Monday, July 30, 2007

A rainy Monday afternoon post
I've done my household chores for today. I've yet to write reviews of two films I watched weeks ago. I'm not really in the right frame of mind to critique films right now. I need to be in a special place to do that. It is difficult to explain really. So I'm here worried how D is going to get home during this heavy downpour after he has had a long day of giving lectures until he gets hoarse. The power is fluctuating like crazy. I can barely hear my windows media player as the sound of the rain is blocking out the love ballads on my play list. Somehow I managed to write a really long email to my BFF trying to cheer him up. But frankly there isn't much to cheer about in his marital situation. The mental drain it takes to compose an email can be quite taxing to my already cloudy brain cells.
Actually I am no longer in a daze. I can see clearly now. I know what I want. The only "hindrance" is convincing me, myself and I that the journey towards achieving my goal is not as scary as I make it out to be. I now realize it pays to take a huge leap of faith, just go ahead and take risks. At the same time, I am encouraged and very thankful I have a loving partner willing to support me no matter what. Alright I will stop being sentimentally emotional. I like to end this post with a song that speaks to my heart. It is an old song by The Association entitled "Never My Love"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Warning: Mushy tone alert
Yes brace yourself I'm going to post yet another lovey dovey letter to my honey. So you can either roll your eyes but continue reading or proceed to the next blog in your list to escape from my sugar laden post for today. =)

Dear Hon,
Every morning, the first thing I do is send you a text message to wish you a pleasant day. It's a routine I can do with my eyes closed. Since you are such a sweet person, you either reply back right away or in between your teaching periods. All your SMS are peppered with the L word.
I simply love the way you love me. During our dates, I feel safe when you put a protective arm around me when it gets crowded. You never tire of fanning me when we are in church because yes unfortunately, I do sweat a lot. I 'blame' my parents for bestowing that gene to me. Oh well!
I like that you carry my shopping bags even though I insist I can carry it myself. It is my stubborn streak of character. Good thing though you don't insist on carrying my handbag which is something I never understood whenever I see guys carrying their significant other's handbag. What's up with that?
The way you lift my hand when we are about to step off the escalator is amusing. I know it is something one does to a little child but what the heck I find it sweet!
You even asked me if you were walking too fast or too slow for that matter because you don't want me to start sweating when we go malling. Well thanks for asking Honey but it seems that even if I don't exert any effort I would perspire. Quel horror!
You laughed at me when I turned really red from blushing, yesterday. Well what did you expect? You teased me by stating when we strolled by the 'Having a baby' shop "Hon, that pink maternity dress would look really nice on you, some time next year!" Yikes! First you got me hyperventilating when you blurted out the M word, now you got me all flustered at another M word (maternity).
But aha I got my 'revenge' much later when we had our after dinner drinks (coffee) at Seattle's Best. When the barista asked for my name, I deliberately said "Mrs Fxxxxx". The look on your face was priceless. Hehehe! Then I had to stop myself from leaning closer, grabbing your face and french kiss you in front of the coffee drinking crowd when you were talking about our future together. I know you are conservative and cringe at over the top PDA (public display of affection) but really I had to summon all the Gods of self control from embarrassing you. I grew up in Europe, remember? Over the top PDA doesn't bother me at all. Teehee!

Seriously, hon, these little nuances make our relationship such a joy to experience. I'm oh so happy. My little heart is content. Thanks for being so adorable!

Je t'aime,

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Forecast: Daze
Several days have passed since D first mentioned the M word and I have to say I am still in a daze. In fact ever since I embarked on this relationship, things have been a bit blurry (in a good way, of course) that sometimes I need to pinch myself to remind me I actually have a loving boyfriend now.
My normal reaction when D mentions the sensitive topic would be to start giggling nervously till I run out of breath. Although D is very understanding and patient with regards to my goofy nature, I can't help but cringe. He might think I don't want to marry him. I guess asking him "How come you are so sure about marrying me of all people?" doesn't really help, either. Huh?
Here's the part where I try to explain my hesitation. For the longest time, settling down was the LAST thing on my mind. I wanted to travel, travel and travel some more. My dwindling bank account though has made me realize that the need to explore every nook and cranny of the world now sounds like a very frivolous goal to project for my future.
Then there is the fact that I have never been one of those women who dreamt of their wedding day since they were little girls. I even joked with D that I might show up at our wedding dressed in jeans and t-shirt for all I care. I never fancied the whole big wedding shebang.
If the history of my past relationships is anything to go by, then 3 years would be the longest time I've actually been involved with a guy. I tend to lose interest, get bored and/or escape from too much responsibility, quite fast. I justify it by saying it is my attention deficit disorder but that is a diagnosis I gave myself. It is certainly not medically proven by any doctor.
I guess it also doesn't help that my BFF is currently stuck in marital hell and his numerous depressing emails are the first thing I read every morning when I check my inbox. He is and I quote "involved in a quasi meaningless relationship with my materialistic wife who nags me 24/7!"
Yikes, major ouch but sadly true.
Of course I have discussed all these points (there are others which I rather not elaborate on this blog) with D over and over again that I sound like a broken record, by now. I am very thankful he always has a ready 'solution' to each of my trepidations. I probably just need more time to condition my state of mind from an independent single woman to eventually becoming Mrs F in the distant, near future, without breaking out in sweat and giggling nervously like a hyena.

