fee is 200php for adults, a different charge for those who plan to do photoshoots. Backpacks are prohibited but it seems like you can talk yourself out of it to my annoyance.**


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I loved it, there's so much to see. The weirdness of some artworks, the multiple ways you can go to a building, different levels and random rocks out of nowhere. If this is something I could afford, this is an excellent place to hold an event! I could only imagine how it might look with all the drapings and flowers you could dress it in.


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What I didn't like though was how some groups hound artworks just so they can take the best shoot. It's ridiculous and sad at the same time. Imagine hanging out with friends who are onto outdoing (or out-instagramming rather) each other. Just keep an eye ON groups who had all the works: makeup, outfits and slrs. Go the other way to better enjoy the moment.


My favorite installation is the simplest, but to me was the most immersive: The Forest. I'm not going to spoil it for anyone but I truly loved it. It's like all my senses are engaged coming in. I hope they never remove it!


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+ Hinulugang Taktak +


I knew I've been here once on a field trip ages ago but I could not recall a single memory of what it should look like that's why I still felt giddy seeing it like as if it's my first time. Initially we weren't allowed in because they were saying that they close the park when it rains (apparently due to falling branches) but they may have noticed we were "tourists" and allowed us in after a while as we lingered looking over the railings to see the waterfalls (and also there are a few visitors around the area the reasoning is not valid).


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The water is quite muddy probably because of the rain, a bit of trash at the bottom (sad face) but I bet it would be much better on another day. I liked that they have a lot of places where families can hang out for free, however they should do something about some parts of the park that aren't cemented yet. It also looks like a budget friendly option to get married since the area near the falls is a fair size for your guests. You just have to deal with the water spray though.



+ Cloud9 Resort +


This is so out of the way of the rest of everything else so it's somewhat reasonable to pay 120 for the tricycle. We didn't know what to expect on how high it is as well so we added 30 for the driver to take us on the actual resort. Do not attempt this when you're a group, it's safer to walk up. You'd know what I mean once you see how steep it is.


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The view up here is breathtaking. That is of course if only the rain would just stop. It would have been nice to be able to dine out of the glass enclosure, away from some smoking patrons. I have no idea if they have other areas reserved for non-smokers but it doesn't look like it. We suppose that the dining area is for drinking sessions and barkada gatherings. Not too romantic if you ask me.


I've no appetite (I don't know why) so we just got tuna sandwiches and calamansi juice. Other than inhaling smoke from the next table this has got to be the #1 downer for the day. You can't even see where in the sandwich the tuna resides and for 130++ it's too disappointing. Back in the office I pay 25 pesos for a rye bread overflowing with tuna and vegetables!!


We're supposed to try the hanging bridge but it doesn't look safe (looks slippery due to rain) and I've no urge to do the 360 experience since it's cloudy anyway. We'd just try it for next time.


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+ Going Home +


Unlike everything else we've been to, the location of Cloud9 is hard to get any form of public transpo. We tried walking and back, to be saved by a tricycle who dropped off a group at Cloud9 too. We went back to the Cathedral to buy some pasalubongs (we got our kasuy for 100php a glass and a few freebies). It was quite stressful, everyone is extremely competitive, one was even claiming hailed us to her store but we have no idea who she was.


There were also kids who kept on selling Catholic necklaces, repetitively telling you to share your blessings it has become super annoying. I do give alms but I want to do it on my own volition. A no means no. Reagan is quite nicer, he gave in to those two girls.


It wasn't hard for us to get a shuttle back to Megamall, and the waiting time is reasonable. There was a bit of traffic but not as bad as it is in EDSA. More and more Antipolo looks like a good place to get a house (wink!) since it is really convenient to and fro Ortigas CBD. We will try to get back around May so we could try what Kasuy (the fruit) really taste like. I'm hoping it won't be raining anymore!


Raw Gallery (no edits, not even which photos are on the album!)



*Wednesday that week I told him what if we spend the weekend at Tagaytay since me and officemates are going there on a Friday night. I wanted to just meet him there instead of me going back home. I was really sold to the idea of waking up on a different location in the morning, I even thought of bringing clothes for an early exercise (naks!). It would be convenient for me too since I'd be checking out early Sunday to go to our Church in Cavite. He said it wasn't a good idea though because his car haven't had any checkup yet.


**I only bring backpacks nowadays which I think would benefit my back, but it's too small my officemate once remarked I stole it from a child. So anyway, I left it at their area as told BUT there was this girl who had a huge ass bag that could probably fit 10 of what I have who didn't want to leave hers and "promised" the guy in the baggage counter she would wear it in front instead. SHE NEVER DID AFTER HE LOOKED AWAY. DAMMIT.

Challenges of Living Independently

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I've been living on my own for almost 3 years now and sometimes I forget to be thankful for the opportunity. I'm in no way at the top of my game but I do know a lot of those in my age who are still living with their parents (this is the Philippines after all) even when they've already rearing kids. I don't have any yet and I don't want to change that soon not unless of course me and the bf truly hitch. But for the meantime I'm on my own and boy there are challenges on being one.




