Tuesday 27th July - Quote

Have you ever been in love? Horrible, isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They don't ask for it. They do something dumb one day like kiss you, or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so a simple phrase like 'maybe we should just be friends' or 'how very perceptive' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.

Sunday 25th July - Uno momento suspendido en el tiempo

A cool breeze permeates the humid air as I sit in a rocking chair on the terrace, staring out at the crowded clouded sky, the hazy vision of the mountains of Laguna on the horizon.

But my thoughts are interrupted by footsteps. Time to put on the smiling mask that has been my sanctuary.

'How are you?' the voice asks. I look up from my Moleskine, smile and reply 'I'm fine'.

Saturday 24th July - Hundred Islands

I highly dislike long car journeys, but I was bribed with clear skies, snorkelling and a trip to Baguio. So I gave in.

Mount Arayat
We left the house at 4am. Sleeping through most of the journey, we arrived in Alaminos City, Pangasinan at 9am. The weather was amazing, it was scorching hot and there wasn't a grey cloud in sight - finally, I was going to get tanned.

We hired a boat to take us around Hundred Island National Park. At low tide there are precisely 124 islands, with 123 at high tide. A lot of them are uninhabited, with only three developed for tourist visitation. Firstly we went to Govenors Island where we 'explored' its cave and climbed to the top for a magnificent view.

Our bangkeros then took us for a little tour, stopping at Lopez Island - our very own with sand, clear blue water island.

For a couple of hours it was bliss. Nothing but endless sea, good company and beautiful scenery - it was great. Trying my hand at snorkelling I managed to spot some fish and teach my cousin to do the same. All in all I was a bit sad we left when we did. But if we were to make it to Baguio we had to get going.

On our way there we ran into some heavy rain, so on the driver's orders we turned around to return home. He feared we had driven into a tropical cyclone. If we continued and the weather stayed as it was there was a good chance of us being caught by a landslide and stranded. So close and yet so far. Safety first I guess.

With the awful weather and a few wrong turns it took seven hours till we arrived back in Manila. I was exhausted. The trip was not wasted though. Maybe I'll make it to Baguio before I leave.

Friday 23rd July - Routine

Another day of nothing of interest except for:
  • Playing with my cousins
  • Watching tv
  • Staring out over Laguna de Bay
  • Trying to teach my godson that 'f**k you' is not a nice thing to say
  • Deciding what I will have with my rice today
  • Hoping that it will not rain on the weekend (I'm off on another road trip)
  • Play tongit, lose my Lola some money and make my Lola some money
  • Tambay diyan sa kalsada

Thursday 22nd July - Malling

So, I went to the Mall of Asia. Again.

I can't stress enough how much I dislike malls. I mean, I don't even like Westfield. So anyway, I went there to go and buy my mum's pasalubongs. Only to find that the shoes she wanted to buy were not available *sigh*

If I was anyone else I'd probably relish in the opportunity to go shopping for a couple of hours, no cousins to look after, and no rush to be anywhere else, but no. I was out of there in a jiffy.

BUT the cinnamon pretzels were amazing.

Watching them being made was nearly as good as watching the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Theatre.

Wednesday 21st July - The past week

Thursday - Can't remember.

Friday - Same as the above.

Saturday - Travelled to Laguna in search of someone I had not seen for eight years. No luck. They are in Russia. Later, said person contacted me. Too much to cope with already without this new change of circumstance. Eight years is a long time. What does one say? Also went to a mall, watched the Sorceror's Apprentice and got a tattoo.

Sunday - Went 'malling' in the Mall of Asia and watched Inception. Highly recommend this film. Head hurts from thinking too much.

Monday - Again went malling for some postcards, a phone and a hamster. Came home empty handed on the animal front.

Tuesday - Wrote and dropped off a letter. Went to Greenhills to buy some bags. Dear Lord, shopping there is hell. But, I bought some new shoes and went home with a boxful of Krispy Kremes. Mmm.

Wednesday - Had tea and played cards with my cousins. Sitting here writing this. Box of Krispy Kremes now empty. Discovered what a bosun is. Wondering how I'm going to cope for another month if I refuse to step into another mall, and thinking of what I am going to eat now that I'm getting sick of rice.

Concise enough for you all?

Wednesday 14th July - Stormy Weather

It started with a bit of rain. That's what I thought it was anyway. Throughout the evening we lost electricity a few times, till around 1am when it disappeared completely. I've only ever experienced minor signal no. 1 storms in Manila, but this was different. The wind was howling and the windows rattling, getting louder by the hour as the nearby palm tree smacked into the bedroom window.

I couldn't sleep so I went outside. The blinds on the terrace were flapping furiously. The sky looked ominous as it covered the city in darkness. I creeped further towards the edge only to be taken up by a strong gust and pushed forcefully into the wall. I retreated back indoors, my curiosity still unfulfilled.

Peering from the safety of the bedroom I could see spotlights in the distance, along with the sound of sirens. This could not be good. My aunt walked in to tell me the signal had been raised to no. 2 and that people were being told to stay indoors in case of being incapacitated by flying objects.