So help me God!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A note
Dear Hon,

I got your text at 12:25 AM that you're home already. Thanks! By the way it's good you were on time for our date, yesterday. We were able to find good seats for the anticipated Mass at the Edsa Shrine. The conversation we had while we munched on Kenny Rogers chicken for dinner left me speechless for a few minutes. Ah hmmm well I guess all I can say is let us just enjoy each other and allow the relationship to grow, for now. Next time though please warn me first before you talk about the M word, I almost choked on my iced tea. Geez. But I do appreciate the fact that you are already thinking long term. It's a good sign, I'd say!

Love you,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mall Rat
My sister is out of town. DF is at work, naturally.
I was bored. I was restless.
So I go to the mall, where else? Not just any mall, though.
The newest one all the way in Quezon City.
Yes, you got it right. I went to Trinoma.
It is oh so far. Me going to Quezon City is like me going to another planet.
It is oh so huge. Good thing I was wearing comfy walking shoes.
It is oh so freezing cold. But as DF can attest, the colder the mall, the better for Little Miss active sweat glands Me.
But I like its layout. I like how spacious it feels. The fact that people won't encroach on my personal space is a huge issue for me when I go malling.
So after doing the rounds of Trinoma with its slick new look, I needed to go back to familiar grounds. Minutes later, I found myself at The Podium, munching on California Maki and Crunky Kani Maki at this new Japanese restaurant on the 5th floor. Well I assume it is new since the last time I went there, there was another restaurant in its place. Lolo Mao, if I'm not mistaken.

Yes I had a fairly good day!

Who says a single gal can't have fun all by her lonesome self?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A new toy
Acer Aspire
This past Saturday, I was out with DF when my sister frantically texted me that her Fujitsu Lifebook went to laptop heaven. She was extremely frustrated and very distraught because she was in the middle of writing her article and has several deadlines looming this week. But no amount of tinkering, rebooting or hair pulling could revive her Lifebook. Sunday, we made the rounds of several computer shops to canvass and check out the prices of all sorts of laptops. Yesterday after much agonizing and soul searching moments, she finally decided on this shiny new laptop - the Acer Aspire TM6291-101G16.
She is happy with her purchase. She was up all night exploring its features. We also snag a free HP Printer. Woohoo! I am happy that she is happy. Never mind the big dent in our wallets. I am willing to pay half of its price, because I'm a great sister, if I may say so myself. Plus I get to use it too whenever my little Neo acts like a petulant brat. Teehee! =)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yet another love letter
Dear Hon,

I know you are tired from a long week at work with your full teaching load so I appreciate the fact that you spend your weekends with me. "Die Hard 4" wasn't bad nor was it good either, just OK if you ask me. You were correct in comparing Bruce Willis to a cat. It seems he has nine lives that no matter how hard the villains try to eliminate him, he triumphs against all odds. Heh.
I'm glad that you liked our dinner at Super Bowl. Boy, you have quite an appetite huh? You finished your entire bowl of Seafood Rice Toppings while me well you know I eat like a bird, sometimes.
Thanks for being on your best behaviour when we get back to my condo and my father is still awake. Honey, contrary to your assumption, he doesn't wait up for me, he really likes to unwind in front of the TV after dinner. He also likes talking with you, you both have this natural ability to just talk about anything and everything under the sun. I know that you know we rather be doing something else on the couch but hmmm OK well never mind, maybe some other time? Yes I'm bad!
Oh by the way, can you please be on time the next time we meet up? I mean geez honey I know you live in another zip code. It takes you several rides to reach my neck of the woods but perhaps you can leave early to make the Rendez Vous on time? But alright I admit I just pretend to be upset because the truth is the minute I see your smiling face, my heart melts. My anger dissipates the moment you hold my hand. Yes I know I can be easily appeased but only you have that effect on me. I probably don't say this as often as I should but I love you and I hope you know that by now.