  1. Food. I don't shy away at the kitchen but one thing I don't know is how to prep just for one. There are times when I have to eat my adobo for a week and by the end of that stretch it's not amazing anymore. There was even a time I had to throw a batch of shrimp pasta because I've been eating them for so long it started tasting funky.

  2. Cleaning. Initially when the boyfriend visits to pick me up before we go out I clean as much as I can. Lately though it has been a rare opportunity. Even my closet looks like a sea of clothes I sometimes surprise myself I haven't worn a certain shirt for a long time.

  3. Silence. I remember the first time I moved in to this unit when there was no cable. It was so weird since my unit came with a TV but there is nothing on. I didn't have broadband then as well that I have to go by with mobile data which wasn't as reliable as I hoped.

  4. Drinking Water. I used to order water but was fed up on it when the delivery was just not reliable. There was even a time that I had to rely on the water AT THE OFFICE just so I can drink. Later on I had filters installed and never had any problems after that. If only I wasn't too lazy filling my containers!


These are the things I love though!

  1. Food. I can eat whatever, whenever I want. I don't need to worry if someone's getting hungry. I don't even need to share my cake!

  2. Lazy. Some holidays and saturdays I call it HermiTina. It's when I could just do series and movie marathon the entire day and I won't hear anyone complaining on my viewing choices.

  3. Silence. As much as I love to hear anything other than the buzzing of appliances, I appreciate not needing to talk to anyone especially in the mornings. I hate waking up due to blaring noise.

  4. Freedom--- to do practically anything. Crafting, reading, idle myself away. I know the last one is not really ideal but I look forward this after a day of work.


 

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That is not me but I do spend my days as free looking as that since no one's going to judge what I wear


In spite of all the challenges, I really find this independence somewhat empowering. It may not be in our culture to leave the nest without getting married or living in with someone but moving out especially on your own puts a lot of things in perspective. You get to have obligations, you suddenly have the need to know your neighbors (I know no one at our house in Cavite I had to make up neighbors to put in my OJT form; I lived there for more than 10 years) and you have to resolve things all on your own. I don't know if being comfortable doing things by myself already has anything to do with it (eating lunch, watching movies, etc.). All I know is that by the end of the day, after all the nightly rituals, after I've checked the locks on the door and have laid my back on my bed, everything seems right.


Egg Cups!

My unit still smells of longganisa after cooking some for breakfast and now I'm left with a few pieces I would like to "dispatch" as soon as I can. I still don't have dinner and I had a sudden brainstorm, how about egg cups? This is probably the easiest dinner I've ever cooked!


Ingredients:


3 Pcs of Longganisa; (preferably one as long as an average finger, not the short stout ones)


3 Pcs of Eggs


1 Small bag of mixed Veggies (corn, carrot, peas)


Salt / Pepper / Thyme / Basil


Instructions:




  1. Preheat oven.

  2. Beat egg with a bit of salt and pepper. You can choose to not put any depending on the longganisa you already have but I've put some in together with some dried thyme and basil for added flavor.

  3. Squeeze the meat out of it's casing and mix it with the beaten egg. Add the entire bag of mixed vegetables.

  4. Prepare a muffin tin / cupcake tin by either: spreading butter or oil on it. You may skip this step although I rarely do when it comes to baking.

  5. Pour your mixture evenly on the prepared tins and bake for 30mins / 170 Celsius. It may differ though when it comes to your actual ovens (mine's table top, a bit old too) so you could try 10 minute intervals until it comes out yellowish.


Yields 8 small cups.

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T&J Travels #4: Hongkong-Macau 2016 (Part 4)

+ Te +

The restaurant I wanted was packed so we got here instead. Their pasta is plenty and freshly cooked if I weren't extremely sleepy and tired from all the walking I would have finished my plate.


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The next morning we had another moment of getting lost on where to go after we've got out of the trains. We found our way in the end. It was a relief since the way there was really steep.


+ The Peak +


We came there around 7 and since it's a Monday, the Sky Terrace was not open until 10am. There are a lot tourists as well around that time, mostly Caucasians. We roamed as much as we can, ate breakfast and ice cream and looked over the peak from whatever building that was overlooking the island.


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Nearing 10am we found ourselves one of the first in line by the escalators that would reach the Sky Terrace. When we reached it we were disappointed. There's nothing to see anything at all! The fog was so thick you could be looking at a white wall. We didn't stay too long. I did love riding the Tram though.


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+ Hello Kitty Le Petit Cafe +


I wanted to see how it looks like and be able to buy my sister an HK item and like as if it was meant to be some items are on sale. They aren't really joking at being small.  There's only one area where you could sit down and eat and the rest are all set for merchandise.


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I got my sister a batch of cookies and gave in in buying the paper bag that cost around 60php. I wonder if it was any good.