It was noisy, hot and I still hadn't fully recovered from the flu. I was not having fun. By 3am I managed to doze off. At the first sign of dawn, the wind was still howling but at least it was light - I could finally see how bad the damage was. The same terrace I was on the previous night was completely flooded.

Downstairs water had seeped in and outside the table and chairs were scattered. Outside at first glance the street seemed fine. People were out in hoards, on their doorsteps and on their roofs. It could have been worse. So a tree was uprooted and the streetlamp was dangling off its post....

What followed was a painful 24 hours without electricity. Flights had been cancelled or diverted and the International airport shut down. It wasn't even the lack of tv, light or internet. It was the heat and lack of up to date news. What I would have given for a wind up radio and fan.

Anyway all was back to normal the next day. The children were saddened their two day holiday was cut short and others were happy they could get back to being couch potatoes once more.
I've been told that once they had no electricity and water for three weeks the storm was so bad. I'm hoping it won't happen again, but I wonder what it's like to live through that....

Backlog: The events of the weekend

Travelled three hours to a resort situated by a mountain lake in Caliraya. The morning we left the skies were clear, but only an hour after arriving at Lagos del Sol the heavens opened and the rain started pouring. During tropical cyclone season it's not unusual for brown outs (blackouts) to occur, or for one's day to be ruined by heavy rainfall. The rain soon slowed to a patter as we made our way to Pagsanjan falls.
Pagsanjan falls is a popular tourist spot in Laguna and is the apparent shooting set for the film Apocalypse Now. Donning waistcoats filled with styrofoam (i.e. life jackets) we clambered into what is know as a banca in Tagalog. The guides said it would be a 45mins ride till we reached the falls whereby we would 'shoot the rapids' and pass through between cliff faces over 300ft high. My first thought was: are the batteries in my camera charged? Before I could start pressing the shutter button though it started to rain - again.
With only two inches separating me and the surface of the water I wasn't feeling my best (refer to last year's post to Balibago), but I kept saying to myself that sitting in that boat was worht it, just as long as I could keep my head - and my camera - out of the water.
A 10mins ride out of the town, passing children swimming and people doing their laundry, we were met with our first glimpse of the mountain pass. Wow, just wow. Nature truly is a beautiful sight.
There's not much to say about the journey to the falls except it took longer than 45mins to reach them. Also if I knew, I would not have bothered with clothes -would have just worn a bathing suit- considering how wet I got. The river was riddled with boulders big and small. Travelling upstream proved to be tough work for our bangkeros, not to mention the need to lift the boat -and its passengers- several times to avoid crashing.
Over an hour later, two checkpoints, a sore ankle and the inability to feel my legs we finally reached our destination, well sort of. First we had to get off the boat, climb over some rocks and get on to a small bamboo raft that was to be pulled towards -and under- the falls. Sharing the raft with my aunt and I were two cheerful-looking Korean men, wearing helmets just as most of the other tourists that we had passed along the way.
One of the men looked at my lack of cranium protection, gasped as I smiled back and exclaimed 'no! no!' in fear. How bad could it be? I was only going under a fast-flowing-393ft-high waterfall....
Let's just say I got off the raft with a headache, waterfilled ears and absolutely soaked to the bone. My camera didn't fair well either taking a bath but it was worth it, hell I wanted to go again!
Back where we started, waiting to get picked up I made the mistake of not bringing an extra pair of clothes. Luckily for me, my uncle's brother-in-law brought a pair of shorts belonging to his daughter for me to borrow. They didn't fit to say the least, and there wasn't much left to the imagination, not to mention the fact that I couldn't even zip the bloody thing....
Anyway I was relieved to get back to the resort and into my own clothes. The rest of the evening was spent having dinner and finding places to hang all our wet clothes. With another full day ahead of us tomorrow and early night was in order.

I was up early to fit some swimming in and explore the grounds before we were to head off again, this time bound for Taytay falls, Majayjay.
After an hour of rollercoaster driving, a bit more clambering along the side of the mountain with only a handrail to stop one from slipping to one's death we FINALLY reached the falls ... only to ... guess what? FOR IT TO RAIN.
There's a saying in Tagalog that goes: may balat ang puwet mo, malas ka. In other words, if you have a birthmark on your backside you have bad luck. Seeing as it seemed to rain every time we reached one of our destinations, the weekend was spent trying to figure out who had this birthmark.

After Majayjay, we had lunch at our uncle's family's house. After playing with their cute pups and pretending I can drive a tricyle we were off to Tagaytay, home to the Taal Volcano, the world's smallest active volcano. I mentioned last year that I didn't get a chance to take a boat ride to the volcano, and unfortunately again this year the same fate awaited me. The reason? It was getting dark and we couldn't see anything but ... well clouds. So instead, I had a go on the zip wire. Twice.
I'm terrified of heights, so dangling over the side of a mountain with only nylon preserving my life I was scared. I mean, my knees were shaking. But what the hell, I'm here, it's cheap and I don't have to ever do it again if I don't want to, so why not?
I've waffled on for far too long so I'll let the photos speak for themselves.
This has to be one of the funniest signs I have ever seen
Yes he thinks he's a tree
Anyone fancy a dip?