Bonne Nuit,

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 4 - Laoag City: Lightening the North (July 7, 2007)
By this time our fourth day, exhaustion and tired achy muscles had set in. But since it was our last day there, we woke up early. We had a hearty breakfast then explored Laoag City, on foot. Laoag means "light" in the Ilokano dialect. So yes the sun was blazing hot yet the city was bustling with people even though it was a Saturday. We even saw a long funeral procession snaking its way through the center of town. The two memory cards for the digicam were full so I was left with my low resolution cellphone camera to snap some last minute shots of Laoag City.

Sights and sounds of Laoag City

My sojourn to the Ilocos Region was short and oh so hectic. I'm sure there are a lot more places I could have explored. But I had a great time. It was very poignant for me to see those old churches which are a valid remembrance of our colorful heritage. They also reflect our rich culture that evolved from the Spanish occupation of our nation. More so I feel totally blessed to have been given this opportunity to discover just how beautiful the Philippines really is. =)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 3 - Ilocos Norte: Old churches and the remnants of the Marcos legacy (July 6, 2007)

We had an early breakfast at Villa Angela. This time we feasted on daing na bangus, fried eggs with garlic rice in relative peace and quiet as the entourage of PP had already left the previous night. Then we packed our belongings, checked out of the mansion and squeezed our way into a tricycle to head to the Partas bus station. By 9 am, we were on the bus headed for Laoag City which is almost 2 hours away from Vigan. I was tired from carrying our heavy bags filled with souvenirs, food items and our clothes and promptly fell asleep listening to my mp3 player. Just before 11 AM, we proceeded to our hotel by the only mode of transport it seems prevalent in Ilocos - the ubiquitous tricycle. Our hotel, Isabel Suites is located right in the city center. We freshened up a bit, hopped over to the adjacent Jollibee for a quick lunch then waited for our driver who will tour us around Ilocos Norte.

Isabel Suites, Laoag City

Our first stop was the St. William's Cathedral which was built in 1612. Its white facade looked like a yummy meringue cake. A few steps away is the Sinking Bell Tower which seemed like an ancient oddity sticking out of the ground amidst all the signs of a progressive little city.

main altar of St William's Cathedral

St William's Cathedral

Laoag City's Sinking Bell Tower

We then headed to a famous landmark in Ilocos Norte, the decadent Fort Ilocandia with its manicured lawn, its mini zoo and gaudy casino. It is quite an imposing yet very informal hotel/resort which mainly caters to people who like to gamble their hard earned money away. Well to each his own vice, I'd say.

Fort Ilocandia

Next stop was the Malacanang of the North in Barrio Suba (Paoay, Ilocos Norte), a remnant of the Marcos era which unfortunately is rotting away. I've always been a great admirer of the former President Ferdinand Marcos who ruled for 20 years. I respect his intelligence and his grand vision for our country. But of course I never condoned his dictatorship and what it stood for yet I continue to believe he was a simple man with a good heart. I lament the fact that history has not treated him fairly for his numerous achievements. But that's just my humble opinion. So to actually see with my own eyes, his modest beginnings, his numerous writings in the few museums honoring him was a humbling experience for me.

Malacanan Ti-Amianan, Paoay Ilocos Norte

The Paoay Church is all its majestic glory was a sight to behold. The church was constructed in 1704 and completed in the late 1880s. Its unique architectural influences consists of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental. It is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Unfortunately the belfry was closed so we couldn't climb to the top to admire the view.

Paoay Church and Belfry

altar of Paoay Church

Paoay Church Belfry

Batac was next on our itinerary. In this quiet little town the former President Marcos lies in state in a very cold mausoleum where we were prohibited to take pictures. The mausoleum is a small enclosure located next to the ancestral home of the Marcos family. The house where his father Mariano Marcos was born and lived in for several years.

Marcos Mausoleum

Don Mariano Marcos ancestral house

The La Paz sand dunes was an interesting sight. A desert area with sandy hills, a few kms away from Laoag City. It was the film location of the Panday series as popularized by the late FPJ. I have never seen those films so I had no idea of the place yet it was still fascinating to think that there was a desert right in the middle of Ilocos Norte. How strange!