+ Leaving +


Had quick lunch at City Gate then arrived at the airport until we wait for board. We got there too early though as I mistook our flight to be at 8PM. We would have roamed around some more but I think this was for the better since my legs are about to give. All of our pasalubong shopping were also done here and I would more if only I'm not too exhausted my hips are starting to complain. Next time HK!


More photos here.


Budget here.

T&J Travels #4: Hongkong-Macau 2016 (Part 3)

+ Macau Museum +

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As to why the Museum was free for the day is a surprise to us (we never bothered asking) and took the chance to roam around. We always enjoy museums and I loved the presentation of the exhibits. It did look like the best way to enjoy it is coming from the top to bottom, where the history of Macau was "narrated". I most especially loved the miniatures and the food spread! Those wax dishes looks tasty!


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When we got out of the museum we had snacks near the Ruins. We got egg tarts and those beef and fish balls. Quite expensive.


In our second day in another country it was such a novelty to me hearing so many people who are openly speaking in our language, one was even yelling over someone the phone. For the entire time we were at Macau for some reason every Filipino is at the Senado Square!


We then set out to find this egg tart shop which was hard to find (our GPS is stupidly pointing us nowhere) and found it in area we thought weren't there.


+ Margaret's Cafe e Nata +


A really small shop but with a long queue, we were adamant in taking the line as well. But when we saw how quick the turnaround was, we tried our luck.


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We didn't stay since the tables are fully packed, so we ate them instead while we were walking. It was tons better than the one we had at the Square, the ratio of the tart and the filling is much better on this one.


+ The Venetian +


It seems like the GPS is a fail again. Our apps no matter how we checked it had stops that weren't in any way called over the prompter that we ended on a bus terminal. It was sort of a good mistake, because it had pointed us to another terminal of free shuttles for casinos, one of which was the Venetian that came a few minutes when we reached the queue.


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It was really cute, they even had the sky painted you would forget the cloudy weather outside. We didn't get gondolas but we did get there to get egg tarts at Lord Stows. It's funny how Reagan seemed to have liked this the best I bet if we eat another egg tart from somewhere it would be his favorite again. I would have loved to shop but I was holding myself back. There are tons of shops with prices that I'm comfortable with! Again, something I would love to do someday when we're back.


For very late lunch we tried porkchop buns from Tai Lei Loi Kei, a popular brand for porkchop buns. I'm not a fan of the bread, it was quite hard but the porkchop I would have loved to be paired with rice. For a sandwich I can't understand why the bone was kept though.


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We didn't have time to explore Macau better unfortunately so we simply headed back to HK via another shuttle which luckily brought us to the same port we came out earlier. We had another meal at Mcdonalds when we were back to finally taste those Gudetama burgers with rice in replacement of bread. It wasn't as delicious as it was on the photo though :-(


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The entire night later on was another moment of getting lost. We failed to watch the light show and were going around in circles a few more when we looked for our hostel as well. We found it eventually but decided to walk a little bit more. We got in on the mall right in front of Chungking Mansions (can't remember the name) and got ourselves a proper dinner at Te.


T&J Travels #4: Hongkong-Macau 2016 (Part 3)

+ Mcdonalds +

We're trying to make it a thing, visit all the Mcdonalds we can while we travel overseas. So far not yet impressed. I did like the grape jam the breakfast came with.


This is also the first time I noticed how there are a lot of old people are working. I've observed this more when we got out of Mcdo, I can't believe I didn't notice it before.


+ Macau +

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We walked towards the port for the ferry. We got TurboJet (166 HKD each) economy tickets. It was a pleasant ride even though the waves are a bit high. It was a bit funny when every once in a while you'd hear men on the other side of the boat with their boisterous laughter like as if we were on a theme park ride.


We reached Macau an hour later with plans where to go but not much idea on how to. We were successful in finding the shuttle to the Grand Lisboa (free) but had a moment of becoming disoriented on which direction FROM there we should go. We aimlessly wandered around the area of the bus stops until we were correctly directed  by Google Maps towards the Senado Square.


+ Senado Square +


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It was a relief seeing this place. I was becoming awfully thirsty. We were a bit early so there are a lot of shops not opened yet. We were able to get bottled water though, almost half the price of how much we would get it at HK even at Macao Pataca (conversion rate is extremely close they allow you to pay in HKD).


We were halfway through the winding cobbled steps towards the Ruins when the sudden downpour stranded us in front of a makeup shop. I was almost tempted to reach out and go crazy with all the facial creams on the box near me but thought best of it and minded I may go back to it later.


+ Ruins of St. Paul +


When it has almost cleared, we began to traverse on the famous steps. It was a very good sight, there were just a few people. The umbrellas are a bit of an eyesore though.


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We deserted the idea of getting better photos with the Ruins as a backdrop when visitors started coming back. We traversed the side of the fort, reminiscent of Intramuros but with better preserved canons. Surprisingly not a lot of people are up here, you kind of forget there were tons of them at the actual square. Eventually we found the entrance to the museum.


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View at the top. IMHO it's a lot like Manila, where the hotels and casinos are grand and new yet the surrounding buildings are too old for comfort.