La Paz sand dunes

Dona Josefa Edralin was the mother of the former President. Her ancestral home is still standing inconspicuously in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. On the upper floor of the old house lies the bed where she gave birth to the former President. On one of the walls there is an elaborate family tree tracing the ancestors of both sides of the family, the Edralins and the Marcoses.

Dona Josefa Edralin house, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte

family tree mural

Further down the road we reached the Santa Monica Church. An edifice built facing the Sarrat River inspired by Neo classical and Baroque style architecture. It is the church where Irene Marcos married Greggy Araneta. I can see why they chose this particular church. It was already early evening when we arrived yet it exuded this certain afterglow which is hard to describe in words. In my numerous travels here and abroad, I would say that of all the churches I've seen so far, Santa Monica is now my favorite.

Santa Monica Church

Sta Monica Church, Sarrat,Ilocos Norte

It was a long day and we were tired from the bus trip earlier that morning. But despite the tour being over 5 hours long we felt exhilarated from the solemnity of viewing old churches as well as being immersed in historical tidbits of the Marcos legacy. It was a very good enriching and memorable day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 2 - Vigan: Calesa ride, haunted belfry and Piolo Pascual (July 5, 2007)
The second day started pretty good, I was feeling better after a good night sleep on such a heavenly mattress with perfect pillows. If you travel a lot you will know that finding the right pillow to sleep on is a major hassle. But at Villa Angela their pillows were perfect! We had Vigan longganisa, fried eggs, garlic rice and some tomatoes with Ilokano vinegar as seasoning for breakfast. We ate on one of those long antique dining tables.

Guess what?
Just across the table from us in the flesh was Piolo Pascual! (a local actor). Yes he was there for a pictorial in Vigan. OK, I'm not a fan of the guy or else I would have screamed at the top of my lungs like Toni Gonzaga in that soft drinks commercial a few years back "I love you Piolo!" I'm in love with someone else not him. Teehee! Besides, I hardly get starstruck at all! His whole entourage of production assistants, make up artists, photo shoot directors and dakilang alalays were always hovering and fussing around him like pesky flies. All I wanted that morning was to savor my delicious longganisa in peace while enjoying the ambiance of the heritage house. Is that too much to ask for, huh?

Anyways after breakfast, we managed to extricate ourselves from the chaotic scenario at Villa Angela teeming with Piolo's entourage and were off for the day. We first decided to explore Vigan on foot, armed with a handy map of the city area, good walking shoes and loads of sunblock. We walked under the blazing sun across Calle Crisologo, the Vigan Cathedral (St Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral), Plaza Salcedo, the Arzobispado de Nueva Segovia which is the only surviving 18th century Archbishop's Palace in the country, Plaza Burgos, the Provincial Capitol Building and walked some more all the way to Padre Burgos' birthplace which is now a museum.

After a quick lunch at Max's Restaurant which is located right smack at the corner of Calle Crisologo, we hired a calesa for P150/hour to tour us at the other landmarks of Vigan which are not accessible by foot. Our first stop was the Our Lady of the Charities church and the Bantay Belfry, which are located in Bantay, the nearest town to Vigan. Upon reaching the place, the caretaker gives you a key so you can unlock the gate to climb to the top of the belfry for a magnificent view of the bells, Ilocos Sur and its environs.

Now listen or rather read carefully. At the top of the belfry there were some children playing. A guy comes up with us and instructs them to descend from the tower. I saw two I repeat TWO children come down the stairs as we were about to go up. After a few minutes of admiring the view, my sister and I descended. Upon reaching the gate, we had to re lock it then surrender the key BUT my sister insists there was still one more kid upstairs. I told her no way, I specifically saw only 2 kids descend the stairs, they were already outside. She insists there was a boy of about 8 years old still inside, she saw him playing along the stairs. Now my question is: How come I didn't see the kid? How the heck can there be anyone left up there when I know for sure there were only TWO not three kids! Phew boy oh boy did that give me shivers. You see, my sister has this undeveloped third eye. It happens that sometimes she sees people or things which no one else can. Yikes till this day whenever I recount that incident, I still get goosebumps!

Montage of Vigan

The rest of the Calesa tour wasn't as scary. We thoroughly enjoyed the horse driven ride. We went to the Hidden Garden which as its name implies is a garden where they sell all sorts of plants, flowers and pots for landscaping purposes as well as gardening items. We also dropped by the Pagburnayan where they have a workshop showcasing the molding of the burnays (jars) which are eventually sold. We requested for a quick stop at the public market so we could buy Vigan longganisa as pasalubongs before being dropped off at Villa Angela for the end of the tour. Oh it was such a grand feeling to be driven around on a calesa then dropped off at a heritage house. One thing I learned though is that it is very difficult to alight from a carriage but I guess it doesn't help that I am a vertically challenged person. Hehehe

We went out again after resting a few minutes to explore the Crisologo Museum as well as do some shopping at Calle Crisologo for some souvenir items. Then we proceeded to the Empanadaan stalls in the center of town to taste the famous Vigan Empanada. Its filling consists of sliced cabbage, mongo sprouts, shrimps, garlic and chopped pork, covered in an orangey rice flour, sealed and deep fried. I wasn't able to take a picture of this yummy snack because I was so famished by then. But believe me it was delicious, filling and wasn't oily at all. We liked it so much we bought several empanadas for dinner and stuffed ourselves like there was no tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 1 Manila - Laoag - Vigan (July 4, 2007)
We took off after a delay of 40 minutes just sitting on a freezing plane with nothing to do. An hour later, our Cebu Pacific flight finally landed at the Laoag International Airport.

Laoag City International Airport

Sweating, huffing and puffing as we dragged our luggages, we boarded a jeepney from the airport to get to the Partas bus station. A fare of P121/pax will get you to Vigan from Laoag on an air conditioned bus with comfy seats and a TV to keep you occupied. I was tired from the flight and didn't feel well so amidst the growls of vampires and werewolves from "Underworld: Evolution", the film they were showing on TV, I managed to somehow rest a bit.

Villa Angela, Vigan, Ilocos Sur

After almost 2 hours, we finally got to Vigan and squeezed ourselves into a tiny tricycle to reach our hotel. An old mansion which they converted into a heritage residence called Villa Angela. The moment you step inside the imposing mansion, you feel like you walked back in time to a long forgotten era.

Living Room area at Villa Angela, Vigan

Dining Area, Villa Angela, Vigan

By this time I was boiling with fever, disoriented and completely faint, I simply plopped onto the 4 poster bed still dressed in my traveling outfit and slept. I was so delirious I started mumbling in my sleep!

Master Bedroom, Villa Angela, Vigan

I got up at around 6:30pm still feverish but quite famished. I insisted I was fine to go out for some Ilokano fare for dinner. We hailed a tricycle to take us to the town center. At Cafe Leona, we feasted on really delicious Morcon, some crunchy Bagnet (pork rinds) and tomatoes with Ilokano vinegar for seasoning. Yum!

Cafe Leona, Vigan

Ilokano Dinner

Back at the hotel after walking around the empty streets of Vigan, I was delirious and burning with fever yet again! A full stomach of Ilokano cuisine, I kept tossing and turning in bed BUT I kept my eyes shut throughout the night for fear that some white lady might haunt my feverish repose because I could hear the old wooden floors creaking every now and then. Yikes!

Good night sleep

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I'm back!
Phew what an eventful trip. Our Cebu Pacific flight was delayed by 40 minutes. It is frustrating to stare into blank space while waiting for the plane to take off. Ugh!
Then I got really sick on my first night in Vigan. I was very delirious from an unbelievably high fever. Yikes!
On the second day in Vigan, I experienced a memorable calesa ride. My first time ever to ride a horse drawn carriage. Yay!
Third day the almost 2 hours bus ride from Vigan to Laoag was as bouncy as a ball being tossed around in a basketball courtyard. Eeeps!
But it was followed by a 5 hour tour of some of the most gorgeous churches in Ilocos Norte. My little heart was so happy because I am quite fond of old churches.
This specific tour enveloped me with a sense of calmness and deep spirituality which will be embedded in my mind, forever.
The whole trip was exhausting but well worth it. Pictures and stories to be posted as soon as I reload Photoshop (to resize the images) into my newly repaired computer.

Now, it's time I go see my Honey! ;)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

R & R

Cebu Pacific

Never mind that I have a slight fever.
I'm coughing my lungs off and I have freaking cramps.
Tomorrow, my sis and I are off to explore the Ilocos region.

Ilocos here I come!

A bientot! =)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A short love letter

Dear Honey,

I will keep this very short and simple.
People might get bored reading about our dates.
So thanks, I had so much fun last night.